WTF is a Plus Bike?

Words Cam McRae
Date Sep 22, 2015

Screw the capitalist bloodsuckers who run the bike industry! Actually I’m just kidding. This time. This isn’t a diatribe on how ‘The Man’ is trying to break you down with confusing new standards and erode your retirement fund. That’s been written. A few times. But let’s get a few things out of the way shall we? The bike industry wants you to buy more stuff. Just like the grocery store does. Shocking but true. In fact the members of The Ancient Order of Bike Masons talk about little else at their secret weekly meetings. When they take a break from talking about the E-Bike takeover that is.

IMG_8220 - LT+

Scott is sold on the Plus category and they have built plus versions of their popular Genius platform – including the LT. If you think Plus bikes have to be heavy this 28 lb/6.3″ travel (12.7kg/160mm) machine may change your mind. Photo – Dave Tolnai

Sarcasm aside, Plus is the perfect example of a category crafted to pry money from your wallet, because (so far) it seems most people wouldn’t want a Plus bike as their only bike. You’ll need to put up another hook in your bike room. But listen up you cynical bastards (a label I too wear proudly), because that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. Nor does it mean you need to buy one.

stumpy_6fattie1

Most Plus Bikes look relatively normal – until you roll a conventional tire up to one. The Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie Comp retails for US$3500 – with a carbon main frame.

I’m currently testing a Specialized Stumpjumer 6Fattie Comp – a bike with Plus size tires and wheels –  and I was surprised to find out many riders don’t have a clue about this new genre within a genre. I climbed up to Seventh Secret on Mount Fromme with the 6Fattie and a group of six riders arrived behind our group. They had lots of questions and none seemed to know Plus Bikes are a thing, which made me realize some info could be helpful.

plus_regular

On your left a Specialized Purgatory Comp 650b x 3.0 compared to a Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5 x 2.4.

Google may bring up an article on larger athletes and cycling but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Plus in MTB refers to a size between conventional tires (up to 2.6” width) and fat bike tires (3.8” and wider). Most Plus tires we saw at Interbike this year were either labelled 2.8” or 3.0” – but to the naked eye it was tough to tell the difference. They look different from what you are used to, but not vastly so like a fat bike tire. Rims are generally between 40 and 50mm wide and most Plus bikes are based on 27.5″/650b rims, but a few are 29ers – like Trek’s Stache.

cam

Plus Bikes love this sort of bony and unforgiving terrain. Photo – Pete Roggeman

At Sea Otter 2014, Rocky Mountain showed what was the first Plus bike I had seen; the Sherpa. It was billed as an adventure bike, one that you could take places you wouldn’t want to take your regular mountain bike. The idea was that that large volume, low pressure tires allow you to access terrain that might otherwise be unrideable on your skinny little treads. The astute among you might ask whether a fat bike could accomplish the same goal.

roggey2

No need to shy away from challenging terrain, as Pete Roggeman demonstrates on Ladies Only. Photo – Cam McRae

Fat bikes are heavier and slower and, because they run even lower pressures, they don’t have as much sidewall support. That means you can’t rally a fat bike around corners as well as a Plus Bike. In fact, based on my admittedly brief experience on the 6Fattie, you can do pretty much everything you’d do on a conventional bike on a Plus Bike. I’ve been doing the same climbs and the same descents, and there’s no question about capability.

roggey

As mentioned above… Photo – Cam McRae

I can hear you asking why you’d want to do this. What is the point exactly? Plus Bikes are sold on providing more grip, a more compliant ride, and having the ability to smash through terrain that would normally put you on your ass – without giving up much performance compared to a conventional set up. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble on a Plus Bike and the big tires will save your bacon. It’s happened to me a few times already. I did a small launch yesterday and realized I had misjudged the proximity of the next corner. I thought I was heading straight for the rhubarb, but the tires allowed me to rein it all in and smoothly execute the next move.

IMG_8155 - Genius+ front end

It’s been pointed out that the outside diameter of a 27.5 Plus tire is approximately the same size as a 29er with a conventional tire. Some people are squeezing more out their Plus bikes by adding a set of 29″ wheels to swap out. Don’t count on using those wheels you’ve got in the garage though; most Plus bikes run on Boost axles which will likely not be compatible with what you’ve got now. Photo – Dave Tolnai

Before you think I’m the sort who loves anything new, and is keen to talk you into buying whatever the business is selling, I should tell you that I have yet to like a 29er that wasn’t aimed at XC. I’ve ridden many, including some that have converted naysayers, and so far I’m not sold. I’m not as much of a neo-luddite curmudgeon as Uncle Dave though, and even he has a warm spot for Plus.

stache

Trek’s Stache might be the monster truck of Plus bikes, with 29 x 3.0 tires. But its short chainstays are said to give it snappy handling. You can also run standard 29er wheels or even 27.5 Plus.

