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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

3t Exploro or Trek Domane

Old 07-09-19, 11:12 PM
  #1  
Trekathlete
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3t Exploro or Trek Domane

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for another should i get this or that post or maybe not...haha But it s good to get unbiased opinions that are hopefully not as swayed by marketing hype as maybe i am, so I appreciate your help ahead of time.

Anyways most my riding has been on road. Done a few crits, quite a few charity century rides, and oodles of group rides on road. I just sold my Scott Foil hoping for something a little less racy although i loved it. Anyways looking towards the future I would still like to do the same things i have done in the past but possibly be less limited and be able to enter some gravel rides. Possibly DK one day. Also I think a gravel bike could work as a cyclocross bike if i ever got the urge. But since i have yet to really ride one I am trying to understand if I really need a gravel specific bike. I have looked at pretty much every option and almost jumped on niner RLT RDO because I found one on sale. The only problem i see with the RDO or other similar bikes is maybe they aren't road orientated enough. The 3T exploro is aero and I just saw a GCN episode on where they raced it on road and off road... It seems like it is exactly what i need but it is so much pricier than say the Niner RLT that i saw on sale. Then I realized that maybe a domane would fit the bill. It is marketed as a endurance/gravel road bike that has been raced in roubaix. I also saw the Viathon recently and liked its price point.. I am just all over the place on trying to make a decision and since i sold my main road rig i am anxious to get back out there. Whatever I get i really want to be 100% happy with because i don't want to end up selling it like i did the Scott Foil. I really liked that bike but it just wasn't for me i guess.

Anyways hopefully this opens up your minds to what my needs might be and you can help me make a decision!

Thanks again!
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Old 07-10-19, 06:48 AM
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In my opinion any gravel bike with sensible gearing and road tires will ride well on the road, but trying to ride a road bike on gravel is never ideal. I'd consider the Trek Checkpoint over the Domane out of Trek's range.
However the 3T Exploro is a much more capable bike and just looks awesome. The OPEN U.P is another bike with similar capabilities to the Exploro but it may be more expensive.
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Old 07-10-19, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Trekathlete View Post
Hi Everyone,
So are you trying to do the "one bike for everything" bit? Or are you ok with a couple different bikes? In my opinion a dedicated road bike and a dedicated gravel/cx bike is the way to go. Especially since you ride a lot of road.

My buddy just built up an Exploro and it's been in the shop as much as on the road. The seatpost broke, the bb squeaked like crazy. It took several trips and warranty replacements to get both fixed. It's a fast bike to be sure, but it's extremely proprietary, so having an LBS to go through would be a great thing. I wouldn't want to deal with it by myself. (Or at all really).
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Old 07-10-19, 08:43 AM
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i wouldn't too much value on GCN's review, they are all paid advertisements, Viathon has being featured multiple times in GCN recently i wonder how much they get paid for those glowing reviews
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Old 07-10-19, 08:52 AM
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Trek has many dealers to help you after the sale*... Only know of 3T for components..

* And offer in person test rides ...







...
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Old 07-10-19, 09:51 AM
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A gravel bike with a second wheelset is a good solution for most people.

I'm very happy with my Giant Revolt on the road with a second wheelset running 28mm GP5Ks. Have no problems keeping up with fast group rides and it's comfortable enough for long road rides too. Probably wouldn't race a crit with it, but for training and group rides, it's great.
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Old 07-10-19, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by MAGAIVER View Post
In my opinion any gravel bike with sensible gearing and road tires will ride well on the road, but trying to ride a road bike on gravel is never ideal. I'd consider the Trek Checkpoint over the Domane out of Trek's range.
However the 3T Exploro is a much more capable bike and just looks awesome. The OPEN U.P is another bike with similar capabilities to the Exploro but it may be more expensive.
What he said.
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Old 07-10-19, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Trekathlete View Post
Hi Everyone,
{edited}...i want a gravel bike and am considering the Trek Domane, 3T, Niner RDO, and Viathon...{edited}
Those are pretty different bikes.

