In 2016, 3T shook up the bike world with the first Gravel-Aero. Designed by Gerard Vroomen, founder and former design director of Cervélo, as a "go slow faster" bike, i.e. a bike as fast as a road bike but performing enough to ride anywhere. As Gerard Vroomen says: "When cycling started, all road cycling was in fact Gravel, so there is nothing so new. For us, the Exploro is the return of the outdoor experience, it's the freedom. It's about going places you might not otherwise go and exploring your environment.
But what does that mean, a Aero Gravel bike ? Is it simply a road bike with wider tires or a Gravel that can also ride well on the road? This article answers these questions by reviewing the Exploro and the current lineup, their differences, their features and why it will be your next adventure partner.
The first aerodynamic Gravel bike
3T Exploro RaceMax in its natural environment - Photo: feedthehabit.com
When it was first launched, many in the bike world considered the Exploro to be simply designed to follow market trends (whereas Gravel was starting to explode) rather than to come up with a revolutionary design. However, these claims were quickly dismissed when people started to try it out.
A unique design made for competitive gravel ridingThe 3T Exploro looks incredibly powerful and confident with its massive tires, a carbon fork and a high-profile frame. The frame's gracefully flowing tubes create a distinctive silhouette, but this bike isn't just beautiful. The Exploro is an absolute blast on the trails, a bike that will let you put your head down and go fast as well as participate in big events. That said, as with any other bike, the Exploro will only reveal its full capabilities if you have the right tires.
An undeniably aerodynamic geometryYou won't always have dirt roads around, so chances are you'll have to spend some time on asphalt, and the Exploro behaves like a road bike in that situation. After all, the Exploro is the first aerodynamic Gravel bike. So let's talk about it.
The Exploro features what 3T calls Sqaero tube profiles, which means you have a leading edge designed for aerodynamics with a square rear section. The airflow essentially behaves as if the airfoil had a long tapered tail. In addition to reducing drag, this profile is designed to provide strength and stiffness without making the frame too difficult to handle in crosswinds.
The Exploro's geometry is designed for a fast and comfortable ride - more like a road or cyclocross position than a mountain bike. Your riding position will always make more difference to the overall aerodynamics (of the bike and rider) than any tube shape or frame feature, so it makes sense for 3T to offer an aggressive configuration.
A high-end transmission to match
For a bike like this, the groupsets also need to be aligned with the quality offered. In the case of the Exploro, there is something for everyone. You can choose between a electronic or mechanical SRAM Rival or Force single or double chainring, Shimano GRX or Campagnolo Ekar 13 speed single chainring. And the options don't stop there, since you can use a SRAM Eagle XX1 rear derailleur with a Force groupset for climbing and descending on more technical routes.
The Exploro 3T range: full analysis
6 years after the release of the first Exploro, the Italian bike manufacturer 3T continues to expand its product line in 2022.
Exploro Team and Pro
Both use a similar high modulus unidirectional carbon fiber frame and 3T's own Fango fork.
The main difference between the two models is the components offered. The Exploro Pro is more entry-level with a mechanical groupset, while the Exploro Team comes standard with an electronic groupset and larger tires.
See the full Exploro Team range at The Cyclist House
The evolved version of the bike that started it all, the Exploro RaceMax is for riders who want road bike speed, no matter the surface. With a cutaway rear wheel, narrower head tube and streamlined frame tubes, the Exploro RaceMax is designed to be fast in all conditions.
The RaceMax range is equipped with Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed or Eagle AXS groupsets depending on the model.
See the entire Exploro RaceMax range at The Cyclist House
Exploro RaceMax Boost
Take what's already great, like a 3T Exploro RaceMax, the most aerodynamic Gravel frame available, try putting a Battery without changing the shape or performance and you get something truly exceptional: the Exploro RaceMax Boost, the electric version of the Exploro.
With its custom Mahle Ebikemotion X35 system, the 3T Exploro RaceMax Boost electric bike is perfect for trails and off-roading. It's light and strong, agile and stable, fast and fun. The RaceMax Boost uses the same frame as the RaceMax; all the electronics fit neatly inside without the need for bulky tubes or visible cables. This makes the RaceMax Boost an excellent ally for extending your adventures.
3T's goal was to maintain the fun and fluidity of a fast, agile gravel bike. That means the pedal assist system has to be very light, offer a very smooth build-up of power, and not be a pain when it's turned off. If you're looking for extra assistance on the climbs or a little extra power to keep up with your friends, the Exploro RaceMax Boost is definitely for you.
See the 3T Exploro RaceMax Boost at The Cyclist House
Now that you have all the tools you need to choose your ideal adventure companion, check out our3T collection collection to go through them with a fine-tooth comb. It's safe to say your companion adventure companion and long trips awaits you!