Looking ahead into 2017, we feel REALLY happy for mountain bikers. There will be so many different ways to satisfy your dirt cravings and you’ll want to explore them all. However, this particular blog posting will focus on the newest and most exciting mountain bike wheel size. The 27.5+, if you want to talk in imperial measurements, or the 650B+ if you wish to talk in metric terms. See how easy that was? We’ve just cleared up one of the things that confuse people when talking about plus sized bikes.
So, what is this plus sized thing all about anyways, and why is the bike industry so giddy over it? Over the past few years we’ve seen the adoption and increase in popularity of both the fatbike, with its 4 or 5 inch tires on 26 inch wheels, and the mid sized 27 inch wheeled mountain bike with its standard 2 inch tires.
Fatbikes offer previously unheard of levels of grip in any situation, be it attacking a difficult rooted climb in the middle of July, or trekking across a snow covered field in the dead of winter. There are those that are keen in their commitment to going full fat, but there are many cyclists that desire the benefits of extra tire volume but don’t feel the need for such a big tire.
Enter the 27.5+ tire. It’s the fatter one up there next to a standard 29 inch wheel with 2 inch wide tires. With its 3 inch wide tire installed on a wider version of the new 27.5 inch wheel, it provides far more grip and “float” on loose surfaces than a standard mountain bike tire, but doesn’t have the extra rolling resistance and weight penalty of some full fatbike setups. This big tire is still very nimble and trail capable all year round. The extra air volume really adds cushion to rougher trails and the tall height offers increased momentum for some surprising speed. It’s a little bit fat and a little bit skinny.
Guess what the coolest part of this whole entire wheel jumble is? The bike above is made by a brilliant American frame builder named Jeff Jones. www.jonesbikes.com This particular bike is set up with a 27.5+ wheel on the back….. and a full fatbike wheel up front. The wider tire out front will provide extra float in loose situations while the narrower back tire is lighter and more nimble. Here’s the thing. If you look at both wheels, the HEIGHT of the tires is the same. This is where it gets fun. If you own a full fatbike, you can use both 4 or 5 inch wide fatbike wheel setups, the new 27.5+ wheels, AND standard 29 inch wheels. Use them in matching pairs, or get creative and mix them up like Jeff did on the bike above. If you decide to go with one of the new 27.5+ bikes, you can use the original wheels or standard 29 inch wheels. This is because the overall tire heights are all the same and therefore the geometry of the bike is not adversely affected. Be aware that the various hubs have to be compatible with whatever frame and fork combo you use. In the graphic below, a fatbike wheel would be the same height as the 650B+ and 29in examples. Depending on which fatbike tire you used, there may be some variation in height, due to some sidewalls being taller than others.
It’s all pretty neat stuff. This is why we’re excited and this is why the industry is excited about the new 27.5+ wheel setup. If you’re a recreational trail rider looking to add some rougher trails and bigger hits to your afternoon ride, or extend your season into the winter months, then this new group of bikes is aimed squarely at you!