3T adds an all-new made-in-Italy carbon gravel bike to their long-running Exploro family with the adventure-ready Extrema Italia. Beefed up for 29″ mountain bike tires to take on faster, rougher adventure races, the Extrema boasts relatively more progressive geometry, a fully-integrated (but adjustable) cockpit, and more hauling capacity than ever.
Plus, read about new 3T management, too…
3T Extrema Italia Integrale carbon 29er adventure gravel bike
We already had a sneak peek at the new 3T Extrema back at Eurobike, where we surmised that it may have simply been an updated version of the somewhat similar Ultra that debuted last year. But in fact, this new 29er Extrema Italia does not specifically replace the Ultra (which carries on with 650b wheels).
The 3T Extrema Italia is a completely separate new model aimed more directly at racing long distances off-road, even faster than ever.
Big diameter wide tire aerodynamics. The new Extrema uses similar wider tube shapes like refined on last year’s Ultra to minimize aero drag, even with monster knobby 29er MTB tires. The upper downtube is now even bigger at 63mm wide where air transitions off the spinning front wheel and joins airflow over the fork crown. And the lower portion of the downtube now tops out at 73mm wide to smooth airflow over water bottles.
Fully internal cable routing. Thanks to a wireless-only drivetrains, the new Extrema gets the Integrale moniker meaning no more visible cables or brake hoses outside the frame. All routed inside the carbon 3T Aeroghiaia handlebar and the hollow underside of the carbon 3T More Integrale stem.
More adventure carrying capacity. Finally, a 3T gravel bike gets 3-bolt Anything cage mounts on its fork. A surprisingly long time coming, it really is a prerequisite for a gravel bike to be a proper bikepacking-ready adventure bike. Also, with the external cable loop gone from behind the stem, the new 3T Extrema Italia Integrale also benefits from better location for direct mount toptube bags. Combine that with a standard set of 2 cage bolts under the downtube, a standard cage mount on the seattube, and a 3-bolt set of adjustable position water bottle cage mounts on top of the downtube. And this Extrema Italia has the most carrying capacity of any 3T gravel bike yet.
The round 27.2mm seatpost debuted on the Ultra is here on the Extrema too. 3T makes the shift for more rider comfort and the ability to optionally run a wireless (or externally routed) dropper post or a suspension seatpost, as well.
More progressive gravel-race geometry, too
The changes are relatively small compared to the Ultra, which is almost identical to the RaceMax except for an incrementally longer rear center and slightly shorter Reach. Both with a clearly race-focused geometry.
But the new Extrema does trend a bit more towards stability over rough terrain and a slightly more comfortable upright position. It is not slack, and not long by modern progressive trail standards, though.
My size 54 test bike does get a 1/2 a degree slacker head angle at 70.5°, 18mm longer chainstays at 437mm now, and a 24mm longer wheelbase overall. Plus, its frame Stack is 4-6mm higher, and Reach is 5-6mm shorter than the Ultra/RaceMax. It also feature 1mm less BB drop, which sounds like nothing, but means a noticeably higher BB on the bigger wheel & tire combo.
Lastly, the new 3T Extrema does come in fewer sizes, though. Just 4 stock sizes for the Extrema Italia (51-58cm), no XXS or XXL.
And of course, it is made in Italy.
How does the Extrema Italia compare to the RaceMax or Ultra?
First off, the new Extrema is an Italia-only gravel bike. That means it is 3T’s top tier from a pricing, lightweight & stiffness perspective. And it is made entirely in 3T’s Bergamo, Italy combined HQ and carbon factory.
Next is bigger tire clearance. 3T is quite detailed about real tire clearance of each of the bike models they sell – focusing on real confirmed WAM (width as measured) & RAM (radius as measured) on clearly defined inner rim widths. Tire fit is important to 3T. As they really aerodynamically optimize each of their bikes for a certain range of tire sizes. And 3T want to be sure you get the most out of their bikes. So buyers pick from lots of tires, but still get the ideal fit.
