Will + bikes take over the MTB world?

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12/6/2015 1:21 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/6/2015 1:26 PM

Watching this sweet PNW shred vid from Brian Chapel in Bellingham got me thinking-

True Life Midfat from Brian Chapel on Vimeo.



With the ability to go between 650b+ and 29", and with longer travel 29'ers coming down the pipe, could these wheels/bikes bring a broader range of riding and trails to the masses and provide a single chassis, do-it-all Endurbro racing machine of the future?

Here's a recent GMBN presented by Neil "The Don" Donoghue, doing back-to-back timed trail laps on a 650b and 650b+ Scott Genius LT, showing the + bikes can be faster.

What's your opinion or experience regarding + bikes?




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12/6/2015 2:35 PM

no

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12/6/2015 4:34 PM

My take on plus bikes.

Remember when you get a new bike and everything seems so much better, railing corners, charging rough stuff etc. but now the times when riding gets fun is when you start to wash out, land a little nose heavy, etc. eventually plus bikes stop feeling like you can corner on rails and now to feel on the edge of control you will be going faster and making it more dangerous. Just my .02

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12/6/2015 5:27 PM

Plus sized bike are on the verge of causing a former co-worker, current shop head mechanic and good friend to quit his job. He's disgusted, I'm disgusted and we don't need a bunch of out of control newbies shouting "Wee!!!" down already congested, or already totally blown out trails. 3.0 tires were proved wrong back in the day. Ben there, done that. Just my grumpy assed .02.

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12/6/2015 9:44 PM

Big Bird wrote:

Plus sized bike are on the verge of causing a former co-worker, current shop head mechanic and good friend to quit his job. He's disgusted, I'm disgusted and we don't need a bunch of out of control newbies shouting "Wee!!!" down already congested, or already totally blown out trails. 3.0 tires were proved wrong back in the day. Ben there, done that. Just my grumpy assed .02.

I completely understand where he's coming from, but... suspension and disc brakes had the same effect on some top mechanics 20 years ago. Some folks also thought they would tear up the trails more than rigid bikes with rim brakes, but I think we can mostly all agree the positives outweigh the negatives regarding that technology. 3" tires back in the day were heavy AF (Nokian and Arrow/Duro come to mind) and so were the rims they fit best on. Most frames and forks wouldn't fit them and they screwed up Geo, so people who liked them went to 24" wheels to try to solve this. None of those tires had sticky, low durometer rubber, which came about a few years later in 26" (thanks Intense) extinguishing the concept that the wider tires on smaller wheels netted any benefit to anyone other than huckers and hacks. We've come a long way since then and I'm just trying to keep an open mind and hear what others think. Thanks BigBird! Just my PMA .02

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12/6/2015 10:09 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/6/2015 10:10 PM

Loved that PNW edit! Anyone can ride whatever they want, it doesn't hurt us does it? Probably not. Personally i think it's all opinions. There will never be a wheel size that EVERYONE agrees on i think. I think they, (the bike industry), wants more money so they come up with more wheel sizes and say "oooh this is the best wheel size" so everyone would buy it. And walla, more money! Might be a dumb theory, but it's what i think. I may be wrong/dumb. But we're all bikers at heart, so just ride what you got.

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12/6/2015 11:21 PM

I think you are on the right track with yr thinking, and I just want to add that all of these "new" wheel sizes have existed for longer than most of us have been alive, and early adopters (garage builders or small manufacturers) began using them for mountain-biking for almost a decade before they grew out of their niche and into the mainstream. Heck, road bikes used to have 27" wheels (ISO-630) before down-sizing to 700c (ISO-622)! Anyone out there experimenting with the new 'tweener dream size- S-6 (ISO-597)? Could we see S-6 in 2025 product lines? Time will tell.

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12/7/2015 6:45 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/7/2015 6:50 AM

Big Bird wrote:

Plus sized bike are on the verge of causing a former co-worker, current shop head mechanic and good friend to quit his job. He's disgusted, I'm disgusted and we don't need a bunch of out of control newbies shouting "Wee!!!" down already congested, or already totally blown out trails. 3.0 tires were proved wrong back in the day. Ben there, done that. Just my grumpy assed .02.

