The 3T Exploro Ultra combines a familiar frame platform with a dropper post, mullet drivetrain and chunky tires. Our group test of 18 of the best gravel bikes of the year reveals whether the concept works and if the Exploro Ultra can shine across a wide range of applications.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best gravel bike 2022 – 19 models on test

3T Exploro Ultra | 8.47 kg in size 56 | Manufacturer’s website

The 3T Exploro Ultra is new but not completely unknown. The frame is strongly reminiscent of the 3T Exploro RaceMax featured in last year’s gravel test, using the same geometry, with only minor changes to the design language and functionality. The bike also retains the polarising, if almost iconic, cable routing at the front. That said, the real news for the Exploro Ultra is its spec, which should equip the bike for more than just high-speed gravel.

The 1×12 SRAM mullet drivetrain combines a SRAM XX1 Eagle mountain bike derailleur with SRAM Force eTap AXS levers. In turn, this matches a 40 t chainring to a 10–50 t cassette, offering a hard enough gear for riding fast and a low enough one to climb steep ramps. The only issue is the large gear jumps. We’re also more familiar with dropper posts in the mountain bike world. The 3T Exploro Ultra is equipped with a Crankbrothers Carbon Highline with 100 mm travel, offering additional freedom of movement on technical downhills. The aggressively treaded 700 x 40C Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M tires are also designed for rougher terrain and are a full 44 mm wide on the 3T Discus 45|40 LTD wheels.

Too pretty to be true
The 3T Torno LTD carbon crank is a real eye-catcher. It is available with 36 to 44 tooth chainrings and contributes to weight reduction.
Almost legendary
The cable routing at the front of the 3T could almost pass for a design classic. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any better when you’re pedaling out of the saddle and rub your legs against the cables.
Make some room
Freedom of movement is the be-all and end-all for generating suspension travel with your body off-road. The 3T Exploro Ultra achieves this by using a carbon dropper post from Crankbrothers.

3T Exploro Ultra

€ 8,199


Seatpost Crankbrothers Highline 11
Brakes SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Force eTap AXS mit XX1 Eagle AXS-Schaltwerk 1x12
Stem 3T Apto Team Stealth 100 mm
Handlebar 3T Aeroghiaia LTD 420 mm
Wheelset 3T Discus 45|40 LTD
Tires Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M 700 x 40C

Technical Data

Size XXS 51 54 56 58 61
Weight 8.47 kg

Specific Features

Crankbrothers Highline 11 dropper post
flared handlebar but straight hoods
dropped chainstays
aero gravel bike with ultra-wide tire clearance

All roads lead to Rome …
… and many factors contribute to the perfect gravel bike. One of them is large tire clearances. While the 3T Exploro Ultra is generally generous, things get tight between the seat tube and tire, and stones can get wedged in here.
Well placed but stiff
The lever for the dropper post is positioned in the left drop of the handlebar and is easy to reach from the drops and the hoods. Unfortunately, the lever itself is quite stiff.
Gear range is everything
By using a SRAM Eagle AXS rear derailleur, 3T equip the Exploro Ultra with a “mullet” drivetrain. In this case, the cassette has a range of 500% i.e. 10 teeth on the smallest sprocket and 50 teeth on the largest.

Dropper post and cranks – the 3T Exploro Ultra comes with carefully selected carbon delicacies.

The excellent ergonomics of the 420 mm 3T Aeroghiaia LTD handlebar ensure full control over the action. Despite a considerable amount of flare, this only begins below the lever clamping area, keeping the hoods straight. Our test bike in size 56 weighs 8.47 kg and costs € 8,199.

Size XXS 51 54 56 58 61
Seat tube 436 mm 463 mm 490 mm 520 mm 549 mm 576 mm
Top tube 506 mm 526 mm 546 mm 566 mm 586 mm 606 mm
Head tube 125 mm 147 mm 161 mm 180 mm 201 mm 232 mm
Head angle 68.5° 69.5° 71.0° 72.0° 72.5° 72.5°
Seat angle 74.5° 74.0° 73.5° 73.0° 72.5° 72.5°
Chainstays 419 mm 419 mm 419 mm 419 mm 419 mm 419 mm
BB Drop 79 mm 79 mm 77 mm 77 mm 75 mm 75 mm
Wheelbase 1,003 mm 1,008 mm 1,012 mm 1,014 mm 1,024 mm 1,044 mm
Reach 351 mm 362 mm 373 mm 381 mm 388 mm 393 mm
Stack 520 mm 542 mm 564 mm 584 mm 604 mm 632 mm
Helmet POC Ventral Air MIPS | Glasses 100% Westcraft | Jersey Café du Cycliste Penelope
Pants Café du Cycliste Chantal | Shoes Suplest Crosscountry Pro | Socks Café du Cycliste Gravel

