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  1. #1
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    27.5+ vs 29 tires

    I am a newbie to MTB. I rode my two past seasons with a Walmart bike - green and blue trails.

    I am looking to get a new bike for this season, and with my budget in consideration and also 'test riding' aspect of it, I am pretty much limited to what I can get.

    My budget is less than 1500 and obviously I am forced for a hard tail. With that said, good hard tail bikes at this level are either Trek Roscoe 7, Specialzied Fuse, or Salsa Rangefinder.

    The challenge I am facing here is my local stores (Twincities, MN - the trails are rooty and rocky), do not have any 29ers in those models and all have 27.5+ tires.

    I read a lot of posts on differences between 27.5 and 29ers Pros and Cons. Obviously 29 gives me much smoother ride because of its rollover capacity on rocks. However, I could not find anyone comparing 27.5+ with 29ers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I am planning to stay on Green/ Blue Trails, and improve my speed, berms and slight jumping. If anyone is from MN, who tried both these tire types, the trails I am referring to are majorly Elmcreek, Lebanon, and Murphy Park.

  2. #2
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    No, I wouldn't characterize 29ers as offering a "smoother ride" than 27+. If anything, the extra volume/cush of the plus tires will give a smoother ride than regular 29er tires. A couple things happen with those differences.

    When you increase tire volume, your tire gives you a larger footprint on the ground. This helps a bit when you're dealing with soft/unstable surfaces like sand, small loose rocks, etc at low speeds. You get a little extra flotation so you ride on top, rather than digging in. As I said earlier, tire volume does well to mute small, high frequency bumps and offers a generally smoother ride at low speeds (think of things like roots and small rocks and such). Because you've got more rubber in contact with the ground, you also usually have more traction (with some exceptions I'll mention later). Beginners often like bigger tires for many of these characteristics.

    Bigger tires do introduce some negatives, though. First off, the bigger tires and wider rims you see on plus bikes add wheel weight, which can give the bike a bit of a plodding feel, and not as much snappy acceleration. Riders who like to stand up and go fast oftentimes don't like that. Also at higher speeds, the bigger tires often show some sidewall instability in corners unless they're ridden at higher pressures that start to take away some of the benefits I mentioned earlier. The extra rubber in contact with the ground is also not necessarily desirable in all conditions. Loose-over-hard type conditions being a particularly troublesome one. Those are tough conditions for any bicycle tire, but the more rubber in contact with the ground, the more likely you are to stay on top of the loose material on top that's unstable and has a tendency to break loose suddenly.

    Another thing bigger tires tend to do at high speeds is to have undamped rebound. Basically, bouncing. Ride fast over chattery terrain and the bounce from the tires can make for some undesirable handling. I have a full suspension fatbike and it does this. Granted, with 4" tires, it does it to a greater degree than a plus tired bike will. But for my fatbike, fast chattery downhills (a few in particular in the western NC mountains - to be clear, not something I've really encountered in the midwest - there are descents here that are sustained fast and steep grades that go for a few miles) are a little bit terrifying because of the complex combination of undamped tire bounce and damped suspension trying to absorb the hits.

    27+ tires DO have a slightly smaller diameter than 29ers in the 2.5-ish range, which is what a lot of people are riding these days. I doubt as a beginner you'll notice the difference in diameter with all the other things going on that'll catch your attention.

    The nice thing about these two sizes is that a bike that comes with either 27+ or 29er wheels/tires will pretty much be able to fit the other size. So if you buy one and decide to change later to get some different ride characteristics, then you can buy wheels/tires in the other size and just drop them in. There's a couple possible reasons why you're only seeing frames with plus tires. One being that they're popular in your area, and the shops are stocking what sells most. Another being that you're seeing an issue with the effects coronavirus pandemic has had on supply chains. It's possible the shops have sold out of their 29ers and are selling what they've got. They could be hesitant to order new floor stock because of a drop in sales.

