The engineering brief for the new Strada was quite simple:
- Take advantage of the more relaxed rules for aero shapes
- Make it faster but keep the comfort of the original Strada
- Route the cables internally if it makes the bike faster (so not with a wider headtube as is often done)
- (a) Maintain full adjustability in stem length, bar width & bar angle and (b) make adjustments easy
- Make living with the Strada easier with regards to fork/tire clearance, seatpost and saddle rail clamping
I’m happy to report we achieved 4.5 out of 5. Engineering also means compromising and goals 3 and 4 simply clashed. Our analysis:
- Goal 3 (The advantages of a more aero internal cable routing) stay with you every pedal stroke.
- Goal 4a (Full adjustment) is non-negotiable as having an aero bike is useless if you can’t sit in the right position
- Goal 4b (Easy adjustment) is less important as you only do that a few times (or never if your store does it when you buy)
So the ease of adjustment was sacrificed in order to keep the full adjustment and the best aerodynamics.
But let’s take a look at the main new features one by one:
The new UCI rules
The basic premise of the new rules is that certain tubes can be deeper. In a lot of areas on our bikes, we already push the tubing as far as is necessary. Sometimes there is simply no reason to go deeper, or it is even detrimental. For example the rear half of the frame can remain slender without an aero penalty, see also below.
The headtube on the other hand could really evolve thanks to the rule changes. It is now a lot deeper, not only through a longer gusset but also with a new nose cone. Together they really improve the aero profile and aspect ratio, resulting in lower drag figures.
Faster yet comfortable
The Strada concept relies on two zones. The front is the speed zone with all focus on aerodynamics where it matters most. That doesn’t mean we neglect comfort there, but aerodynamics are leading.
In the rear we have the comfort zone. Here we can make a difference with the curved seattube and ultra-thin seat stays. As luck (or engineering) would have it, those are all very good for aerodynamics too. So the original approach of the comfort zone stays intact from the original Strada concept, while the speed zone sees a lot of tweaks.
Internal cable routing
We’ve always loved the concept of fully internal cable routing but hated the execution. Sure, stuffing the cables and hoses inside can give you a small aero gain. Yet if you have to fatten the headtube to get the cables past the steerer, you may end up with a net loss of speed instead of a gain.
Thus step 1 for us was to stick to our original narrow headtube with narrow headset cup sizes. Our headset was always narrow, with a 42mm cup at the top (for a 1 1/8″ steerer) and 47mm at the bottom (for a 1 1/4″ steerer). Many internal cable routing solutions grow those cups to 52mm (for a 1 1/2″ steerer). This means the bearing width increases more than the width of the cables! Instead, we locked in our original 42/47mm cups and found a different way to make it work.
With the bearing sizes locked in, we wanted to make sure the headtube in-between those bearings also stayed narrow. You will see that the Strada 2.0 still has a slim hourglass shape, not a barrel shape.
How do we fit the cable through this narrow headtube? You may know that we made a custom lower headset bearing for the Racemax. We use that same bearing for the Strada 2.0. We went a step further and also customized a super-slim top bearing. This creates space between the steerer and the headset to guide the cables. you can also see the cable channel in the compression ring below.
Full and easy adjustability of stem/bar
The new 3T APTO Integrale keeps the exact same sleek profile as our original APTO stem. So also there, no added bulk to route the cables. The APTO Integrale is compatible with both our Superergo and Aeroflux bars which also keep their same shapes. This gives you a choice between our most comfortable or fastest bars. It also means you can still finetune fit with stem length, bar width and bar rotation. So top marks for full adjustability, which is rather rare with internal cable routing.
Unfortunately the easy adjustability does not get full marks. Bar width requires rerunning the brake hoses (that’s common with most internal systems though). Stem length changes also require a rerunning (some systems don’t). Since most people only change their stem length or bar width when they first get the bike (or never), we felt that was an acceptable compromise.
A related compromise is that the new Strada is only compatible with electronic drivetrains. We don’t feel this is a big compromise for a frame at this level as all the logical group sets (SRAM Rival AXS, Force AXS, Red AXS and Shimano 105, Ultegra, Dura-Ace come (only) in electronic versions. The only drawback is that for a 1x setup, Campagnolo Ekar is not compatible.
Speaking of 1x, of course the Strada remains compatible with 1x and 2x drivetrains through two separate dedicated versions.
Making life easier
With some extra tire clearance in the front fork, a new seatpost clamp and the Ritchey saddle rail clamp, the new Strada is definitely easier to live with.
So all in all we achieved almost all of our goals, and we are very excited to now launch this brand new Strada.
The new Strada will become available in a few steps. Right now, it is available in limited quantities with SRAM Force AXS 2×12 drivetrain and your choice of alloy or carbon wheels (as an upgrade, just contact us). Later, the line-up will be expanded to include a SRAM Rival AXS 2×12 bike, a Rival AXS 1×12 bike and a SRAM Red 1×12 bike.