The Domane has clearance for 35mm tires, right? That would be fine for a lot of gravel around here, but not nearly as comfortable as a 40 or 42mm tire.
The 3t can clear a 42mm 700c tire...not sure if that is max, but i would guess its close to max.

My advice is to narrow this down to bikes that have the geometry you want then go with whatever within that group is the best cost/group/look(whatever it is that makes you like a bike more than another).

Example is a large 3T and 56cm Domane(i think these are about similar in intended rider height)
- The Seat Tube and Head Tube angles for the 3t are both 72.5 but the Domane has a 73.3STA and 71.9HTA. Basically, the Domane has a steeper sseat tube so you have to offset the saddle more to get the same fit and the head tube angle is steeper which if all else is equal, means twitchier steering.
- bottom bracket drop for the 3T is 70mm which seems to be a pretty default amount for gravel road bikes. The Domane has 780mm drop which is probably about the most for a production bike in this category. The more drop, the more you ride 'in' the bike versus 'on top of' the bike.
- Domane has more stack and less reach than the 3T. This means you will ride more upright.
- 3T has 60mm of trail and the Domane has 66mm of trail. More trail means more stability at higher speed, but sluggish steering at low speed. Lower trail means precise steering at lower speeds and twitchier steering at higher speed. For what its worth, both numbers are within the range of gravel bikes so its not like either is extreme in any way, but you will be able to feel a difference.



If you are getting this deep into what to buy, just log all the numbers on an excel spreadsheet and compare them to your old Scott bike. Yes that was a road bike, but you know what you liked and didnt like about it, so it can be a useful start when comparing. Ask if you want to be in the same riding position or different for gravel? Etc etc.
If you dont want to nerd out that much, then focus on stack, reach, trail, and chainstay length. Those most significantly affect bike fit and bike feel(fast, slow, sluggish, quick, etc)

Also- try to rent some bikes for a day. Sure you may pay, but that will give you the experience you lack to try something specific on gravel. After 30-50mi, you will have a very good idea of what you like and dislike about the bike you rode. Take that info and apply it to the other bikes you are considering. Heck, you dont even need to rent and ride something you are considering- it works to ride something you arent considering because whatever the geometry is of the bike you ride, you can apply the experience and feedback to bikes you are considering.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:08 AM
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Interesting question.

As stated above, the Trek is a little more relaxed and is limited to ~33mm tires, where the 3T can get real fat with 650b tires – but it has more aggressive geometry. What do you want? Tire versatility? Endurance or agile/aero geometry? Fast downhill, or fast handling in the flats?

Typically gravel bikes are relaxed and can take some wide rubber. These two bikes do neither – instead going for opposite extremes of the spectrum (although both are good road bikes, the 3T isn’t an endurance bike and the Trek isn’t effective for a challenging gravel race).

I was looking at similar bikes, and ended up with a Canyon, because it is as fast as those but costs half of what the 3T costs.

I know this is new territory for a lot of people, but pick what you want from this list:
  • Narrowish hard pack road/gravel machine
  • Endurance geometry for rides <4 hours?
  • Ability to do rough gravel and light single track
  • Road bike agility vs downhill prowess in loose gravel?
  • Aggressive Aero for rides <= 3 hours
  • Agility for road or CX riding?

Last edited by chas58; 07-10-19 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:04 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
So are you trying to do the "one bike for everything" bit? Or are you ok with a couple different bikes? In my opinion a dedicated road bike and a dedicated gravel/cx bike is the way to go. Especially since you ride a lot of road.

