After refreshing the DHL track and trace every 5 minutes, my 3T was somewhere between Bergamo and The Netherlands. Waiting for your bike to arrive comes close to the memories of the days before Christmas as a child. Unboxing is the new unwrapping of your gift you have been looking forward to for so long. In the meantime, you have time to think about the tracks, routes and bike pack trips you will explore soon.
Opening that box was like opening a present and to date the 3T is still stored in the living room. A bike that is so close to art will convince every rider’s partner that this is the best thing to do. What was in that box? A brand new 3T Exploro Racemax, kingfisher color theme, fitted with 3T’s Discus 45 mm deep and 32 mm wide carbon rims. Given that I will ride nearly everything that The Netherlands has to offer with this gravel monster, I chose to add a 650b wheel set. For gearing I went for Shimano’s GRX 810 2x for their durability and smooth gear switches, an absolute treat so far. Tires of choice: WTB Venture 47mm for 650b and Schwalbe G-ONE 35mm and Pirelli P-Zero Velo 28mm for 700c.
2020 kilometers in, it is time to take stock: is the Racemax an improvement? 1X vs. 2X and of course: does the can-do-it-all bike exist? Let’s find out!
Of those 2020 kilometers (1250 miles) 40% has been ridden on paved gravel, 20% on rough terrain/single track and 40% on tarmac. Fifty-fifty on Discus 700c wheels and Fulcrum 7DB 650b wheels.
Netherlands literally means lower lands, so you can imagine that this is not the place where you can find majestic alps, 25% climbs and everlasting descents. What we do have is nature that is amazing for cycling with views that appear to change every 5 minutes and for dessert the highest density of cycling lanes in the world.
On single track: for me, the feeling riding singletrack on the Racemax can be best compared to the feeling you have when skiing off-piste or catching a wave. The geometry offers playful but very responsive control and makes you feel confident under every circumstances. Shimano’s GRX never skips a gear, brakes so precise and you feel you have control from every part of the leaver, even with one finger at the top with gloves on.
On gravel: winters are wet in The Netherlands. Where you could ride most terrains with a nobby 35 mm in spring and summer while you are best off with a more robust tire like the WTB Ventures in Autumn and Winter. Riding with a flat top and more robust outer knobs gives you traction on all surfaces. Instantly you feel that this is home territory for the Racemax. Accelerating over compressed gravel gives you the feeling you are flying. Not to mention the number of people turning their heads trying to find out what machine you are riding at that pace.
On the road: how is it even possible that a bike that is so agile, playful and has 61 mm clearance for your off-road adventures can at the same time be a speed machine that feels fast, stable and rock solid on the road. So close to the best aero road bikes out there. Riding over 1/3 on tarmac? Take the 2x option, the smaller gear ratio’s really make a difference here. Where I ride the Sram Powerglide 36t cassette on gravel I chose for the Ultegra 30t cassette on the road. Maxing 200 km on a road ride to date I experienced amazing stability, control, and comfort (fitted with 30mm WAM tires) and exceeded all expectations.
So, what will the 2021 kilometers bring? As I will be moving to the UK new territories, new gravel and bike packing adventures are expected to come soon. Do you have any questions, please feel free to drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help!