Beautiful Bicycle - A 3T Exploro Racemax Inspired By the Land of 10,000 Lakes
Minnesota is a state with an ecological diversity that would make most other parts of the U.S. blush. There are the prairie lands to the south and the lush grasses farther into the north, but the state’s hallmarks come to two things: pine forests and lakes. And when those two things are distilled into bike form, you get this 3T Exploro Racemax.
The 3T Exploro Racemax is a bit of a unicorn of a bike. There are gravel bikes, and then there are aero bikes. Few of those gravel bikes fit a 27.5 x 2.3” tire, and few gravel bikes have the more aggressive, road bike-like geometry that manages to work well off-road without feeling stiff or wooden. The Racemax does all of that. It is basically a marketing dream: a bike that checks every box and looks good while doing it. We wouldn’t call this marketing fluff, however; we think the Exploro Racemax is legitimately good, even if you don’t need all of the things the Racemax does.
One of the things the Exploro Racemax does better than almost any other gravel bike is feel truly engaging on the road and off it. With road tires the bike could moonlight as a primary road bike with short chainstays and handling that errs toward stability. With wider gravel tires the bike becomes even more stable. And with 650b or 27.5” wheels the Racemax becomes an agile, fun, and anything but placid on singletrack. To us, that makes this bike great for the logging roads and forest exploration of Minnesota. In places like this, where the dirt roads are plentiful and speed is the name of the game without sacrificing comfort, the Exploro Racemax is almost unmatched.
On to the paint scheme. The painter was given one directive: paint a bike inspired by the Minnesota license plate. That meant matching the line of grass and trees, matching typeface to the license plate, and getting the colors dialed.
The Minnesota theme needs little explanation, but the little details make the bike really fun. We are love the hand-drawn how the forest greens taper to flowing grasslands with a soft blue and white accent. It is a generally simple scheme, just with a fair bit of skill not usually seen on a bike, much less a custom-painted bike.
The rest of the build comes courtesy of SRAM and Zipp. SRAM Force and its Wide gearing option complements the Exploro Racemax really nicely, with higher gearing for the flats that doesn’t compromise the lower gears for when the hills don’t stop coming. We are particularly partial to the SRAM SL70 XPLR gravel handlebars; it features a gentle flare that doesn’t cant shift levers out too far, and the ovalized flat part is a welcome addition too. Another strong mark for the Panaracer Gravelking SS tires as well, which we feel takes the decent cornering grip of the Gravelking SK tire and makes it about as fast as their slick on the straights.
Maybe an homage to the land of 10,000 lakes (but really more like 12,000) isn’t to everyone’s taste. That’s okay! Rather, that is the beauty of custom paint: you get to make your bike truly yours. That’s what has happened here; thanks for the opportunity, Tim!
Here are this bike's build specs:
|Frameset||3T Exploro Racemax - Ready to Paint|
|Headset||Cane Creek 40 (custom bearing set for 3T Exploro Racemax)|
|Groupset||SRAM Force eTap AXS - Force AXS Wide RD, Force AXS FD)|
|Crankset||SRAM Force w/ Quarq Power Meter, Wheels Manufacturing Thread-Together - 386EVO - DUB|
|Gearing||170mm crank, Force 46/33T chainrings, Force WIDE 10-36t cassette|
|Wheelset||Zipp 303 Firecrest - 700c|
|Tires||Panaracer Gravelking SS+ - 700 x 38c (700c x 40mm)|
|Zipp SL70 XLPR - 42cm - Matte Black|
|Stem||Zipp Service Course SL - 6 deg, 90mm - Matte Black|
|Seatpost||3T Exploro Aero Seatpost with Ritchey Clamp|
|Saddle||Most Lynx Air - 145mm|
|Accessories||K-Edge Road Braze-On Chain Catcher, SRAM Centerline X 160mm rotors - Centerlock|
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Words by Alvin Holbrook. Images by Cody Wignall.