3T Exploro Ultra: Isaac's Ride Review
The bike I tested was the Exploro Ultra, with Sram Rival AXS XPLR, 3T carbon wheels and bar, and Vittoria 27.5 x 2.1 Barzo tires. Obviously with the spec'd tire size, this was a bike set up for adventure. And oh boy, adventure it did! I rode a size 56 frame, with a 100mm stem. The reach, stack, and wheelbase on a 56 are as follows, 381 R, 584 S, and 1014 W. The Exploro Ultra uses a 27.2 seatpost with dropper capability and wide frame tubes to be aerodynamically most efficient on 650 x 55-60 WAM tires. (WAM=width as measured).
While most gavel bikes are capable of doing singletrack, albeit slowly, it’s not something people recommend. But the Exploro Ultra lives out of that box, not just being really capable on single track, but being fast as well. This bike took laps at PCMR in Park City, Utah, coming down the CMG, Mohave, Mid mountain, and Loose moose trails, all with a sense of being kinda scary, but just scary enough to be fun. Granted it wasn't as fast as my full suspension MTB according to Strava (which is to be expected), it was much closer than I originally thought it was going to be. One thing to note however, is while trying to push the bike hard and fast, my feet would go numb due to the lack of suspension plus carbon soles on my shoes. Obviously, this isn't a mountain bike, so that’s not completely unexpected.
I was extremely and pleasantly surprised to learn how much traction this bike provided, even with lack of suspension. I was never led into a situation where I thought I needed more, it held a perfect balance of speed. Pavement sampler
While loving rough dirt and dust, this is no MTB, so it shouldn't be rated as such. It needs an equal amount of testing on farm roads and pavement. I rode this on trails like the Rail Trail and Jeremy Ranch Road in Park City, Utah. One of the things that surprised me was how not-slow the bike felt. Even when this bike should have been bogged down due to tire size, it still felt very fast and efficient, just comfortable. When looking at Strava segment times, it was slower when compared to 700c versions of the Exploro team, and Pinarello Grevil F. It was slower on Jeremy Ranch by 45 seconds over a 26-ish minute segment. The real key thing here was just how not slow it felt, even though on paper it was. Feeling fast is the majority of the battle when it comes to enjoying a bike in my opinion.
The same thing can't be said about riding the Exploro Ultra on the road however. The heavily treaded 650b tires definitely slowed acceleration when compared to the aforementioned gravel bikes, and especially compared to my road bike. Pavement is definitely not where this bike shines. But that's not the worst thing, because that’s not what this bike is designed for. It was still way more efficient than a hardtail MTB, and overall this one aspect did not concern me a whole ton. Conclusion
This bike is perfect for the roadie looking to start on some rougher terrain, or for your avid bikepacker. It’s also a fantastic bike for the MTBer looking to spice up their local loop that has started to feel boring and sluggish on their trail bike. With fantastic looking lines and lots of bottle cage mounts, there is a little bit of something for everyone on this bike. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the bike and had a fantastic time riding it. Bravo 3T!