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
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.
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’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
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.
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 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.)
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?