    I ride a Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead, which offers the same sort of flexibility. I bought my frame used from a guy semi locally. I test rode it in 27+ configuration (the way he had it built), but when I built it up myself, I built it with 29er wheels. Since I already have a big-tired bike, I was more interested in the 29er wheel size.

  3. #3
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    Too much negative with b+ going on there lol.

    The negatives for 27.5+ come into play with very high speed, highly experienced riders. I've been riding again for the better part of a decade and 27.5+ beats out 29 in every way for me. FOR MY PREFERENCES AND RIDING STYLE. 27.5x2.8 is the skinniest tire I ride. I have a new stumpjumper that I converted to b+ (just needed new wheels and tires).

    Your due north of me and there is a reason why the entry bikes are b+. Because they are much more forgiving and perform better in those trail conditions for newer riders. More traction, smoother feeling ride.

    There are drawbacks, but I will tell you some are not near what these forums make them out to be. I only rode 29ers till I saw a b+ hardtail I really liked and decided to try.

    Basically, STOP READING ALL THE FORUM HATE FOR B+. They arent for everyone. But I know many who have them and love them just as I do. Some also have 29ers, some it's their only bike.

    It comes down to ignoring opinions, finding the useful info out of it (the actual issues like bouncy tire syndrome which isnt bad at all, try riding a fat bike), TEST RIDING and picking what you like.

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  4. #4
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    The negatives for 27.5+ come into play with very high speed, highly experienced riders.
    I don't think it necessarily needs to be with highly experienced riders. But yes, as I mentioned (more than once), high speeds are the predominant factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    It comes down to ignoring opinions, finding the useful info out of it (the actual issues like bouncy tire syndrome which isnt bad at all, try riding a fat bike), TEST RIDING and picking what you like.
    I don't think ignoring others' opinions is very constructive, either. Informed opinions are useful. Do you want to take them as gospel? Of course not. But don't ignore them, either.

    If plus bikes other than the Krampus (which I test rode and didn't care for) existed when I bought my Bucksaw, I'd be on one of those, instead. At the time it was too new and didn't fit what I was looking for. With the improvements since, it would suit my riding better, especially in summertime, as compared to the fatbike. My Pedalhead in 27+ trim was still an extremely fun bike to ride. It why I bought the frame. The 27+ tire size just wasn't what I was looking for at the time. I can put a 27+ wheelset on it whenever I want. It's not a life or death situation, and OP would probably enjoy a bike in either arrangement.

    Test riding is always the best, ideal course of action when deciding on a bike. But that's a whole lot less feasible right now considering how bike shop business has changed during the pandemic.

  5. #5
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    In all honesty, you can't go wrong with either wheel size. If you really like a certain bike, I would buy it regardless of wheel size. I've ridden both wheel sizes over the last 6 years and I've always adapted t to how they roll on the trail. Don't let the wheel size debate throw you off track. Either wheel size can roll on dirt and that's all that matters.

    In your budget range, check out the Kona Honzo, Diamondback Sync'r, and the Salsa Timberjack. If you want to experience both sets of wheels, add the Timberjack to your list. The frame can accommodate both wheel sizes. I'm running 27.5 x 3" on my TJ right now and I have a 29er wheelset inbound with 2.4" tires installed. I'm also in the process of buying another cassette and brake rotors so I can just plug and play. Why do I want both wheel sizes in my garage? I want to add variety to my ride! Having one bike that can take both wheel sizes can save you a few bucks in buying another bike.

    Salsa has a sale on the TJ right now. You can get some models for $1299. I already have 4 bikes in my garage and ran out of room so having a bike that can use either wheel size is perfect!
    Cannondale Synapse Neo | Salsa Timberjack

  6. #6
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    The reality of bike shop instock selection is the bikes are often leftovers that haven't sold as quickly as other models.
    At this time of year you can find brand new stock also ordered by the shop.
    But, if you ask, a shop can check the manufacturers warehouse stock from all the different locations.
    They can also check for future anticipated delivery dates for out-of-stock models and sizes not at any warehouse.
    This'll allow you to get the bike that's best for you long term.
    The Fuse Comp and Expert wit the split chainstay are a discontinued frame design. No sale for me.

