tirefire.jpeg
Editorial

A Death Foretold

Words Mike Ferrentino
Date Mar 8, 2022
Reading time

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

“You could write something about the death of Plus tires,” Cam said, as he tried to steer me away from writing a long angry screed about MIPS that would invariably not have enough facts to back itself up and would also invariably piss off every single one of NSMB’s helmet-selling advertisers.

But still, writing about the death, or dearth, of Plus tires, years after the fact? Does anybody care to dig through these bones, or do we just aim our focus toward the Next New Thing? Should we simply count our blessings, be stoked with the 29x2.5” new normal, and wheelie-drop happily off the edge of the world? Maybe it’s best to let these bygones be gone, bye.

Something sticks in my mind though, like a burr in my sock. Some muddy swirl in my thinking that conflates evolution and speculation and wonders what could have been, wonders if maybe Plus tires might have hung around a little longer if they had come to market a little differently. That’s the part of me that really misses the Trek Stache; the late, great, truly hard to define 29+ bike gone from the Trek lineup since 2020. The Stache was like the world’s most badass platypus. Or maybe a carnivorous Jackelope. “One of God’s own prototypes… Too rare to live. Too weird to die…”

The questions remain in my mind. What was the deal with Plus tires anyway? Did they deserve to die? Why? And what killed them off so soon? Maybe this is an attempt to rediscover some personal dignity, after writing in a feature for Bikemag in 2016: “One thing we are certain of; this isn’t some “you must buy this or be left behind” marketing scheme, but is a legitimate addition to an already broad range wheel and tire choices. And that, the increase of options, is something we can totally get behind.”

I am haunted by all the times that I have written positively about things that later turned to shit. The first ever Specialized FSR-XC. The first RockShox SID. Just about anything that used elastomers for anything. Suspension seat posts. Thermoset plastics. URT bikes. Boost spacing. Super Boost spacing. Mega Hella Ultra Super Boost spacing (okay, I haven’t written about that, yet). The starry eyed young futurist I once was slowly ossified over the course of decades into a jaded and suspicious middle aged man, and yet I was still bullish about the promise of Plus tires. I really felt like they were opening up a world of future promise. Only to have them basically vaporize from the marketplace within the span of three model years.

So, yeah. Let’s dig through them bones.

krampus.jpeg

"You say you want a revolution, well you know, we all wanna change the world. You tell me that it's evolution, well, you know, we all wanna change the world..." The Surly Krampus, behold the glory and the promise of PLUS!

Low Key Big Thing

A little forensic history takes us back to 2012, and the introduction of the Surly Krampus. With 29x3.0 tires, this was the proto-Plus bike. Surly, never one to shy away from a micro-niche, mashed together some 29er sensibility with a bit of fat-bike footprint, welded together some steel tubes, festooned those with braze-ons, and kicked the door of the modern bikepacking age wide open. Still, the Krampus was an odd duck, from a brand with a solid Island Of The Misfit Toys vibe. If the Krampus didn’t exactly light the world on fire, that was fine. The people who knew, knew. The Krampus found an immediate niche, mountain bikers looking for a hardtail that just annihilated chunk were stoked, and the fledgling bikepacking scene was offered a new way forward.

So, there was the Krampus. And nothing much else. But the timing was auspicious.

Prior to the Krampus, tire evolution and application for specific needs had been glacial. 26” wheels had enjoyed a long, unvarying day in the sun. XC racers rode tires 1.9”-2.1” wide. The gravity set sported comparatively fat 2.35” rubber. People pumped their tires up real hard. Tread patterns varied, as did rubber compounds and casing, but the sizes of tires were very, very consistent for a very, very long time. The advent of 29” wheels did not really shake up this status quo, with tire widths cleaving to the same dimensions as 26” hoops, and tire pressures remained high. Tubeless tires arrived during the long purgatory of 29er acceptance, and some degree of tire pressure experimentation ensued, but still, things were slow to change.

29ers had taken a very long time to establish legitimacy in mountain biking, and the evolution of the wagon wheel option was crowded with mishaps. But by the mid-teens, the writing was on the wall that the big wheels were on their way to widespread market saturation. The “alternative” wheel option – 27.5” – was proving to be fun and good for small people, but by and large, the entire industry was trending toward 29” wheels. And it was becoming apparent that we – consumers and industry alike – were more willing to embrace change and more options than at just about any time in the past. Fat bikes were proving that there was a defined desire in some segments to push toward really wide rubber. Around this time, two other notable sea changes were occurring in mountain bike design. Front derailleurs were disappearing, and rear spacing was getting wider.

stache2.png

This bike... laugh all you want, but the Trek Stache might have been the most fun, most unexpectedly awesome, most weirdly versatile, most freakishly capable bike of the 20teens. It completely surprised everyone who rode one. And yeah, boost, 1x11, 3.0" tires. It was too cool for its time.

The distillation of all this concurrent tech-volution and market willingness to explore the edges was boiled into the 2015 Trek Stache. 29x3.0 tires, the surprisingly light 880-gram Bontrager Chupacabras. Boost spacing. 1x11 drivetrain. INSANELY short chainstays (thanks to an elevated drive-side stay). Good lord, what a fun bike. But still, 29x3.0 tires presented a packaging problem that, aside from drivetrain and spacing issues, limited the viability of the concept in the eyes of most designers and riders. At this time, full suspension 29ers were still all over the map as far as ride characteristics and geometry were concerned, and adding the extra diameter, width and weight of plus tires to that design field did not seem to be something most mainstream designers wanted to sign up for.

Then Rocky Mountain displayed the 27.5+ Sherpa at the Sea Otter that same year, featuring the newly developed WTB 2.8” Trailblazer tire, and it was game on for the Plus bike. There were no plus bikes at Bikemag’s 2015 Bible of Bike tests. The following year in Vermont, there were two. In Arkansas a year later, there were five Plus or Plus-convertible bikes in the roster. The next year, 2018, in Michigan, a category was dedicated to them. One year later, when Bible camp convened in Hurricane, Utah to sample the 2019 goods, Plus bikes had disappeared from the test lineup completely. Done. What happened?

Schizophrenia, basically.

plusplusplus.jpg

"You want some cake, AND you want to eat it? Here, eat this, it's a bigger slice of cake. Want some more? Here ya go, eat up! We got a ton more coming at ya... Don't stop chewing! Did I say you could stop chewing?!"

Proliferation = Confusion

The good, the bad, the ugly of Plus tires was cleanly encapsulated in this dual tester review of the Stumpjumper 6Fattie that ran here six years ago. This paragraph in Seb Kemp’s grim metaphor stacked screed sums up the downsides: “The mass in the wheels is extremely noticeable. The usually very sporty Stumpjumper felt sluggish and cumbersome. I’ve ridden many 29ers that turn a lot easier. There’s no pop on this particular iteration of the Stumpy and even all the will in the world doesn’t make lofting this bike easy. It felt tiring to change direction or move across lines quickly. I often found myself on the wrong line, unable to do anything about it but plough on regardless – which is one thing this bike did allow for. It would put you in harm’s way far too often for my constitution, but it would provide a great hulking, lumbering getaway vehicle once you were up Shit Creek. The Stumpjumper is one of the most brilliantly playful bikes available on the market today, but not in this guise. It’s like making a magnificent golden eagle wear gum boots and expecting it to fly.”

