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3T Exploro Speed doubles down going slow faster, with aero all-road builds

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Two and a half years since the concept of an aero gravel bike debuted with the 3T Exploro, they’ve held fast to the idea of a slow bike benefitting from aerodynamics. In fact, in the time since, gravel has really blown up, with more riders appreciating the all-road versatility of a fast gravel bike, and the industry clamoring for #AeroIsEverything. So it’s fitting that the second generation Exploro gets a new aero all-road focused build option – the new Exploro Speed.

3T Exploro Speed, slick tire 700c all-road gravel bikes

3T Exploro Speed aero all-road gravel bike slick tire 700c mixed-surface carbon road bike
courtesy 3T, photos by Marc Gasch

As much as gravel, road plus & all-road have all been embraced by the industry & riders alike, 3T’s Exploro still is sometimes misunderstood. Of course, logically that’s in big part to the fact that it’s hard to wrap you brain around the need for aero when you are cruising down a gravel road, averaging something like 20kph/12.5mph.

3T Exploro Speed aero all-road gravel bike slick tire 700c mixed-surface carbon road bike

One side of the argument says the longer you spend riding (because you are slow) the greater the benefits from aero gains. 3T also keeps on the idea that if you have any headwind at all, it adds up really quickly. My personal belief is more like, why not? I’ve spent a good bit of time riding slowly on an Exploro. Any way you look at it, if it was less aero, I would have gone even slower. So why not take advantage of the aero gains if they are possible?

3T Exploro Speed aero all-road gravel bike slick tire 700c mixed-surface carbon road bike

3T’s latest rationale for the aero gravel bike is even more compelling though, certainly to me. Most of us who ride gravel roads also ride paved roads too. The 3T Exploro is really a great all-around bike. You can just as easily cruise the Byways on fat 650B file treads, but throw some large volume 700c road tires on there and it makes a fast all-road bike too.

So 3T has introduced the Exploro Speed. Pick either the LTD or Team addition frameset, build it up with a SRAM Force 1x drivetrain, a powermeter-ready carbon crank or the aero 3T Torno cranks, and a set of tubeless-ready 700c low-profile aero 3T Discus C35 carbon wheels wrapped in Pirelli PZero slicks.

The result is a fast aerodynamic all-road bike, where you can always swap in a set of 650B wheels when you feel the need to go fast, slower.

Exploro Speed Spec & Pricing

3T Exploro Speed aero all-road gravel bike slick tire 700c mixed-surface carbon road bike

The new Exploro Speed bikes are available either in the Team edition carbon frameset from 5200€ complete, or with the slightly lighter LTD hi-mod carbon frameset for 6400€ complete. Both builds are available in the same four size range (S-XL) as the standard 650B builds.

2018 3T Torno LTD carbon fiber aero crankset for single chainring setups

The standard Exploro Speed complete bikes feature the Quarq Prime carbon crankset with a 46T ring, where you can buy a Quarq DZero spider to add power metering for an extra $680/680€ to Quarq. Or instead, for an extra 600€ to 3T you can upgrade to the aero 3T Torno LTD crankset with a 44T single Wolftooth ring developed with THM. Both get relatively tightly spaced 11-36T cassettes for on-road smooth cadence steps. Opt for an 11-42T with the same derailleur for more off-road capability.

3T Exploro Speed aero all-road gravel bike slick tire 700c mixed-surface carbon road bike

3T specs the Exploro Speed with 28mm Continental GP4000 II S tires (not the new tubeless GP 5000 TL, unfortunately). That leaves tons of tire clearance, plenty of space to swap in knobbies later.

Even though 3T likes to equate the max 650B x 2.1″ tire to a 700C x 40mm tire, most Road Plus users run 650×47 which has the same diameter as 700×28, thus making this spec a perfect match with no impact on handling (no change to BB height or trail.)

3T Exploro Speed aero all-road gravel bike slick tire 700c mixed-surface carbon road bike

Now 3T says they optimized the Exploro aerodynamics with 40mm knobby tires & mud, I wonder if they’ll take it into the wind tunnel with 28mm slicks?

3T.bike

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24 Comments
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mudrock
mudrock
5 years ago

If you put on a handlebar bag your aero gains go out the window.

Dinger
Dinger
5 years ago
Reply to  mudrock

Not necessarily. A motorcycle’s fairing has more area than the parts of the bike it covers. Sometimes filling in spaces improves aerodynamics. Until bag makers start booking wind tunnel time, we won’t get to know.

mark connelly
mark connelly
4 years ago
Reply to  mudrock

True. I use a case from rockbarcycling to decrease drag.

Brian Jacobson
Brian Jacobson
5 years ago

This bike is the N+1 killer. With 700x28s I can go with any group road rides or I can put on a set of 700×32 and hit the local trails or switch to my 650x42s and take on the gnarliest gravel. Light and aero is the icing on the cake!

AK_Ben
AK_Ben
5 years ago

So, does anyone else find it amusing to see all of the aero gravel bikes with a big number plate attached out front in races, completely negating the vast majority of all the aerodynamic design that has gone into the frame.

