3T Extrema Italia: The Racer's Adventure Bike

Written by Isaac Boyden, on December 04, 2023

Made in Italy, start to finish. Not many companies can say that. Sure, many companies can print "Made in Italy" but 3T is truly doing it from the weaving of the carbon all the way to the painting of the frame and everything in-between. Starting a couple years ago, 3T started making their Exploro Racemax frame in Italy bringing Italian manufacturing back to the company for the first time in decades. Most companies have their frame manufacturing in Asia to keep manufacturing costs lower. The Italian-made Racemax frame was a huge hit, with gorgeous carbon weave, and it felt like none other. They proceeded to produce their e-bike version of the Racemax in Italy, and now, the Extrema. Similar to the Racemax you know and love, but bigger tires, bigger lines and a gnar crunching, granny gear loving mentality. 

 

The Extrema 

If you’re familiar with the Exploro Racemax, you have a pretty good understanding of the ethos of this bike. Using the tried and tested geometry from the Racemax and adjusting it slightly from there to increase traction and rider comfort, the stack gets a little higher and the seat tube angle gets steeper. The fork is raked out more, along with an increased wheelbase for extra stability and control on the descents. The Exploro Racemax is meant to be the fastest bike around, meant for racing and fast miles. It is aerodynamically ideal for 35-46mm tires (claimed) and most aero with 40mm tires. The Extrema is meant more for traction and rougher races or days in the saddle. This means tire clearance for up to 700x57(yes, you read that right) and is aerodynamically made to be the fastest with 50-57mm tires(fastest on 52mm). The Extrema also has bosses for more mounting points for racks, storage and fenders. 

The Extrema is further hammering that point of adventure home with all versions of full builds using the SRAM Transmission groupset. Yes, stock. Pretty unheard of, but the hunt for rougher terrain means more robust gear, and an even bigger granny gear ;). The UDH compatible frame will also let you run any electronic (wireless or with wired hoods) 1x or 2x drivetrain. The bike features a double-dropped chainstay for added tire clearance, a huge downtube for aero shielding around the water bottles, and low gaps between the tires and the frame. The bike also features a round seat tube unlike the Racemax, allowing suspension posts or wireless dropper posts for more capability in the chunk. The bike is so centered around being capable, it uses a 160mm minimum rotor size front and rear, without any extra mounts or adaptors. 

“Italia”, Made In Italy 

If you look at the product page of this bike, it says 3T Extrema Italia. Italia. Any 3T bike made that has that designation, means that it is hand woven in Italy; one of the only companies like that. Even Pinarello doesn't manufacture their frames in Italy. All Italia bikes are hand-laid in Italy. They take strands of carbon fiber filament and weave it around the frame mold, then lay the epoxy on it before putting it in a vacuum and baking it. This is different from the traditional carbon fiber lay up system used in most factories that use pre-injected carbon sheets that start curing as soon as you start using the sheets. This means the Italia frames have a closer and more consistent quality control, and have more controlled stiffness and compliance. All frames are hand painted in Italy as well, further showcasing the point of true Italian manufacturing. The other benefit of the "Made In Italy" project from 3T is more sustainable production. There is much less waste, due to more controlled material use and better quality control. All of this attributes to a smaller carbon footprint from 3T. 

Who Is This For? 

This bike is the ultimate bike for the adventurer with a love for speed. The still slightly aggressive position on the bike, and lower stack means that racers would still feel at home on this bike, even with adventure DNA. This bike has the clearance for much larger events that some bikes can be out gunned on. Local races here like the Wasatch All-Road are properly chunky. You need plenty of tire clearance due to some really rough sections of that race, for comfort and cornering capability. 

Other races like Arizona BWR, also warrant some good tire clearance. The Big Sugar Classic is one where this bike would be the prime example of how a proper set up on the 3T Extrema could be a race-contending bike. Santa Cruz athlete Tobin Ortenblad ran 2.2 Maxxis Ikon 29” tires in the Big Sugar classic gravel race on his 2024 Stigmata. The Stigmata's official tire clearance is only 700 x 50, and Tobin in his post race recaps even warns you not to run tires that big in that frame. The 3T Extrema however, can run those tires, no issue, and within manufacture recommendations. This bike is ready to take on all the extrema thrown at it.