My buddy just built up an Exploro and it's been in the shop as much as on the road. The seatpost broke, the bb squeaked like crazy. It took several trips and warranty replacements to get both fixed. It's a fast bike to be sure, but it's extremely proprietary, so having an LBS to go through would be a great thing. I wouldn't want to deal with it by myself. (Or at all really).
Yea I am basically trying the one bike for everything approach.... I am not a dedicated racer but i liked the fit and feel of my old foil so I assume I'd like to find a similar geometry but I could enter in gravel rides. Gravel riding is basically the type of riding i do on road but without worrying about as much traffic and there a lot of rides popping up because of the popularity. When i first got into cycling i wanted a Cyclocross bike for this purpose but i ended up getting a dedicated road machine, then another one (Scott Foil). But with the emergence of gravel bikes its seems like the perfect blend of off road / on road for me. I am not sure i like the twitchiness of a cyclocross bike so the extended wheel base and stability of a gravel bikes seems nice. I like the idea of the Trek Checkpoint for the fact you can move the rear axel closer if i were to do a cyclocross race but I like the idea of aerodynamics of the Exploro and I like the price point of the Niner and Viathon....
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Old 07-10-19, 08:13 PM
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Thank you for your insight! I probably do need to punch in the numbers to excel from my old foil and compare to new bikes. I wish there was an easy program to compare these numbers. My trek is a 52cm and my Cervelo is a 51cm. Both fit well but very different rides. I definitely sit on top of my cervelo where as i sit more into my bike on my trek. Hard to compare the tri bike to the road bike though. I prefer the more aggressive feel of something like the Foil, it was stiff but you get used to it. I am not sure how bad something like it would be on gravel. They say the 3T is also really stiff. Probably because of the aerodynamic design in the frame, but you get the bigger tires which helps soak up the bumps. So basically I am probably looking for a very similar geometry to the foil that can fit wider tires so i can enter gravel rides whenever I like and still have the ability to do what i have been doing on the road....
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Old 07-10-19, 08:20 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Interesting question.

As stated above, the Trek is a little more relaxed and is limited to ~33mm tires, where the 3T can get real fat with 650b tires – but it has more aggressive geometry. What do you want? Tire versatility? Endurance or agile/aero geometry? Fast downhill, or fast handling in the flats?

Typically gravel bikes are relaxed and can take some wide rubber. These two bikes do neither – instead going for opposite extremes of the spectrum (although both are good road bikes, the 3T isn’t an endurance bike and the Trek isn’t effective for a challenging gravel race).

I was looking at similar bikes, and ended up with a Canyon, because it is as fast as those but costs half of what the 3T costs.

I know this is new territory for a lot of people, but pick what you want from this list:
  • Narrowish hard pack road/gravel machine
  • Endurance geometry for rides <4 hours?
  • Ability to do rough gravel and light single track
  • Road bike agility vs downhill prowess in loose gravel?
  • Aggressive Aero for rides <= 3 hours
  • Agility for road or CX riding?
I like the aero geometry that can fit wider tires. That is why i thought the 3T would be a great choice. I think the difference between the 3T and Open bikes is that you sit more up right with the open bike where as the 3t you are more aggressive. I am not sold on the 3T because of the price and because i have heard some issues with them but if i could get something with a similar aggressive geometry that could fit wider tires at a good price point that would be my ticket. I probably need to input the numbers into excel like someone mentioned above but I am just a little inexperienced in understanding how they minor differences affect the handling. I understand that a slacker head tube is less aggressive and the angle of the seat tube has something to do with how far back you sit and so on but when you put them all together its a lot of variables to understand how it feels. I definitely should try to go for some test rides but its definitely hard when they just want you to ride in the parking lot. So i guess I am hoping to narrow my choices down so I can test 2-3 different bikes and choose from them. Bikes like canyon and viathon seem hard because you might have to send it back if it isn't exactly how I want it to fit. Which seems like a huge hassle.
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Old 07-11-19, 06:10 AM
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Something like a DeVinci Hatchet or Ritchey Outback Carbon Breakaway would be a better fit if you're chasing something close to the front end geo of your Foil.
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Old 07-11-19, 07:47 AM
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Hmm. You mention things like the Domain, 3T, and the Foil, then say a cyclocross bike is too twitchy. I find a cyclocross bike is less agile than a road bike, but more agile than an endurance gravel bike. It’s a big continuum. The 3T or the Domain are going to be “twitchy” compared to a pure gravel bike.