Uncle Dave, meanwhile, had a very different experience to Seb and encapsulated the thoughts of many regarding the positive attributes: “There seem to be countless comments suggesting that “these bikes are for noobs” and “I’ll pay attention once somebody wins an Enduro World Series event.” Which is pretty stupid, when you think about it. If we shopped for cars or golf clubs or skis with that attitude, we’d never be happy. Like a fat ski, or a fancy golf ball, or a wide tennis racket, it feels like these tires just give you a bit larger of a sweet spot. Maybe they’ll never win races. Most of us shouldn’t care about that.

Most of my rides are less than 2 hours long, and take place on slower, technical terrain. I grunt up, ride down, and often have some sort of rolling technical meander out. If I were spending money on a bike right now, it would be a Plus bike. No question. Worst case, if this thing explodes in our faces, we can just swap some 29er wheels in and pretend that we were never foolish enough to succumb to the industry conspiracy.”

Mountain biking in general – industry and riders alike – had taken a very long time to warm to 29” wheels. Then, immediately upon accepting the big hoops as viable, we wasted absolutely no time eviscerating 26” wheels from the marketplace. 27.5” was on the existential bubble, and brands and product managers within the industry were very possibly afraid of losing sales or being seen as out of touch, so when the interest in 27.5+ began to spark, the industry threw everything at it.

Tires were all over the map in terms of casing design, tread pattern, weight, and optimal pressure. You could say the same thing regarding tire options for 29” wheels, but there had been significant time spent defining the terrain and behavior needs, as well as zeroing in on what pressure worked where for a given tire/rider. The new 27.5+ rubber hit the market with consumers essentially acting as beta testers, and the 3” tires offered on many Plus bikes were EXTREMELY responsive to tire pressure changes. Rider size, rider style, terrain, a massive disparity in tires, these all played into a broad and confusing response to the new size.


Tires were all over the map in terms of casing design, tread pattern, weight, and optimal pressure.

Rims, similarly, were running anywhere from 25mm to 50mm in width, which in turn had a profound effect on how tires performed. And while 29” wheels had the dubious benefit of 15 or so years to hit some level of consistency and understanding with regard to best practices, the fledgling 27.5+ market was being aerial bombarded with a sudden and immense variety of product. Consistency and predictability of performance were not easily defined.

Some riders criticized the sluggish feel, citing weight and contact patch size as contributing to slow handling and lazy responsiveness. Manufacturers, for their part, tried to address the mass concerns by bringing sub-800 gram, 3.0” tires to market. Predictably, especially when mounted on 25mm wide rims, these voluminous lightweight tires sacrificed grip and sidewall strength, and predictably, they folded and squirmed horribly whenever riders leaned into them with conviction. They also ricocheted and bounced obscenely when riders pumped them up hard enough to stop the squirming.

Other riders experienced more substantial tires and found their grip and sidewall concerns had been mitigated, but at the expense of rotational weight, as they tried to drag their Plus rigs shod with 1300 gram tires up hills as their friends spun easily away from them. At the lightweight end of tire design, traction and tire durability were compromised. Pile this onto the handling concerns aggressive riders were noticing, and the fact that they still weighed a lot more than lightweight smaller tires, and the XC crowd struggled to accept them. At the beefier end of the spectrum, the tires were boat anchors, easily 200-300 grams heavier than their already stout but narrower counterparts. Plus tires were comfortable, but so was good suspension. Plus tires were tractable and performed well where traction was iffy and the terrain was "type 2 fun," but mountain biking was increasingly moving toward a more "built" trail ethos.

Plus wheels were universally divisive. Hardcore XC racers hated them, but bikepackers loved them. Riders who jumped big and cornered hard never really became fans, but riders who lived for techy chunk found them to be game changers. Riders looking for climbing traction and the ability to stay moving in loose, shitty terrain thought they were a godsend, but riders who wanted snappy handling and jib-friendly performance hated them with a vengeance and were probably still pissed that their 26” options had all but disappeared. Coming into the market, as the market itself was sprawling with category proliferation, Plus tires must have seemed like a no-brainer from a product manager’s perspective, but in practice they struggled to find widespread acceptance in any of the established niches.

squishit.jpeg

You can almost hear his tire sidewalls collapsing as he loads into that little berm in this photo...

The Seeds Of Salvation

One of the reasons that Plus was so readily adapted by so many brands was that it was relatively easy to implement. 29ers had paved the way for that. 27.5+ tires were, by and large, about the same diameter as regular 29” tires, so all it took was a little hogging out of chainstay and fork arch clearances, and off to market they trotted.

“We were able to make 29"/27+ compatible bikes that could be converted by flipping a chip and changing fork travel,” recalls Josh Kissner, product manager at Sant Cruz. “For the most part there weren't a ton of compromises with this strategy, with the exception of calf clearance and maybe BB height being a couple mm off of the ideal for one of the options… A lot of riders had the same interest and curiosity that we did, and I think they appreciated that they could try this new thing in a very low-risk way. If they didn't like it, they could just put 29" wheels on their bike and flip a chip and it's no big deal. A person could swap back and forth if they wanted and get different experiences throughout the year.”

This approach was taken by many brands. It was an easy way to gauge interest without committing to entire redesigns, and it offered riders an option to revert to tried and true tire/wheel combinations should they not gel with the Plus ride. The upside to this approach was that it didn’t overtly stink of using the market as guinea pigs, and it gave early and viable responses to brands in terms of how consumers made purchasing choices.

As it turned out, the market voted with its wallet, and after an initial surge of interest in 27.5+ tires, riders increasingly opted to buy the 29” option of the same bike instead. Fox’s Sean Estes was working for Specialized when the Morgan Hill brand rolled out the 6Fattie, and was an early adopter who chalks his best ever finish at the Downieville Classic up to Plus tires, feels like the wheel size could have prevailed if it was given more of a chance: “I still low-key wonder if more riders would've tried it rather than writing it off it maybe it would still be more popular today. We all know how quick to dismiss new fads a certain segment of the bike industry can be. Remember how long it took for 29" wheels to really become the norm, and just how much hatred and vitriol was spewed in the process!? Can't help but wonder if Plus just didn't make it through the new wheel size gauntlet.”

Aside from the consumer reaction, the industry might have learned a lesson along the way. “In a way I think it moderated the "27.5 effect,” Kissner says. “This is when the industry VERY VERY quickly adopted 27.5" and shunned 26". Anyone behind the curve on that one paid for it in sales and relevance. Since then, many bike companies are paranoid about missing the boat on new trends – including when Plus came around. After Plus came and went fairly quickly, companies are probably a little more comfortable easing into new trends, or creating adaptable products. I think this can be seen in the new trend of MX bikes- which have seen a slower adoption than either 27.5 or 27+.”

