3T’s Gravel Benchmark Exploro Gets an All-New RaceMax Evolution
The 3T Exploro RaceMax, the latest evolution of 3T’s gravel benchmark, offers improved aerodynamics, optimized fit and geometry for aero gravel racing. This new version is built on a deeper analysis and better understanding of the wheel and tire setups used by gravel riders, allowing for improved efficiency by adjusting how the tires fit into the frame and fork.
The Evolution of Gravel Riding
The new Exploro RaceMax builds upon the success of the original Exploro and incorporates lessons learned from the evolution of gravel riding over the past four years. Gravel riding has become divided into three distinct camps: riders who tackle any road surface, those who race on dirt and gravel roads, and bikepackers who explore new territory with drop bar bikes. 3T took a closer look at the differences between these camps and realized that tire choice played a significant role in performance. They aimed to refine the aerodynamics of their gravel racer while maintaining off-road capability and road-like speeds.
A Study in Real Gravel Tire Size
In order to better understand tire width and radii, 3T conducted a study of hundreds of gravel tires categorized into three groups: low profile slicks (>35mm wide), medium profile knobs (>35mm wide), and wider & knobbier 650b tires (>2.0″ wide). They measured these tires on different rim widths and logged the data using two new terms: Radius As Measured (RAM) and Width As Measured (WAM). The study revealed that varying rim width created a wide variation in RAM relative to the width stated on the sidewall. The benchmark for the new Exploro RaceMax was set at 353mm RAM for 700c tires and 352mm RAM for 650b tires, with a few millimeters of mud clearance.
The Exploro RaceMax features tighter clearances between the frame, fork, and tires, resulting in improved aerodynamics. The frame tube shapes have been widened without increasing wind tunnel drag coefficients. The top of the downtube is now 46mm wide, optimized for a 40mm wide tire for maximum aerodynamics. The downtube widens to 75mm just below the crown to smooth air over water bottles. This focus on “RealFast™ Aerodynamics” considers real tire widths, gravel racing speeds, wind speeds, and the presence of water bottles and gear bags on the bike.
The Exploro RaceMax features a lower axle-to-crown measurement of 370mm, down 25mm from the original Exploro. This allowed for a tighter tire:downtube gap and improved aerodynamics. The stack heights have been adjusted based on analysis of thousands of bike fits on the original Exploro, resulting in more realistic and comfortable fits without the need for excessive spacers. Other minor changes in frame geometry, such as bottom bracket drop and seattube angles, have been made to improve stability and handling on and off-road.
RaceMax Sizing XXS vs. XL
The new Exploro RaceMax is available in a wider size range, from XXS to XL. The addition of two extra sizes allows for a smoother step throughout the range and provides more options for riders to find their preferred Stack and Reach combination. The smaller sizes, XXS and XS, have a larger fork offset to minimize toe overlap and maintain similar trail and ride feel as the larger frames. 3T recommends the bikes for riders ranging from 4’8″ to over 6’3″ tall.
Next Gen Exploro – Tech Details
The new carbon Exploro RaceMax features larger tube profiles, with the tapered downtube varying in depth with size to prevent over stiffness in smaller frames. It is offered in a single carbon layup, fabricated in Taiwan. The frame weight is claimed to be 1050g for a Medium size. The new fork has a low profile crown and uses a special tapered headset made by Cane Creek. The legs of the fork have a varying aero profile for optimized aerodynamics.