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Review: the 3T Exploro - the racing chameleon

Basti 12. May 2016

Ever thought to yourself “I wish my Cross bike was more adept at longer distances.” Well here is a solution: the 3T Exploro frame set.

The Italian brand 3T, formerly known as Tecnologia del Tubo Torinese, has been producing top-quality bicycle parts since 1961. Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervélo and founder of the Open U.P. frame design, has further advanced frame building with the 3T Exploro.

3T Exploro - as functional as a Swiss Army knife

Gravel bikes are a new type of bicycle that has already taken a strong hold in the USA. This category mixes endurance with Cyclocross bikes. Gravel bikes, unlike traditional endurance bikes, allow you to ride off-road instead of having to stick to the streets. Cross bike geometry on the other hand, is not made for riding long and far, but for quick race courses. The Gravel bike fills the gap between the two.

The frame can fit regular 28” / 700c wheels that you see on classic Road or Cycocross bikes.

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The 3T Exploro can also fit 27.5” / 650B wheels with tyres up to 2.1” wide.

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With so many possibilities, the frame is very versatile and can be matched to almost any ground condition. With so many build options the Exploro is like a Swiss Army knife that is ready for almost every application.

Test ride in the Cyclocross Mecca of Zonhoven

We wanted to test the grey area between endurance and Cross bike in a very practical way. So we took our test bike to Zonhoven, the Cyclocross Mecca. A few kilometres over the German boarder in Belgium there is a small city that is the focus of cycling once a year. Thousands of fans cheer for their favourite cyclists in a super prestigious race. Cyclocross in Belgium gets the attention that soccer does in most of the rest of Europe. We figured this would be the best place to test out the Exploro’s uses. We brought a 28” Cyclocross and 27.5” MTB wheelset with us to test out the Exploro on fast gravel routes, forested trails, and sandy descents.

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With the 28” Cyclocross wheelset, combined with WTB Nano tyres, the Exploro was like a rocket on the sandy forest paths of Zonhoven. The forward motion, due to the aerodynamic frame design and stiff bottom bracket, couldn’t be stopped.

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Once in motion, the bike comes to a halt with hydraulic disc brakes.

The racing monster truck

After a few laps, we changed out the wheelset to the 27.5” MTB wheels. All of a sudden, a racing monster truck stood before us. An uncanny, brutal design.

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We found ourselves staring at an aero Road and MTB hybrid and we were curious how well it would ride. In the deep sand of Zonhoven, the bike was much easier to steer. Roots were also much more tolerable because the wide tyres provided more cushion and traction. The monster truck has a purpose and it performs well. You can build the 3T Exploro in so many ways that you can match it to any ground condition that you are riding. We thought about how one could use a 32c Road tyre for street rides as well. A relatively new option would be the WTB Horizon Roadplus tyres that fit on 27.5” / 650B wheels. The increased volume enhances rider comfort when compared to traditional road tyres. Already, many Randonneur bikes are being built around this wheel size.

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The 3T Exploro, thanks to its geometry, tyre clearance, low weight, and other ingenious details, is an excellent start to building various types of bicycles. Whether as a monster truck or a road racing machine, the word “slow” will never cross your mind.