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Gravel Framesets

3T Exploro RaceMax Frameset

The 3T bike story has now been widely told, argued about, and delivered it's share of true fans and copycats. In the gravel world, the prescient design and development of the Exploro frameset has deeply influenced the industry. The wide tire clearance, 700c or 650b wheel capability, and an emphasis on speed and 1x/2x drivetrain options are now common. However, 3T has pushed further, driving better aerodynamics and efficiency, as well as massive tire clearance, now found in the Exploro RaceMax. This is a frameset that can offer impressive speed and all around capability for cyclists to whom that is crucial, whether racing or just tearing up gravel to avoid pavement and cars. At the same time, the adventure or long distance gravel rider who prefers to tackle all terrain with a goal of not walking, can build out the same frameset with tires that push 61mm (2.4"), yet still have a road like feel and geometry. If the Exploro set a new direction, the Exploro Racemax creates a whole new world of cycling opportunity whether a racer, a maximizer, or anyone in between.

To understand the development of the Exploro RaceMax from 3T's perspective, you have to embrace two concepts: Width as measured, and Radius as measured, or WAM and RAM. The goal was to max a true aero frame and fork that integrated clearance and aero coverage. By understanding that WAM and RAM vary with internal rim width, desired tire pressure and actual tire specifications (not listed). As the internal width grows, the tire shape and volume changes- same with pressure. As such the listed tire spec becomes irrelevant and only actual measurements provide the true distance and clearances needed. Instead of guessing and over building distances, the frame and fork can be designed for real measurements. The same principles apply to another aero concern- water bottles. As bottles are fairly standard, acronyms aren't really required, and suffice to say the size-specific downtube was shaped and gradually widened to allow for cleaner airflow through to the rear triangle.

With the seattube cutout and seatstay bridge you can see the combination of upper clearance and optimal aero shielding, even with adequate mud clearance. Instead of the now customary dropped driveside lower stay, both stays have been dropped, delivering even greater clearance and increased lateral stiffness. Cyclists choosing 700c wheel options can opt for 1x or 2x drivetrains with no problem. The knowledge of the real working RAM of 347-353mm allows you make the optimal tire and rim choice for speed, volume and efficiency. You can see the same thought process with the fork design, which has a minimal height crown that is both exceptionally strong and wide. The axle to crown is 370mm, the same as the average road bike, keeping the tire closer to the downtube- again more aero. The second aspect is that the front end is lower, improving handling and road-bike feel.

The Fango RaceMax fork has a tapered 1 1/2" to 1 1/8" steerer- no surprise there. You may wonder how it fits into the slim headtube- yet another aero feature- so 3T had Cane Creek create a custom, narrow headset, the MinMax, which can handle the same loads as a standard version. The fork and the frame have flat mount disc caliper mounts designed for direct use- no adapters- for 160mm disc rotors. The rear triangle and fork also feature fender mounts. The top tube has the now standard bag mount bosses.

There are many less crucial features which add to the unique capabilities of the Exploro RaceMax, but the true essence has been covered. The result is a frameset that is truly capable of efficiency that only the best aero road bikes can match, with borderline ridiculous tire clearance, a powerful ride, with compliance. 3T has upgraded their hidden seatpost wedge that delivers more friction and hold with less torque. The new Charlie Sqaero carbon seatpost features the excellent and easy Ritchey WCS 1-bolt clamp system. A thread together bottom bracket is included. Mechanical or electronic? Yes. Integrated routing? Of course. Syntace bolt-on thru axles for 12/142mm rear and 12/100 front are deemed to be the stiffest interface available. Fit is improved, with six sizes available versus the four of the Exploro.

3T learned much in the process of designing and selling the Exploro. The company has also seen the fast evolution of the gravel scene. The Exploro RaceMax is likely the actual bike Gerard Vroomen wanted to design but it's possible his experience, the market, and wheel and tire options just weren't there yet. The combination of speed and efficiency, with remarkable versatility over roads and terrain, just pushes the envelope further and forces more innovation and adaptation, but for now the 3T Exploro RaceMax stands alone.


