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3T Exploro Ultra takes aero gravel to the extreme

Will Strickson
7 Apr 2022

The Exploro Ultra is the new sibling to the Exploro RaceMax, having been designed around 61mm tyres, 650b wheels and dropper compatibility

3T has launched the Exploro Ultra gravel bike, a wide-tyred, 650b-optimised alternative to the 700c-optimised Exploro RaceMax. A retuned frameset shape means the Ultra best suits tyres up to 61mm wide on 650b wheels. It also uses a conventional 27.2mm round seatpost too, so can be fitted with a dropper post.

The brains behind the aero gravel concept of every Exploro, Gerard Vroomen, says the frame has undergone several styling tweaks to better manage airflow with respect to extremely wide tyres.

He says that the way the bike can remain fast on the road as well as off it is an integral part of gravel riding for most people.

Once the going gets technical though, the Ultra gives riders the tyre capability to tackle the terrain with greater ease.

Prices for the 3T Exploro Ultra start at £2,799 for a frameset and £5,699 for a full build, with the first stock available from this week.

 

Big frame, bigger tyres

You’ve probably heard the theory behind 3T’s aero gravel range before, but it’s worth repeating given the extremes of the Ultra.

The Italian brand, whose range of bikes is headed up by Cervelo and Open co-founder Gerard Vroomen, says it treats road and off-road as equally integral parts of gravel cycling. This is because most people will ride on tarmac to get to trails or use the bike for both smooth and rough surfaces.

With that in mind, 3T’s Exploro range is aerodynamically refined in order to improve road performance, rather than to reduce drag riding off-road.

In the case of the Ultra, that means a gravel bike with the capacity to take on some mountain bike terrain, yet with a frameset that is aerodynamically tuned with respect to the tyres that kind of riding necessitates.

While both bikes technically have the same tyre clearance – up to 61mm – thanks to 3T’s space-making double dropped chainstay design, there are several features that set the Exploro Ultra apart from the RaceMax to keep it fast on road but more at home on the roughest of rough stuff.

Firstly, and most importantly, it is designed around super wide tyres. Although it can fit the same 35mm-61mm range as the RaceMax, Vroomen says it’s the upper end of that that the bike is optimised for, with 3T recommending opting for 650b wheels when running widths above 46mm. And it’s with those wider tyres that the bike is said to peak aerodynamically.

Vroomen and 3T have done this by altering the Exploro’s tube profiles. The changes are most obvious in the downtube, with the upper portion increased in width to 60mm.

This matches the chunkiness of the tyres, says Vroomen, allowing air to flow more smoothly across the bike. There’s also a bigger seat tube cut-out to fit larger tyres on the back.

The seat tube is still aero profiled externally but now accepts a round seatpost, opening up the option to use either a dropper or regular 27.2mm post. 3T says fitting a dropper allows for greater off-road control and comfort, should you desire it.

And finally, there are a couple of geometry tweaks…



3T Exploro Ultra geometry: Shorter reach, longer chainstays, refined sizing

While the numbers are largely identical, sizing has been refined slightly in both who each size is best for, and how the figures change incrementally as the frame gets bigger.

For example, 3T now says its size 54 is for riders between 164cm and 177cm in height rather than 168cm and 180cm. Additionally the bike’s front-centre – and consequentially its wheelbase – increases with each size up, where it’s the same for sizes 51 and 54 for a RaceMax.

There have also been slight adjustments in line with the emphasis on greater comfort and control. Reach has been reduced by 4-5mm and the rear-centre increased by 4mm.

3T Exploro Ultra 2022: Builds and spec

3T is offering builds fitted with 650b and 700c wheels and Campagnolo Ekar or a mullet setup of SRAM Force and Eagle eTap AXS groupsets. All are set up 1×.

3T Exploro Ultra frameset

  • Colours: Racing Green, Black Glossy, Copper, Steel Blue, ‘ready to paint’
  • Price: £2,999 (£2,799 for ‘ready to paint’)

3T Exploro Ultra Ekar 650b

  • Groupset: Campagnolo Ekar 1×13, 9-42T, hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Rapid Red 900, 650b, tubeless ready, Vittoria Barzo 2.1in tyres
  • Finishing kit: 3T Superego LTD carbon handlebars, Sella Italia Superflow saddle
  • Colours: Racing Green, Copper
  • Price: £5,699

3T Exploro Ultra Ekar 700c

  • Groupset: Campagnolo Ekar 1×13, 9-42T, hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Rapid Red 900, 700c, tubeless ready, Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M 40mm tyres
  • Finishing kit: 3T Superego LTD carbon handlebars, Sella Italia Superflow saddle
  • Weight: 8.8kg claimed (54cm)
  • Colours: Steel Blue
  • Price: £5,699

3T Exploro Ultra Eagle

  • Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS with SRAM Eagle XX1 AXS Long Cage rear derailleur and Eagle cassette, 1×12, 11-50T, hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheelset: Fulcrum Rapid Red 900, 650b, tubeless ready, Vittoria Barzo 2.1” tyres
  • Finishing kit: 3T Superghiaia LTD carbon handlebars, Sella Italia Superflow saddle
  • Colours: Black Glossy, Copper
  • Price: £6,199

3T Exploro Ultra Crank Brothers Edition

  • Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS with SRAM Eagle XX1 AXS Long Cage rear derailleur and Eagle cassette, 1×12, 11-50T, hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheelset: 3T Discus i28 LTD, Vittoria Barzo 2.1in tyres
  • Finishing kit: Crank Brothers Highline dropper seatpost, 3T Superghiaia LTD carbon handlebars, Sella Italia Superflow saddle
  • Colours: Anthracite/Gold
  • Price: £8,699

Visit 3t.bike for the full details.