    The Fuse Comp 29 compares with the Santa Cruz Chameleon D build aluminum. I like the R carbon maybe a 19 less 35%.
    https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-US/chameleon
    20 off is a possible negotiating goal when discussing price only with a manager on SC and Specialized. for cash.
    Possible 1/3 of managers may negotiate. So keep trying.

  7. #7
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    "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Harold again."

    Regarding your first reply, another great post, Harold! Thank you for level-headed information on the subject.
    The revolution starts now
    When you rise above your fear
    And tear the walls around you down
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I don't think it necessarily needs to be with highly experienced riders. But yes, as I mentioned (more than once), high speeds are the predominant factor.



    I don't think ignoring others' opinions is very constructive, either. Informed opinions are useful. Do you want to take them as gospel? Of course not. But don't ignore them, either.

    If plus bikes other than the Krampus (which I test rode and didn't care for) existed when I bought my Bucksaw, I'd be on one of those, instead. At the time it was too new and didn't fit what I was looking for. With the improvements since, it would suit my riding better, especially in summertime, as compared to the fatbike. My Pedalhead in 27+ trim was still an extremely fun bike to ride. It why I bought the frame. The 27+ tire size just wasn't what I was looking for at the time. I can put a 27+ wheelset on it whenever I want. It's not a life or death situation, and OP would probably enjoy a bike in either arrangement.

    Test riding is always the best, ideal course of action when deciding on a bike. But that's a whole lot less feasible right now considering how bike shop business has changed during the pandemic.
    Your right, ignoring is the wrong way to phrase that. Especially seeing as my post came after yours so came across wrong. Wasnt directed at your post beyond harassing you about being so negative lol, yours is more fact than opinion and as always more level headed than most here.



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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocimetry View Post
    My budget is less than 1500 and obviously I am forced for a hard tail. With that said, good hard tail bikes at this level are either Trek Roscoe 7, Specialzied Fuse, or Salsa Rangefinder.

    The challenge I am facing here is my local stores (Twincities, MN - the trails are rooty and rocky), do not have any 29ers in those models and all have 27.5+ tires.

    I read a lot of posts on differences between 27.5 and 29ers Pros and Cons. Obviously 29 gives me much smoother ride because of its rollover capacity on rocks. However, I could not find anyone comparing 27.5+ with 29ers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I am planning to stay on Green/ Blue Trails, and improve my speed, berms and slight jumping. If anyone is from MN, who tried both these tire types, the trails I am referring to are majorly Elmcreek, Lebanon, and Murphy Park.
    Iím in the TC area and not sure where you are looking for bikes but Angry Catfish is a Salsa dealer and has a bunch of 29 and 27.5+ Salsa Rangefinders in stock, at least according to Salsaís website. They also show a few Timberjacks as well, another great bike.

    QBP, Salsaís parent company, is also based out of Bloomington and AC can get stuff in days easily if they donít have it in store. Great shop, great people there, ask them, theyíll work with you and your budget and fit you to a bike that works for you.

    Anything you listed will work great for the area, I prefer 29ers over the 27.5+ but itís really whatever works for you, a good shop will let you test ride bikes and fit you to what works. The Roscoe is a decent bike but the 141mm QR rear wheel makes it a bit tricky to upgrade wheels and itís a tick less future proof. Still a great bike, however, and Gateway Cycle or any of the Freewheel shops are decent to deal with.

    Good luck in your search!!!

  10. #10
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    For an entry bike On a beginner, I would do 27.5+. This tire provides some suspension compliance that higher end forks would provide. The result is Better performance at a lower price point. A narrow high pressure 29er will send everything into your hands and itís not fun chattering both ends on a hard tail.