Colin McCarthy wrote:

I completely understand where he's coming from, but... suspension and disc brakes had the same effect on some top mechanics 20 years ago. Some folks also thought they would tear up the trails more than rigid bikes with rim brakes, but I think we can mostly all agree the positives outweigh the negatives regarding that technology. 3" tires back in the day were heavy AF (Nokian and Arrow/Duro come to mind) and so were the rims they fit best on. Most frames and forks wouldn't fit them and they screwed up Geo, so people who liked them went to 24" wheels to try to solve this. None of those tires had sticky, low durometer rubber, which came about a few years later in 26" (thanks Intense) extinguishing the concept that the wider tires on smaller wheels netted any benefit to anyone other than huckers and hacks. We've come a long way since then and I'm just trying to keep an open mind and hear what others think. Thanks BigBird! Just my PMA .02

gotta agree w/ colin on this. to say + wheels/tires are going to lead to a bunch of noob riders going faster/sketchier doesn't seem accurate. if a rider is out of control on a 27.5+ trail bike, he'd be out of control on a nomad. i also don't think there are people avoiding riding MTBs because the tires are too narrow. the bikes are still expensive and going from a 2.5 to a 3.0 tire isn't going to double the population on the trails.

i think + will be a significant portion of the market in the future because they will ride well for most average people who try them. i think the potential of being able to put 27.5+ in a 29er chassis is novel, but i doubt many people would have dual setups. there are a lot of new 29ers on the way though and that hook of optional wheel size may play into the offerings.

product managers, engineers and designers at legit brands are usually pretty f'ing fast, serious riders and most i've talked to seem to say they have a lot of fun on + bikes, but wouldn't ride them exclusively. so i don't think there's any worry that "regular" wheels/tires are going away.

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12/7/2015 7:59 AM

I have only ridden a few 27 Plus bikes. I didn't like the weight of the tires, and they didn't feel good when I was pushing through turns and chop. The weight is noticeable when pumping terrain and lifting the front, it made my wussy arms tired. That's the "bad." Can you go fast on them? Sure. Is it as fun and confidence-inspiring in a wide variety of terrain as a good Highroller 2 or Minion? Not in my opinion. It's tricky to balance tire pressure with performance. Too much and you're bouncing and drifting all over, too little and you're rolling the tire and pinch-flatting.

When I was "just cruising" they were quite comfortable and the traction was good. For folks who don't care much for hauling ass, or have a lot of ground to cover at a moderate pace where comfort is the most important, they might be a fun way to increase enjoyment. That's the "good."

My takeaway is that they make more sense on a hardtail. You're getting the benefit of the fat tires without as much of the weight penalty, it is a much more noticeable improvement. Full suspension just felt vague and slow to me.

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12/7/2015 8:09 AM

It will have its applications. Sometimes I want 2.7" tires for DH and Gwin, Kovarik and Peaty used that combo a lot on 26 (when they were available).

They will be great at lower speeds and help beginners ride tech stuff easier, but they have this kind of effect at high speed:


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12/7/2015 8:57 AM

It seems in the history of MTB as of late, the pendulum is swinging towards an exclusively 650B and 650b+/29er standard. While this may sound horrendous, and would have tremendous implications, lets take a step back to see what's up.

In the primordial days of MTB, people could be witnessed racing for pot down MT. Tamalpais on cruiser-like, self made, batmobiles of cycling at the time. This was achieved by taking cruisers with quote unquote "Balloon tires" and coaster brakes down steep fire roads. Some people in the day also slapped derailleurs on those beasts.

Anywho, the flagship ideology that mountain biking is founded on would be big tires that conquer mountainous terrain. This was true in the beginning, and will have a firm grasp to the end in my opinion. Thinking back now to maybe like 15 years ago, even aggro mountain bikes were still hardtails with like 70 ml stems and 2.0 inch tires. The biggest point would be emphasis on priorities. Given the technology at the time, tires were the mountain conquering tool mainly besides a Rock Shox Judy or something.

Today, we feature the age of suspension. Kick ass suspension that enables trail bikes to rival their bigger DH brothers. This is cool, and in a perfect world I would get an S-Works Enduro with carbon wheels. In the mean time, it might make more sense for me as a broke bike bum to invest technology and money in tires to vanquish mountainous obstacles. As a manufacturer of mountain bikes in the near future, it may make sense to adopt this 650+/29er standard and regular 650b for enduroers. What's wrong with this you ask?

