Very fast and crazy comfortable, the 3T Strada Due was a fun bike to review
Words and Images: James Raison
Before getting into the review I’d like to send a big thanks to Adelaide 3T stockist Altitude Cycling and Fitness for organising the bike from 3T’s Australian distributor FE Sports.
The 3T Strada was made infamous in 2018 when it was ridden by now defunct Aqua Blue Sport cycling team. It’s a long and frankly tedious story of what happened between bike supplier and team so I won’t re-tread that ground. Enter the Strada Due; announced in July 2018 as a Strada with some strategically beefed up carbon and a front derailleur mount. It is ostensibly identical other than that. Whether a reaction to the original Strada’s controversy, or a product full intended to be designed and launched anyway is immaterial in 2019. All that matters is how good this bike is. After a week of testing I can confirm it’s very good indeed.
The Strada was designed by Gerard Vroomen; a man with an impressive stable of forward-thinking bikes that have won a lot of races from his days with Cervelo. Vroomen’s talent is in designing to the outer edges of familiarity. Since selling his share in Cervelo, Vroomen teamed up with ex-BMC CEO Andy Kessler to bring us radical bikes like the Open U.P before acquiring 3T. Since then 3T has launched the gravel race Exploro, the Strada, now the Strada Due.
From inception the Strada was meant to be embody what Vroomen thought the bicycle market would look like in 5 years. It was controversial at launch, but mid-2019 sees Vroomen largely vindicated. Aero disc bikes are common, tyres have expanded with 25-30mm commonplace, and 1x drivetrains are making inroads to the pro peloton and consumer markets. Single chainring drivetrains are still occasionally making news for dropping chains, but funnily enough the cycling internet doesn’t lose its collective mind when a 2x drivetrain drops a chain. Which they do. Let’s chalk it up to confirmation bias then and move on.
So, onto the Strada Due. Here’s the build:
Price: $5,499 frameset only
Strada Due Team - Medium
Fork: 3T Fundi TEAM, flat mount disc, 12mm thru axle
Wheels: 3T C35 Team
Cockpit: 3T Superergo Team Stealth bars, 3T Apto Team Stealth stem
Groupset: Shimano R8070 Di2
Bottom bracket: Token BB386evo
Pirelli P-Zero VELO 700x25c
There’s a lot going on with this frame. From extra bottle mounts for better aerodynamics, to the tiny fork crown that shifts the front wheel closer to the down tube, and the “Squaero” tube shaping. Everything has been optimised to serve aerodynamics, comfort, or both. For the very fine details I’ll refer readers to the 3T website. I want to talk about riding this thing!
The Strada Due is a stealth rocket, with its speed is best described as subtle. The smoothness of the ride belies how quickly you’re banging along because there’s less feedback in the form of bumps and vibrations. The Pirelli tyres at 65 psi aided this silky smooth road feeling. The rear of the bike is outrageously smooth and indifferent to most road texture. There are times when you can feel almost nothing through the back of the bike. Its Aeroflex rear stays and the Charlie Sqaero Strada seatpost are remarkably comfortable; both absorbing bumps and vibrations and flexing subtly beneath you. The fork is decent too. You’ll still feel the road surface transferred to your hands but it’s quite muted, especially for a race bike. The Strada Due is an excellent example of the comfortable aero bike movement. The Canyon Aeroad, Trek Madone, Specialized Venge, and Cannondale SystemSix have all elevated rider comfort. Speed and comfort are no longer mutually exclusive.
I spent 10 days getting to know the Strada Due and it was time spent going fast. I noticed higher average speeds on familiar training loops when I was paying no attention to power or intentionally riding quickly. I was just going faster. It was much the same when riding to power. I was moving quicker than normal with familiar power numbers. What’s especially impressive is how the smooth ride helps to keep you fresher. Reduced bumps means reduced fatigue and better legs deep into longer efforts.
It’s a perfectly capable climber too. My scales showed a respectable 7.9 kg with low end Shimano pedals, computer mount, and bottle cage. That’s pretty decent considering it’s an aero disc Di2 bike. It’s no weight weenie but don’t forget that you need a tall gradient before aero gets beaten by a lighter bike for the same wattage.
