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3T Strada Due review

31 Mar 2020
Verdict:

All the same benefits (and drawbacks) of 3T’s original Strada but with conventional gearing

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£3,700 frameset (approx £10,900 as tested)
For 
Progressive design • Comfortable • Fast
Against 
Slightly heavy

During my tests with the 3T Strada Due, I couldn’t help thinking about the homeware company Alessi. It isn’t quite as random a leap as it first seems – both are iconic Italian companies and both have classic designs that have become synonymous with the brand.

Alessi has its Juicy Salif lemon squeezer and 9093 Whistling Bird kettle; 3T has its Record 78 stem and, most recently, its Strada frameset. When it comes to product practicality, however, the brands couldn’t be more different.

Alessi’s Juicy Salif juicer, resembling as it does a Martian machine from The War Of The Worlds, is so ungainly it is virtually impossible to store in a kitchen cupboard. And, speaking from bitter personal experience, the kettle takes an eternity to boil water.

Compare that with 3T’s Record 78 stem, a design that transformed the performance and maintenance of road bikes in the late 1970s.

Or compare it to the same company’s Strada Due, a bike that incorporates a number of forward-thinking features that in my experience make it one of the easiest aero race bikes on the market to live with and ride day to day. Plus it’s fast enough that I might just have made up the time I lost waiting for that kettle to boil.

The Strada Due is a 2x version of the original Strada, meaning it has provision on the seat tube to mount a front derailleur so the bike can be run with conventional gearing.

The first Strada made such a splash when it was released in 2017 partly because it was designed to only take 1x gearing, with no provision for a front derailleur.

That won the bike many fans – a 1x setup can be lighter, less fussy and is potentially more aerodynamic – but it was less favourably received by the now-defunct Aqua Blue Sport squad, who used the bike throughout their ill-fated 2018 season. The riders complained of mechanical issues and insufficient gearing options.

Cart before the horse

Following the release of the Strada Due, cynics claimed that 3T was reneging on its bold initial move, but Gerard Vroomen, head of design at 3T and the brains behind both bikes, insists this wasn’t the case.

‘The Strada Due was always in development from the start,’ he says. ‘We released the 1x version first because it was ready sooner and knew it would cause the bigger stir. In hindsight it may have been a case of “cart before the horse” because 1x groupsets weren’t really ready then.’

According to Vroomen, the thinking behind both bikes was to offer a fast ride but with a comfort level appropriate for the people who ride them and the places in which they ride.

‘Normal people don’t sit in the saddle for 30 hours a week,’ he says. ‘Our roads don’t get paved just because we are riding through, like they do for the Tour. They’re dirty and rough. The most efficient way to achieve more comfort is to bump up tyre size, which is why we design around 28-30mm tyres.’

The next factor was aerodynamics. ‘Whether we are racing or not, everyone still wants to go as fast as they can. But we make the bike aero after we put big tyres on.’

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According to Vroomen, the issue with most aero bikes is that their aerodynamic efficiency is designed around 23mm tyres. Then people swap to 28mm tyres to improve comfort, which completely undermines the aero design. Vroomen says doing it the other way around makes the Strada bikes’ aerodynamics more relevant to the real world.

‘The optional third step was to further clean up the aerodynamic profile by removing the front derailleur,’ says Vroomen. ‘But for the drivetrain manufacturers who weren’t ready for that yet, and for riders who weren’t ready yet, it also made sense to produce this 2x version.’

The same, but different

The Strada Due is similar in design to the Strada. Outwardly the tube shapes are the same, with only the internal carbon layup of the seat tube altered, in that it has been beefed up to allow for the front derailleur mount. Vroomen says that the riding experience hasn’t been affected, though.

I would agree. The Strada Due is as solid as its 1x predecessor, accelerating rapidly when I pushed hard on the pedals. Yet it didn’t feel at all rigid when it came to comfort, thanks to the 30mm tubeless Vittoria Corsa Control tyres.

On test rides I’d often look down at my computer and be surprised at the speed I was going because the wide tyres were just better at smoothing out broken road surfaces.

The bike also handled beautifully, managing to balance that tricky act of being reactive at low speeds before mellowing out at high speed.

Despite its aerodynamic credentials, the Strada Due’s cockpit makes no attempt to hide away the cables – something that’s becoming standard on top-tier bikes.

This may seem like an oversight, but personally I prefer this setup, as it makes the bike simple to work on and adjust, plus I’m inclined to believe Vroomen’s sentiment that swollen head tubes designed to hide cables might not be nearly as aero as brands would have you think.

Shifting business

So what is the penalty of 2x gearing on the Strada Due? Vroomen estimates around 300g in terms of weight and 7 watts of drag at 32kmh. That isn’t insignificant – the Strada Due’s 7.78kg weight could be said to be a little chunky for a premium aero road bike nowadays.

The real question, though, is whether the extra weight is offset by the additional gear options. That rather depends on your point of view.

For some, 1x offers all the gear ratios they could ever want; others will demand the wider potential range and the smaller gear steps provided by 2x. I’m inclined to believe that trying to weigh 1x and 2x against each other is actually missing the point.

The bottom line is that one of the most exciting and innovative bikes in the last couple of years is available to everyone, no matter what drivetrain the rider wants to run. And it performs just as well in either guise.

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Spec

Frame 3T Strada Due Team
Groupset Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc
Brakes Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc
Chainset Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc
Cassette Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc
Bars 3T Superergo Team 
Stem Apto
Seatpost Charlie Strada
Saddle Fizik Arione 00 Versus Evo
Wheels 3T Discus C45 LTD, Vittoria Corsa Control G2.0 TLR 30mm tyres
Weight 7.78kg (56cm)
Contact saddleback.co.uk

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