    Make sure the shop converts to tubeless in the deal. Some cheaper tires canít convert and this will raise its ugly head before you buy. Cheaper tires have crap rubber durometer and really suck for grip. Eg wtb rangers are wire bead on some bikes.

    35mm or even 40mm id rims are necessary for 2.8Ē

    Also Iíd take an 11 spd bike over a 12 spd bike. Most entry bikes have very heavy cassettes. Why add a giant heavy ring you may never need in your area.

    That should get you started

    Remember to Be courteous and ride safely for yourself and others

  11. #11
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    Thank you very much for all the replies.
    I was only able to test ride a Trek Roscoe with 27.5 x 2.8 tires. It did feel heavy. HOwever I have to test drive other bikes.

    I did extensive online research on availability of bikes over this week (in my budget)

    These are the tire sizes.

    Trek Roscoe - 27.5 X 2.8
    Specialized Fuse - 27.5 X3.0
    Canondale Trail/ Cujo - 27.5/29 X 2.3
    Diamond back SyncR - 27.5 X2.8 (Non in Twincites)
    Coop REI - DRT2.1 - 27. 5 X 2.8

    Salsa TimberJack - 29 X 2.6 and 27.5 X2.8

    Kona Honzo - 29 X 2.25
    Giant Fathom 1/2 - 27.5 X 2.6

    Apparently most of them moved to plus sized tires. Which is surprising.

    @miweber - Thank you for your MN specific reply.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocimetry View Post
    Thank you very much for all the replies.
    I was only able to test ride a Trek Roscoe with 27.5 x 2.8 tires. It did feel heavy.
    you could run 27.5 x 2.6 or narrower tires if rims inner width (not ID!) is 30mm or narrower. If rims are wider than 30 than going belowr 2.6 width while possible isnt recommended.
    I personally have settled on 2.6ís, good split between weight, traction, and cush for me, although i might try a narrower rear.
    Friend is on wide 29ís and he mows through stuff fast, but all of our crew rides the same trails on everything from 26Ē to 700c. Differences for the most part are subtle, you wont notice until you get more advanced.
    Bottom line Is test ride bikes and get one that feels good to you.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocimetry View Post
    I am a newbie to MTB. I rode my two past seasons with a Walmart bike - green and blue trails.

    I am looking to get a new bike for this season, and with my budget in consideration and also 'test riding' aspect of it, I am pretty much limited to what I can get.

    My budget is less than 1500 and obviously I am forced for a hard tail. With that said, good hard tail bikes at this level are either Trek Roscoe 7, Specialzied Fuse, or Salsa Rangefinder.

    The challenge I am facing here is my local stores (Twincities, MN - the trails are rooty and rocky), do not have any 29ers in those models and all have 27.5+ tires.

    I read a lot of posts on differences between 27.5 and 29ers Pros and Cons. Obviously 29 gives me much smoother ride because of its rollover capacity on rocks. However, I could not find anyone comparing 27.5+ with 29ers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I am planning to stay on Green/ Blue Trails, and improve my speed, berms and slight jumping. If anyone is from MN, who tried both these tire types, the trails I am referring to are majorly Elmcreek, Lebanon, and Murphy Park.
    I ride one of each, 27.5+ (2.8) 2019 Chameleon and 2016 29er Specialized Stumpjumper.

    Some trails I am equally as fast on. Trail conditions dictate speed for me. I've jumped on the Chamelon with being pretty familiar with it, but not long after I had it, and PR'd some pretty rough trails, and PR'd some faster trails with flow to them....just less chunk really. Then I'd get out on the stumpy and PR again. Conditions were good those days is what I attribute the faster days to for either bike.

