3T push the boundaries with the innovative Extrema gravel bike. Rather than a subdued all-rounder that compromises either on speed, off-road capability or comfort, the 3T Extrema is a fusion of uncompromising racer and capable off-road bike. The question remains: Can 3T pull off this delicate balancing act?
Many gravel bikes aim for versatility and steer clear of extremes, straddling off-road capability, sporty group rides, commuting and the occasional gravel day trip. But the 3T Extrema breaks this mould. The gravel bike focuses on excelling in two specific niches. Firstly, it is a true gravel racer with an aero bar, aero frame and sporty riding position. Secondly, it transforms into an off-road specialist for rough terrain, with 29″ tires, a dropper post and a mullet drive set-up.
Does this really go together? Looking at the test field of our gravel race bike group test, you may be forgiven for being a little sceptical. After all, these thoroughbred race bikes minimise weight, rolling and aerodynamic resistance wherever possible. But 3T argue that the gravel racing landscape is evolving, with increasingly extreme events such as the Atlas Mountain Race putting immense strain on man and machine and requiring a very different type of race bike from the UCI Gravel World Championships. For shorter gravel races over faster distances, 3T offer the RaceMax. The Extrema is the successor to the Exploro Ultra off-road gravel racer in 3T’s gravel portfolio. Read on to find out what’s really new about the € 8,299 Extrema and how it performs on rough terrain.
New name, new bike? What’s the difference between the 3T Ultra and the 3T Extrema?
At first glance, it seems that little has changed, because the frame shape of the 3T Extrema is very similar to that of the 3T Ultra. But the devil is in the details! In particular, the polarising cable inlet on the top tube has disappeared. The new Extrema has a fully integrated cable routing, which gives it a contemporary look and aerodynamic profile. Also quite distinctive is the cockpit. The introduction of the new sporty 3T Aeroghiaia LTD aero handlebar, combined with the futuristic 3T stem, clearly conveys the Extrema’s racing aspirations.
The Extrema also comes up trumps when it comes to tire clearance and can now accommodate 29″ tires up to 57 mm wide! This means nothing stands in the way of cross-country MTB tires, which should improve grip and comfort.
The Extrema relies exclusively on electronic drivetrains and wireless dropper posts. The version we tested comes with the new SRAM Eagle Transmission rear derailleur, which is mounted directly on the rear axle without a derailleur hanger.
More features of the new 3T Extrema
The look of the 3T Extrema features a frame that hugs the rear tire, a slender rear triangle and an aerodynamically optimised, broad down tube. The 27.2 mm diameter round seatpost mount of the 3T Extrema allows the use of dropper posts; some versions come fitted with a 50 mm travel RockShox Reverb dropper. The 29 x 2.0″ Continental Race King tires, typically seen on cross-country racing bikes, provide commendable grip with acceptable rolling resistance.
Tuning-Tipp: lighter rear tire for better acceleration
For those who want to take a little more luggage with them on long distance races and off-road adventures, the Extrema offers plenty of mounting points on the fork, top tube and frame triangle. While the build quality is consistently high, one notable drawback is the exposed seatpost clamp on the top tube, which is susceptible to gathering dirt.
The geometry of the Extrema is very similar to that of its predecessor, the Ultra, but has been slightly adapted in several aspects, which makes a big difference to the riding experience.
3T Extrema 2024
Seatpost Rock Shox Reverb AXS XPLR 50 mm
Brakes SRAM Rival AXS 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Rival eTap AXS 1x12
Stem 3T More integrale 100 mm
Handlebar 3T Aeroghiaia 420 mm
Wheelset Zipp 303 S 12 x 100/12 x 148 mm
Tires Continental Race King 700x50c
Cranks 3T Torno WIDE 172.5 mm
Cassette SRAM GX Eagle Transmission 10-52T
Size 51 54 56 58
Weight 9.9 kg
29 Inch Tires
“All in” for all purposes? How is the riding experience on the new 3T Extrema?
On tarmac, gravel or trails, the 3T Extrema maintains its momentum well once it gets up to speed. It keeps a firm grip on the road and navigates a wide variety of terrain with confidence, while its efficiency remains consistently impressive. The rolling resistance of the wide Continental Race King tires is only noticeable on smooth asphalt. But it is in more extreme conditions that the Extrema really comes into its own. With exceptional cornering grip and minimal slippage on loose surfaces, it’s clear that the Extrema thrives when ridden away from the confines of paved roads.
The sporty, aggressive riding position matches the racing character of the Extrema. It also harmonises perfectly with the slim 3T Aeroghiaia LTD aero bar, which offers not only aero benefits but also top ergonomics.
On long, rocky descents, the tires combine with the frame’s excellent compliance to absorb vibrations and minor impacts. The 50 mm travel of the RockShox Reverb dropper post allows you to use your body’s own “suspension travel” to smooth out bumps. The result is a consistently high level of confidence that encourages you to keep your finger off the brake lever. Powerful SRAM Force eTap AXS brakes come with 160 mm discs front and rear. However, for heavier riders tackling long, steep descents, an upgrade to 180 mm discs may be advisable.
The well-balanced handling of the 3T Extrema is anything but extreme, and that’s a good thing! Smooth straight-line stability provides additional safety and prevents the gravel bike from feeling nervous on rough descents. Nevertheless, the Extrema handles tight corners with precision and ease, making it a lot of fun to ride.
The wide gear range of the mullet drivetrain means you can tackle even the toughest climbs, while the rear wheel’s exceptional grip allows you to get out of the saddle and pedal with confidence.
Who is the new 3T Extrema for?
A bike designed exclusively for extreme athletes? Not quite. The 3T Extrema offers the perfect package for anyone who enjoys sporty gravel riding and prefers to avoid tarmac. A great companion for fast gravel adventures of all kinds and for use in extreme long-distance races. The Xtrema is a bike for all those who are looking for speed and off-road performance.
Conclusion on the 3T Extrema
3T have taken the idea of a fast off-road racing bike to the extreme. The high quality equipment is well chosen and emphasises the more specific intended use, than that of a typical all-rounder. The bike is also very compliant and handles corners skilfully. However, with its focus on speed, it will be too sporty for most people’s daily commute to the office, but the Extrema is just right for fast long gravel rides and battling for personal best times.
- handlebar ergonomics
- high compliance
- sturdy look and feel
- fabulous cornering grip
- exposed seatpost clamp
For more info visit 3t.bike
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Words: Jan Richter Photos: Martin Staffa