I’ve been reading up about the latest from Sea Otter and the most obvious trend coming through is Plus bikes.
By now, I think we’re all familiar with the Plus bike concept – take a smaller wheel, a wider hub and add on a fatter tyre. The net result is a rolling diameter – broadly speaking – of the next wheel size up, so the most common Plus size bikes (27.5) come out about the same as a 29er but with greater tyre volume and hopefully, greater grip.
So far, the other Plus size has been 29 Plus which gives something close to a 31 inch wheel; that’s huge and the idea doesn’t seem to have caught on particularly, although never say never. D’Andy for example has been running a 3.0 Knard on his 29er singlespeed for a while and seems happy with it.
What’s interesting though is that there is also a trend at the ‘oldest’ wheel size to move toward Plus size tyres. I’ve read over the past few days of a couple of 26 inch Plus bikes sporting 3.0 WTB Ranger tyres on wide 26 inch rims. As you’d expect, this results in a wheel that rolls close enough to 27.5 to make no difference but which theoretically also allows a grippy yet flickable riding experience.
Of the two bikes I’ve noticed so far, the first is the steel framed Jamis Dragonfly (which has an equivalent in alloy called the Eden). They are Plus sized hardtails aimed at women and look pretty nice for any women out there with a yearning for niche, offering adjustable dropouts to allow all sorts of fine tuning and the use of regular 27.5 wheels and tyres too.
Bikerumor have all the details including this rather useful chart to show how the various wheel sizes compare.
The second bike is particularly interesting though; the Salsa Redpoint, as explained here on the Singletracks website who found this regular 27.5 trail bike sporting Plus sized WTB wheels and tyres. Available in carbon and alloy in a variety of build specs, the Redpoint offers ‘quelle moderne’ 67° ish geometry and 150mm of DW-link rear travel. It sounds an ideal candidate for 26 inch Plus – I like the sound of it a lot… and of course, the blue paint…
I guess 26 ain’t dead after all! All we need is a wider choice of tyres to broaden out the market and I’m sure people are working on that as we speak.
Looks like we could soon go back to move forward!