I’ve been riding the new 3T e-Exploro Race Max Boost gravel e-bike
I’ve been riding the new 3T e-Exploro Race Max Boost gravel e-bike for the past month or so, and have come around to a number of actually good reasons to electrify a gravel adventure bike. At least in its European version, this e-Exploro isn’t really going to make you a lot faster – you’ll quickly ride past its pedal-assist speed limit. But with the relatively smooth power boost & lighter battery of the eBikeMotion e-bike system, it can truly extend the range of your adventures. And add on the optional external battery, and it’ll take you much further than expected…
In-depth Review: 3T (e)Exploro RaceMax Boost carbon gravel e-bike
When 3T told me that they had a new (e-)Exploro Race Max Boost e-bike coming soon, I wasn’t yet sure what to think of the idea. The good old-fashioned pedal-it-yourself Exploro RaceMax was already a great-riding carbon gravel bike. I rode & reviewed it last summer. And I’d be happy to continually rotate it through off-road, fast gravel & bikepacking modes… So, why would I want a 3.5kg heavier version with a little motor and battery hidden inside? I’ve ridden a number of e-bikes over the years, and plenty of them had been fun to ride. But outside of maybe an e-cargo bike or commuter e-bike, I haven’t felt the burning desire to replace any regular bike in my stable with an e-bike. Could the e-Exploro change my tune? What new kind of riding would it open up for me? And what type of other cyclists would really benefit from an Exploro RaceMax Boost? Let’s find out, shall we?
Why e-gravel in the first place?
What makes the 3T Exploro RaceMax Boost (or as I’d like to call it, the e-Exploro) unique is the lightweight, relatively smooth & low-ish power Mahle ebikemotion X35 e-bike powertrain. It’s not a brand new system, and this isn’t the first or most affordable e-bike to get it. But, then there’s the fact that 3T fits all of that into what is effectively the exact same frame as the standard 3T Exploro RaceMax gravel bike. So you get the same off-road adventure-capability in an e-bike that weighs around 12.4kg (without pedals or cages) and doesn’t look actually like an e-bike.
Actual gravel e-bike weight
Let’s first talk about that weight. Comparing it to a dozen mid to high-end gravel bikes I’ve ridden in the last 18 months or so, those weighed an average of 8.7kg (8.3, 8.3, 8.5, 8.6, 8.6, 8.7, 8.7, 8.7, 8.7, 8.8, 8.8 & 9.4kg). So, 10-12kg (depending on spec) for e-gravel sounds totally manageable. You could even compare it to the very niche, but still real 13.4kg for the steel Bombtrack Hook EXT ADV with an MRP gravel suspension fork, dropper post & MTB tires (or its later 11.6kg incarnation with lighter wheels, tires & no dropper). That’s a very different gravel adventure bike, but it helps put the extra weight into perspective. The 3T Exploro RaceMax Boost isn’t light for a gravel bike, but it’s actually manageable to pedal even without the Boost.
Actual gravel e-bikepacking weight
In fact, when I took the e-Exploro bikepacking, I quickly tacked on an extra 9kg with everything I needed for a relatively quick, lightweight weekend trip. That included three bikepacking bags loaded up with tent, sleeping bag, mat, regular tools, warmer camp clothing, and 1 1/2 days’ worth of food & water. Sure, that did also include the optional extra 1.7kg for the external 208Wh Xtra Power battery & its special cage – because I was afraid how far the e-bike’s built-in battery would take me without recharging. But you could do without that if you aren’t riding super far or are camping/sleep somewhere with electricity to recharge. (In the end, I used about 70% of the combined capacity riding 75km loaded in the mountains, with a bit of friendly pushing another loaded rider up a few steeper climbs). But really, I usually don’t think twice about loading 8kg of bikepacking gear onto a 9kg gravel bike for a weekend adventure ride (not to mention the fact that I weigh 80kg). So does 3.5kg of battery & motor, or 5.2kg if you want more range, does that really matter?
Is a gravel e-bike going to make me faster?
One of the big issues that keeps people from accepting e-bikes (myself included) is the perception that e-bikes will make riders faster, and that they didn’t earn that extra speed. Here is where it gets a bit complicated, varying depending on where you are. In Europe (where I am, and 3T is), the 25kph pedal-assist limit means that once you get above that speed, this e-Exploro isn’t going to help you anymore, and you’re pedaling on your own. (In reality, there’s a 10% margin of error / fudge factor allowed in the EU regulation, so you’ll really still get some support up to almost 27.5kph). My regular gravel rides tend to average 22-25kph, so about half of the time the e-Exploro was helping me, and half the time I was riding above its assist speed. In practice, anytime the road or terrain was pointed downhill, flat, or even a gentle