The Plus trend was a three year phenomenon. It was defined by a sudden surplus of choice and a lack of targeted, focused execution. But it cracked open our willingness to broaden how we think about our rides, and it spurred development of products that are now bedrock components in mountain biking’s current state of radness. 29x2.5” tires are now the norm, and rims are finally getting wider than 30mm across the board. Some of us no longer obsessively search for the lightest possible tire in every situation, and are accepting that sticky rubber and heavy casings and increased rolling resistance are tolerable compromises given how much they enhance the ride everywhere else. The range of tires available for riders of any given wheel size is huge – there’s literally something for everyone. And almost everyone talks about tire pressure now.

“Sometimes things land, sometimes they don't,” Seb Kemp concludes, adopting a more conciliatory tone than he had during his 2016 evisceration of 27.5+. “I'm glad we had 27.5-plus bikes for a little while because it made us all look closer at tires and their effect on handling and performance. And how a tire gauge works and why it's important to get your tire pressure right, on any bike. Well, not everyone learned that yet...”

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I'm just the messenger here...

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Comments

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+23 Lynx . TristanC Metacomet Greg Bly Cr4w Joseph Crabtree yardrec Timer Mike Ferrentino toddball imnotdanny mikesee Dogl0rd ManInSteel Muesliman Justin White Jay Dicharry shenzhe Tremeer023 Rick M grcgrc Mike McArthur Tjaard Breeuwer

The MTB industry does this weird thing where you have to choose one ultimate spec/item/design that is The One To Rule Them All and then it has to be HYPED TO DA MAX every day forEVER on MTB media sites...or at least for a year until we decide on the next MOST AMAZING THING EVER!!! 

I mean walk into Home Depot's tool section and ask the guy/gal running the show "What's the best screwdriver?" When they look confused and ask what you plan on doing doing with it follow up "No I want to know which one is the best for everything because there can only be ONE!!!" 95% chance they'll look confused and glance at their watch to see when their shift is over. 5% chance they'll look super excited and say "Let me tell you about TORX!!!!"

We've got 3 Plus bikes in the garage including an OG Krampus. I ride one most days. Plus is amazing for some bike missions and you can still get frames and tires should you want to ride that tire format. If by dead we mean not featured on Pinkbike than yes Plus is dead. 

As you allude to Plus is not great for everything/everyone. The more smashy I want to get the more likely I'll run a 2.5" + no insert [FS] or 2.6" + insert rear [HT] tire.

And for what it's worth I have more than one screwdriver in the garage. I spend zero time on Tool Review sites trying to decipher which one is THE BEST EVER!!! ;-)

Reply

craw
Cr4w
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+9 Mike Ferrentino imnotdanny Cooper Quinn Vik Banerjee Timer Matt L. Mark Rick M Tjaard Breeuwer

The "one thing is the best thing for all the people all the time" dream is one of the most infuriating part of mountain biker logic. This sounds like a sentiment that started with russian bots, or in this case lazy manufacturers wanting everyone to be happy on the fewest options.

Reply

kos
Kos
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Bang on, mostly, but the best screwdriver is a Vessel!

Reply

kperras
Kenneth Perras
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+17 Andy Eunson chacou Mike Ferrentino Ryan Walters taprider Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman 4Runner1 ManInSteel Chad K Carmel kcy4130 Justin White Tremeer023 goose8 bushtrucker grcgrc

5 years from now, the same article will be written about shift and brake cables routed through headsets. You've been warned.

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+14 Mike Ferrentino Ryan Walters taprider JVP Niels van Kampenhout 4Runner1 Dogl0rd Andrew Major Spencer Nelson ManInSteel Chad K kcy4130 Justin White goose8

and probably high pivot trail bikes

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+11 taprider Carlos Matutes Pete Roggeman 4Runner1 mrbrett ManInSteel Lynx . Muesliman kcy4130 Adrian Bostock goose8

I reserve the phrase "fiery death" for both of those alleged innovations...

Reply

just6979
Justin White
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Pretty sure it already happened once, maybe twice, for high-pivots. Been about a decade, so they're right on time!

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+6 Timer Andrew Major taprider Mike Ferrentino ManInSteel Greg Bly

I, for one, can't wait for the day when a 5 minute job becomes 45 and I'm pulling out my brake bleed kit so I can swap a stem or headset bearings.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major taprider Mike Ferrentino

Don't forget when customer is mad because they have to buy an 80 dollar brake hose and pay for a bleed after their third or fourth stem swap.

Reply

mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+14 Andrew Major Lynx . skua taprider Vik Banerjee Spencer Nelson Mike Ferrentino hardtailparty ElGenerale hailecycles Kos goose8 bushtrucker slimchances57

I made it all of two paragraphs in before skipping down here to write this:

29+ ain't dead.

Right now -- at this very moment -- I have a few hundred 29 x 3" DHF's, DHR's, XR2's, and Dirt Wizards on the shelf.

I have a few hundred 29 x 3" XR4's due to arrive in ~10 days.  Rangers due in June.

Hundreds of Rekons, Coronado's, and Cake Eaters here in 29 x 2.8".

Even a few dozen 29 x 2.8" Vigilante's left.

If you need 6 different casing iterations to choose from, with 3 different compounds per tread and size -- well, yeah -- I think you covered that in a screed a few weeks ago.  Plus ain't never gonna be that.

But 29+ lives and breathes.

Stache is even still available as a frame -- carbon or alu -- with some sizes being in stock right this very moment.

And, now that I've exhaled, I'll head back up and read the rest with a clear head.

Reply

hardtailparty
hardtailparty
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+5 ElGenerale hailecycles Andrew Major Spencer Nelson Tremeer023

I need to find a big stockpile of 29x3.0s to hoard. It's my goal to do all I can to keep 29+ alive and relevant.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Mammal Andrew Major goose8 bushtrucker

Paging Andrew Major - Vigi 29x2.8!

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Vik Banerjee ElGenerale goose8 slimchances57

I probably shoulda called you in to write the whole piece, mister Curiak. But I figured you were out adventuring in some profoundly difficult way in the back of some nowhere... Point noted and agreed upon. I don't really contend that 29+ is a huge market, but I absolutely agree with the validity and the ride quality of 29+, in that I think it outperformed 27.5+ in every way except for maybe figuring how to fit it into frames that already exist...

Reply

mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+9 Vik Banerjee hardtailparty Mike Ferrentino Andrew Major Spencer Nelson Tremeer023 goose8 bushtrucker slimchances57

nah -- you killed it.  you just coulda specified that 27.5+ was the one circling the drain. 

29+ was never nor will ever be all things to all people.  what one tire size/width is?

and about that niggling detail of 29+ not fitting existing frames?  there's gotta be *some* kinda gatekeeper to keep the punters out...

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 hardtailparty

I'm due some new 29+ rubber for the Unit, had great results running DHF/Chronicle/BFG combo, but think this time around, I'm going to go Bontrager and give the XR4s a try with maybe inserts, or maybe an XR2/XR4 combo.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+12 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee Cam McRae Joseph Crabtree Mike Ferrentino Heathen Pete Roggeman hardtailparty Muesliman Tremeer023 goose8 Tjaard Breeuwer

Well Mike, I read the title and had my pitchfork firmly grasped and ready to impale you, even the first paragraph I was still holding as you teased everyone in, but in the end, an excellent article. 

