Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Key trends at Sea Otter: Plus bikes

Posted by Matt | April 25, 2016 | 7 comments so far

Jamis Dragonfly 26 inch Plus bike

Jamis Dragonfly 26 inch Plus bike

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.

Jamis- understanding the 26 inch Plus tyre size

Jamis – understanding the 26 inch Plus tire size

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.

Salsa Redpoint can take a 26 inch Plus tyre

Salsa Redpoint can take a 26 inch Plus tyre

Looks like we could soon go back to move forward!

Filed under Mutterings, Trends in April 2016


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 7 comments on ‘Key trends at Sea Otter: Plus bikes’

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  1. Elliot says:

    There was me thinking Salsa had thought carefully and decided some extra mud clearance would be useful…what a silly idea. Color is very nice though 🙂

    Dandy was obviously years ahead of the curve with his Surly!

  2. Andrew akak says:

    I was going to say that D’Andy is only missing a 27.5+ wheel for a full set, maybe he could get one in the back of the Cannondale.

    The Jamis is a nice looking bike, not keen on the look of the Salsa.

    I’m still getting the hang of running 2.35 on a wide rim, it will support a low pressure but the tyre’s shoulder blocks create a lot of drag forcing you to add more air. It looks like the plus tyres get around this problem by not having any tread to speak of which is a bit of a doubtful tradeoff?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Andrew, I understand what you’re saying about tyres on wide rims.

      My limited experience so far with the Pine Mountain suggests tyre pressure is very critical, I’m running 8psi at the front and about 11 at the rear; the difference of a psi or two is quite obvious. I’ve bought a Digital Topeak gauge to make sure I’m getting things right.

      Also, I can’t comment too much about the tyres as its pretty dry out there at the moment. The Kendas have quite a round, low-ish profile which seems to suit current conditions but I’d like to try the new Maxxis Rekon+ when they’re available as they are triple compound and relatively light 2.8s (780g). Win, win.

      Even with a low tread profile the low pressure and large contact patch seems to provide a lot of grip. I think the 2.35 on a wide rim is probably not an ideal solution.

      • Jamboy says:

        Matt. I’m running 17psi on the Kendas for fear of pine needle punctures. Just wondering if you’ve had any at the lower pressure? Maybe not an issue if it’s named after a mountain full of them?!

        • Matt says:

          I guess tyre pressure depends so much on the terrain and rider weight. I’m running the lower pressures I mention and haven’t had problems with anything like pinch flatting and would say 17psi is quite high, but then you know better yourself and your trails.

          The tyres seems pretty robust so I’d not worry personally about the trail conditions in terms of punctures. With large volume, low pressure tyres I think 1psi can make a big difference so it’s a case of careful experimentation to get what works for you I think.

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