Review: 3T Strada – The 1x / Single Chainring Road Bike

1x drivetrains are hot, but for road bikes? Earlier in 2018, the 3T Strada raised the eyebrows of the European professional peloton when Irish-registered professional team, Aqua Blue Sport, announced they’d be riding the uber aerodynamic 3T road bike during the 2018 season.

It has disc brakes, nothing new there, we’ve already seen sporadic use of this technology in the pro peloton.

What the eff? No front derailleur?

But, the 3T Strada eschews 2x / two chainrings for a 1x / single chainring – huh? Isn’t this supposed to be a road bike?

3T have made some interesting claims with the Strada. Sure, a lot of work has gone into the aerodynamics of the bike, you’re either going to love or hate how it looks. Credit the Strada’s stealthy lines to Gerard Vroomen, co-founder and former co-owner of Cervelo.

There’s a generous amount of room for tyre clearance, namely 30mm front and rear.

However, the claim of dropping about 400 grams to ditch one chainring, a front derailleur and a further improvement in aerodynamics is a bit questionable in my opinion.

Thus, with a healthy dose of skepticism in mind, I took delivery of the 3T Strada (size medium) early in 2018. You can check out my unboxing video here (so many people love unboxing videos!… or not) and the build video here.

Rolling some of Florida’s historic brick roads.

Much of the time I ride gravel and cyclocross bikes on the funnest roads of all, but I still ride on the road when necessary. I despise doing solo intervals, but with the help of some of my mates in Gainesville, Florida, I knock about on the odd roadie group ride, hoping to maintain and gather some higher end fitness.

The 3T Strada has served as my primary road bike for over eight months for group rides and solo jaunts.

Rather than continuing to ramble on about the 3T Strada in written form, please check out my comprehensive, long-term review of the bike in the video below. Gearing, group rides, rides in the Georgia mountains, all of it is covered.

For your viewing delight, a few more photos:

Swoopy lines of the seattube hug the rear wheel.
This bike be UCI approved.
The uber aero seatpost clamp has performed flawlessly.
The seatpost head is finicky to setup, but hasn’t budged.
Squaero = Aero.
Pardon the steerer, you don’t cut them short on review bikes.

Final Thoughts

A single chainring road bike may indeed work well for some people. It would be killer in a criterium or in flat parts of the world with the odd overpass or two, but I feel it’s a massive compromise. In my opinion, the small amount of weight saved and claimed aerodynamic advantages just aren’t worth the limitations of highly annoying gearing, especially when the front derailleurs in modern drivetrains shift so well. Why subject myself to annoying gaps on the cassette, where I felt the Strada was dictating my tempo with a 1x drivetrain – and not the other way around – when I can have it all with two chainrings and a much tighter cassette.
 
I really wish there was an option to retrofit this Strada with a front derailleur mount, because it would make the riding experience so much better for me. With that said, if you can get past the bike’s idiosyncrasies and limitations, the 3T Strada may be the ticket for you. The frame is a rocket and it’s a sharp looker.
 

Don’t like the idea of 1x on a road bike? 3T released the Due a little while ago, the 2x / double chainring version of the Strada. I would like a 3T Due please… and a 3T Exploro with 2x whilst you’re at it.
Priced at about $US 3,300 for the 3T Strada Team Red/White frame module as seen in this review, or $US 5,900 for the complete Strada Team Force bike, all are available now at 3T’s website. 3T also offers a slighter heavier, Strada Pro model if you don’t to spend quite as much.

3T Cycling


Article and video by Gravel Cyclist. Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.

35 COMMENTS

  1. appreciate the honest review, came on expecting a half hearted endorsement of a stupid concept for the road. 1x works great for MTB, and THAT’S IT. It’s a compromise everywhere else, and the payoff is minuscule for road riding. Smart that they intro’d the Due.

    • I’m riding 1x for quite some time with a 50 – 11×36 11speed setup and a chaincatcher for peace of mind (have one on my mtbs too). And i really don’t understand all the hate. It climb mostly everything (same as a 39-28) and for me the gaps are just good. On a regular 2x setup i often find the gaps to be so small i change 2 speed at a time, stupid. Here the gap are nicely consistent across the range. It’s also a question of asking do i really need that ultra small gap in cadence ? Most rider climb at 60 and ride the flats at 90 when there is no biomechanical reasons for that. Hating that product because thinking most rider need super small cadence jump is ridiculous. Also you have tons of other options to run 2X if your legs can’t cope with a 3rpm cadence change.
      Finally i think 3T cassettes sucks, the 10 cog is dumb and the jump 10-11 at the bottom combined with the poor efficiency is not smart. Bigger cog mean better efficiency, the sram 11-36 is a very fine option. Also for very long and steep climbing the shimano 11-42 is great, i have one for those long ride in the alps.
      In the end next year we’ll have 12 speed so it’ll be possible to have the gaps of the 11-36 with the range of the 11-42 (in fact i think 11-40 would be 1X road-perfection).
      The rotor 1×13 also look great on paper but i guess we’re not close to see a cheap and reliable option while sram has shown it’s quick to bring the medium range to the market with eagle 12.

      • If you are riding solo, fine, the gear jumps don’t mean anything significant. But why exactly would you be riding a full-on aero bike for solo rides? For Strava segment times? Try riding a bike with huge gear jumps when you are climbing at your limit in a group, and there is a slight pace/gradient change. You’ll want a 2-3 tooth max jump. 1x is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Just because you can get along with it doesn’t make it a good idea.