FYI. still a HUGE fan of PLUS tyres and setup, still a valid and big place for them if your main ride is a HT, especially, if like us, you're north of 40 and feel a bit stiff and achy when first trying to get out of bed. 

Also still believe in the multiple wheels and sizes for one bike, can make owning one bike feel like owning 2 or even 3 if you've got a nice lightweight set of 29x2.3" tyres on similar light wheels, then a set of decent 650B+ in the mid range and then a good, robust set of 29" wheels with some 2.4-2.6" rubber.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+8 Cr4w Andrew Major Lynx . Vik Banerjee hardtailparty Muesliman goose8 Rick M

I had a whole lot of fun riding 29+ with almost zero reservations, and a whole lot of fun riding 27.5+ but with some more reservations and a clear understanding of where they worked and where they didn't. I think Plus, whether 29 or 27.5, totally revitalized hardtails, and I think hardtails are still a valid and important part of the mountain bike landscape. Therefore I think Plus totally deserves to exist. I'm just a little sad that it faded as soon as it did, even though I am stoked that a huge number of existing 29" rigs can fit sorta 27.5+ wheels, and that we now have come to some widespread acceptance of a wider tires...

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Vik Banerjee Andrew Major Mike Ferrentino

Yeah, 29+ is definitely almost all positive for me and VERY alive for me, I absolutely love my 2018 Kona UNIT with some nice 29x3.0" rubber shoved in there - they didn't know it, but stays slammed back and you've got room even for a bit of mud. The only thing I really had issue with was the un-damped rebound, which those who have tried inserts have told me is solved with them.

650B+ just isn't quite there for me, still about 3/8" shorter than a 29x2.4" and as said, bit more wallowy feeling, BUT, it makes the world of difference if you've got a HT that runs 29" and you can then fit a nice 650B+ 2.8" out back, really helps with the whole, no suspension thing and if it's a bit older design, slacks the HTA out by about 1-1.5 degrees, depending on what front 29" tyre you pair it to.

Reply

metacomet
Metacomet
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+10 Vik Banerjee Cr4w Andrew Major nothingfuture Lynx . Mike Ferrentino LWK Alex Hoinville Tremeer023 Tjaard Breeuwer

Plus tires are really great for the things they are great at. The more a trail begins to look like a purpose built bike trail, and the better or more hardpacked the trail conditions are, the worse plus tires will perform. That Should be obvious to people, but its not. I think that was the biggest issue with them when they came out, was that they were being sold as THE NEXT BIG THING substitute for your regularly sized wheels/tires, and not as a complement to them. Which is what they are. A perfect compliment to your existing wheels and tires, for the conditions that require them.  

I think another big thing that contributed to their rapid fall from popularity was the lack of a good purpose built tire insert (and the widespread adoption of inserts) for them when they were at their most popular. Pinch flatting plus tires was too common because of the lower pressures at their sweet spot. The ride characteristics were best in a specific pressure range, but it was low enough that it was easy for a square edge or more pointed rock to just push right through the support without much aggression or a particularly bad mistake. I think if something lighter but still effective, like tannus tubeless or Octamousse were around and well known, many people would have had better experiences with plus tires, enough to begin to understand and accept where they excelled and use them appropriately in those settings. 

I do hope the industry at large (at least the tire manufacturers) continues to support them because there is definitely a place for them for a Lot of people.

Reply

nothingfuture
nothingfuture
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+16 Mike Ferrentino UMichael yardrec Metacomet mikesee Cr4w PowellRiviera Mark ManInSteel ElGenerale Muesliman Justin White IslandLife Tremeer023 goose8 Rick M

I was going to write something like this, but I think you've nailed it.

If you're into ripping berms and riding trails that were groomed for bikes, they're not the right tool.

If you're riding ancient busted janky technical single track at single-digit-miles-per-hour, they're the jam.

Reply

syncro
Mark
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+22 mikesee Vik Banerjee taprider Mike Ferrentino LAT Lynx . ZigaK ElGenerale Muesliman Geof Harries kcy4130 nothingfuture Joseph Crabtree Justin White Andrew Major IslandLife Velocipedestrian Timer Charlie P-t goose8 bushtrucker Rick M

If the world consisted of nothing but busted janky technical singletrack I would not be disappointed.

Reply

gdharries
Geof Harries
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

That perfectly sums up my experience on a 27.5+ bike, the 2018 Norco Torrent. It was a pig on flats and buffed trails, but a joy on rough roots, slow hard lines and downhill chunder.

Looking back, I should have tried a lower rolling resistance tire in the rear. The stock Maxxis Minion DHR II was a slow tractor of a tread. That may have noticeably livened up the bike. Hindsight…

Our 15 year old son has a 27.5+ bike with faster tires, and he loves it. Gives him extra confidence but still rolls quickly.

Reply

Timer
Timer
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+11 Mike Ferrentino mikesee Cr4w Velocipedestrian Simon Apostol Pete Roggeman ManInSteel ElGenerale goose8 Rick M grcgrc

It seems like the timing on Plus bikes was unlucky because their emergence coincided with a  shift towards machine built trails.

And also with increased popularity of Strava. Suddenly everyone fancied himself a racer and wouldn't dream of running anything that wasn't EWS-proven.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Metacomet Mike Ferrentino LWK Pete Roggeman

Plus had a lot of limitations, but a lot of really effective applications too. That should have been presented better. All I saw was that it provided climbing traction (which I'm not short on) while it limited hard cornering (which is kind of why I'm doing this) so for me it was a definite pass. But I 100% appreciate that they offer benefits for the right person/application. Especially as a backup/secondary winter hardtail? Perfect.

Reply

LWK
LWK
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Metacomet Mike Ferrentino Geof Harries

totally agree and has been my experience with my Stache.  Its an excellent winter and shoulder season bike when the trails may be wet, or covered with snow/ice and the speeds are relatively low and you need all the traction.  But it completely falls apart when riding at pace in summer conditions as the tires simply cant handle the cornering loads.

I'm getting a custom hardtail built to replace the Stache.  It will be designed around normal 29' wheels but I'll be able to fit the plus tires in for winter riding. 

I also think an opportunity was wasted for entry level bikes for beginner-ish riders.  A well designed, inexpensive rigid bike with plus tires could be better than spec'ing a really cheap "suspension" fork?

Reply

TristanC
TristanC
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

My first serious MTB was a Marin Pine Mountain 1. 27.5+, rigid, I think X7 and Sunrace components? It was a great starter.

