There’s something special about throwing your leg over a purebred race bike. A lot of bikes try to do a little bit of everything these days, but the 3T Strada is made for doing one thing: going fast.
I’ve tested more than a few go-fast bikes with 2-by setups, but the Strada is the first 1-by road bike I’ve spent significant time riding. Sure, I understand that despite the lack of a front derailleur, the gear range is almost the same as on a road bike with “normal gearing.” Still, I was curious to see how it would perform on long, weekend group rides or on our local Tuesday-night world championship ride.
I loved the simplicity of the Strada’s setup. Up front, my test model was equipped with the flashy 3T Torno ltd crankset. It’s all carbon with an integrated axle and spider, made in Bergamo, Italy. The arms are narrow to improve aerodynamics and to keep weight off. On the road, the single chainring freed me from the front-derailleur decisions I’d usually make going up the rollers or short, steep climbs that are in Southern Ontario. In a way, that was liberating. There was no need to struggle with my ego and the choice between grinding the big ring or spinning the small up an incline. With 3T’s own 9-32 tooth Bailout cassette in the back, I had a good range over tough rollers. While I can’t independently verify the aerodynamic claims of the frame, the distinct cut-out in the seat tube and the small frontal area appear to do a good job of cheating the wind. In a not-so-rigorous test, I was able to hit my second fastest time on a flat segment in Toronto’s Port Lands while staying at 65 per cent of my FTP.
While the Strada is meant for speed, it has great features that help make you comfortable, such as a good amount of tire clearance. The 25c tires that came on the 3T Discus C35 Pro wheels plumped up to roughly 29 mm wide. The thin seatstays also offer some flex. Although the bike moves like a race machine, your contact points may believe they’re on an endurance-focused bike. That’s not to say the Strada has the plodding handling style of some endurance rigs; it’s lively and takes only a small shift of the hips to throw it into a corner. It begs to race a crit.
The Strada is available in 1-by for the Pro and Team models and 2-by configurations with the Strada Due. Which one is right for you will largely depend on your local routes and what kind of riding you do. If you live in the Rockies and you’re climbing alpine passes, you might want a ratio that’s easier than the 40-tooth up front and large 32-tooth cog that came with this test bike. In that case, the Due may be for you. For most people east of Alberta, a single chainring should work just fine.
It’s likely we’ll see single chainring setups come into their own with 12-speed cassettes gaining in popularity and with 13-speed cassettes coming along. These will allow you to have the best of both worlds: the tighter gear ratios and range of 2-by setups and the simplicity of the single chainring. The single-ring setup will become more and more adaptable to wherever you’re riding.