Gerard Vroomen’s bikes are frame-heavy. I don’t mean the frames are heavy; quite the opposite. I mean that Cervelo (he co-founded the brand in the mid-90s) was the tri bike that reversed the trend of groupkits dominating the bike purchase.
Consumers recognized the utility of his frame and his bikes silenced the question dominating every bike conversation for the 15 years prior to Cervelo: “What’s your cheapest Ultegra bike?”
I built two of Gerard’s bikes during October: an OPEN WI.DE., instantly my current fave which I’ll review in the near future, and this 3T Strada I’m reviewing today. I didn’t mean to review this bike: honestly, I was talking to Gerard about the 3T Exploro, I mentioned I’m looking to replace the Cannondale Supersix EVO that I’ve been riding for the past 6 years, one thing led to another, we struck a deal, and here I have this road bike.
Two things you should know about this bike. One is that a special offer on it is going to be made to Slowtwitchers, via direct mail. While my greedy little soul remains strong and eligible, I’m not participating in this financially. It’s just a pass-thru. This came up through my discussions with Gerard about the bike. “Hey, I have a number of these in a particular build left over, do you think there’s an appeal to the Slowtwitch community if we did something special for them?” At the end of this review I’ll intro you to Gerard, for those who’re interested.
Second, this bike is built around tech that the bike industry is moving toward, and what is that? Disc brakes, 1x shift systems, and larger road tires. You can whinge all you want, but these are the major trends. If you don’t like the idea of 28mm and even 30mm tires, just stop reading now. This is the sort of bike that I could see being ridden in a Spring Classic, or a road race with patches of strade bianche. But let’s talk about the frame first.
The bike fits lower versus its length than the road bikes he made while at Cervelo. For example, I still have a 58cm R3 from the old Cervelo days and it’s got a stack and reach of 605 and 396 respectively. If you assume a size Large in the Strada – the 4th of 5 sizes up the size run – is analogous to a 58cm that Size Large Strada I’m reviewing here has a stack and reach of 565mm by 393mm.
As you can see its almost the same length as my old R3 in 58cm, but the front is 40mm lower to the ground. I like the R3, it was a great bike in its day, but it was very stiff throughout and halfway between race and endurance geometry. Even the newer Cervelo aero road bikes – the S series – aren’t nearly as low-slung as this.
But I have no complaints. The Cannondale Supersix this bike is replacing has a stack/reach of 577mm x 399mm, so this Strada is a little lower (I have a -17° stem on the Supersix; I have a -6° stem on the Strada to compensate), and as for the Cannondale’s extra length, that’s normalized by the SRAM hydraulic brifters on the Strada, which for some reason (I don’t know why) just feel longer. Those levers stretch out the cockpit. In fact, I had to move from a 120mm stem to a 110mm stem to get the Strada to feel right in the cockpit.
This bike comes in 1x, is made for 1x, and it has a chain stay length of 405mm. Were it me I’d have added a centimeter or so to ease the chain angle and maybe that’s a valid thought or maybe not. Shifting is fine but I’ve got 1x on both the Strada and on the OPEN I just built and shifting is just a leeetle smoother on the OPEN which, of course, because of the massive tire clearance, has a considerably longer chain stay.
I felt I had to change one thing from the bike’s original spec. I did not like the handlebar that came on this bike. This was purely an issue of fit. Remember, this bike is long for a given height. And, the SRAM hydraulic brifters add some length. What broke it for me was the handlebar’s “reach”, which is the distance from the handlebar clamp forward to the center of the bar at the hook’s forward protrusion. The reach of the bar on the Strada I got was at least 100mm, and I needed more like 70mm or 80mm, or else I’d have had to ride a really short stem and my knees would’ve banged the bars when I was climbing out of the saddle.
I'm not saying the bar needs to be changed. I'm saying my bar needed to be changed. Ride it first before you change anything.
I replaced these with a set of Profile Design DRV/AERO, a terrific bar that I love because the tops are not just ergonomic, the flat tops section of that bar protrudes forward of the handlebar clamp. Too many bars protrude backward. I almost always feel cramped when I’m riding on the tops, and if the bar’s tops come back from the handlebar clamp this is another kneecapper if you’re out of the saddle on steep enough hill. This is a great little bar, only $85, and if I had a little more coin I’d have gotten Profile Design’s Canta Ergo, considerably more money, you can see both bars below and you’ll see what I mean about the shape of the tops. (Here's where you'd see these bars.)
Now, a word to the wise, or at least to those not abjectly stupid. When I realized I’d need to swap the bars out I just yanked the whole front end off the bike, cables, housing and all. What a dumb move! Had I thought this over I’d just have disconnected the hydraulic lines and the shift housing. Everything’s internally routed in this bike. Including through the handlebar. But I could’ve left everything in the frame and I should’ve. I had to take off the crank and bang out the bottom bracket to route all the housing back through, but it did give me the scenic tour of the frame. By now I and the Strada know each other like an old married couple.
The nice thing about 3T, it started as a component brand. Stems, handlebars, stuff like that, expanding out into cranksets, wheels and the like. Bike brands have been moving toward their own house brands. Trek with Bontrager, Specialized with its own Specialized parts, and with Roval. What’s a component and accessory brand to do? If you’re Gerard Vroomen and you have a fat resume as a bike builder, two can play that game. Point being, 3T doesn’t need to figure out how to make its own house components – that’s its pedigree. You see that with the 1x carbon crank on the Pressift 30BB (this is a 3T crank, but not the one that typically comes on this bike with this build), with 3T's wheels and seatpost. (The stem in the images is not the one that came with the bike – I’ve photographed this bike as I’m riding it, set up for me, which required a change of saddle, stem and handlebar, and it’s got Speedplay Xero pedals, which are my road pedal choice).
Now, for the “deal”. This is going to come to you direct mail which means you’ll need to be on somebody’s list. If you get our newsletter (somewhere on every Slowtwitch page is a newsletter signup thingy) you’ll get a love note from me on this later in the week. If you don’t get our newsletter, and don’t intend to get it, and/or you want to receive this from 3T and Gerard Vroomen directly, register your interest here. This is a $4,000 bike, as it’s presented above. I’m aware of what Gerard has in mind for Slowtwitchers and if this bike catches your fancy you’ll probably want to at least see the value proposition.