Reply

Briain
Briain
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+9 Andrew Major Cam McRae Greg Bly Mike Ferrentino Heathen Pete Roggeman hardtailparty Rick M Tjaard Breeuwer

I do think plus tyres have a place in the market. It's just the market is driven by racing trends so if it's not been run in world cup DH races or the EWS people won't try it. Even though elite racers requirements are pretty far away from the average persons requirements. I think the plus tyres will find a place with e bikes all the advantages with almost no disadvantages. I always been tempted to find a trek full stache and make it an ebike, it could be the ultimate weapon

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just6979
Justin White
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+6 Mark Tobias Wildebeast hailecycles Mike Ferrentino Andrew Major grcgrc

Interesting that right after you mention that 27+ and 29 have very close diameters, there is a quote regarding flipchips and changing fork travel to accommodate those tires. I think this shows just how much the industry missed the mark on plus tires. They didn't have to make huge adjustments for convertible, but they did anyway because they had to be seen doing something. They talk a lot about making tiny changes from model year to model year to optimize everything to within millimeters so we all _need_ the latest and greatest, but then all of a sudden those millimeters are no big deal if it lets you choose your wheelsize? That's just stupid, and just goes to show how much of the industry prioritizes being fashionable over being the technically best.

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watermonkey
watermonkey
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+5 Mark Mike Ferrentino Lynx . hailecycles mikesee grcgrc DancingWithMyself

I love the plus tires suck argument re: heavy and slow... but hey, shove this heavy af pool noodle in your wheels and run lower pressures for plus equivalent traction, because, you know, better.  Everyone is riding plus tires now, they're just not called plus tires.  Have you seen a Maxxis 2.8 next to their 2.5/2.6 offerings?  Virtually the same width tire, same for most all 2.8 "plus" tires. Are you running a 35mm ID rim?  Then you're on a plus rim.  Plus was adopted fully.  Granted, true plus tires might suck on gravity flow trails, but I'd rather be on fire than waste time rolling up or down an IMBA sanctioned/designed/built modern flow trail.  How many people shitting on plus tires actually bothered to get a pressure gauge that works accurately at lower pressures, then actually figured out what pressure works?  Very very few.

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pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+6 Mammal Mike Ferrentino DancingWithMyself kcy4130 A.Ron Burgundy Tjaard Breeuwer

I have 27 x 2.8 Minions on my Primer and those tires are WAY wider than anything on any of my trail bikes. 2.8 and 2.5WT are very different in width (and weight).

Also, CushCore in 2.5/2.4WT tires is not equivalent traction to Plus in my experience - it's better. Plus flat prevention and the ability to ride out on a flat if need be.

There's advantages to both, but they're not equivalent. However I absolutely agree that Plus had a profound effect on rim and tire design, it's just that Plus was like a half-step in between what was and what came to be, and got left behind in the end.

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Timer
Timer
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Not quite sure of that. The current mainstream tyres are 29x2.4. And most of them are narrower and less tall than their 26x2.4 predecessors.

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LAT
LAT
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

i have no experience with plus tyres, but i have to disagree with your comments on inserts. they aren’t heavy, especially tannus’ products and they offer more than the ability to run low pressures. protection and support being two additional advantages. 

i would very much like a 29+ trail bike, though.

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LAT
LAT
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

i have no experience with plus tyres, but i have to disagree with your comments on inserts. they aren’t heavy, especially tannus’ products and they offer more than the ability to run low pressures. protection and support being two additional advantages. 

i would very much like a 29+ trail bike, though.

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mtbman99
mtbman99
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+5 4Runner1 tashi wizardB Mike Ferrentino nothingfuture

What no shout out to the OG plus size tire the Gazzaloddi 3.0

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craw
Cr4w
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 mtbman99 4Runner1 tashi

Arrow Racing.

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mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I had something about that in there in the initial insanely long preamble that listed all the "begats", but it got excised during the word count cull. But yeah, Gazzaloddi, the modern tire that arrived 15 years too soon.

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alexdi
Alex D
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+5 Mike Ferrentino ElGenerale hailecycles Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer

On groomed terrain, plus tires are slower, heavier, less responsive, and have noticeable undamped rebound. There's a stronger argument for them on rough terrain, but even there, a pressure that yields the best ride quality won't be enough to support the sidewalls in turns for some riders. 

But if you can get the balance right, they can be terrific. All my fastest times on my XC bike were in a 3.0/2.6 configuration. Downsizing to 2.6/2.4 felt faster, but the clock disagreed.

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TristanC
TristanC
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Vik Banerjee Mike Ferrentino imnotdanny Geof Harries

"Mega Hella Ultra Super Boost spacing" - you can pry 12x197mm out of my cold, dead hands!

For real though, I ride a fat bike year-round with a 29+ wheelset in the summer. I just dropped from 3.0" tires to 2.6" tires because I realized if I'm ever riding somewhere soft enough to need 3.0", I might as well put some light 3.8" or 4.8" on (bikepacking, sand, etc).

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mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 imnotdanny Vik Banerjee TristanC goose8

Whenever I am dying a thousand deaths in some Baja arroyo that is allegedly a "trail", I find myself wishing for wider tires. My last two trips down there with first 27.5x3.0 then 29x2.6 tires had me thinking that somewhere wider than 4.0 would be really nice...

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cyclotoine
cyclotoine
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 TristanC goose8

Same, fat bike with 26x 4.6 or 4.8” in winter and running 29x3” DHF and DHR in summer with cushcore. Heavy AF but it makes it ride so much better on chattery roots. I had tried some rekon 29x2.6” but they suffered the lack of support mentioned above. Maybe with inserts they could have been fine but so be it. It’s not my main bike but it’s fun to switch it up and it’s a great back-up of my main ride needs work. Also, it’s a Pole Taiga which has modern geo so I can ride pretty much everything I can on my FS trail bike.

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cheapondirt
cheapondirt
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Metacomet Vik Banerjee Andrew Major Mike Ferrentino

26+ was a very fun size while it lasted.

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metacomet
Metacomet
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+6 Andrew Major UMichael imnotdanny cheapondirt Mike Ferrentino Greg Bly

Hell yeah!  I have my Chromag Stylus set up 26+ with minion DHF/DHR, and cushcore pro front and rear.  And it is quite a playful riot like an all-terrain bmx/dirtjump bike for gnarly natural trails or slippery conditions.  Extremely playful in corners, on steep gnarly terrain, and on smooth lower grade flow kinds of trails.  It just pumps and dips and carves and hops around so intuitively, and encourages a very active and dynamic riding style to go on attack.

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cheapondirt
cheapondirt
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Metacomet

You perfectly articulated why I like them. If I ever find any more of those tires, I'm buying whatever's left!

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syncro
Mark
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 tashi cheapondirt

Michi 2.8's at about 23psi on a Monster were just sublime, like riding on a cloud.

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UMichael
UMichael
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Mike Ferrentino Mark hailecycles goose8

That Trek Stashe is a very fun bike, very... (buzzword incoming)... versatile.  But it's 29+, and I still see 29+ as viable.

27.5+ may have come and faded, but it did give us one of my favourite bike ads from Rocky Mountain with "Dumbing Down the Shore"

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mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 yardrec UMichael Vik Banerjee goose8

That ad was gold! As for 29+, due to space concerns I didn't go down that wormhole in the article... but I contend that but for the packaging issues 29+ might have more long term viability and broader appeal. 29+ tires are/were generally shorter in sidewall height for a given width than most 27.5+ counterparts, and I think that is part of what made them more fun to ride in a broader set of terrain. They didn't (to my experience, anyway) reveal their limitations as starkly or as soon as similarly patterned/sidewalled 27.5+ meat.