For many the question might be, ‘why are we making it easier?’ It’s a valid question, and you certainly don’t need to make it easier. Riding a hardtail is a blast. Particularly if you’re under 40. And why not ride a full rigid if you want to stay core? But there’s a counterpoint to that line of thought.

hendrix

Devinci’s Hendrix RS has 120mm of travel, a 67.3 degree head angle and it retails for $3399 in Canada.

If you are a skier and/or snowboarder I wonder if you like riding in fluffy dry powder? Once you figure it out there’s no condition that’s easier or more forgiving, and it’s tough to find anything that matches pow for fun. And yes – I’ve found riding the 6Fattie to be a little like riding pow; you can bounce off things that would normally take you down, carry speed where you otherwise couldn’t and charge into unknown situations with a little more confidence. The powder analogy might be a clue that I’m enjoying meatier rubber, and I suspect this will end up being more than a fad.

Marin’s Pine Mountain 2 is a mix of old and new, with 27+ wheels mated to a chromoly frame. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

Will you be able to hold your head high and still enjoy mountain biking if you don’t buy into Plus? If you can’t I wouldn’t blame the bike. You can have a great time and still call yourself a mountain biker if you never ride anything but a fully rigid 26” bike. But for those who get jazzed by new technology and unique interpretations of our sport, Plus is certainly worth checking out. I also think it’ll be a great opportunity for beginner or developing riders to learn some skills with a safety buffer. Is it for you? It’s early yet, and clearly our industry is going through something of a reset, which makes this a reasonable time for consumers to be wary. Tires will improve, carbon rims will come down in price and reduce the weight penalty – and the gap between Plus and…  – non Plus? – will shrink. For me, based on my first few rides, I’d say I’d consider picking up one of these mid-fat rides to complement my main steed.

Which means Plus might be the perfect name for these bikes.


26 for life? Who needs it? Or are you maybe a little intrigued…

Trending on NSMB

Comments

brente
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brente  - Oct. 4, 2015, 2:26 p.m.

My stiffeee has a 2.7 on the front ansd a 2.5 26 0n the rear guess it's a 26+ bike….oh yeah that's whats been ridden on the shore for years. Oh and it has about 2 and a half feet of rear travel 🙂

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 5, 2015, 9:24 a.m.

I've ridden many bikes set up like that as well - but Plus bikes feel nothing like that at all.

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insurgentinmin
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InsurgentInMin  - Oct. 2, 2015, 9:44 p.m.

Rode a couple of Specialized SJ FSR 6Fatties today. Very capable and rides like a normal, plush trail bike. I could see it posting big sales given the reasonable $3500/$4500 price tag. But at 31 lb, its too hefty for my liking.

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ObsessionBikes
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James Wilson  - Sept. 28, 2015, 9:18 a.m.

I may be late to the thread but if you are still into it here is a comment on Plus. My main bike is a 2015 Scott Genius LT 700 tuned and I tested the same model in plus size . I had the bike for about 5 days and three rides ; Howler on the west side of the Whistler valley , a route on Fromme From the 6th to Coleman, and Brothers Creek. In all cases and conditions the Plus version out performed my regular machine - all cases and conditions , up especially ! James

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 11:31 a.m.

From the photos in the article I gather this.

"Bike+ the perfect bike for posturing in meadows for photos. Riding crushed gravel paths up a mountain only to ping-pong down a dried out creek on the way down before meadow skipping along a hand-built wooden boardwalk in the majestic forest of your own backyard. A perfect morning activity before meeting the rest of the gang at Starbucks for the noon coffee."

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joseph-crabtree
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Joseph Crabtree  - Sept. 24, 2015, 5:03 p.m.

You are obviously an idiot that hasn't tried one.As a long time XC & CX racer I'm enjoying my B+ on the trails that are just a bit too rowdy for the other bikes in the stable.Is it fast?No,but it is FUN and that's why we are all out there.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 8:46 p.m.

When I want to take it easy I go play shuffleboard at the Seniors Centre.

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rgk
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RGK  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:50 p.m.

Great article, better thread. A priviledge to be a mountain biker these days - so much innovation. I hope the debate on this topic and others continues; it only fuels the spirit of the sport. Ultimately mtn biking is good times, regardless. And rest assured, the only way to really compare is to ride the same line twice with the same bike, and see how you do…

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blackfly
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Peter Leeds  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:16 p.m.

