The first of Cyclist Track Days demo events took place last weekend at Lee Valley Velopark, London, and gave riders the chance to ride the much-discussed 3T Strada and Exploro bikes for themselves.
Lee Valley was definitely a great choice for the first event – this cycling-specific venue is certainly an inspirational place to ride with its facilities for so many different disciplines of cycling from track and road right through to mountain biking and BMX.
For this event though, the hundreds of roadies in attendance were focused on the smoothly laid tarmac of the track, so that’s where we set-up camp.
We’d bagged a prime trackside position, from which we could see the many grins and thumbs-ups as riders flew by on our fleet of sparkling 3T bikes. It’s rare that you get to see the pure pleasure of riding like this and it was great fun looking out for all the 3T riders, who were aboard red, matt black and Aquablue liveried Stradas and black or white Exploros.
As we prepped bikes and fit riders for each demo, there was plenty of chatting too – the enthusiasm and eagerness to try all the bikes available was clear. In addition to the Saddleback team manning our demo fleet, 3T’s Fabrizio Macaluso had flown in from Italy to talk all-things 3T – and there was a lot to talk about.
Being a ground-up redesign of the racing bike and a break from many of the established principles that have driven bike design for decades, the Strada’s wide tyres, 1x drivetrain and disc brakes had a lot to prove to the traditionalists amongst the throngs of riders attending the event.
We needn’t have worried: feedback on the Strada was downright sensational. We got so many comments about the sheer speed of the bike with people clearly recognising the cutting-edge aerodynamics at work in the frame’s design. On the back end of the track there was a drag upwards against the wind and plenty of riders said they could really feel the difference motoring up there on the Strada compared to other bikes.
The most pleasant surprise for many Strada testers was the 1x drivetrain. After fears that the wide-range cassette would provide a gappy gearing experience, one of the most common comments post-ride was that the gear changes were smoother and gear selection much broader and easier than they had thought.
The 28mm tyres also proved a favourite, with riders noting the incredible level of grip on offer – and, in the case of the Strada, there’s an aerodynamic benefit rather than penalty for the extra grip and comfort. The bike was even dubbed the ultimate crit machine by several riders keen to put the Strada into action in circuit races.
All the feedback we received on the Strada just backed up the choices made by 3T in its design. And whenever we mentioned that the new, fully-built Strada Pro would be available from Saddleback around the end of May from £4,850, eyes lit up with excitement.
The Exploro has really come to define performance gravel riding, so it was no surprise that like the Strada, it quickly won over fans at the Cyclist Track Days event.
While people expected the Exploro to offer amazing comfort and control, several riders commented on how surprised they were at the performance offered by the 275 wheel set-up. In fact, a few riders took to changing between 700c and 275 wheels between each test to feel the difference the wheel size and tyre choice made when pitted back-to-back against one another.
The bike’s versatility also impressed, with riders surprised at just how well the bike rolls on tarmac and how fast it is, even when compared with other road-specific bikes. Some riders even declared the Exploro the bike of the demo – no mean feat among all the brands on offer.
The next event on the Cyclist Track Days calendar is Castle Coombe, Wiltshire, on 29 April. The final demo day takes place on 20 May at York Sport Village.
Find out more and get your tickets at the Cyclist Track Days website.