Gravel Bike to Explore Australia's Trails: 3T Racemax Italia

Gravel Bike to Explore Australia's Trails: 3T Racemax Italia

If you’ve explored Australia off-road, you’ll understand the terrain is exhilarating, sometimes terrifying, often beautiful, and always unpredictable. It also captures the imagination of Australian cyclists. The response in the gravel movement is that riders now crave a machine that maintains all the positive aspects of a road bike with the ability to navigate rugged terrain with equal aplomb. This is the dream bike, a true testament to the spirit of exploration defining the adventurous Australian experience. And we are about to discover if the 3T Racemax Italia can deliver.

3T Racemax Lamborghini Italia

Transcending Boundaries: The Racemax Italia

Envisioning a bicycle that excels across disciplines is exactly what led me back to Italy to test the 3T Racemax Italia, a gravel bike with a difference. I’m pleased to say this trip was worth traveling 16500km! 3T has crafted a unique riding experience and pioneered a new language in off-road riding.

To begin, it's important to note that I’ve spent time riding this frame on both Australian and Italian soil. I’ve tested the interchange between loose soil, navigating rocky paths, steep hills, cobbled stones, creek beds, and slick mud. I’ve also experienced long straight trails. This is particularly relevant for Australian riders in a country where weather conditions fluctuate, and trail upkeep is irregular.

Alison McGregor testing 3t gravel bike Lamborghini
Testing the 3T Racemax Italia, on the slopes above Bergamo, Italy

Because of the unforgiving terrain, gravel riders frequently look to upgrade and modify their bikes to spend less time “hiking a bike,” carrying supplies, and battling the bumps. The burgeoning gravel scene has spurred a market to design accessories and components, (dropper seat posts, suspension forks or stems, flared bars). In fact, I’d say gravel has impacted the way even road bikes are perceived (think wider tire allowance/flared bars), balanced, and ridden. On the one hand, the desire for add-ons underscores a stark disparity between gravel riders and the traditional roadie. On the other, the performance language of what makes a gravel bike successful, remains stubbornly set in road bike discourse, despite the different expectations.


Road riders are accustomed to assessing performance based on predictable tarmac conditions. Gravel cyclists navigate a dynamic landscape that demands a shift in perspective. As such, the criteria for evaluating gravel bike characteristics changes demands in stiffness-to-weight ratio, and should reflect unique challenges of off-road riding - like sustainability of an upright position throughout the transition between rock and sand or on a slippery slope.

Changing the language of Gravel: The blazoned trail ahead

3T’s willingness to challenge the status quo underscores a profound understanding that the language of bike performance must evolve to align with the demands of modern riders and the dynamic landscape of gravel biking.

My visit to the 3T home of manufacture near Bergamo, Italy, magnified a paradigm shift with 3T's steadfast refusal to adhere to conventions. This departure from tradition is particularly intriguing given the Italian cycling industry's deep-rooted commitment to heritage, exemplified by iconic brands like Campagnolo.

Alison McGregor
Visiting the 3T Factory Italy. Assessing production of the Italia Strada, Racemax, and Extrema


Located in Presezzo, a historic town renowned for its rich cultural heritage, lies 3T's headquarters. Here 3T embraces innovation and adaptability with remarkable agility, a testament to the brand's forward-thinking approach. 3T redefines the metrics by which bikes are evaluated, pioneering groundbreaking advancements in frame construction. Their proprietary filament wrapping technique, meticulously developed and perfected over time, is revolutionizing the cycling industry.

3T Frame construction
3T  Presezzo HQ where the Italia range is manufactured using the filament winding technique

 

By prioritizing innovation and investing in cutting-edge technology over Pro Team sponsorship, 3T ensures they stay ahead of the curve while redefining the standards of excellence in cycling.

Harvesting the Results: Testing the Racemax Italia

Now, let's delve into the exhilarating world of testing the Racemax Italia. This process took me across continents, from the rugged trails of Australia to the picturesque landscapes of Northern Italy. Along the way, I had the privilege of putting not only the Racemax Italia through its paces but also its counterparts—the Racemax Lamborghini, the Asia-made Racemax, and even the Racemax Explorer Boost e-bike. It was a comprehensive testing regimen that left no stone unturned.

