It was great to speak with Gerard Vroomen, Head of Design at 3T, at this year’s Eurobike trade show. Originally an accessories brand, 3T has been driving innovation with its framesets – notably the 3T STRADA PRO 1x (or ‘one-by’) aero road bike. More recently the brand has rolled out the STRADA DUE (‘doo-eh’) for those riders that still prefer 2x chainsets.
Gerard started out the discussion with a background to his origins with Cervélo, the bike brand that he and Phil White built together and sold to Pon Holdings back in 2012. Following this, he worked on various projects; and he started discussions with René Wiertz, CEO of 3T, a couple of years ago.
Speaking about the 1x concept, Gerard said, “I’ve been thinking about 1x since we had 8-speed cassettes. I always thought that when there’s 1 x 11 [speed], then it starts to make sense.” He continued, “The nice thing about 3T is that it’s such an innovative brand, and you can do anything within that brand. It gives us a lot of opportunity.
“The first bike was the EXPLORO, an aero, gravel, all-road bike. For the road bike, everyone focuses on the [STRADA] 1x. But, for us, we actually focused on ‘why does aero have to be uncomfortable?’”
Vroomen noted, “Aero bikes are all designed to be fast in the wind tunnel, with a 21mm tyre. But then the customer puts a 25mm tyre on anyway; and, it’s not so fast anymore. If they want to put a 28mm tyre on, it doesn’t even fit.
“So, we start with a tyre we want – 28-30mm. We design aerodynamics around the fact that we start with a wider tyre. And then, when you want to save those last 8 watts, you move the front derailleur, and the inner ring. So, [with the 1x], you save 300g and 8 watts, saving drag and have the ultimate aero bike.”
Gerard explained the concept around the STRADA DUE – that it’s primary focus is on comfort as an aero road bike with a wider tyre profile.
“It was always the plan to have this phase one, phase two, phase three of this STRADA project. When we made the original moulds for the STRADA, we had the front pins in there – so that we could make a version with the front derailleur on there.”
Speaking about the DUE, Gerard stated “Four years from now, this model won’t exist. It will all be 1x. For the world to go 1x, you need the product; and you need the riders to be ready. With 1 x 11 [speed] it’s possible; and with 1 x 12 it’s great; with 1 x 13 it’s awesome!
“You see people coming out with 12-speed and 13-speed. So, the technology is getting ready, not just for the early adopters; but also for the fast and slow followers. We saw the same with 1x in mountain bike. It goes slow, and slow, and everyone says it’ll never work. Then, all of a sudden you have all these brands with a warehouse full of 2x mountain bikes, saying how can I get rid of them!?”