An adventure on the 3T Exploro
3T’s aero adventure bike is a surprise hit with Symon Lewis
“The Exploro does it all, and does it all very well”
Iwas one of the first to sneer at 3T’s big claims for the new Exploro aero adventure bike. I was sceptical that it could also be an aero bike and doubted a machine this expensive could offer any more than a cheaper, more accessible one. How wrong was I?
Testing for me was in two parts, the first being the big Welsh epic adventure during the summer and then testing back home on normal day-to-day rides. What surprised me was the Exploro’s ability to do it all, and to do it all very well.
3T uses a unidirectional carbon for the frame and fork and has finely tuned it along with the geometry to offer great handling off and on road. While its lightweight construction — around 1,500g for the frame and fork — helps the Exploro feel lively and fast, it’s not fragile.
3T tested the Exploro in the wind tunnel at realistic speeds to make it faster while going slower, dropping the usual 30mph benchmark down to 20mph.
And instead of making the tube profile teardrop-shaped and deep to minimise drag, 3T’s engineers have squared off the down tube — what it calls Sqaero — and used the same profile on the head tube, seat tube, seat stays and seatpost to boost both stiffness and strength.
But no matter how aero the bike was before, it certainly wasn’t after I had added all my bike bags and kit. Where else was I going to put my Coco Pops? The bike’s speed isn’t all down to its aerodynamics, then.
Out of all the bikes I’ve ridden in this setting, I enjoyed this one the most. It was hammered while being fully laden with bikepacking kit. It smashed down mtb chutes and glided along flat gravel roads with ease and not once did the bike or any of the components let me down.
The fully stacked Exploro weighed over 12kg but it took it all in its stride. Thankfully I got some time without the luggage and it nips around beautifully. The wide off-road tyres just want you to be silly and had me riding up things on the side of the road just for the heck of it.
The off-road ability of the bike was only limited to what my wrists could take, since it doesn’t have suspension. I was surprised I made it down some of the terrain (I couldn’t really see anything thanks to the rattling) but even after hitting big rocks and getting some air, it just kept on trucking.
But the beauty of the Exploro is that even if it never touched the rough stuff, it would make an excellent road bike once you whipped off the knobbly tyres.