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just6979
Justin White
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

So 29+ would be better if it was smaller (that's the way to solve "the packaging issues", because humans aren't getting bigger), but the smaller option isn't better...

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mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

What I noticed during my time riding these things was that the 29+ tires generally had a lower height to width (is that what we call aspect ratio?) than the 27.5+ tires did. I don't know if this was because 29+ tire designers were trying to keep sidewalls as low as possible (packaging concerns, after all), or if 27.5+ tire designers were trying to get sizes as close to regular 29 tires as possible. But what it felt like to me was that 29+ tires rarely felt as squirmy in the turns as similar weight/construction/pattern 27.5+ tires. And squirmy in the turns was where almost all of my dissatisfaction with 27.5+ rested...

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Jotegir
Lu Kz
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Lynx . Pete Roggeman Geof Harries grcgrc

Whether plus is dead or alive and well depends on whose definition of "plus" you subscribe to. 26-29x2.6 used to be considered the smallest "plus" size tire that bike and tire manufacturers were willing to grant the title of "plus" to, but then somewhere between 2018 and 2020 something weird happened. Brands started putting 2.5s and then 2.6s on more of their "normal" bikes, and not wanting to call them "plus" bikes... Simply didn't. By 2020, the Fuel Ex came with 2.6s front and rear, but wasn't a plus bike (interestingly, for 2021 and onward, it only got a 2.6 out front). Plus tires very quickly and very quietly became exclusively 2.8-3.0, simply because the industry didn't want 2.6s to be considered plus anymore. So if you go off the mid 2010s definition of plus, well then hey, plus bikes are alive and well and can be purchased directly from the sales floor of many local bike stores (supply issues notwithstanding).

On another note, I loved my stache. I had that sucker down to sub 26 lbs in "XL" and I loved it for more than 3 seasons. I rode it everywhere, my two bike quiver was the 120mm plus hard tail and my DH bike for a number of years. Sadly, a knee issue that developed from an injury resulted in the elevated stay making extremely uncomfortable contact with my ankle on every bump so it had to go. 

I still dream of a custom TI replacement however...

EDIT: there's probably a joke here related to how no one will be able to afford 29X3.0 tires anymore now that crude is $120 a barrel

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mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+7 Vik Banerjee LAT Justin White Andrew Major Tremeer023 bushtrucker Tjaard Breeuwer

2.6" tires are closer in size/air volume to 2.2's than to 3.0's.

I'm glad 2.6" has become popular.  It just isn't remotely the same as 3.0.

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Jotegir
Lu Kz
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Yeah, sure, that's how air volume works. You aren't wrong.

But that doesn't change how the industry billed em' around plus tires and plus tire bikes contrasted with their current treatment. Following the size/volume differences you mention above, one might suggest that bike brands are no longer calling them plus due to the previous measured inaccuracy and the industry's strive for concrete standards and easily understood, distinct categories .

I myself am somewhat more cynical and would suggest it has everything to do with marketing and perhaps the perception that plus tires are for bad, slow riders who rely on larger volume tires to ride out of a wet paper bag.

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

You run a rigid with a 2.2" setup in some jank, rocky tech and then 2.6" and tell me they're "still close" and 2.6" isn't closer to 3.0" :-\

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mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Mike Ferrentino goose8 bushtrucker Tjaard Breeuwer

If I did that I'd tell you they both suck monkey balls if you have the option to run 3".

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Lu Kz Mike Ferrentino

That is very true, can't count the amount of "normal" 29er bikes now coming with 29x2.6" rubber as stock and no mention of them being PLUS. To me 29x2.6" is most definitely PLUS, I know, it's good enough for me on my rigid Unit, so it has to be :-D 

I look at a lot of those bikes and people riding them, on the terrain they ride and I'm always wondering if they don't enjoy being challenged, because a 140-160mm travel bike with 29x2.6" rubber, is basically a full on Monster Truck that really doesn't require much in the way of line choice etc., IMHO. But then again, people look at me like I'm crazy when I show up on the full rigid Unit and they're on those said same 140mm> bikes :-\

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Squint
Squint
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Lynx . Andrew Major grcgrc Tjaard Breeuwer

I quite enjoy my 27.5 x 2.8s, they stick it out through all those "shit that's not the line I planned" moments and I still have tons of fun on fast smooth trails. I've never felt they're sluggish; not trying to win any races, just have a great time. I'm the "chunky tech" and "climbing traction" type of rider you speak of; this is the shore, after all.

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tehllama42
Tehllama42
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Mike Ferrentino Tobias Wildebeast slimchances57

I feel like the greatest service ever offered by 27+ tires out here in the desert southwest is that each time a factory demo truck would roll in, I'd take one for a ride, start having fun, get a flat tire, walk back, and conclude that I didn't need a new bike.
This would be an unremarkable observation if it didn't happy around 7 different times.  Got on a 2.8" or wider tire, walk back with demo bike, trying to decide what amount of shame is appropriate.

I do think 2.6 has a valid use case to continue existing, and 29x3.0 is the forgotten wunderkind of being able to make rigid bikes actually enjoyable for some terrain... but honestly, give me a pair of good 2.4-2.5" tires, and I'm going to be orders of magnitude happier.

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hardtailparty
hardtailparty
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 hailecycles Mike Ferrentino Spencer Nelson

29+ is still my all-time favorite tire size for a hardtail, especially in chunky technical terrain. It's a complete game-changer for me. Hopefully we can keep the few 29+ tire models alive so those of us who love them can keep running them for years to come.

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jt
JT
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino grcgrc

The Stache was the most fun feeling Trek I ever rode, but those Chupacabras were terrible skins. Sure were nice and light but at the expense of any hope of brushing off anything that thinks about puncturing em, and the super low profile knobs were skittish in fall/spring/loose/wet conditions. Surly made it right with the Dirt Wizard even if they came in at 2.75", and then of course Maxxis jumping on board. I still think there's a place for plus, but it seems no one wants to put in the effort to do it right.

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mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+5 mikesee Lynx . JT goose8 bushtrucker

I can't think of much that illustrates the disparity of intent that came with Plus wheels than those two tires. 29x3.0 Chupacabra weighed, what, something like 860 grams? For a tire that size, that is ridiculously light. Surly Dirt Wizard, 29x3.0, a svelte 1360 grams. Absolutely different tires, different use cases, different ride experience - same as what exists in the world of regular size tires, just bigger. And, in the case of Plus wheels, it all kinda got dropped on the consumer with a "hey, this stuff is bigger. Buy it now!" - without a whole lot of education about where and how the performance would be quantified...

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mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Lynx . Mike Ferrentino Vik Banerjee

I'd argue that what will kill 29+ eventually is that that disparity still exists.

