I’ve been riding 29×2.8 tires on i35 rims for a while now (and loving them) and I’ve been wondering why Plusbikes aren’t more popular and why more mountain bikes don’t come with 2.8 tires. I’ve been wondering what other people know that I don’t! After checking out the “Fastest tyre” article, I can take some comfort that it isn’t me! This article provides some evidence that 2.8 tires really do work well. It’s also validates my experience that 2.6 tires don’t work as well as 2.8 tires.
I think a lot depends on the type of trail, how you ride them, and, of course, personal preference. For me, I prefer the feel I get from 2.4’s or 2.5’s when I’m riding technical fixed rocky/rooty stuff. Especially on technical steep climbs and descents. No, I may not ride those kind of trails every day, but maybe at least 2-3 times a week, so that’s what I plan for. I personally feel I have more control, and can manipulate the bike easier when things are steep and technical. And, for me, bikes feel more playful in non plus form. I like playful. Probably why I stick with 27.5’s as well. It’s all preference for me.
Bigger tires also mean dragging around a lot more weight. For short durations, that’s probably not a big deal as was shown in the tests. But for longer rides with lots of climbs, the extra rotational weight can become a factor. That’s why World Cup XC racers are still running <2.3 tires and that is where rolling resistance matters the most. Some of the Specialized factory racers are running 2.1 tires and that is a team that does a lot of testing. Also, for off-road riding, tire pressure, tread pattern, and tire suppleness also matter a lot.
I thought this was a very interesting test and I appreciated the method he used to compare the performance of the tires. The short of it for me, however, is that it just doesn’t jive with my own experiences out on the trail… and my Strava times confirm that. What I find is that getting the bike up to speed <span style=”display: inline !important; float: none; background-color: transparent; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia,’Times New Roman’,’Bitstream Charter’,Times,serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 24px; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px; word-wrap: break-word;”>(acceleration) </span>with plus tires takes more effort, energy and thus time. I’ve heard from others that once the bike is rolling at speed it may hold that speed with less effort – that may be true but it’s hard for me to tell. I could see where it’s possible that it may be more beneficial to riders that have very strong lower body strength and can generate significant power to the pedals quickly but that’s just not my body type. I think you also have to question why the pros aren’t riding them… their livelihood is directly tied to how fast they can go.
Type of surface seems to dictate tire preference the most, but also terrain, goal in riding (is speed your goal?) and so many other factors. Riding on the Front Range of CO with a ton of loose scree and rock, for myself I’m guessing that a plus tire might be best though I haven’t ridden on a plus yet. I’m getting close to purchasing a new bike, and the Ibis HD4 with the 2.6 on their extra-wide rim looks quite interesting and getting good reviews of a good balance between stability and get up and good. The diameter of the tire is important but the width of the rim comes into play of course.