Funny, I have been riding fat bikes all my life. I loved it when Nokian came out with the Gazallodi which I ran on the front as a 3″ and the rear as a 2.6″. With DH tubes you could run LOW PSI and it floated over the worst chatter shit. But they are gone. The best I can do now is Kenda 2.7. Funny how the old becomes new, again, and again. To say nothing of grip in the wet, which in Vancouver is the real issue……

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t.odd  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:20 p.m.

this hasn't really helped me understand this latest phenomena at all, but then again none of the articles I've read about them really have. and I certainly can't see any situation where I'd need to have one of these in my 'quiver' to use once in a blue moon since I never really feel like it's a lack of semi-fat super squishy tires that's really holding me back.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:29 p.m.

That's fair, Todd, although just as Plus bikes aren't meant for everyone/every ride, this article also wasn't meant to be a be-all end all piece. As Cam said, we got to the top of a climb and every person there was looking at a Plus bike for the first time. We were surprised but we also see and ride stuff before the regular mountain biker - also true of switched on people like you who consume a lot of MTB media.

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t.odd  - Sept. 23, 2015, 6:29 p.m.

sorry, wasn't implying that it was supposed to be a 'be all end all'. I just really don't get it, they say it's great because you can run low pressures, but then if you're aggressive you get tire squirm or flat tires, because of big tires, they use lighter casings, etc etc etc. so you pump up your squishy tire and then loose the benefits. But a thin casing tire in this super loose rocky terrain where they're supposed to be so good means more casing punctures. Can't increase casing thickness to prevent flats or sidewall squirm because then they weigh a ton and again negates the benefits. So, again, tell me about the…benefits?

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bjorn-naylor
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Bjorn Naylor  - Sept. 24, 2015, 8:22 a.m.

just strap a scuba tank on your back Todd and you're covered!

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Sept. 24, 2015, 10:37 a.m.

This guy gets it.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 11:26 a.m.

What you don't have $3500 CDN out the door to drop right now on the Hendrix??? Clearly this industry needs less people like you! Be gone I says!
The benefits of bike+ are there and I'll list them for you -
29 sized tires that aren't labelled as 29er tires.
Paper thin sidewalls.
Excessive rotational mass.
Another "New Standard" with new standards built in to it.
You can buy a 29er Boost wheelset to run on this bike. THIS IS THE BIG ONE! Think about it… You will have not one, but two wheelsets for this bike that you can't use on your other bikes.

Oh and you aren't allowed to form an opinion on the matter unless you list off every bike+ you've ridden right now.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 24, 2015, 3:44 p.m.

You are welcome to all the uninformed opinions you want. That's what the internet is for Justin.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 8:46 p.m.

Ignorance is bliss!

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gasket-jeff
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Gasket-Jeff  - Sept. 29, 2015, 6:35 a.m.

This is why I would like to see 26+ sized gear (tires and rims - yes I know about the surly dirt wizard), because without buying a new bike you can put a different pair of rims and tires on your 27.b rig and you are plus sized. I am disappointed to see tire makers rushing to make b+ tires and not 26+.

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Faction
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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:05 p.m.

I'm going to mount up some 2.25″ tires so I can more accurately pick lines.

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Faction
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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 1:57 p.m.

"plus-sized wheels aren't a real innovation, they're a circus sideshow freak intended only for beginners and idiots"

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 3:50 p.m.

Are you quoting yourself or someone else? Either way your statement is inaccurate and uninformed.

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Faction
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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:25 p.m.

Team Robot quote

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:18 p.m.

Ah. You are doing second hand trolling.

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Faction
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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:39 p.m.

it was funny! 😀

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republicmalcolmisland
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RepublicMalcolmIsland  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:47 p.m.

Whore.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 10:15 p.m.

From Charlie it would have been funny.

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naveed-nasir
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Naveed Nasir  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:41 p.m.

please substitute plus for 27.5 and you'll find that this review reads like a 27.5 review from a few years back. More traction, playful, etc

I think to get a better understanding of plus you should compare it to a 29er, I don't think its benefits translate as effectively when doing this, especially when you factor in 29er tyres mounted to 30-35mm internal width rims.

Bottom line is soon the bike industry will drop a category from 27.5, 27.5 plus and 29. What category it will be I don't know, but part of me thinks that 27.5 is now very similar to 26" wheels, not as grippy as plus and not as fast as 29.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:41 p.m.

Have you ridden a 27.5+ Naveed? From your comments it doesn't sound like you have. And in terms of dropping a category, you could argue that has happened with 29 to a large degree. Many brands have stopped making niners beyond the XC category, while others are continuing along but more modestly. My impression from retailers is that sales numbers of wagon wheels are lagging as well.