  • Evolved Exploro frameset design with increased aerodynamics, clearance, and speed
  • Unidirectional pre-preg carbon, High-modulus/high-strength performance blend layup
  • Fango RaceMax w/ compact crown, tapered steerer, flat mount disc interface (direct to 160mm)
  • Minimalist fork crown height that allows effective fork length close to pure road designs (370mm axle to crown)
  • Narrow headtube (comparable to those with 1¼" forks) for a 1.5" tapered steerer inside
  • RaceMax frame and fork can accommodate 61mm tires (2.4")
  • Goal was to make it fast the way you ride it in real world conditions.
  • Frameset is fastest with 35-42mm WAM tires for gravel racing
  • Everything on the new RaceMax frame is engineered for speed for any gravel application
  • Next-level aerodynamics w/ rear wheel cutout, narrow headtube, bottle shielding downtube & aero profiles
  • Downtube and seattube bottle cage bosses; top tube bag mount bosses
  • Dozens of small details to eke out every last watt
  • Design largely built around actual tire measurements for the desired set-ups
  • WAM: Width As Measured
  • RAM: Radius As Measured
  • RaceMax can accept tires up to 61mm (2.4") WAM; that’s 15% wider than the 2.1" maximum
  • Tight-fitting rear wheel cutout (with mud clearance of course)
  • Downtube optimized to re-direct the airflow coming off the front wheel and onto the water bottle
  • RACE: optimized for all-road/gravel riding & racing
  • MAX: set-up focused on aerodynamic performance, comfort, and control with tires up to 61mm WAM
  • Size-specific downtube design- larger for larger sizes
  • Close-fitting cutout to optimally shield the rear wheel; oversized shapes create front tire & downtube intersection for better airflow transition and less turbulence
  • Custom Cane Creek MinMax headset for tapered steerer in narrow headtube (IS42/28.6 | IS47/38)
  • Requires BB386EVO type bottom bracket for the crankset of yoru choice
  • Can be run a 1x or 2x drivetrain, mechanical or electronic, with aero developed internal routing
  • Seatpost wedge system has self-adjusting bolt angle for higher clamping forces with lower torque
  • New 3T Charlie Sqaero Team w/ Ritchey WCS 1-bolt Clamp is easy to use, stable, and secure
  • Direct mount fork and frame disc mounts for 160mm rotor/caliper set-ups- no adapter required
  • Syntace 12/142mm, 12/100 bolt-on thru-axles
  • Integrated fender mounts- invisible until needed (3T plans to release fender system as well)
  • Sizes: XXS, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61 cm (limited availability- see selection menu/contact us for options)
  • Colors: Sand/Olive, Orange/Grey
  • Weight: 1210 grams (bare frame, 54cm, actual)
3T Exploro RACE/MAX
Size 51cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm XXS
Wheel Size 700c/650b 700c/650b 700c/650b 700c/650b 700c/650b 700c/650b
Stack 542mm 564mm 584mm 604mm 632mm 520mm
Reach 366mm 377mm 385mm 393mm 404mm 355mm
Head Angle 69.5° 71° 72° 72° 72° 69°
Seat Angle 74° 73.5° 73° 72.5° 72.5° 74.5°
Top Tube Length 526mm 546mm 566mm 586mm 606mm 506mm
Head Tube Length 147mm 161mm 180mm 201mm 232mm 125mm
Bottom Bracket Drop 79mm 77mm 77mm 75mm 75mm 79mm
Front Center 606mm 606mm 611mm 621mm 641mm 596mm
Wheelbase 1008mm 1008mm 1014mm 1024mm 1044mm 998mm
Chainstay Length 415mm 415mm 415mm 415mm 415mm 415mm