On the one hand you have XR2's (aka Chupa), Rangers, and Knards, all of which roll very fast and are pretty stinkin' light.

On the other you have DHF, DHR, DW, and XR4, all of which grip like crazy and are fairly durable but are heavy-as and roll pretty slow.

There has never been a tweener tread/casing -- all or nothing.  The closest was the Vittoria Cannoli -- sorta looks like an XR2 but the knobs are much taller.  But it's every bit as heavy as the DHF/XR2 crowd, so it's hard to say they hit the mark.  Still, I hoarded ~a dozen of these, too.

I lobbied pretty hard for a tweener 29+ carcass ~4 years ago but I think it was already too late: the sales numbers weren't adding up to anything that would point at "open a new mold".

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 ZigaK

100% agree, there never was that in between tyre option, although Maxxis came fairly close with the 2.8" Rekon, they never offered up a 3.0" version. I'd love to see a 29x3.0" Schwalbe Rocket Ron, SpeedGrip or Maxxis Forekaster 3C MaxxTerra at about 1100g.

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hardtailparty
hardtailparty
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Spencer Nelson

I'd love to see a 29x3.0 ikon one day.

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mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

Could it really be that different from a Knard?!

Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Actually mentioned it in an earlier reply, but hadn't looked at it in a while and forgot how great a tread pattern it is/was, just pulled it out to replace my dry rotting Chronicle, the CST BFG tyre that is. When I was still doing some testing for Maxxis I got one to test, along with a Chronicle to compare and while it was only in a wire bead and quite a bit heavier, it more than made up for it in every other way - it rolled faster than the Chronicle, but also had more grip than the Chronicle. The only downside is that it was never produced in a folding bead or any sort of variety of compounds since it was under the CST brand and not Maxxis.

CST BFT 29x3"

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TimTucker
Tim Tucker
5 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 Lynx .

CST has had some great but underappreciated tires.

The Fringe is available in 20x2.8 and 24x2.8 and is lighter than many of the 2.2" options that come stock on kids bikes.

Tread is super fast rolling and works well on hardpack or sand. If they scaled it up it would likely make an amazing 27.5x3.0 or 29x3.0" Plus race tire.

Lynx
Lynx .
5 months, 2 weeks ago
0

@Tim Tucker - I just wish the made the BFT in a folding bead instead of wire, it would rule the PLUS market as a great all around tyre that can punch above it weight when needed.

SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

What about the Maxxis Rekon 29x2.8? Not wide enough? (I ask because I've never laid a hand on one, but the tread aggressiveness seems about right)

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I've wanted to get one to try, but that's an expensive try. I have the 650B+ version and they've done well in that guise. I think something not quite so aggressive, maybe a Rekon Race/Rekon hybrid.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I am running 29 x 2.8" Rekons on one bike. They are a nice tire, but not a big volume casing unfortunately. My calipers are out of juice so I can't measure them, but I recall when I did so a year ago it was a bit disappointing. 

That said I've done big days of paved/gravel without a second thought and they'll tackle singeltrack pretty well. 

I'd prefer XR2's/Chupas for real 29+ tires that see a lot of dirt, but can still grind out miles on pavement and gravel.

The Rekons aren't bad at all and for folks that don't have clearance for a real Plus tire they might be a good option.

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SpencerN
Spencer Nelson
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Thanks for the recon on the Rekon (heh). when I go for 29+ I really do aim for volume, so it sounds like they're out; will stick with my XR2's which are fine for the hardpack in Edmonton anyways.

mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

They're a decent tire.  Much better as a rear than a front.  I'd sooner pick these than any 2.6" on the planet, because even though the knobs are small and widely spaced I can eke out traction with body english and lean angle, or drift and deal.  But you cannot fake nor make up for a lack of air volume.  These have a lot more air volume than 2.6".

Alas, they lack the air volume of all 3.0's and some other 2.8's, so I still gravitate to 3.0's.

I sell a metric tonne of 2.8" Rekon's to people whom have been on 2.6" for a bit and are plus curious.  Gateway drug and all that.

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jt
JT
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I think they reflected the owners' intents. It seemed like the Chupas and Knards were for fashion sake. The folx who rode dirt often quickly replaced them for something with grip and durability and the ones who kept em more often than not had a glorified bar bike. 29x3 wheels do roll up and down curbs nicely after all. Trek went after weight at the expense of everything else a tire is supposed to do, which as we know isn't gonna provide the best user experience. If you can't trust your tires to go, corner, and stop the rest of the bike is essentially meaningless.

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mikesee
mikesee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 JT Tjaard Breeuwer

There are lots of people and places for whom a Knard, XR2, or Chronicle (RIP) are the ideal tire.

And lots for whom the DHF, DHR, XR4, and DW ring all the bells.

But the meaty part of the bell curve never got the tire that tickled their fancy, and understandably went looking elsewhere.

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jt
JT
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Can't comment on the Chronicle as I never saw em in the wilds much less rode em. The XR2s felt great as long as the trails were dry and mostly moisture free and until the sidewalls died. The Knards, well, they roll on pavement great but I can't say I found any trails where they worked well, nor did any of my friends or customers that spent significant dirt time on em. The people still on them tend to go for urban rambles involving bridges and barley pops. Your locale and locals may vary in that regards and that's cool. 

I think a short sidewalled meaty-ish semi slick (ala Minion SS) would have made a lot of people happier on plusses.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Chupas/XR2s are a great tire not a fashion item. I'm really happy they are still on the menu.

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kos
Kos
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Nice stuff, as always, Mike.

I'm ready for the MIPS screed anytime!

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Duzall
Duzall
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Yep, well unfortunately 29+ are bits of orphans. I have a Jones 29+ Ti Spaceframe, which is a great ride. My other bikes are A Geometron G16 (mullet) and a Cotic Flare Max. Love cruising on the Jones, I ride the FS bikes hard enough to get the fame ride. I have a horde of 29+ tyres to take me through to my dotage I hope.

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Juarez
Juarez
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Last fall after I shredded my freehub in Whistler I had to rent a bike for my last day in Squamish and all I could get was a 27.5" Test SB140 with 2.6" Minions on it.  (hard I know)

I figured no problem, I'd just ride and enjoy the day, and it was FUN.  The bike was great, and I attributed most of the great day on Nelson, AM, etc...to the 2.6" tires.  Sure it's a capable bike, but it was insanely fun to jump and rial corners.

When I got home, I promptly bought a set if 2.6" Minions for my 27.5" Carbon RaceFace wheels and put them on my wounded 20" Rocky Mountain Instinct.  I even swapped my chips around to mimic the Yeti and low and behold, my Instinct suddenly felt different and SB140-like.

The 2.6" tires at 26-32psi maintain a much more overall rounded profile and corner incredibly well with a lot more angulation.  Traction is improved on climbing too.  After a few rides I swapped out 2.5" Minions and the difference was noticeable to me.

So, maybe 27.5"+-light ? (2.6")

Yeti SB-140 with 2.6" Tires

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Juarez

Curious what width rims you are running your tyres on and how much you weigh, because those pressures sound extremely high to me? Not on an anything with suspension, but on my rigid, for tooling around, at about 185lbs geared to ride, I run 12-13 front/14-16 rear on i35 rims.