A cyclocross bike may fit your needs if you want it to feel more like a road bike. Most of the modern designs have a lot of gravel features (compliant frame, wider tires). For that matter, putting 40mm tires on a cyclocross bike is going to significantly increase the trail making it more stable. But of course, a CX bike is a race machine, where a traditional gravel bike is an endurance machine.



As far as geometry, I wouldn’t worry too much about the seat angle. Head tube angle is what counts most. Actually, Trail (which is based off of head tube angle) and wheelbase make a bike agile vs very stable. Look at head tube angle (or trail if you can) stack reach (for your comfort), wheelbase to get a good feel for what the design is trying to do. I’m rather intrigued by the Checkpoint, as it has a fairly low trail and long wheelbase, giving it good turn in and stability.

Yes, Sending back a Canyon is a significant Hassle.

My LBS will let me ride a couple of miles to test out a bike if I ask, and often will “rent” me a bike for a day. I agree – its hard to tell from a parking lot.
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Old 07-11-19, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Hmm. You mention things like the Domain, 3T, and the Foil, then say a cyclocross bike is too twitchy. I find a cyclocross bike is less agile than a road bike, but more agile than an endurance gravel bike. It’s a big continuum. The 3T or the Domain are going to be “twitchy” compared to a pure gravel bike.

A cyclocross bike may fit your needs if you want it to feel more like a road bike. Most of the modern designs have a lot of gravel features (compliant frame, wider tires). For that matter, putting 40mm tires on a cyclocross bike is going to significantly increase the trail making it more stable. But of course, a CX bike is a race machine, where a traditional gravel bike is an endurance machine.



As far as geometry, I wouldn’t worry too much about the seat angle. Head tube angle is what counts most. Actually, Trail (which is based off of head tube angle) and wheelbase make a bike agile vs very stable. Look at head tube angle (or trail if you can) stack reach (for your comfort), wheelbase to get a good feel for what the design is trying to do. I’m rather intrigued by the Checkpoint, as it has a fairly low trail and long wheelbase, giving it good turn in and stability.

Yes, Sending back a Canyon is a significant Hassle.

My LBS will let me ride a couple of miles to test out a bike if I ask, and often will “rent” me a bike for a day. I agree – its hard to tell from a parking lot.
Lots of good advice here. But having ridden a 3T on gravel I can say it's not twitchy. I still wouldn't want one though.
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Old 07-11-19, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
Lots of good advice here. But having ridden a 3T on gravel I can say it's not twitchy. I still wouldn't want one though.
I actually know a couple people who have the 3T bike. Still a small sample size but it's still real world and not conjecture.

One of them had an issue (I can't remember if it was with the bottom bracket or with his RD) which involved a proprietary part, and it took 3T *weeks* to send the part from Italy.

However, this guy also never does any maintenance or inspection and is always having mechanical problems due to neglect so I hesitate to assign all the blame to the bike. But the fact that it uses some proprietary and potentially difficult-to-acquire parts is something to take into consideration.

Second person -- developed cracks around the bottle bosses in one of the tubes. It's a warranty issue and apparently 3T is being pretty good about the warranty service.

Despite all this, both people love the actual bike and have nothing but positive things to say about how it rides.

So I'm with @shoota in that I think it's probably a pretty good bike and could be the right answer for some people although personally I wouldn't want to spend my own money on one (but if someone gave me one I wouldn't turn it down.)
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Old 07-11-19, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Trekathlete View Post
Bikes like canyon and viathon seem hard because you might have to send it back if it isn't exactly how I want it to fit. Which seems like a huge hassle.
Get a used bike and try it, then return it back. You'll lose some $$ but at least you get to try all of them.

I was watching the TdF and the Advertisement for Pre-owned bikes is a very interesting model for used bikes. They even have the price and the resale if you sell it back to the same organization that sold it to you.

