Meanwhile, the plus- and fat-tire trend from mountain bikes is spilling onto the pavement. And road disc brakes continue to evolve, with most manufacturers pushing their road lines in that direction, despite the UCI’s dithering on the subject. All combined, these changes have created one of the most exciting times in road-bike development that I can remember in the last decade. And it’s resulting in some cool and sometimes truly oddball new bikes.
Photo: 3T Exploro
If I could ride just one road bike from the show this year, it would be the Exploro, which is a close relative to last year’s Gear of the Year-winning Open UP. Both bikes were developed by Gerard Vroomen, who started Cervélo, which explains the similar geometries and shared ability to accommodate both 650b and 700c wheels. The carbon Exploro is tighter and a bit more aggressive, and, most importantly, it is optimized to cheat the wind. An aero gravel bike might sound like a weird idea, but it actually makes a lot of sense, given that in races like the Dirty Kanza you often spend 100 or more miles riding alone, where watts saved will benefit you enormously. The Exploro will sell as a frame and fork combo only and come in two layup configurations: a high-end Team model for $3,000, and a no-expense-spared, as-light-as-you-can-get limited edition for $4,200.