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naveed-nasir
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Naveed Nasir  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:57 p.m.

nope I haven't - you just killed my argument

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:36 p.m.

More traction, yes. More playful - no.

Plus and non-Plus aren't going to compete with each other directly once consumers have a greater understanding of the differences - at least not the way tires are now. For high performance riding, stick with conventional tires. Plus rubber just isn't there yet. That line will blur in the coming years and Plus is carving out a sub-category, but other than that overlap, the delineation should be preserved.

With that said, there are some bike co's that are presenting Plus as legitimate high performance contenders, and I think that might harm them in the short run.

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Faction
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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:52 p.m.

that's a great statement, thank you.

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naveed-nasir
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Naveed Nasir  - Sept. 24, 2015, 1:41 a.m.

Yep you've nailed it Pete. Have to admit though I'm biased to 29ers and really feel a long travel 29er with Ibis 941 rims offers the best ride - period.

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bjorn-naylor
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Bjorn Naylor  - Sept. 24, 2015, 8:26 a.m.

my take on plus bikes is that the bike co's SHOULD concentrate on lower end offerings in this market. selling a beginner a plus size hardtail offers huge performance benefits for the novice rider without breaking the bank.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 24, 2015, 9:40 a.m.

That's one key area, I agree. But a lot of people of all skill levels - novices included - have the dough for higher dollar bikes so you're going to be seeing a lot of those first.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:52 a.m.

Are you suggesting Cam that the plus would be roughly equivalent to skiing powder all the time? Or that for "brown pow" days it is a nice arrow for the quiver, but not a quiver killer? I'm pretty light and ride "soft" i guess because I can get away with lighter casings. Never had the need for dual ply in terms of puncture resistance. And do not like heavy tires as they alter the timing on technical climbs because accelerating heavy tires is harder and slower. I think it would be a tough sell to have 1500 gram or more 27.5+ in a dual ply. One thing for sure though, I want to demo one to see what the fuss is about. that Marin looks particularly enthralling.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:38 p.m.

The ones I'm riding right now are just over 1200g and the sidewalls are more than adequate. I am interested to see what the more aggressive Maxxis options come out looking like.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:49 p.m.

My comment about powder was to present a counter point to the argument that we shouldn't make mountain biking easier with our gear, because powder is generally easier than crud or ice or any other condition that has been skied out. And I said 'a little'. And powder skis and boards even make powder easier. And more fun. For me the 6Fattie isn't a quiver killer but it will likely be for some.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:58 p.m.

Actually I think powder skiing is one of the more challenging conditions but yeah, most fun. Absolutely agree that making it easier is a good thing or not necessarily bad. If some one wants hard get an old fully rigid bike with Mafac cantilever "brakes" and go ride. No one wants straight skinny skis anymore either.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:50 p.m.

It certainly can be Andy, which is why I specified light, dry powder, but I should have also said with modern equipment. On fat skis - or any snowboard - I'd call the aforementioned pow forgiving to be sure.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:39 p.m.

The analogy breaks down slightly in that powder IS easy - once you know how to handle it. For people that weren't lucky enough to ride on powder regularly since they were small, it's often what they consider to be the hardest conditions they'll see. Ontarians, I'm looking at you. Once the magic is unlocked, then I think you're right and powder is easier than just about anything else, except fresh corduroy.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:32 a.m.

"If you are a skier and/or snowboarder I wonder if you like riding in fluffy dry powder? Once you figure it out there’s no condition that’s easier or more forgiving, and it’s tough to find anything that matches pow for fun."

Can't tell if sarcasm or trolling?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:41 p.m.

Which part? Nothing in the sentence you are quoting was sarcastic, nor trolling.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 12:15 a.m.

Pow isn't easy to ride. And no laying in the back seat the entire time isn't considered riding it.

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yeahyeahillsignup
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YeahyeahIllsignup  - Sept. 24, 2015, 6:36 a.m.

Found the ontarian!

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 24, 2015, 8:45 a.m.

I guess I'm implying a certain athletic ability and experience, and equipment from this century in terms of skis. On a snowboard? Once you can turn you can shred pow and it becomes the easiest condition. And i said light dry powder and once you figure it out.

Maybe you need some fat skis and some lessons?

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 10:53 a.m.

Try again.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 24, 2015, 11:11 a.m.

I forgot how easy chest deep unconsolidated powder is to ride. I'll likely need to book more heli time to refresh my memory.

Those ski instructors are not allowed to do their ski exams on skis with underfoot width over 100mm. You need to build a proper skill set or you'll end up on 'Jerry of the Day' very quickly.
Fat skis are slower to carve/turn (edge to edge) compared to their narrower counterparts and now I see where you are going with these plus bikes. Thanks! 🙂

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 24, 2015, 4:31 p.m.

