Is your brain in a tizz trying to keep up with the latest bike trends? Mine was, so I got Caleb to make some calls to his famous bike buddies at WTB and Fox Racing Shox on the top of the planet (they invent all this stuff) so I could get a handle on 27.5+ and what it actually means for you readers. In the last two weeks both RockShox and Fox have announced 27.5+ compatible products but frankly I had no idea what it really meant. I mean it's you who have to keep up with these trends, even if they are WRONG and will never catch on! Like that bloody 29er fad huh?
So, the good news (make that great) is you don’t really have to buy a fat-bike now as 27.5+ will meet most of your sand, snow and wet off-camber root issues and you won’t even cop much ribbing from your buddies as they too will soon be on 27.5+ as well. Sounds just like that 29er thing doesn’t it?
So what is it? In a nut shell it's a wider 27.5 rim (30-40mm) and a wider tyre on it (2.8-3.25 inches) so you get way better traction and a more comfortable ride. So simple really. The main problem is that they won't fit in your current bike. Luckily we now have Boost 148x12 rear and 110x15 front hubs coming along with wider forks from Fox and RockShox to match. So all we need is a few bike frame builders and tyre manufacturers to catch up and we’ll be trading in the new carbon 27.5 (which we just bought, as we traded in our 26er bike that we bought back after we sold it to get a 29er, but that just didn’t feel right) for a new skinnyfat bike (if you’ve just bought a fat bike, sell it now while you can).
Okay, so it’s not all that bad. Like I said, you can forget the fat bike which really is now for extreme backcountry sand/snow trekking and for bike rental companies as they really are a bit too extreme for your average trail rider out there, what with that huge rotational mass you have to deal with. 27.5+ is meeting that bike halfway, where you get the benefits of traction and comfort without sacrificing too much in the way of acceleration and sprightly handling.
Why now? It all came about when Mark Slate (founder of WTB) wanted to make his 29er rigid as much fun to ride as possible. Just chuck a set of 27.5 wheels on it with the fattest tyres that will fit in the forks and stays. Bingo! A 2.8” tyre is about the max for a 29er but the gods have decided that just a wee bit bigger is sooo much better so now we are waiting to see what the optimal tyre size will be.
Of course not only is the tyre wider but the circumference is greater too, in fact it'll be about the same as a standard 29er with 2.3” tyres, so now we really will be riding 29ers again. Crap! Things are really getting out of hand here. As much as you might be angry at the bike industry for making all this pain in your head not to mention your wallet, I remember we felt the same way about forks, then rear suspension, then disc brakes, then 29ers, then carbon, get my drift? Change is generally for the better and we just have to deal with the stress along the way. Check out those Amish dudes if you think progress is all a crock. I’m sure those Penny Farthings really were great fun.
I reckon the future will see most riders on a 27.5+ with maybe a spare wheelset in the shed with normal 2.35 tyres for race day, but those spare wheels will probably gather a fair bit of dust, because ultimately we ride for fun and that is where 27.5+ is heading.
Can you see yourself going Plus Sized?