If you want to dig into the details, it’s great. If you just want to know what the difference bike-to-bike is, it can be overwhelming.
As briefly as possible…
- The new Extrema Italia is optimized for 700c x 50-57mm tires (29″ x 1.95-2.25″). With the same wide tire aerodynamics as the Ultra but on bigger diameter wheels. 3T designed the Extrema “for the toughest race courses and fast adventures”.
- 3T optimized the RaceMax in regular or Italia guise for 700c x 35-40mm tires (up to 42mm possible). It can also run 650b x 53mm / 27.5″ x 2.1″ tires (up to 61mm/2.4″ possible) with less aero efficiency. It targets fast gravel race courses and mixed hard surface, tarmac & gravel riding.
- They specifically designed the Ultra around 27.5″ x 2.25″ / 650b x 57mm tires (up to 2.4″ / 61mm possible). Featuring wider tubing for optimal aerodynamics with wider tires. It aims more at casual adventure-focused riders at a more affordable price level.
Italia means lightweight, stiff carbon, made-in-Italy
3T manufactures the new 3T Extrema Italia Integrale in Italy to be lightweight and stiff like the other Italia editions. But it also aims to boost comfort, too. Specifically, 3T engineered the new adventure gravel race bike to be just as stiff and responsive as the RaceMax from the headtube, to the bottom bracket, and back to the dropouts. But, it gets more flex in the seatstays & seattube to boost rider comfort over rougher terrain.
That said, it’s still pretty light. 3T claims an unpainted 54cm Extrema Italia Integrale frame weighs 1100g without hardware. Or just 110g more than a same size RaceMax Italia Integrale frame. The new adventure-ready fork is also similarly lightweight at a claimed 420g, unpainted without hardware. That’s surprisingly only 35g heavier than the RaceMax Italia fork. Even with anything cage mounts and the reinforcement to haul gear on both fork legs.
3T Extrema Italia Tech Details
The new gravel bike does get an all-new 3T Fango Extrema Integrale full carbon fork with those extra mounts. It also features a D-shaped upper section of the tapered steerer to route brake hoses internally through the special 3T MinMax Integrale tapered headset. Of note, 3T has not yet started producing forks in-house as part of their Italia filament-wound RTM carbon program. But the 3T development pipeline includes Italian forks, according to rumors.
The Extrema only works with electronic groupsets (wired or wireless apparently) and wireless dropper posts. But it is 1x or 2x compatible, with a removable front derailleur hanger (or chain catcher). Out back it makes the jump to UDH for direct mount SRAM Transmission drivetrains. But you could also build a frameset up with other drivetrains using the universal derailleur hanger.
The frame features the same BB386EVO PressFit bottom bracket standard 3T uses across the board, with a thread-together bottom bracket for creak-free running. The bike gets flat mount 160mm disc brakes, Syntace 12mm thru-axles, and hidden mounts for full coverage fenders. Plus, a bolt-on downtube protector that also covers a large open for easier cable routing around the BB.
Want to know more about 3T Italian production?
Have a look at our 2019 Factory Tour. There we previewed the resin transfer molding (RTM) tech that 3T shares for their in-house crankset and frameset production. We weren’t allowed to show the early frame production prototyping then. But when 3T officially announced in-house Italian frame production 18 months later, we could share more images of the more complex semi-automated filament winding RTM tech that creates the frames.
3T Extrema Italia – Pricing, options & availability
The new 3T Extrema Italia is available as 3 different frameset or 3 different complete bike build options.
The made-in-Italy Extrema framesets are all sold with the frame, fork, 3T More Integrale stem, separate 3T Aeroghiaia carbon handlebar & zero offset 3T carbon seatpost, plus thru-axles & special 3T MinMax Integrale tapered headset. Framesets vary in cost, based on their finish. Standard painted framesets feature the lowest price in Mercurio green or Terra red for $5500 / 5000€. Ready-to-paint frames reveal the bare Project X carbon patterning beneath for $5800 / 5300€ with no logos. ( Originally called XXX, until it redirected a lot of porn searchers to Bikerumor last winter.)
