Here at the Cyclocross Magazine offices we’ve joked about this before. And we did do a double take to make sure we hadn’t accidentally been transported back to April 1. But the aero gravel bike 3T is currently launching, the Exploro, is real and, frankly, interesting.
Whereas we thought the aero revolution was coming on strong in ‘cross just a couple of seasons ago, with the likes of aero helmets, specifically, it never quite materialized the way some thought it would. With gravel racing taking on growing interest, an aero bike in that longer race setting could perhaps be the right tool for the job for the right person. So here we are, looking at what 3T is calling the first aero gravel bike.
Read all about the bike and it’s design features in the press release from 3t, below.
Artimino, Prato, Italy–This weekend, 3T is adding another first to its long history of innovations with the introduction of its first frame.
The Exploro is the world’s first gravel frame to consider aerodynamics, something that may sound odd at first but actually has a solid basis in science. After a year of engineering and testing, including tests at the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel, the Exploro is ready to explore the world beyond the paved roads.
Please find below an overview of the Exploro’s features:
SQAERO–GO SLOW FASTER
The best gravel rides are long and grueling, so saving a few Watts is very welcome. They often also feature a mix of surfaces including fast sections of gravel and asphalt. Enter our Sqaero shapes, squared-off aero shapes that are structurally efficient and fast. Sqaero shapes offer RealFast aerodynamics. They are faster not only under perfect conditions but also in the real world. Even when covered by mud and muck.
That’s right. Our Sqaero shapes are designed to be as fast dirty as they are clean. The Exploro uses Sqaero 50/25, with a 50mm wide downtube perfect to pick up the airflow coming off a wider ‘cross or MTB front tire and lead it on to the water bottles. The seattube is 25mm wide to make it aerodynamically disappear in-between the bottles and the rear tire. The headtube, seatstays and custom seatpost also use Sqaero shapes.
Our Realfast approach means we design for bikes in the real world, with bottles, covered in mud and for realistic speeds. And then we test them that way too, not at the industry-standard 30mph (48kmh), but at 20mph (32kmh) for the Exploro. The Exploro saves 7 Watts over the equivalent round tube frame (same tube widths, same frame details, same components), or 24 Watts at 30 mph if your mind is still set to that 30mph speed. Put more succinctly, an Exploro covered in mud with 40mm knobby cross/gravel tires and 2 water bottles (red line in the graph) is faster than the equivalent clean round tube bike is with 28mm slick road tires and without bottles (grey line). So with the Exploro you are up-to-speed on-road, and leave everybody in the dust off-road.
The Exploro is designed to fit road, ‘cross and even mountain bike tires following the GravelPlus standard. The road and ‘cross tires are 700c. The mountain bike tires use the 650b size, ensuring that all of these have virtually the same overall wheel diameter and therefore the same predictable handling. For 700c, we recommend our 3T Discus wheels, for 650b our 3T Discus Plus wheels.
PERFORMANCE GRAVEL GEOMETRY
Exploro offers the most responsive ride ever on gravel thanks to its super compact performance gravel geometry: short 415mm chainstays and agile steering ensure phenomenal acceleration and grip on loose dirt as well as asphalt.
Internal cables, hoses and seatpost clamp clean up the frame aerodynamically and visually. The FlipTop cable guide on the toptube comes in several versions to allow for mechanical and electronic shifting, with single or double chainrings. For mechanical shifting, the Exploro uses full housing for the rear derailleur to completely shield the cables from any dirt or debris.
HANG LOOSE HANGER
Hang Loose Hanger for the rear derailleur detaches from the frame when the rear wheel is removed, making it a lot easier to re-install the rear wheel after a repair in the field without wrestling with the chain. With the rear wheel back in place, simply insert the thru axle, remount the derailleur hanger and tighten the thru axle.
3T is a global company with three regional customer service offices (Italy, Taiwan, California) and 20+ service centers. Founded in Turin in 1961 as Tecnologia del Tubo Torinese (Turin Tube Technology) 3T has always been renowned for the quality, simplicity and beauty of its products.
3T has a track record of being first: first to introduce many modern alloys to cycling, first to produce a dedicated aerobar, first to win the ID design award, first to introduce dedicated gravel wheels and first to introduce an aero gravel frame. And first in countless competitions alongside the great champions of cycling in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, one-day Classics, Olympics, World Championships, national championships and Ironman Triathlons.
Passionate about staying first, 3T continues to invest human and financial capital in exploring new ways of making products that excel in quality, simplicity, beauty and sustainability, under the stewardship of co-owners Rene Wiertz and Gerard Vroomen.