So you didn't understand the point I was making Justin? If not maybe there's a way I can make it more clear.

If you are just being deliberately contrary that's okay too - but that's pretty sad. We're talking about bikes. Why so bitter? Why so angry?

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yeahyeahillsignup
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YeahyeahIllsignup  - Sept. 25, 2015, 3:52 a.m.

Nova Scotian? Let's try again, what's the easiest and most fun to ride or ski (given a proper slope) between A) foot of fresh snow B) crusty refrozen chicken heads C) Icy bumps D) gaper littered groomers wich falling childs left and right E) any other condition than powder?

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jon
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Jon Harris  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:39 a.m.

They should have done 26+, thus make wheel size closer to 27.5 in with the fat tires on them. 27.5+ means you are riding a 29er with a bit more traction and weight. A smaller plus size would have kept the traction and flickability. Test rode a 6fattie for about ten miles. Felt nice on sandy sections but was a pig on everything else. I don't need that much traction when I am not riding in snow. To each their own though.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 9:13 a.m.

Jeff, please stop linking that forum in your reply to every goddamn post in this thread. You might be interested to know that there is forum - full of intelligent conversation - on this site. This very one. NSMB. You know, the one where you came to read the article mentioned above.

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gasket-jeff
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Gasket-Jeff  - Sept. 23, 2015, 9:17 a.m.

Sorry Pete. Jus got a lil excited.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:12 a.m.

I don't really believe you're sorry, but I could be wrong. You can't surprised at getting a little slap for linking to a forum on the main competitors website when there are forums right here.

I think PB is clearly less open minded than NSMB, but if you want a place where intelligence isn't questioned, PB probably is the right place. It's like an orgy of dull opinions, but not strictly so, and you'll correspondingly get fewer useful insights.

Just in case I'm coming off like a mindless NSMB fanboi, I want to be clear that I am not. I have been very critical of NSMB numerous times over the past year, primarily for journalistic standards issues. Nevertheless, I must confess I respect NSMB enough to be communicate my criticism. I think it will be considered there. PB on the other hand seems to have a mission incompatible with my own interests. It is to MTB, what Tiger Beat is to rock music.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:47 p.m.

I'd say linking it once wouldn't have provoked any response - but you kept linking. And you linked to your forum post that doesn't have any comments or responses except yours. If you'd like to know what to expect from NSMB then stick around. If you have already made up your mind that's okay too.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:31 p.m.

I apologize if I was a little harsh. I can see you removed it from a few spots - thank you.

I'll let you make your own judgments about NSMB forum vs PB. We do want to host conversations here, but as has been pointed out, it looked as if you were taking pains to draw a conversation away from here and onto PB - which didn't make a lot of sense to me and still doesn't.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:16 p.m.

I was harsh there, but I'm not that representative of the tone here generally. I do recommend checking out the forums here, the participants are typically much less hardline than I am.

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bighook
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bigHook  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

I am on the tipping point of adding a plus bike hook in my garage. I think I even have one big enough, so I'm well on my way.

Here is my unfounded theoretical block; I wonder if these bikes can be rallied properly without ripping tires? The tires weigh the same as dh tires (1,000g) so I would expect they will have relative lack of acceleration to my 750g enduro boots, but great momentum (especially at 17 psi). The tires are single ply so I would expect they will puncture easily. On most Shore trails I can see this as a non-issue, but other places?

The word on the street is these are ideal bikes for up to intermediate level riders, but beyond that may not be practical at speed because although they may grip, they rip.

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gasket-jeff
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Gasket-Jeff  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:40 a.m.

I think I am going to build up a 26+ bike this winter. I am wondering if I need to go 26+ in the rear or if i can leave my 27.b wheel back there? I just swapped out my front tyre on my DH rig from 26×2.5 to 26×2.7 and like the minuscule difference it created.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:24 a.m.

No need to worry about different sizes as long as the outer diameters are close. You'd want the front to be larger if anything. What tire are you planning on running 26+ though?

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gasket-jeff
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Gasket-Jeff  - Sept. 23, 2015, 9:01 a.m.

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gasket-jeff
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Gasket-Jeff  - Sept. 23, 2015, 9:10 a.m.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

Beyond the misguided rhetoric that says - without having ever ridden one, that plus is purely for beginners - tires are still a sticking point for aggressive riders. Not many of the options out there right now have much grip, nor are their sidewalls all that supportive. I'm riding a set of pre-production 27.5×3.0 tires that blow every other plus tire out of the water in the traction and sidewall department - but the trade off is in weight. Provided the industry continues down this line, the tire manufacturers will catch up with the needs of riders. Even the "regular" 27.5 tire market was a bit bleak when the first bikes became available.