And 3T Extrema Italia Project X framesets get the lightest overall finish, revealing the full filament wound carbon patterns, even that of the fork, for $6100 / 5500€ with low-key 3T logos & graphics.
Complete made-in-Italy bike builds start from $8000 / 7300€. Start with a SRAM Rival + GX Eagle AXS transmission, a set of Zipp 303S carbon wheels, and standard paint colors. It may be “entry-level” to the new 3T Extrema Italia complete, but it’s a premium build that leaves little wanting.
Looking for something more, the next up $9200 / 8300€ build keeps the exact same Rival+GX AXS & Zipp kit. But it swaps in a 50mm short-travel RockShox Reverb AXS dropper and new made-in-Italy 3T Torno Wide carbon cranks. (This is the build we are testing.)
Then lastly, the most premium complete build combines the beautifully raw Project X finish with an even more gravel-premium build. SRAM Force + XX SL Eagle AXS transmission, 3T Torno Wide carbon cranks, the Reverb AXS dropper, and 3T’s extra-wide Discus 45|40 carbon wheels for a mind-melting $11,600 / 10,500€ price tag.
All of the new Extrema Italia gravel bikes are officially available starting today. And some are already waiting in shops. But numbers are limited. So it might take a little while to get yours.
Of note, the new made-in-Italy 3T Torno Wide carbon crankset is NOT yet available. The new SRAM Transmissions require a wider 55mm chainline, but the current Torno cranks are 47mm. 3T are working on producing a new wider Torno while keeping Q-factor as low as possible. In the meantime, 3T is shipping bikes (like our test bike) with a wide SRAM Rival crank now. 3T will upgrade Tornos buyers for free in June 2024, once the new cranks are slated for available.
Just-in-time Delivery at your local bikeshop
One key behind-the-scenes update making this Extrema & other Italia models available in a timely fashion is new Just-in-Time delivery. Replacing conventional shop pre-season pre-orders, key 3T dealer shops are now able to reserve the 5000 production slots for the Italia series bikes for the 2024 year ahead. That way they still estimate how many premium 3T bikes they expect to sell in the next year. But then get to pick the specific model, size, color & build spec almost at the last minute.
That means that if your local shop reserved production slots, they can likely get you the exact semi-customized bike & build you want in around 6 weeks, instead of the much longer lead times a made-to-order carbon bike would usually entail. Modern 3T re-founder & CEO Rene Wiertz describe this as a huge benefit of the flexibility of manufacturing the Italia models in-house with the filament wound RTM technique.
New 3T Management
Another tidbit of 3T industry news is a reorganization of their management. Last year, Italian investment firm UTurn bought into 3T on this idea of increasing nimble made-in-Italy manufacturing. Now Rene Wiertz, has sold his stake and stepped down as CEO of the company that he bought as a name only back in 2007 and turned into a component, then gravel bike manufacturing powerhouse together with Gerard Vroomen and now 70 employees.
Taking over the 3T CEO management role is UTurn’s Luca Mongodi, saying “3T is changing the game of the bike industry, and we are happy to be able to accelerate this fundamental change with our investment in the in-house carbon factory and bike assembly and creating sustainable jobs in Italy“. Wiertz & Mongodi see this as a great opportunity for 3T to grow even bigger & better internationally, while focusing on what they do best. 3T promised that “all” of their bike models will be available in Italia versions by the end of this year. Which the Extrema seems to reinforce. And 3T plans to “rapidly” expand Italian production capacity next year.
Expect to see even more Italian-made bikes. As UTurn fuels 3T to grow its tech-focused approach to gravel, ebikes, and all-road.