The most recent reinvention from 3T was the EXPLORO, billed as the world’s first aerodynamic adventure bike, ‘an unlikely mash-up that is vintage 3T and an instant classic’. Now 3T has claimed to have reinvented the aero road bike from scratch with the STRADA.
A release from the company notes… ‘But aero road doesn’t do it justice, as it’s not just extremely aero but also very comfortable.’ Aiming to offer aero speed and comfort, the new bike’s key elements are ‘tyre size optimization and a paradigm shift for the drivetrain, combined with a lightbulb moment designing new aero shapes.’
3T notes that the biggest factor in road bike comfort are the tyres; they provide more compliance than any other part of the bike. Wider tyres are better at reducing shocks from cracks, curbs, cobbles and potholes, which is why they are the norm at cobbled classics such as Paris-Roubaix. Wider tyres also have lower rolling resistance, because their shorter contact patch requires less bending by the casing.
In addition, wider tyres offer an advantage on long and multi-day rides, reducing the steady drain on a rider’s energy level caused by high-frequency road buzz. 3T notes that aerodynamics are also important on such rides, and wide yires tend to test poorly in the wind tunnel. However, the company adds that this ‘is to be expected if you test them with frames and parts optimized for narrow tyres.’
The STRADA is billed as the first aero road frame optimized for wider tyres… ‘so finally you can be fast and comfortable all the time, from the cobbles to the climbs. All day, every day, with one and the same bike.’
With all aero road bike developments of the past 20 years, 3T points out that the drivetrain was never really tackled. The company flags the worst area aerodynamically as being around the BB, with the frame, crank, chainrings, front derailleur, water bottles and rider’s legs leaving little room for the air to pass through.
A single ring drivetrain aims to eliminate the front derailleur and one chainring, reducing frontal area, creating space for unobstructed airflow and freeing up the design of the seat tube to shield the rear wheel even better (no front derailleur mount needed). And with modern cassettes (in particular the special 3T cassette coming soon), riders can ‘still have all the gears you need’.
The release from 3T continues… ‘Think about it, 30 years ago we had 12 gears (2×6) of which only 8 were unique (the rest overlapped). Now we’re at 2×11, always assuming that more is better. But did the ‘improvement’ from 2×10 to 2×11 really make that much of a difference? Sometimes more is not better, it’s just more; more weight, more drag, more gear overlap and more complexity…. So instead of 2×11 with 14 effective gears, a front derailleur, a second ring and a second shift lever, 1×11 gives you the gears you need, the range you need, fewer components, less weight, less drag and less hassle.’
3T built its Arcfoil tubes as a series of curved instead of flat Sqaero cross sections. These mimic the arc of the actual airflow at several points along the tubes and claim to substantially lower the drag (the arc of the downtube logo pays homage to exactly the airflow and cross section arc there).
The Sqaero airfoil sections of the seat tube arc for a different reason, to cover the rear tyre and reduce turbulence. Seatpost, headtube, even the seatpost clamp and dropouts are optimized aerodynamically in sometimes unexpected ways based on 3T’s real-world analysis… ‘for example you may wonder why the area behind the lower headset isn’t faired; the answer is simple, because the air doesn’t flow horizontally there but spins off the front wheel almost vertically, so a horizontal fairing shape is counterproductive as it blocks the upward airflow.’
The Fundi aero fork is a disc-brake-only design, without any provisions for a rim brake version. This has allowed 3T to optimize the design, for example with its minimalist crown, which combines space for wider road tyres with a lower crown height. Where the crown on a rim brake fork (or a combined rim/disc brake project) by definition has to be bulky and unaero, the Fundi’s minimalist crown claims to improve stiffness.
It also moves the front wheel closer to the downtube, creating a transition for the airflow. According to 3T, this makes not only the Fundi itself very aero, but also helps the front wheel and frame become more aero.
The crown transitions into the Sqaero profile of the legs, combining aerodynamics with better stiffness properties. The Fundi supports flat mount disc brakes with the 140/160 mm disc adaptor completely integrated into the fork leg shape. The kinked left leg connects all the relevant points in the most direct way possible, ‘not only a visually striking design but also key to achieving a low weight and a minimal frontal area.’
To celebrate the launch of the STRADA, 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt (all 105 kg of him) and his daughter Elynor rode STRADA bikes this past week from the cobbles of Roubaix via the iconic sections of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne to the historical climbs in the Alps and Dolomites to the Eurobike Media Days at Kronplatz. They should arrive on 27 June.
The STRADA will be available worldwide starting early August (exact timing depending on location). It will be offered as a frameset (frame, fork, seatpost, headset) for US$3,800 / €3,800.
The STRADA will also be available for test rides at the Eurobike Media Days.