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metacomet
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Metacomet  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:33 a.m.

I want to see more manufacturers get behind 26+. Rim and tire makers alike. I am currently working out some way to get some 40mm wide 26″ rims laced up so I can run surly dirt wizards on my Nomad. Will be able to fit them and swap them on the 27.5 bike and add volume as conditions permit. More options is never a bad thing, especially when they can work in harmony with each other.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:05 p.m.

it was done…. 15 years ago

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:41 p.m.

By whom? You don't mean Nokian Gazzalodis, do you? Because as much as people like to keep talking about them because they were 3.0s, they have nothing in common with Plus tires in terms of ride character. They were stiff and heavy with aggressive knobs, whereas Plus tires are the opposite on all three fronts at this point (not forever).

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 6:11 p.m.

Nothing to do with construction or tread pattern, but the basis that fat tires float more than narrow (normal) tires. You can't escape those characteristics. Even the old Michelin comp32 at 2.8″ wide, was a very good tire in most conditions. But because of the width, you get it into soft ground and it skated around more than a figure skater.

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:59 a.m.

Some thoughts found at PB regarding + size - ""You have to set the tire pressure low enough so that the bike rolls at speed and doesn't bounce," says Paul. "And when you get that right, there is so much traction available that it seems you can do anything - but then you flat all the time. So, I have to pump up the tires more to stop flatting, and then the bike bounces all over the place whenever I am going fast. Until they get the tires right, plus isn't going anywhere. Look around. All these guys are pumping up their plus bike tires way to hard, just to keep them from flatting out there, and people are still coming in with flat tires."

More info here:

Will be great for slow/hesitant riders. Until tire technology catches up, I don't think you will see the top guys running them anytime soon.

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metacomet
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Metacomet  - Sept. 23, 2015, 10:44 a.m.

You will if the conditions permit it. Like loose natural trails full of off camber sections and roots and tricky low speed technical rock sections. Horses for courses, not necessarily horses for newbies. SO many variables in tire choice, and being able to further adjust tire volume and pressure along with tread pattern as you see fit can only be a good thing.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 23, 2015, 10:47 a.m.

My 29″x2.35 Magic Mary Super Grav with real side walls and well supported side knobs weights north of 1100 grams.

What would the equivalent tire weight in 27.5+? 1500g? 1600g?

I think unless if a fundamental change in tire technology/construction happens most + riders will also need a 29'er wheelset for long days in the saddle or rides where tire durability is important.

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Dirk
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Dirk  - Sept. 23, 2015, 10:51 a.m.

I can't wait to see Jerry out on the trail, waving print-outs of internet articles in the air, yelling at clouds and riders bombing by with happy grins on their faces, insisting that they are scientifically having less fun than they think they are because their tires aren't up to snuff.

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Sept. 23, 2015, 10:55 a.m.

I'll just pass them while they are fixing their flats…

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:42 p.m.

Funny how my real world experience conflicts with that opinion…

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jason
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jason  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:43 p.m.

It is interesting how there are literally TONS of articles out there praising the benefits of plus sized tires (even the one above me), yet one guy makes an off hand semi-negative comment and suddenly all the benefits are ignored and it turns into a bike tire for noobs.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:43 p.m.

The tires I'm riding now are just over 1200 grams and they are quite a heavy casing with large knobs. I would compare them to a super gravity, not quite a full DH tire.

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:53 p.m.

funny how that guys "opinion" is real world experience as well. Did you read the article?
Slogging away uphill on 1200 gram tires so you don't get a flat coming down doesn't sound like my kind of fun. Those tiny knobs won't do much in loam.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 23, 2015, 1:23 p.m.

I replied to your similar comment above Morg.

Not saying that 1200g aggressive 27.5+ rubber isn't a reality but there is no way you can build a tire that is equivalent in sidewall casing durability and support to a 29×2.3″ tire in a 27.5×3″ tire for only +100g. There is way more rubber in that 3″ 27.5+ tire.

I'm also not saying that a 1500g 27.5+ tire (+300g from equivalent 29×2.3 is my guess) is a problem or that your 1200g tire isn't awesome and can't be ridden aggressively. I just think what's missing in all the 27.5″ articles I've read is true comparisons across varied terrain and conditions.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:02 p.m.

until the entire field of world cup dh'ers are running them, then it does not interest me.

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:43 p.m.

There's obviously going to be some benefits in some situations but not all. Industry has a tendency to make things sound better than they actually are… especially when they invite the industry folk to press camps. If plus size is the all and be all, how many EWS riders in the top 10, 20, 100 used them?

