3T Exploro RaceMax aims to make gravel bikes faster and more versatile

The 'first fully aero gravel bike' is now more aero, but more versatile, as well...

3T has grown its Exploro family with the addition of the Race Max. The brand has sought to provide both greater tyre clearance for more techy trails, as well as tidying up the frame to improve aerodynamics.

With the gravel genre rapidly growing, more riders are taking to their local off-road segments. However, the nature of the terrain varies dramatically depending upon where consumers live and ride – and with it the demands, hence we see gravel bike design shooting off in many different directions as manufacturers attempt to hook the greatest market share.

>>> Why are road cyclists riding gravel bikes when hardtails could be faster?

3T, the brand which brought us the first ‘aero optimised gravel bike’ with the Exploro, is aiming to please all tribes of gravel rider, with its new addition.

The Exploro Race Max carries the undeniable hallmarks of Cervélo co-founder turned 3T (and Open) designer, Gerard Vroomen.

The tubes have been supersized, apparently creating a smoother transition across the large front tyre and the rest of the frame, and the new model has a dual dropped chainstay – a claimed improvement on the previous iteration with the drop on the driveside only.

The down tube in particular tapers, measuring 46mm at the top and graduating to 75mm towards the bottom, in order to account for the addition of water bottles.

The new model also has a more pronounced cut out at the rear wheel, and the fork has been tweaked to follow a more traditionally low profile road going design. This in turn reduces the gap between the front wheel and down tube – a technique pretty widely used to reduce drag, especially on track and time trial bikes.

These updates all add up to what you’d expect to be a faster package, though 3T hasn’t given any wattage saving figures for this new silhouette, so we’ll have to take the brand’s word for it (for now!).

Whilst many riders aren’t focusing on aerodynamics when out on their gravel jaunts, it’s fair to say that those racing multi-day events, perhaps battling strong headwinds at times, may disagree.

That takes care of the ‘faster’ side of the conversation, and considered alone it sees 3T take quite a different direction to other brands – such as Specialized with its flat bar Diverge and Cannondale with the lefty fork enabled Topstone. However, there’s more.

The new Exploro Race Max can now accommodate 42mm tyres on a standard 700 wheel, with more space for those using a 650b wheel. The bikes come specced with 35mm and 57mm tyres, respectively.

3T is also attempting to help clean up cycling’s ongoing issue with tyre width – where a 25mm tyre may actually turn out to be something quite different depending upon the rim in question.

On its spec sheets, the Italian brand has instead listed the ‘labeled’ size, as well as ‘WAM’ (width as measured) and ‘RAM’ (radius as measured). For example, the Exploro Max is listed as coming with Fulcrum Racing 7DB, 650b wheels, dressed in Schwalbe G-One Allround TLE 650b tyres with “57mm labeled width, WAM23=58.3mm, RAM23=354mm”.

It will be interesting to see if other brands decide to piggyback on to this – though we’ll admit we won’t be holding our breath.

Whilst the brand has maintained the sleek lines of the Exploro, it’s also adjusted the geometry to bring the rider up a little bit as well as growing the size range. The latter move implies these bikes are selling well and reaching a large enough audience to justify the spend on expanding production.

Where in the past there were just four sizes (S-XL), the Exploro Race Max comes in six sizes, from XXS to 61 (we’re not sure why the XXS isn’t a 49).

The outgoing Medium to new 54 is the closest comparison, with the previous stack and reach coming in at 546/378 vs the new measurements of 564/377. Of course, those who wanted to maintain a racier fit could always play with swapping stems to achieve the desired set-up.

Finally, alongside the bike launch, 3T is also unveiling an ‘aero gravel bar’ – the Aeroghiaia LTD, and two sets of wheels – the Discus 45/40 LTD, and the Discus Plus i28 LTD.

The aero bar is a carbon construction with a wind cheating flat top, and comes in at €350 (UK pricing TBC). The brand has used its Superergo grip with a multi angle flare, and it’s available in three widths – 40, 42 and 44, with the flare creating drop positions from 478mm to 519mm. Weights range from 229g to 238g depending upon size.

The Discus 45/40 set has in internal rim of 29mm, and external rim of 40mm, coming in at €2,400 with Carbon-Ti hubs and 40/45mm rims front and rear. The 650b Discus Plus i28 LTD is 28mm internal/34mm external with a €1,999 price tag.

Specs and builds

The new Race Max comes in a range of builds, with frames at £3199. The top end option is the Exploro Race with SRAM Force AXS 1x set up, at £6399.

The frameset is available now, with builds dribbling on to the market between June and September.

  • Exploro RACEMAX Red/White – £3,199.00
  • Exploro RACE GRX 1X Orange/Grey – £4,199.00
  • Exploro RACE GRX 2X Orange/Grey – £4,399.00
  • Exploro MAX GRX 1X Orange/Grey – £4,199.00
  • Exploro MAX GRX 2X Orange/Grey – £4,399.00
  • Exploro RACE FORCE AXS 1X TORNO Olive/Sand – £6,399.00
  • Exploro RACE FORCE AXS 2X Olive/Sand – £5,899.00
  • Exploro MAX EAGLE AXS 1X Orange/Grey – £5,899.00
  • Exploro RACE FORCE AXS 1X TORNO Orange/Grey – £6,399.00