Has everyone forgotten the 26"!? Hopefully not, because on that fateful day, my dirtjump hardtail will be completely null in all relevance to MTB. I foresee a narrowing of the market for tire and wheel options in the near future for my favorite bike. HAHA, I don't think that day will come, but scary I know right?

All in all, I'll try to safely assume you won't be dropping in on Dirt Merchant with dropper bars like the select minority of today. Let's all get together as fatty tire mountain conquerors, (give or take 3/4 of an inch), and just shred as hard as we can.

http://psbmx.com/2015/08/30/cyclocross-on-dirt-merchant/

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12/7/2015 10:04 AM

I am very interested in plus bikes. I'm currently building some new 650b wheels and I'm factoring in potential for plus size tyres next year by using WTBs i35 rims. I'm also very interested in the new slack 29ers like the new Mega 290, etc. In my mind, where I ride the most (UK Midlands, fast, rocky, natural both up and down) a slack 29er would be absolutely mint, the option to use plus size during the winter when grip is sparse and the mud can be deep and suck your speed away on 2.3-2.4" tyres is an appealing notion. After two weeks of rain when I know that my local will be a swamp I might actually still be up for a ride on the plus sized wheels whereas if I'm stuck with going slow as hell getting bogged down the whole time on standard wheels I'd rather wait out the weather.
I dont envisage using the plus size all year round. My perception is that 'normal' size tyres will be quicker and ride better overall than plus during good weather months, but I may be proved wrong.
DJ, slope and some freeride will always be done on 26". I do dirt jump on my slack 650b trail bike but it's better on my 26" DJ. Horses for courses pure and simple.

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12/7/2015 10:08 AM

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12/7/2015 10:36 AM

Big Bird wrote:

Plus sized bike are on the verge of causing a former co-worker, current shop head mechanic and good friend to quit his job. He's disgusted, I'm disgusted and we don't need a bunch of out of control newbies shouting "Wee!!!" down already congested, or already totally blown out trails. 3.0 tires were proved wrong back in the day. Ben there, done that. Just my grumpy assed .02.

If someone is going to quit their job over new tech, then let him. There are plenty of rocks to hide under. And plenty of shop owners who want reasonable, level-headed employees to service ALL bikes, old and new.

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Eat. Ride. Sleep. Repeat.

12/7/2015 11:04 AM

ThomDawson wrote:

I am very interested in plus bikes. I'm currently building some new 650b wheels and I'm factoring in potential for plus size tyres next year by using WTBs i35 rims. I'm also very interested in the new slack 29ers like the new Mega 290, etc. In my mind, where I ride the most (UK Midlands, fast, rocky, natural both up and down) a slack 29er would be absolutely mint, the option to use plus size during the winter when grip is sparse and the mud can be deep and suck your speed away on 2.3-2.4" tyres is an appealing notion. After two weeks of rain when I know that my local will be a swamp I might actually still be up for a ride on the plus sized wheels whereas if I'm stuck with going slow as hell getting bogged down the whole time on standard wheels I'd rather wait out the weather.
I dont envisage using the plus size all year round. My perception is that 'normal' size tyres will be quicker and ride better overall than plus during good weather months, but I may be proved wrong.
DJ, slope and some freeride will always be done on 26". I do dirt jump on my slack 650b trail bike but it's better on my 26" DJ. Horses for courses pure and simple.

I think the narrower 29" wheel would be better in the mud since it could penetrate into firmer soil beneath the muck, with something like the new 2.5 WT Shorty or the new 2.3 Hillbilly, and conversely the 650b+ wheels could be used in the summer to drop the BB height slightly and add traction in the dry and rocky soil and smooth out the chop, but I live near a bunch of old volcanos and temperate rainforest though, so like you said, horses for courses and long live the fun-size 26" bikes! It's good to hear what everyone has to say, even the haters. Keep it coming!