      • Its very simple concept. There are too many gaps in the middle for a road racer. Yeah I get that you are going to climb anything I get that. Now imagine a climb that goes 2%, 10%, 8%, descending, 7% for 10K and so on. With TT type intervals in between at 55KMh. At the end of a pro race, any really, your legs have zero choice, they only have one gear ona 1x and if your muscles are spent but your engine still has a few watts, its very difficult to play with RPMs and power output, you just dont have a choice. Flat crits, tight cassette, no problem. Extreme short hills MB style not a problem but road race with your face on the watt screen, it just not possible, makes no sense. Even for my next bike, mostly gravel open road I dont see the point.

    • “1x works great for MTB, and THAT’S IT”

      It seems to work well enough for gravel riding and racing (though I prefer doubles for this), and it’s undeniably superior for Cyclocross, where the speed range is narrow enough that the gear choices require no compromise in gearing, leaving one with just the weight and chain retention benefits.

      The interesting thing to me is, why does it work so well for MTB? The engine is the same. Why are the even larger gear gaps tolerable on an MTB and not on other bikes?

      • You ride a road bike for speed. As I understand my roadie friends.
        On the contrary MTB, especially enduro and DH is about technique. Riding difficult trails does not demands precise drivetrain with small gaps. Unless you are Aaron Gwin or Yoann Barelli you don’t need speed when you are going down. And cadence is not important.
        And when you are going up, you just need to get there. No matter how fast.
        And simplicity of gear changing and maintenance is so nice, we just love 1x systems.

  2. Noticing lots of road bikes with clearance for 30s, but that seems like a relatively uncommon size. Lots of 32s out there.

    Also can we just stop kidding ourselves and bring back the triple?

  3. Wasn’t this crappy bike one of the reasons why Aqua Blue folded? Not just because of 1x which turned out as a very stupid thing for riders and mechanics a like. Slipping seatposts during races, dropped chains and more. There was a lot of talk about this when Aqua Blue gave up.

    • It’s true they had issue with the bike but Aqua blue really folded because of money issues and poor management.

      They even had some success with that bike (Lasse Norman Hansen).

  4. Slipping seatposts like this one or the one on the canyon aeroad can be prevented by a drop of locktite on the locking bolt and a loose piece of rubber from an old piece of nner tube along the seatpost in the seat tube. Carbon paste will do the rest.

    • On a $3300 FRAMESET you shouldn’t have to use a hacked up innertube as a shim for the seatpost from keeping it from going down. I wish companies would give up on the “super clean” looking seat wedges and just go to a good old fashion collar and round tube. The aero benifits are moot when you have an odd shaped human wrapped all around it.

  5. “especially when the front derailleurs in modern drivetrains shift so well.”

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

    Say that to SRAM and they will reply “fk it we can’t make front derailleurs working so we ditch it”.

  6. There are lots of 1x lovers and lots of 1x haters. Fact is, 3T has a market and being unique has definitely helped their sales.

    I ride 1x on my gravel bike and I’d never go 2x. Simplicity, lighter weight, sufficient range, and adequate gear steps.

    On the road in the hills, that may be different, but I’m thinking of a build for a gig I’ll take in the Netherlands and 1x is really appealing there because I don’t need a lot of range.

  7. Only 2 places inthe world where road 1×11 culd be suitable would be Florida and Denmark…

    Living in Denmark i’d still have to say thumbs down 🙁

  8. 2x is great for road riding.
    1x is totally fine for road riding.
    Road riders (racers or not) have always seemed a finnicky bunch with superiority complexes and fragile egos.

  9. I’ve been riding 1X for a few years now with an oval 50 in the front and 11×42 in the back. I’m no racer, but I’ve had no problems keeping up in fast group rides.

    Facebook pic of the Ridley cross X-Fire set up for 1X road:

    https://scontent.fphl2-3.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/fr/cp0/e15/q65/40683740_10214649331841248_3560495147848302592_o.jpg?_nc_cat=101&efg=eyJpIjoidCJ9&_nc_ht=scontent.fphl2-3.fna&oh=142af4e49c2255946b53017bd021863f&oe=5C6476E8

    I think we humans are very adaptable. I don’t have another road bike set up as 2X, so I no longer remember or get reminded what the gaps are on a 2X.

    My other bike is a track bike running 50×16 or 18 on the road, so no reminders there either.

    /

  10. In the last 30 years we’ve had all of these situations:

    Everyone should be on a 53/39 and straight-through block or just give up
    Triples
    Compacts
    Compacts plus wide range block (11-32)
    1x with wider range block (up to 10-50+ on MTB)

    To winch a typical weight rider up 10+% incline with a reasonable cadence and even a decent FTP REQUIRES a pretty low gear = this is what a lot of people need and even the pros are sometimes using 11-32 in the mountains.

    To keep up with a fast group requires a high gear = this is what a small set of people need sometimes.

    1x works perfectly for me when I’m on my own or in a small group. It doesn’t work for me on the road in the mountains or on a fast group ride. Your needs may be different but please less of the ‘XYZ set-up is crap’*

    *unless you’re talking triples which are absolutely surplus to requirements nowadays! 😉

  11. i think if i still was living in western mass i might not be thrilled with a 1x, but here in pancake flat coastal eastern nc, a 1x with an 11×23 cassette would be just fine! btw, the pic with the bike in front of the loco is great!

  12. Jeez I’m old, used to race with a 52/42 11/17 straight block, down tube shifters, mountains and all. Do like my 1x gravel bike, but stick to a 2x on the roads, just too big a compromise between ascending and descending.

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