“Go nowhere fast. Go slow faster” The slogan for the 3T Exploro Team ties a knot in our brain. An Aero-Gravel-Explorer, what the hell is this? We put this extraordinary bike to the test to find out how it differs from its brother from a different mother (but the same dad, Gerard Vroomen).

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best road bike for any weather and any season – 10 Endurance Bikes in Review

3T Exploro Team
3T Exploro Team | 8.34 kg | € 4,999

Massive tires, an impressive carbon fork and a high profile frame – the 3T looks incredibly powerful and bursts with confidence. The clean finish is hugely appealing, as is the sum of many little details: the huge 3T Logo is cleverly placed and harmoniously integrated, suiting the style of the frame. The frame tubes gracefully melt into each other, creating a distinctive silhouette. The derailleur hanger can be removed, a great solution for a clean and fast 1×11 conversion. The only eyesores in this harmonious picture is the bulky brake-mount on the fork, with its massive post mount and the bulky locknut on the thru-axle. The cable routing entering the top tube, as we know it from TT bikes, stands in contrast against the bike’s clean aesthetics. The bulky look also translates in real kilos once we put the bike on the scales: our test bike in a size L weighs 8.43 kg, and is amongst the heavyweights in this test.

3T Exploro Team
After being only available as a frameset, the 3T Exploro will soon be available in the built version we tested, at a price of € 4,999.
3T Exploro Team
Tuning Tip: 28”-Wheels for faster rides on the street.

The 47 mm wide WTB Horizon tires deliver exactly what we found lacking from other tires when riding on the challenging roads of Belgium: grip! Compared to the Vittoria Open Corsa, the WTB Horizon literally glues itself to the ground and surprises with good rolling resistance. In combination with the stiff frame, the bike accelerates very well. All of these great characteristics put the tire well ahead of the Schwalbe G-One in 28″ found on the Open.

3T Exploro Team 3T Exploro Team
3T Exploro Team
“The stereotypical Explore customer, a gravel racer with aero-ambitions and a triathlon background, who only needs a saddle bag for his multi-day expedition, is yet to be born.“

Thanks to the width and high volume of the tire, it’s possible to run lower air pressures, smoothing out the smaller bumps and irregularities on the ground. However, stronger peaks of vibrations are still directly transferred straight into the body due to the frame’s high stiffness. On flat, smooth terrain we notice the downside of running low tire pressures, with a rhythmical bouncing motion following each pedal stroke. We recommend playing around with different pressures to find the sweet-spot. At high speed the 1×11 drivetrain gets noisy – the chain line is all over the place and the huge frame tubing is the perfect resonator.

3T Exploro Team
Helmet POC Octal | Glasses Adidas Zonyk | Jersey Ashmei Midlayer Jersey | Jacket Ashmei Emergency Jacket | Bibshort Rapha Pro Team Bibshorts | Socks The Wonderful Socks Polka | Shoes Bont Vaypor

In a direct comparison with the Open, which feels more like a MTB with drop-bars, the 3T with its uncomfortably stiff frame feels like a traditional road bike with fatter tires. Take note: The tires are the only comfort enhancing part. The Exploro is quicker, more nimble but also feels a lot more nervous on downhills than the Open. At high speed the bike doesn’t inspire much confidence, needing an experienced rider to keep things sweet.

The 3T Exploro Team in detail

Drivetrain SRAM Force 1
Wheelset 3T Discus Plus C25 Pro
Brakes SRAM Force
Tires WTB Horizon
Weight 8.43 kg
Price € 4,999

3T Exploro Team
TT inspired internal cable routing – we don’t get it.
3T Exploro Team
The seat clamp is integrated into the frame. Reaching the bolt with our multi tool was impossible.
3T Exploro Team
The protruding post mount and the huge locknut are eyesores on the otherwise slick-looking Exploro.
3T Exploro Team
Do you want to mount a front derailleur? No problem. The 1×11 setup on the 3T was very noisy.
3T Exploro Team
Geometry 3T Exploro Team

Conclusion

The 3T Exploro is an extroverted and strong individualist, but one that’s full of contradictions. We had fun riding it, even though the overall concept leaves us with a few open questions – the Exploro is neither endurance, nor gravel, nor road bike. So maybe, those who are sick of rational decisions and conventional thinking are in luck with this one. Still, we don’t really feel like we can recommend it.

Strengths

+ Unique design
+ Very agile
+ Good acceleration

Weaknesses

– Irresolute concept
– Seat tube clamp is weak and hard to access (impossible with a multi-tool)
– Locknut on the front thru-axle comes off when removing the wheel
– Saddle clamp breaks easily
– Frame is too stiff


For more info head to: 3tcycling.com

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best road bike for any weather and any season – 10 Endurance Bikes in Review

All bikes in test: BMC Roadmachine 01 | Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0Focus Paralane Factory | Ridley X-Trail | ROSE Backroad-4400 | Specialized Roubaix Expert Di2 | Trek Domane SLR 10 RSL | OPEN U.P.P.E.R. | WHITE Wessex


This article belongs to the GRAN FONDO Issue #005. For the full interactive experience we recommend reading it in our magazine app for iPhone & iPad – it’s awesome – and free!

Words: Benjamin Topf, Manuel Buck, Robin Schmitt Photos: Julian Mittelstädt