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12/7/2015 11:44 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/7/2015 11:45 AM

Big Bird wrote:

Plus sized bike are on the verge of causing a former co-worker, current shop head mechanic and good friend to quit his job. He's disgusted, I'm disgusted and we don't need a bunch of out of control newbies shouting "Wee!!!" down already congested, or already totally blown out trails. 3.0 tires were proved wrong back in the day. Ben there, done that. Just my grumpy assed .02.

syngltrkmnd wrote:

If someone is going to quit their job over new tech, then let him. There are plenty of rocks to hide under. And plenty of shop owners who want reasonable, level-headed employees to service ALL bikes, old and new.

Agreed.

The argument over 26 vs 29, 27.5 vs 26, boost this boost that. This and that is driving me nuts.

For those who just hate how technology advances and wants things to remain the same for all of time they should in fact just quit. Whether you or I like it or not, technology will always move forward.

Let time prove technology that isn't an improvement. If you look at bikes from a decade ago or two they're much different than they are today. Would anyone here buy a 1999 all mountain/DH rig and race it hard against riders with modern components and geometry bikes and put their money where their mouth is?

Will plus size tires take over? Who knows, but I will say this...they're here to stay.

I just bought a brand new 2016 bike and no it's not a plus bike but I couldn't care less. I'm going to have fun riding REGARDLESS.

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12/7/2015 12:12 PM

@Colin McCarthy I hear what you're saying dude, its true you can find grip by using skinny tyres to cut through the the slop or even snow. I was thinking about particular sections where I ride that are actually bog, the more you sink the closer you come to stopping dead and grip isn't really an issue either way - there isn't any! Sounds like we have the opposite problem to each other - here we have pure gritstone that in summer is like riding on sand paper it's so grippy. I guess the only way to know where and when plus might work is to suck it and see.
As far as plus taking over goes I'm not so sure...for me the moment when I knew for sure that 650b was here to stay was when the DH racers started using them...I just can't imagine anyone winning a WC on plus tyres. That's not to say they don't have their merits (or maybe they don't, I dunno yet!) but I can't see them becoming the new norm.

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12/7/2015 1:06 PM

Every review I've read by skilled riders on a 27.5 + bike pretty much says the same thing: "Damn, I can't believe how much fun I had."

This makes me think plus size bikes are here to stay.

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12/7/2015 2:02 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/7/2015 2:03 PM

fast_bastard wrote:

Every review I've read by skilled riders on a 27.5 + bike pretty much says the same thing: "Damn, I can't believe how much fun I had."

This makes me think plus size bikes are here to stay.

Mountain bikes are fun

Also, "can't believe..." perhaps due to the initial impression that it's going to suck.

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12/7/2015 7:07 PM

I just had my first ride on my 2016 Trek Stache 5, (rigid 29+ bike). It's not my primary trail bike, it's a 2nd bike/bike packing bike, but damn if it wasn't fun. I'm not completely sold on a + bike as my primary trail but I certainly understand the appeal and I'll definitely have a 29+ bike in my stable for the foreseeable future.

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12/7/2015 8:32 PM

Great vid to kick off the discussion, Colin. That guy has serious skills - I don't think wheel size or diam matters much when you're that good! And a bonus to hear Lyrics Born. Nice. My answer: midfat won't take over. But it will be continue to be a "thing".

I've been of the basically uninformed opinion that plus bikes are or will be for n00bs getting into the sport. I am starting to think that's probably a misbegotten belief. But let's just see where this goes. After all, this midfat thing does NOT break my "What would a dirt bike do?" rule for mountain bike innovation. (i.e. would a dirt bike use rim brakes? would a dirt bike use suspension front and rear? would a dirt bike use one gear and narrow bars? would a dirt bike have a long stable wheelbase or a short/stubby/twitchy wheelbase?) There is a sweet spot for tire width for our beloved MTBs. Maybe this midfat thing is challenging that notion as reasonably-light tires with durable casings on wide rims are developed. As Colin pointed out, wide tires were sh*t years ago. I owned 'em - Colin, you probably remember those days.

On to the future! I just picked up a '16 Remedy 29 and I can't deny I thought of trying some plus wheels after reading this thread. (But damnit now I have to find some Boost hubs!) Also I am going to put my hands on a Devinci Hendrix soon. I'm curious how it rides compared to my sub 30# wagon wheeler.

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Eat. Ride. Sleep. Repeat.

