It’s not too often that someone creates a bike that makes hardened journalists smile in a giddy schoolboy sort of way, but that’s just what happened today at PressCamp in Deer Valley. 3T showed up with a wide spectrum of Exploro’s dressed in all kinds of rubber — from mountain bike tires to road bike tires and everything in-between. While the rubber differed, the results were the same with everyone coming back all smiles.

Features of the 3T Exploro:

  • Available in Team or LTD versions
  • Massive tire clearance (WTB Nano 650b 2.1’s fit great)
  • Post-mount 160mm disc brakes
  • Utilizes Squero tube shapes for real-world aerodynamics at speeds we ride
  • Unique “Out-of-the-Way” rear derailleur hanger
  • Dropped chainstay for increased clearance
  • Short, 415mm chainstays
  • Availability: Large is available now (in limited quantities), other sizes in August 2016
  • MSRP: $3000 (Team) or $4200 (LTD)
The 3T Exploro LTD is grin-inducing.

The 3T Exploro LTD in cyclocross mode with WTB Exposure 34c tires.

Why is the 3T Exploro so darn fun?

In two words. Wait, no seven words: it rides like a road bike should. But that’s crazy, how can it ride like a road bike when it has disc brakes and clearance for huge knobby tires? Well, that’s where the engineers behind the frame come into play. We’re not talking just any engineer, we’re talking Gerard Vroomen the co-founder of Cervelo and current co-owner of 3T. Certainly, a man with his credentials (and brains) can make a special bike and the Exploro is a special bike.

After a few miles aboard the Exploro and quite a bit of time talking with Vroomen and Dave Koessel (US brand director), I’ve come to better appreciate the engineering behind the Exploro. This is certainly not just another “all road” bike or “gravel grinder.” Yes, it is capable enough to handle any road in ways that other bikes can only dream, but at its core, it has the bones of a responsive and capable road bike. What does that mean? Well, put some 25mm road tires on it and you’ll know. It rides like a great road bike.

The 3T Exploro with WTB Nano 2.1's.

The 3T Exploro with WTB Nano 2.1’s.

But, it’s more than that. The spectrum of rubber configurations on display at PressCamp were nothing short of amazing. Wide, mountain bike tires and narrow road bike tires with everything in-between. As riders were returning to the demo area every single one of them had an ear-to-ear grin. That kind of reaction from a cadre of skeptical bike journalists is uncommon.

Because I enjoyed my initial ride on the Exploro so much, I had to go back for round two. This time I snagged one with WTB Nano 2.1’s and proceeded to ride wherever the hell I wanted. Road, gravel, singletrack, drops, berms, jumps, curbs — yup, wherever. And here’s the kicker… even though it was sporting mountain bike tires, it still responded like a great road bike. Granted, it was slower (primarily due to lower tire pressures), but it didn’t lose one whit of its on-road capability.

Riding the Exploro on some of Deer Valley's finest.

Riding the Exploro on some of Deer Valley’s finest.

To summarize, this is why the Exploro is so much fun:

  • Handling: It handles and responds like a great road bike with precise steering.
  • Versatility: Seriously… mountain bike tires on a road bike? Yeah, it’s that versatile.
  • Engineering: We’re all “enginerds” at heart and Gerard Vroomen has done brilliant work on the Exploro.
  • Real-world Claims: This bike is optimized to perform at real-world speeds.
  • Lightweight: At 950 grams (LTD model), this thing is light for a disc-equipped road bike.
  • Aero: Yup… it’s built for real-world aero performance.
  • Subtle Looks: I’m fond of simple designs and both the LTD and Team colors are just plain classy.
  • Attainable: No, $3000-$4200 for a frameset is not cheap, but all things considered, it’s within reach, but might not be “obtainable” for awhile.
  • Exclusive: Let’s be honest… we all want something unique and while 3T wants the Exploro to be successful, it will remain a rarity.

For additional technical aspects of the Exploro, have a look at this video:

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About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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