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:57 p.m.

Thanks for trawling, but you don't know what tires I'm riding.

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:59 p.m.

"The tires I'm riding now are just over 1200 grams and they are quite a heavy casing with large knobs. I would compare them to a super gravity, not quite a full DH tire." Morgan Taylor

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 3:24 p.m.

With tiny knobs, of course, I forgot I said that.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 3:44 p.m.

no enduro, no dh, no xc racers. Those riders use equipment that works the best for overall performance and efficiency. so it could be said that plus size tires (and rims for that matter) are geared towards beginners and intermediates, or people who like to ride slowly.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 3:48 p.m.

Have you ridden one WP? If so which one(s) and where? You don't see Enduro, DH or most XC racers on hardtails. Does that mean they are for beginners and intermediates? Or those that ride slowly?

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:28 p.m.

Nope I haven't ridden the newer versions. But still, it begs the question - if every advancement we get is born out of racing (efficiency, performance) then why are there no high level racers using them? Honest question.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:39 p.m.

I'm not talking about hardtails, just plus sized tires. But there are probably more hardtails in high level xc racing than not - a place where you'd think plus sized tires would be beneficial. I'd like to hear more industry people say that these plus sized tires are not better in every situation or for every rider/riding style, but instead just another segment like fatbikes, CX bikes, or things like that.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:02 p.m.

…and I would add there is a place for them for sure. Is it possible for you to get me one to test? I probably would be a good person to review a plus sized bike, since I'm coming in on the 'nay' side of the argument.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:43 p.m.

At Crankworx this year Remy Absalon said he's playing around with it and can imagine using it in certain situations next year.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:45 p.m.

I think that's fair. The industry has to be careful about what they try to sell. I spoke to a few manufacturers that have Plus bikes developed but haven't released them yet because even they haven't decided how to position them and which consumers to target.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:47 p.m.

Up above Naveed said "this reads like a review of 27.5 wheels two years ago". Now I get to say that your comment reads exactly like a 27.5 comment from two years ago 😉

I'm not saying you're right or wrong, just pointing out that it's funny how quickly things change.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 6 p.m.

totally. but there is a basis of understanding here that fat tires (mtb, mx, car, truck) float on top rather than bite into. That is a trait that can not be missed, unlike the 650b debate from years ago where we were talking about wheel diameters because it was an unknown. I'm two glasses of wine in, so I'm not sure if any of that made sense 😉

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 6:07 p.m.

really, that's the biggest sticking point which old jaded dudes like me have issue with. Its that -some- companies are marketing plus sized bikes as the "be all, end all" of mountain biking. THAT I have issue with, greatly. Any DH racer with a modicum of knowledge knows you choose your tire width based on course conditions. Wide tires float, skinny tires bite (all things being equal). Its really that simple. Instead of the industry throwing all their eggs into one basket, it would be nice if they also put equal effort into developing narrower tires with strong sidewalls and good usable tread patterns. For precision and bite into soft ground, that is the way to go. Every other wheeled 'sport' knows this to be true, so it puzzles me as to why some mtb brands think otherwise.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:01 p.m.

No one's marketing them to DH racers though, right? And while I have seen a bit of confusion surrounding intended use in some co's communications, I haven't seen many - yet - that are saying "this is the bike for everyone, for everything". But if you have - let me know where?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:38 p.m.

Like fat skis then? Is that what you mean? Uncle Dave was skeptical as well. And so was I. I don't like to ride slowly (but I'm not pro either as you know) but riding one has reframed my perspective on these bikes. Maybe it might make sense to save your condescending tone for after you have ridden one. Unless you like insulting everyone who is informed and doesn't share your opinion. If that's your MO then carry on.

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Derp  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:49 p.m.

Condescending tone? Okay. Hook me up with a tester and I will give you a 100% honest opinion, free of any industry affiliations. I am humble enough to eat crow if I am wrong. I'll write a short evaluation after a few weeks of riding. Deal? And for what its worth, I haven't insulted anyone, and if anyone is, then there are deeper issues going on that goes beyond some dude's opinion over fat tires. lol…..

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jason
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jason  - Sept. 24, 2015, 7:50 a.m.

To be fair, the Boost an + sized tires are new. There is also factory sponsorship that tends to dictate what bike you will ride (i.e.- Curtis Keene wanting to ride a 27.5, but Spec making him ride a 29er). Even taking into account Schwalbe tires being easily sliced, the unparralleled traction and rollover is game changing.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 24, 2015, 9:19 a.m.

Which are you - a beginner or an idiot?