12/7/2015 9:30 PM

How is this anything new? 3.0 tires were a trend back in the day, and they didn't even last in free ride

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12/7/2015 10:34 PM

Hate to be this guy, but does anyone know the song in the edit?

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12/8/2015 2:57 AM

TrailHead wrote:

Hate to be this guy, but does anyone know the song in the edit?

The artist is Lyrics Born. If you like that song, check out his group from the late 90's called Latyrix, album is called Muzappers.

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12/8/2015 7:24 AM

Colin McCarthy wrote:

The artist is Lyrics Born. If you like that song, check out his group from the late 90's called Latyrix, album is called Muzappers.

Thanks.

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12/8/2015 7:37 AM

After a bit more reading it sounds like I was probably optimistic about plus size tyres floating over boggy areas....seems as though you were right Colin. And in that case I am much less interested. Also sounds like if you want performance at high speeds then plus may not be the way to go due to vagueness in high speed corners and compressions - if that's the case then I very much doubt we'll see them at the DH WC as I was bs-ing about earlier...and I'm not sure I'd be down with that trade off (bit more grip and rolling speed vs squirmy instability at speed). I will still reserve judgment until I've ridden em, just speculating for now!

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12/9/2015 7:29 AM

After years of dogging my buddy for owning one... I got a fat bike this year. I saw the way it extended his riding season- he could ride earlier than me in the spring, and later than me in the fall/winter (without even getting into snow riding per se). So, I thought to myself- even if fat bikes are kinda lame, isn't more riding better than less? I could only say yes to that question, so I decided to make the plunge, hoping it wouldn't be too awful.

Let me say, I'm glad I did. It's not lame at all, although it's certainly different. This winter has been uncharacteristically void of snow, but it's still been a sloppy, wet fall. I was out last week on the fatty, and had an absolute blast on my local trails. If I'd been on my trail bike, no way I would have been trucking through the slop... I would have been stopped as often as I'd have been moving forward. Instead I was blasting through muddy turns and up and down muddy hills with a giant grin on my face. Plus, riding a rigid bike again has been nice, getting back to a super responsive feel has been a good thing after riding suspension bikes for years.

How does this relate to + bikes? As I said, riding a fat bike is very different from riding my trail bike. Ideally, I think + is the right balance between my fat bike and my trail bike, especially a hard tail. It'd be just a little bit more snappy, a little easier on the climbs, and still adept at dealing with less than optimal "standard" biking conditions. Since + bikes are just getting onto the scene, it'll probably be a few years before I get one (I got my '14 Charge Cooker second hand for 800 essentially new, hard to find a + bike used for that much), but I think it's something I could absolutely get into.

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12/9/2015 3:16 PM

Go ride a bike and quit complaining. People can ride whatever they want. Bunch of RACISTS in here...BIKE RACISTS

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Ride A Fucking Bike

12/9/2015 5:04 PM

big bear wrote:

It will have its applications. Sometimes I want 2.7" tires for DH and Gwin, Kovarik and Peaty used that combo a lot on 26 (when they were available).

They will be great at lower speeds and help beginners ride tech stuff easier, but they have this kind of effect at high speed:


In one of the team vids from Specialized this year Gwinn went on the record saying he used a larger volume front tire (2.5 Hillbilly2, which you cannot buy, yet) in every World Cup race this season with the exception of Ft. Bill. I think that's a big downside to 650b rite now, very few large volume tires that bridge the gap to plus sizes.

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12/9/2015 5:10 PM

ThomDawson wrote:

After a bit more reading it sounds like I was probably optimistic about plus size tyres floating over boggy areas....seems as though you were right Colin. And in that case I am much less interested. Also sounds like if you want performance at high speeds then plus may not be the way to go due to vagueness in high speed corners and compressions - if that's the case then I very much doubt we'll see them at the DH WC as I was bs-ing about earlier...and I'm not sure I'd be down with that trade off (bit more grip and rolling speed vs squirmy instability at speed). I will still reserve judgment until I've ridden em, just speculating for now!

I think there could be a time and a place for a plus-size mud tire, like those conditions you described earlier. Right now they all seem to have closely spaced knobs which would clog the tread and not clear properly in the slop.

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