Ashok Captain
Ashok Captain
5 years ago
Reply to  AK_Ben

Spot on comment! I’d said this a while ago regarding Dirty Kanza ‘number plates’. An aero stick on wrap around the seat post would be better. Hope this happens next year.
Though I agree with Exodus’ comment, it still jars to see an ‘airbrake’ number in a bicycle (BMX excluded)!

Ashok Captain
Ashok Captain
5 years ago
Reply to  Ashok Captain

Sorry – Exodux’ comment.

Pablo D Mazzeo
Pablo D Mazzeo
5 years ago

Do the brands test bikes plus cyclist in the windtunnel or only the bikes?? Do you think there is a real difference between aero and non aero bikes with us cyclist stopping all the wind with legs and chest???

Greg
Greg
5 years ago
Reply to  Pablo D Mazzeo

Some brands test with full size mannequins in a fixed position. Some use just the hips and lower. Some use moving legs, some are stationary.
In the end, there is reasonable correlation to a bike-only test vs a bike-and-rider test that wind tunnel time is probably still worthwhile for companies without the cash for a mannequin. They just have to be reasonable with the data and understand the limits of the test for them.

Exodux
5 years ago

Wouldnt an aero bike with a handlebar bag or number plate, still be more aero than a non-aero bike with a bag or a plate? I would think so

mark connelly
mark connelly
4 years ago
Reply to  Exodux

Not necessarily. If the bike was designed assuming no bag, the flow might be messed up with a bag. Would you fly a plane with bags in front of the wings.

Dolan Halbrook
Dolan Halbrook
5 years ago

5200€ is a lot of a coin for any frameset.

Dolan Halbrook
Dolan Halbrook
5 years ago
Reply to  Dolan Halbrook

D’oh… misread the funny wording. My bad. Still a lot, but not as bad when the rest of the bike is included.

carbonfodder
carbonfodder
5 years ago

spend lots of money on an aero optimized frame, then go ride it really slow in the dirt. Or ride it faster, but still slow on the road. Or, save your money, get fitter and ride your “crappy” bike faster on whatever surface you enjoy.
I gotta admit, the aero claims are what get me here. the bike is such a small part of the overall aero equation when you add the big meaty lump called a rider to the system. Optimizing the frame is on the order of maybe 10-20W saved (guessing). Optimizing the meaty lump can provide 50W with dedicated training, more if allowed by Mrs./Ms. (or Mr.) Meaty Lump.
At the superstar end of the game, sure, go batty on the aero-unobtanium widgets. But at the end of the pack populated by folks that ride because it’s super fun, well, aero shouldn’t be that big a selling feature IMO (unless you can afford marginal gains for the Saturday morning world championships, then be filling your boots). Your mileage may vary, but those are my profound thoughts for today…
end rant.

Holding Forth
5 years ago
Reply to  carbonfodder

I’m glad when people buy the expensive stuff new, because in a few years it will be sold for cheap on eBay and/or the technology will filter down to the affordable level. But you are right about the negligible benefits of an aero gravel bike.

Volsung
Volsung
5 years ago
Reply to  carbonfodder

Some people want to continue to ride fast or just simply make riding easier because of accidents, injuries, or other physical issues. Anonymously insulting them doesn’t help.

Brad Comis (@BradComis)
Reply to  carbonfodder

Training and buying expensive bikes are not mutually exclusive things. Maybe you could spend the money on coaching, power meters and gym memberships rather than a new frameset- that might make this mental comparison valid.

Dinger
Dinger
5 years ago
Reply to  carbonfodder

Slow/fast in terms aerodynamics doesn’t have as much to do with ground speed. For instance, at Dirty Kanza this year, there was 85 miles of headwind blowing 12-20mph. HOURS of toiling in the small chain ring. The riders may have only been moving 10-15mph across the ground, but it was because they were pushing against drag in the equivalent of the high-20’s. I bet hundreds of them were wishing they had aero bikes, skin suits, and aero bars.

blahblahblah
blahblahblah
5 years ago

gee i like those cranks

Ernesto DI Betta
5 years ago

I’ve bought some months ago a 3t exploro ltd complete bike. I had the previous version (2016) with some seatpost problems….completely solved with the new frame. I’ve a couple of wheels set:1. 650bx47 (panaracer gravelking) and carbon chinese wheels whit wtb exposure 30. The bike is WONDERFUL!! perfect for road trip alone or in a road-group, unrestainable with plus wheels almost everywhere…probably asbolutely unrestainable with a Lauf fork! ..absoluteblack oval 40T and e*13 9-46 cassette!
I don’t know about aereo-frame…but it is for sure an absolutely sexy-frame!

Will
Will
5 years ago

To go faster: “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades” -Eddy Merckx

Cool bike though snd if you have the cash, why not

JBikes
JBikes
5 years ago

I actively minimize my watts aero loss by riding slower and slower every year.

Fred Gravelly
Fred Gravelly
5 years ago

This ain’t the prettiest example, but man, I love a monostay

Quota
Quota
5 years ago

Was slippery seat post problem solved?

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