Alison McGregor
Alison McGregor mid ride testing the 3T Racemax Italia along the river at Presezzo


As anticipated, each model showcased distinct characteristics, yet beneath the surface, a common thread emerged—they are incredibly quick off the mark. These frames weren’t designed to cocoon riders in plush comfort. What truly sets the Racemax Italia apart is the innate readiness to tackle any terrain with the agility and control of a seasoned racer.

reviewing the 3t racemax italia
Cycling streets of Bergamo, Italy testing the Racemax Italia


Unlike recent trends that anchor gravel bikes to the ground in relaxed geometry, mounting the Racemax Italia was initially reminiscent of riding a sleek road bike, or even a racehorse. The handling exuded a remarkable lightness guided by both my turning the bars and a response to any movement of my body. I could talk about the symbiotic response to this frame, but it’s hard to define without getting academic or even poetic. Let’s just say, a subtle shift of your hips and a mere change of gaze, and this bike, built with resilience in mind, effortlessly guides you through planned corners or (dependent on your riding skills) deftly navigates rocky terrain with finesse and grace. Like learning a new language, the riding experience gets better the more you ride.

3T Racemax Lamborghini Italia
3T Exploro Racemax X Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato. The 3T Torno aerodynamic crank, the lightest in the world, is also built in-house Images: Alison McGregor

Unlocking the Secret: The Intricacies of Frame Construction

It’s clear the Racemax Italia’s receptiveness lies in the unique frame build process. 3T built machines that meticulously weave and wind dry carbon fibers from a single continuous thread. The carbon yarn is woven to construct complex-shaped tubes. It also minimises the repeated heating and cooling processes of the resin. This all achieves a level of efficiency for the build, and for the rider, a result that is unparalleled against traditional molding techniques.

Because the seamless integration of dry carbon thread is woven throughout the entire length of the tube, any forces exerted into the bike by the rider (from feet and hands) is directly and immediately transmitted. For the rider, that means maintaining better control over the changing environmental riding conditions, and perfect for unpredictable terrain. When riding, it gives this exciting symbiotic sensation leaving you wanting to get back on the bike.

racemax testing the 3t italia
Alison McGregor " Post ride with 3T Racemax Italia. Italy, at The Reverb Hub

 

The frame-building technique allows 3T to harness directions in strength, stiffness, and flex where it’s needed most, and with precision. The responding feel of the bike speaks volumes about the potential engineering and thoughtful design considerations that permeate every aspect of the Italia range, including the recently introduced Strada Italia.

For those with an adventurous spirit, who revel in pushing the boundaries amidst challenging terrain, the Racemax Italia instills a sense of confidence due to the profound unity felt with the bike. Whatever path is ahead, the Racemax Italia is steadfast and resolute, seamlessly merging with the rider's instincts. It’s this behaviour that delivers an unrivalled off-road experience.

A Splash of Italian Flair: A Kaleidoscope of Colours

Finally, let's talk colour. Emblazoned with the iconic tricolours of the Italian flag—green, white, and red—the paintwork exudes patriotism and panache in equal measure. From the verdant green symbolising the lush landscapes of Italy to the pristine white embodying purity and elegance, and the bold red representing passion and vitality—each colour option boasts its own unique charm, ensuring that every Racemax Italia commands attention and admiration wherever the journey may lead. Project X is a fourth option, which exposes the striking carbon layer. Sadly I've not tested the red, and so I can’t verify if reports of the Rosso being faster are true...

3t racemax italia green
The 3T Racemax Italia, green Australia Images: Alison McGregor

 

Interested in testing or renting the 3T Racemax (gravel bikes)? Click here to find out more information.

For more information on 3T, contact us

 

RECOMMENDED BEST ROAD BIKE CYCLING SYDNEY AUSTRALIA SHOP
We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.