Take a look.

https://www.theproscloset.com/collec...bike-cx&page=1
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Old 07-11-19, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
if someone gave me one I wouldn't turn it down
Preach!

And yeah, 3T isn't exactly speedy with their warranty claims. And judging by the percentage of our sample that have to go this route, it's a good chance you'd have to warranty something at some point.
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Old 07-11-19, 10:16 AM
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But also I wouldn't consider the Domane a gravel bike. A road bike that can take slightly wider tires, if you need to go on relatively tame non-paved surfaces from time to time.
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Old 07-11-19, 11:08 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
But also I wouldn't consider the Domane a gravel bike. A road bike that can take slightly wider tires, if you need to go on relatively tame non-paved surfaces from time to time.
+1

I'm sticking to my guns and saying one bike for each discipline.
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Old 07-11-19, 02:46 PM
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I've always been, one bike for everything.
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Old 07-11-19, 02:49 PM
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I’ve never ridden a “twitchy” bike. I (and most seasoned riders) will quickly adapt to a bike’s geometry. I have ridden bikes that are “agile” and bikes that I have to “force” into a turn. The later will typically drift better as it is more stable. I don’t think I could drift my track bike on gravel if I had to (even though track bikes have a fairly high trail – they have super short wheelbases)



Here is an interesting comparison of Specialized bikes. Although personally I would put an endurance gravel bike somewhere between the Diverge and Sirrus (Hybrid). Their crosstrail is kind of an extreme flat bar gravel bike (aka hybrid). Anything that can’t take 40mm tires is typically pretty skewed to the road side.

Maybe not the best choice of bikes, but you can see the head tube angle decreasing and the wheelbase increasing as we go for more stability and less agility.


Trail (agility vs stability) is based off of Head Tube angle, fork offset, and Tire. Head tube angle is often the biggest variable, as fork and tire are often pretty standard. That said, putting 40mm tires on a CX bike is going to make a noticeable difference in stability, while putting skinnier tires on the bike is going to make it noticeably more agile. This is a good thing in my book. I can take a CX bike designed for 33mm tires and add stability for gravel with 40mm tires, or make it more agile with thinner road tires.
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Old 07-11-19, 02:56 PM
  #23  
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I have started to look at the geometry’s of the bike and using the foil as my base I kind of am getting ideas as to how the bikes I am looking at will ride. I might have misspoken about cyclocross bikes and there agility. I just assumed they had to make tighter corners during racing and because the BB bracket typically has to be higher for clearance I thought that you would sit higher. After looking thru and comparing geometry’s I am getting a better understanding of the bikes. If I wasn’t familiar with my Scott foil I wouldn’t have a base line but luckily I know how it felt and I liked it. So I want something similar that can also accommodate larger tires. It looks like the Scott addict gravel/Cx might be a good option so far. Still checking it out though. I also found a website that has the geometries already for 100’s if bikes so it makes it easier to compare. I learned the the Scott gravel and cx are the same frame. A fact I would never have realized without checking the geometry’s! Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-11-19, 04:17 PM
  #24  
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The Domane is road only specific bike, so you should consider that.
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Old 07-11-19, 08:01 PM
  #25  
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I found an excellent resource after getting into looking at geometry's. Incase any of you are interested. It is called 99spokes.com
You can essentially look for the bikes you are looking at and compare geometrys as well as groupsets and stuff. Its kind of cool and easier than I was doing yesterday by making excel files. They are a little limited in the bikes, for instance they don't have the Scott Foil in the model year that i owned so they don't have the correct frame specs because Scott changed the frame specs. But its a great starting place and you can ask them to update bikes which I have already done so we'll see how fast they do it... Thanks for all the help guys! I'll let you know my decision when i get one. I am definitely leaning more towards a dedicated gravel bike. I am not a racer but if i entered a race i dont think the bike would be what is preventing me from getting 1st place no matter what bike i own. I just want something that feel a bit racy and can go wherever i want. I saw BMC just released a new bike for 2020 that I am intrigued about. It looks really cool and fast.
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