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Monday, April 27, 2015

What Does it all Mean? 27.5+ and 29+ Bikes

Your guide to the fattening


They say that there are seven stages of grief. I went through all of them when I heard that plus-size tires would be the ‘next big thing’ in the bike industry. You know–shock and denial, pain and guilt, angry-as-hell muttering and throwing of crap at the wall.
Photo by Van Swae
Photo by Van Swae
But you can’t stay mad forever. I mean you can, but if you do you usually wind up living under a bridge, coaching a troupe of dancing rats. So, I resigned myself to getting some answers to the following questions:
What the hell is “plus-size” anyway?
What are these bikes supposed to do well?
What are their limitations?
What kind of rider might like a plus-size bike?
Is this the end of ‘normal’ mountain bikes?
Why are we also getting new fork and rear axle standards? 
Ryan Palmer, Bike magazine’s gear editor, and I headed out on a cross-country journey to find those answers. It was like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or maybe “The Fellowship of the Ring” minus the orcs and the foxy elf chick. We wound up shooting four hours of video–a mere 12 minutes of which made it into our “Blueprint” video.
Our goal with the video was to cover the broad brushstrokes. What follows are some of the more tech-oriented details–stuff that matters but couldn’t fit within the video without us making some kind of three-hour epic about spoke bracing angles and legally-mandated tire clearances in France. No one–not even the geekiest of you–would have watched that crap.
WTB's Trail Blazer 2.8 tire sure wasn't the first "plus size" tire, but it kicked off the 27.5+ boom that's making waves now.
WTB’s Trail Blazer 2.8 tire sure wasn’t the first “plus size” tire, but it kicked off the 27.5+ boom that’s making waves now.

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