(NOTE - I should point out that WP is a friend of mine which is why we are treating each other like shit.)

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Derp  - Sept. 24, 2015, 1:18 p.m.

a little better than a beginner and marginally smarter than a full on idiot (although my 12 year old daughter is already waaay smarter than me, so the jury is out).

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 23, 2015, 10:50 a.m.

What is the weight per tire?

What is the most similar 29'er tire (to compare weights of two tires with same outer diameter) in terms of knobs and construction?

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:45 p.m.

1200 grams and they are similar to the heavy casing enduro tires out there.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 23, 2015, 1:16 p.m.

What would be an example of a "heavy casing Enduro tire"?

For example my 29″x2.3 Magic Mary SG is ~1100g. There is no way you're getting an equivalent product in 27.5+ for +100g.

My Magic Mary TS Snake Skin 29×2.35 is ~900g I would believe that for +390g of rubber you could get the equivalent tire in +.

Just trying to compare apples to apples.

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jason
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jason  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:58 a.m.

I recieved that exact bike last Thursday. Your initial review is spot on - the bike just does things it simply should not be able to do. All my other bikes went on Craigslist - this is the only one I need.

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jared
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jared  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:48 a.m.

Some respect please in your Plus talkings for Surly, as they invented the genre with the Krampus and the 29×3 Knard.

I can't wait for the Stumpy review! I have that exact bike and model on order!

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 23, 2015, 7:29 a.m.

Yup. I've been on a Krampus for 3 years. Long before plus was a thing. Surly created the genre.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 24, 2015, 4:53 p.m.

Wasn't a history lesson Jared.

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neil-carnegie
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Neil Carnegie  - Sept. 23, 2015, 5:05 a.m.

Why would you add this next to your main steed Cam? If it's as good as made out, surely it would just become it instead?

(I've only had a quick play with the big tires, just two rides on the Stache 9 and was massively underwhelmed. It did mute out a lot of small noise, in a non rebound controlled bouncy castle sort of a way but grip levels on a greasy or muddy surface were scarily low. Overall I struggled to think of any descending situation where I wouldn't rather be on a normal 29er with aggro tires)

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 9:41 a.m.

It's early days Neil, and I've only ridden the Plus bike twice. Enough to know that I like it on Shore trails but certainly not enough to know how it will deal with other types of riding. I'm also hesitant because it seems slower in most situations than my Giant Reign. Climbing isn't bad, but the rotational weight is clearly higher, which makes acceleration slower as well. The 6Fattie is also less enthusiastic about getting off the ground based on my preliminary findings. Not vastly so but enough for me to miss my Reign. A factor to be considered is that our tester is Comp level and my Reign Advanced (26.5 lbs with pedals) matches up better with S-Works so it's not apples to apples. My last four rides have alternated between the Reign and the 6Fattie and I've enjoyed both. But my last ride, when things were snotty and we spent a lot of time on eroded off-camber root-fests, was on the Reign and the terrain and conditions had me pining for the 6Fattie.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:15 a.m.

I would be interested to read a comparison between the 6Fattie and an aggressive 29'er (same ~ outer diameter) rather than a 650b bike as the conditions you describe are a place I think 29'ers excell over 650b as well.

Overall wheel weight makes more sense to compare 27.5+ to 29ers as well since the total wheel sizes are most similar.

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satn
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satn  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:35 p.m.

I love my Evil Following with the Ibis 941 rims matted to Minions 2.4.

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neil-carnegie
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Neil Carnegie  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:59 p.m.

Fair dos. I should add I actually found the bike quite fun but like you, I'm pretty sure it was slower than my 'normal' bike both up and down. I think for low speed stuff in dry and loose terrain it could work really well, but I need any bike I own to perform in all conditions and it doesn't seem like these do. I'd love to be one of those folks who can own whole quivers of multi thousand pound bikes but finances dictate it's one at a time for me, and a normal 29 or 650 seems much more all round usable I think?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:54 p.m.

You should ride it Drew. While I agree that it's a more direct comparison for weight and diameter, the 6Fattie feels nothing like a 29er to me.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 23, 2015, 2:55 p.m.

Based on my experience thus far I'd agree with you Neil.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:18 p.m.

I would be super curious to try it Cam.

I think for some of us "older" guys it is hard to escape our frame of reference -- for example I road 2.7-2.8 tires on Mavic 321/729 for years and have ridden 3.0 Gazzis on Doubletracks -- and my opinion (having not ridden a new + bike) is that rubber compounds, tread designs, tire construction, specifically in the case of hardtail 29″ wheel, and huge suspension improvements negated the benefits (compared to weight/drag) of the huge rubber.

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