The 3T Exploro Ultra can’t hide its ancestors’ aero gravel genes. It’s when the bike gets brought up to speed and things get fast on hardpack or even asphalt that it feels most comfortable. Its traction and, above all, its efficiency are outstanding, even with the relatively chunky tires, because they have an almost smooth centre tread. However, this also leads to some loss in traction when pushing hard on loose ground or steep climbs and, likewise, somewhat reduced braking traction on the same terrain. That said, the cornering grip is fantastic! The Exploro Ultra’s sporty, aggressive and nicely centred seating position and the stiff setup suit the bike’s high-speed character. While this works well on hard and compacted surfaces, the Exploro Ultra’s firm carbon frame quickly reaches its comfort limits on rough terrain, even with the extra damping of the voluminous Pirelli tyres.

But it’s precisely there, off-road, that the bike should shine. Thankfully, 3T have played a trick by fitting a dropper post – not something you would usually expect for an aero frame. Exactly when the comfort and “suspension travel” of the bike are limited, it’s crucial to provide the freedom for maximum body travel. 3T achieve this by using a Crankbrothers dropper, creating freedom of movement and, in turn, increased safety on the trail too. Additional security is provided by the chunky tires and their solid grip, which are well supported by the wide 3T Discuss 45|40 LTD wheels, as well as the steadfastly powerful SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD brakes. To our delight, these are mounted in a Direct Mount configuration with 160 mm rotors directly to the frame, both front and rear. Only those who do a lot of downhill riding in alpine terrain should think about using a 180 mm brake disc at the front.

Tuning tip: Take it or leave it! If you want something different, you will find other alternatives in the 3T portfolio

That extra security comes in handy on the trails, because the agile front of the 3T Exploro Ultra becomes almost too direct and you need to know exactly what you are doing. However, on compact surfaces, forest highways and gravel roads, the bike benefits from this, letting you hit your line in every corner perfectly at high speed and steering becomes more like mind control, even with frequent changes of direction. Despite its high agility, the bike convinces with solid straight-line stability and only becomes a little nervous at the front when riding on coarse gravel.

Riding Characteristics



  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

  1. boring
  2. lively


  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data

Exploro Ultra

Size: XXS 51 54 56 58 61
Weight: 8.47 kg
Price: € 8,199

Indended Use

Smooth tarmac 1
Allroad/Gravel 2
Everyday/Commuting 3

3T Exploro Ultra conclusion

The 3T Exploro Ultra’s range of use is broader than that of its sibling, the Exploro RaceMax – components from the mountain bike world make it a better all-rounder. Nevertheless, it feels most comfortable on compact surfaces and is suited to experienced riders who enjoy underbiking, more than it is to beginners, especially as you move onto more technical terrain. The bike lacks the comfort and good-natured handling to take the win in this test.


  • dropper post offers a lot of freedom of movement
  • great handlebar ergonomics
  • very efficient pedaller
  • cranks from carbon heaven


  • limited comfort
  • top tube cable routing
  • dropper post lever is stiff
  • limited clearance between rear wheel and seat tube

You can find out more about at

The testfield

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best gravel bike 2022 – 19 models on test

All bikes on review: 3T Exploro Ultra | BMC URS LT ONE (Click for review) | Cannondale SuperSix EVO SE (Click for review) | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap Suspension (Click for review) | Cervélo Áspero GRX Di2 (Click for review) | CUBE Nuroad C:62 SLT (Click for review) | Curve Kevin of Steel III (Click for review) | Falkenjagd Aristos R (Click for review) | Felt Breed 20 (Click for review) | FOCUS ATLAS 6.8 (Click for review) | GIANT Revolt Advanced 0 (Click for review) | OPEN WI.DE. (Click for review) | Ridley Kanzo Fast (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD EKAR LTD (Click for review) | SCOTT Addict Gravel Tuned (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Crux (Click for review) | Stelbel Nina XCr (Click for review) | Storck GRIX.2 Platinum (Click for review) | Wilier Rave SLR (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf, Peter Walker