The Strada Due is at its best on long sweeping corners where it’ll track very nicely on your preferred line. Descents with constant radius turns dispatched at speed are great fun. It’s a little tardy at slower speed corners though. It doesn’t seem to turn in quite as sweetly as some other race bikes I’ve tested. It could be partly due to being on the outer limit of height for the frame, with a very long stem dulling the steering slightly. Nonetheless, it was certainly better suited to speed.
Again I’ll cite the frame’s smoothness as a virtue here. It rides bumps quite well and didn’t feel unsettled on some of the gnarlier descents I took it down.
There’s one particularly annoying handling feature; toe overlap. It’s a very tight frame and the distance between the fork and bottom bracket (aka front centre measurement) is short at 573 mm on this frame size. I brushed my toe on the wheel when climbing tight hairpins and a couple of times navigating roundabouts. It’s not a disaster, but unnerving nonetheless. The Strada Due’s geometry stands out in other ways too; the chainstays are short at 405mm which is a standard length for rim brake bikes and 5-10mm shorter than most disc race bikes. It’s got a typical 73° head angle but a more relaxed 72.5° seat angle.
The 3T Strada Due falls into the “pretty good” section of race bike handling. Good at speed, but a little clumsy when going slowly.
THE REST OF THE BUILD
There’s some gems in the Strada Due’s spec. Almost exactly this build is available on 3T’s website as the “Team Stealth Ultegra” model so I’ll talk about the rest of the bits.
Ultegra’s R8070 is a real pleasure to ride and represents a big step forward from the previous generation. The shifting feels faster, the ergonomics are lightyears ahead of the old R785 shifters, shift clicks are more tactile, and the bar-end junction box gives a clean look. The hydraulic disc brakes are darn good too. I quite enjoyed having buttons on top of the hoods for shifting as a bonus. Thankfully electronic drivetrains have gotten this good because you can’t run mechanical on any Strada. Something for prospective buyers to keep in mind.
I quite like the 3T Superergo Team handlebars too. The flats are squashed into aero shaping but are still comfortable to hold. The bend is a little deeper than I’d have liked but that’s my preference. I rode them in a very narrow 38 cm width which was quite nice for my slender shoulders and helped get an aero position.
I’m less fond of 3T’s Discus Team wheels. I’ve ridden a set of them twice on different bikes and both times found them unstable in blustery wind. The other bike was a non-aero BMC Roadmachine so I don’t think it’s the Strada’s bladed fork at fault. Very different bikes gave me the exact same sensation of instability. It’s very strange given their shallowness. On gusty days the front jerks and squirms in an unsettling way that caused some nervous descending. They are otherwise nice wheels to ride; pretty light, wide, tubeless, and with willing bearings.
Wheels aside, there’s a darn good build here.
THE PRICE OF PROGRESS
I had a blast on the Strada Due but there’s a consumer cost to a bike so relentlessly focused on speed, aero and integration.
All of these examples are small things, but certainly buyers should be aware of them. The seat position and angle is very fiddly to adjust because the seat post clamp has a complicated two-part mechanism. It’s a job for people with 3 hands. The seat post itself is short because of the seat tube curvature. I had to ride a bike with a post from a larger frame to get the height I needed. It’s an exceptionally tight frame around the wheels so grit builds up in hard to reach places and you have to take the wheel out to clean it quite often. I like the Syntace thru-axles but you have to make sure you have a multi-tool because there’s no lever on them. Then there’s the complex and aesthetically displeasing cable routing into the top tube.
Again, these aren’t big deals but small things for prospective buyers to be aware of.
The Strada Due is quite a blend of speed and comfort. It’s an engineer’s gift to the racing cyclist. Therein lies its strengths and weaknesses. Those with good need to go fast will love it on the road and put up with its small annoyances at home. Racers who dabble in crits, kermesses, road races, and even time trials should consider a Strada Due. You could even whack on some aero bars for a triathlon rig.
Those with no particular need for a bike so race focused would be better served by something less fussy.
The Strada will be remembered by many for the wrong reasons. The Strada Due will be remembered by me as a total rocket that didn’t beat me up and didn’t put a foot wrong. Lucky I bagged a few Strava records before I gave it back!
Disclosure statement: This bike was provided by the Australia 3T distributor FE Sports. It’s not a paid review and we don’t get any proceeds from the sale of 3T products.