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Juarez
Juarez
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

RaceFace Next wheelset is 30mm internal width.

Lots of range for pressure with more volume but lower equals less cornering support so I tend to run high pressures.  I also run Tannus Inserts in all my wheels.

On my 9:ZERO:7 bikepacking rig I run Arc 45 rims with 2.8” WTB Trail Boss tires and usually have 15-18psi.  The tires are not that aggressive but they have massive grip with the large volume.

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UFO
UFO
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I'm going to get on my high horse here and claim I pioneered the current mullet trend way back in 2017, thanks to the plus tire movement.

As a hardtail rider, the move to plus back then was nothing short of a revelation to me. A bit of cush to take the edge off a ruggedly built steel frame, traction for days on those slow sloggy tech climbs. I don't corner hard so the squirm in the rear was manageable for me. But the vagueness from the front was something I couldn't get around. And also going full 27.5+ dropped my bb enough that pedal strikes with my limited technique were a problem. So moving to a normal 29x2.3/2.4 cured all of these and I found my nirvana.

Ultimately I think 27.5+ died quickly because at the time we were not willing to accept the extra weight of a proper casing in the wide size. Sidewalls would get slashed easily, harder riders did not like the squirmy feel, and tire inserts weren't a common sight back then (once again, because weight). 

Now that our carbon enduro wunderbikes have gotten up in weight to what WC dh bikes used to weigh, I wonder if 27.5+ with proper casings would thrive -- probably not since 27.5 is more or less an afterthought these days.

After trying the DHF/DHR in 27.5*2.8 and not liking the experience, I've found that my preferred plus rear tire is something with smaller/shorter knobs spaced somewhat close together for optimal rolling speed and climbing traction for my use needs. Unfortunately I'm still having to deal with largely thin sidewalls with this sort of tire, but such is life. Like many who've posted here, I've started to have to build up a stash of spare tires in the size fully expecting them to go extinct in the not too distant future.

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Um, yeah, don't think so, most definitely not actually. I was running my '08 Monkey with a 650B Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.8" in back and CST BFT 29x3.0" proto upfront since August 2016 and I'm sure there were others doing it even sooner than that. I also had the WTB TrailBlazer back in October 2015 and ran that in several configurations, including outback paired with a 29x2.4" On One Chunky Monkey on an i39 rim, but don't really consider that as the TB was barely 2.5".

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UFO
UFO
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Lynx .

I was just being facetious lol. But now that we've gone down this road, your KM is rigid so it doesn't even qualify as a mountain bike :P 

The 2.8 Trailblazer was also my first 'plus' tire, and that was a scary tire for me. Lean it over and you run out of side knobs prematurely. The 2.8 Rocket Ron and Nobby Nic worked well traction wise but paperthin sidewalls. I'm on a Onza Canis right now that I'm happy with, and also a WTB Ranger waiting in the wings.

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Hahahha, Rigid is as real as it gets ;-)

Yeah the Trailblazer was a good go fast tyre, but not so good for hard cornering, but it showed what was possible in terms of what PLUS could do for a HT/Rigid. Didn't have any issues with the sidewalls on the NNs, even on our coral, were substantially sturdier than the Rekon+ ones, but I never had issues with those either, so :-\

Want to try a Canis, it's been on my list, but right now things are scarce to find and so are funds, so "wants" really don't get acknowledged, only "needs".

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Ddean
Ddean
6 months, 3 weeks ago
0

29+ on a hardtail is a real thing!

Softens it up a bit with monster traction in the rear. A 2.8 might be a bit better on the front for precision, but I have not disliked my 3.0 DHFs enough to want to try something different, and I know the 3.0 DHRII on the back is exactly what I want.

I cant imagine going to a different size for a HT, especially on the back. Makes the bike IMO.

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TimTucker
Tim Tucker
5 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Diameter is another often overlooked aspect of 29+.

I have Vee Bulldozers on my Stache - at 29x3.25", they're about 30.5" in diameter and a niche even within 29+.

It's really hard to pick apart whether it's the width or the diameter that I like more.  I'm a little disappointed that no one else has come out with anything in the 3.2-3.5" space.

If there were viable 32" options for wheels and suspension, I'd be really curious to try comparing something like a 32x2.6" or 32x2.8" vs. 29+.

I've debated trying 36", but 2.25" width on the only mtb tire seems pretty narrow (again, Vee is the only player willing to experiment in that space and availability is low).

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Suns_PSD
Suns_PSD
6 months, 3 weeks ago
-1 Julian Sammons

I've never been on a bike ride, where someone was on a 27.5+ bike, and the 27.5+ bike didn't: 1) get an unrepairable flat, 2) damage the rim in an unrepairable manner, 3) roll the shit tire right off of the rim while cornering aggressively, 4) Two or more of the above all at once.

I have 4 words to describe 27.5+ tires: 'total and utter shit'.

Thank God these turds died off and you don't see them on the trails any longer. Can purchase plus wheels + tire sets for $75 on local forums these days as they are good for literally nothing besides pedaling on the beach or snow.

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Lynx
Lynx .
6 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 grcgrc Julian Sammons

Wish I was local to you, because I'd buy up all those wheelsets (if they truly were proper PLUS width, i35>) because I've never had any issues, heck I even loaned one of my Paradox HTs with 2.8" Nobby Nics to a friend while his FS was down, he weighed 220lbs+ and he rode it down some of our roughest trails, without much finesse and at the end of the ride, not a thing was wrong and he had a blast, actually could not believe how good it was.

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SlurpyTurkey
Julian Sammons
6 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I can't imagine you've been on many rides with people on 27.5+ then, or at least experienced riders with decent equipment. I've put 1k miles on my 27.5+ hardtail on technical PNW terrain with zero issues (my other bike is an XXL Transition Spire). Even done shuttle days with it on dh trails. I have a cushcore in the rear, which probably helps. I really like the plus on the rear of a hardtail for aggressive riding. Would say rear-only but feel that handling would be odd having a skinnier tire upfront.

Saying a 2.8 suddenly becomes total and utter shit vs a 2.5 or 2.4 is like saying a car with 235 width tires is complete shit compared to one with 205's. The 235 might not be ideal for your setup (too much grip for suspension, weight, etc.), but might actually be ideal for others'.

I hope these turds don't die off because I enjoy riding total utter shit*, guess I'm a fool.

*on a hardtail

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Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
6 months, 2 weeks ago
0

My bike is a 150/170mm travel FS. I run  a 27.5 x 2.8 DHF up front for trail riding. Can’t remember the last time I punctured  it. Never pinch flatted or burped it either (41mm internal rim).

In the bike park I run 27.5 x 2.8 Vigilante, in the “light” casing (not light at all), with an insert. Punctured it once.

In short, I have not had any more issues with tire durability than with smaller sizes.

While running plus tires in the rear, with the original light eight casings and no inserts was had issues, I had the same problem with ‘regular’ size tires in the rear in similar casings.

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