The 3T Exploro Team tags itself, along with its LTD brother, as the first aerodynamic gravel bike. Though that claim might seem to be more of a head scratcher at first, once you start to think about the conditions you’ll be taking this bike to, it all becomes clear. One of the great things about gravel grinding is that the UCI hasn’t gotten its hands on the segment yet, which means that imaginative bicycle designers can develop all sorts of solutions that may thumb their noses at UCI regulations, but who cares!
For the 3T Exploro Team, you are getting all the same cutting edge design solutions that Gerard Vrooman has lavished on the LTD version, but at an appreciated cost savings and reasonable weight gain by using a slightly heavier grade of carbon. To earn that aerodynamic assertion, they’ve developed tubes with aero qualities that are maximized at the lower speeds that us normal riders will be doing, and they even took into account the actual mud you’ll likely be layering on your bike after a couple hours in the woods. The shape of the aero downtube has been dubbed Sqaero, which takes the typical teardrop aero tube shape and hacks off the tail end, effectively squaring off the tube. But since it is 50mm wide, the 25mm wide seat tube can completely shelter behind the downtube’s slipstream and basically disappear in an aerodynamic sense. In fact, that downtube is so wide, your water bottles will practically disappear behind it. The head tube, seatstays and bespoke seatpost also use the Sqaero shape for an aero advantage.
The Exploro is made for sharp, snappy handling thanks to its Performance Geometry, which is intended to help you get through tight switchback corner on woodsy gravel tracks without having to dab or scrub your speed. This is a road racer’s bike for backcountry adventures. The fact that you can stick on a whole array of different wheel and tire sizes is what will make you crave the trails, even if your diet has always happily consisted of smoothly paved roads. This is a Gravel Plus bike after all. With the dropped chainstay giving that whole bottom bracket area more room to breathe, you can fit everything from 700x28mm or 700x40mm road and cross and tires all the way up to 650b mountain bike tires, up to 2.1 inches wide. And the “Hang Loose Hanger” is the clever solution for how you can change out rear wheels or fix flats easily since the rear derailleur hanger detaches from the frame when the rear wheel is removed and then can be easily reattached when you’re putting in the thru axle. It sounds fiddly, but actually works amazingly well and is one of those things that makes us wonder why no one has thought of this for disc brake road bikes before.
With cleverly designed ports to match the internal cable routing for Di2, e-Tap, as well as 1x10/11, 2x10/11, you’ll be able to suit up your rig with clean lines and an uncluttered look. The fork is their in-house 3T Luteus II Team carbon, which uses the same carbon as the frame, and comes with a 15mm through axle that can accept up to 180mm disc brake rotors. However, the rear triangle accept up to a 160mm rotor and is a 12mm through axle. The Exploro Team frame ends up weighing about 1090 grams, which is a gain of about 100 grams over the LTD version, but you’ll also be saving about 1200 bucks, so that’s a pretty fair trade off.
Hitting the trails with the 3T Exploro Team will open a whole world of opportunities for the adventurous roadie.