3T Exploro frameset

Component giants 3T throw their hat into the adventure ring

You probably know 3T as a component brand, but here they are with a full carbon frameset designed for the emerging gravel and adventure bike market.

To be honest, after years of involvement with bike brands and construction of their own forks, bars, seatposts and wheels among other things, we’d have expected 3T to pick up a few tricks along the way. The good news is they haven’t disappointed.

Where the 3T Exploro stands out is in its gravel-specific aero tubing, ostensibly designed to maximise speed at realistic velocities. So, there’s no testing at 50km/h like most aero road bikes – instead wind tunnel work has been done at 32km/h instead, which is much more realistic for the everyday rider.

This has resulted in 3T arriving at a ‘Squaero’ profile (see what they did there?) that’s most efficient when matched up with wider gravel-specific tyres that the frame is ideally designed for use with, guiding the air around the more capacious frame tubing. It’s bulky, with a 50x75mm cross section, which has the added bonus of shielding water bottles, but has also been heavily truncated to allow easy handling in crosswinds, with the inevitable stiffness benefits at the BB386EVO bottom bracket thrown in.

3T call the concept ‘Realfast’, where the efforts of engineers went into making the frameset as fast as possible in the real world, rather than in a controlled wind tunnel environment. We see this kind of thinking on aero road-specific bikes these days, but 3T are arguably the first to really embrace it in a gravel machine.

The efficiency thinking spreads further back too, with a skinny seattube that’s literally hidden away from the wind behind the beefy downtube. That narrowness also has benefits for compliance, while the rear triangle flares out enormously to accommodate flat mount disc brakes as well as the supplied 47c WTB Horizon rubber on our RCUK100 showbike.

You’ll find the base of the triangle, the chainstays, are short at 415mm, while a road-esque steerer tube means inputs are sharp and direct – despite the wide tyres, it’s a bike you can really throw around, and will outperform other gravel-oriented bikes on the hardtop at a drop of a hat. A performance geometry for a performance gravel rider, no less.

There are tidy little features too, indicating just how much attention to detail has gone into the aero and convenience characteristics of the frame. Spot the fully integrated cable routing (also good for keeping cables out of the line of fire on the rough stuff), the FlipTop fully-compatible cable routing guide just behind the headset, as well as the integrated seatpost clamp.

There’s also a clever hanger design, which allows for easier replacement of a disc brake rear wheel by letting you focus on first sliding the disc in, and the derailleur setup later, and fittings for a toptube bag.

RCUK 100, 3T Exploro gravel bike
RCUK 100 2017, 3T Exploro gravel bike
RCUK 100, 3T Exploro gravel bike

3T Exploro

That routing is ready to accept all styles of shifting too – from electronic to mechanical, as well as giving the choice to riders to have their 3T Exploro with a 1x system, or a compact double if you prefer the flexibility of a dual ring front setup. Whichever you opt for, the Exploro looks born to it.

The Exploro is sold as a frameset only and the top-level LTD version weighs just 950g and features a Luteus LTD carbon fork, while the cheaper Team version (£2,850) weighs a claimed 1,150g and is paired with a Luteus II Team fork instead.

Carbon layup aside, the frames are largely identical, complete with 12mm thru-axle compatibility at the rear (naturally), the flexibility to run a 160mm rear rotor should you choose, and, of course, a 3T seatpost.

[monetizer101 search=’3T Exploro’ price=’3360′]


Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

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