    I've had a few faster climbing days on the Chameleon but that's rare. The wider tire is power hungry, but it also provides great traction. When conditions are great I can do better on the 2.8" tire climbing the steep stuff (like so slow you are on the verge of losing balance). The wide tire just digs in. As long as I have the legs that day, I can get through it, otherwise the skinny (2.3) tire is easier on the legs, however if it's on the same dry dry dry day, I will slip out more easily.

    A friend of mine recently bought the Fuse and seems to like it so far. I've only been with him on 2 or 3 rides though. He's coming from an older geometry, XC type, hard tail that was pieced together.

    I now choose not to ride my Chameleon on the super chunky trails. Or if I am with riders who decide to ride that trail, I'll go slower. I've gotten some pretty nasty rim dings on the Chameleon because of the low tire pressures. I'd like to say that's the reason for the pinch flat too (rough and low PSI), however I've also pinch flatted my 29er (both tubeless).

    With your budget, you'll need to find a used full suspension that has been very well maintained, but older (affordable the older it is) or the bikes you've listed.

    Learn to ride the hard tail and you'll be every bit as fast as you'd be on a full suspension. Don't plan to ride it quite as aggressively on more technical area, but you will get there soon. "Aggressive Riding" is relative to the individual as well. You may already be better than me, who knows, and you could be as fast or faster on a hard tail than I am on the full suspension.

    When I race training about a year ago, I would ride a trail that is about 8.5 miles long in one direction. Twisty but not technical. You can go as fast as your legs will allow. It was dry, loose turns. I was within a minute of time for the 17-18 mile ride on each of my bikes. The 27.5+ was ideal, just ride it fast. The wheels took care of any rocks and hits. On my old 26" hard tail, this trail kicked my butt. As a matter of fact, I rode this trail, along with another of the same terrain fora total of 25-30 miles and vowed to never ride that trail again until I get a full suspension.
    It's a "sit down and pedal" the whole time trail. Occasional standing over some rocks. the 26" hard tail was so uncomfortable. The 27.5+ was a dream.
    My ex girlfrined and I used to ride that trail all the time, I only had my full suspension stump jumper at the time. Way too much bike for a joy ride with the girl. Twenty miles of chain wear, etc for an easy trail.

    What I suggest to you though is buy a bike with the best fork you can get. You'll outgrow a crappy fork in no time. You need good damping and adaptability.
    I have the middle level Chameleon because I wasn't going to spend that much money on a bike with a fork half as capable as what I'm already riding on my other bike.

  14. #14
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    you can get a Vitus Mythique for around 1500. It is a full suspension bike

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocimetry View Post
    Thank you very much for all the replies.
    I was only able to test ride a Trek Roscoe with 27.5 x 2.8 tires. It did feel heavy. HOwever I have to test drive other bikes.

    I did extensive online research on availability of bikes over this week (in my budget)

    These are the tire sizes.

    Trek Roscoe - 27.5 X 2.8
    Specialized Fuse - 27.5 X3.0
    Canondale Trail/ Cujo - 27.5/29 X 2.3
    Diamond back SyncR - 27.5 X2.8 (Non in Twincites)
    Coop REI - DRT2.1 - 27. 5 X 2.8

    Salsa TimberJack - 29 X 2.6 and 27.5 X2.8

    Kona Honzo - 29 X 2.25
    Giant Fathom 1/2 - 27.5 X 2.6

    Apparently most of them moved to plus sized tires. Which is surprising.

    @miweber - Thank you for your MN specific reply.
    You need to be careful about attributing a total bike weight just to the wheels/tires. There are some major contributors to bike weight that have nothing to do with the tires. Cheap bikes have cheap forks, and the recommendation to seek out the best suspension you can is a solid one. Not only can you save POUNDS of total bike weight by moving from an entry level fork to something better, but with better damping, you can get a fork that helps you instead of fights you. Also, bikes with cheap drivetrains are going to have very porky cassettes, especially if you're looking at low end 1x drivetrains. Then there's little weight contributions from everything else.

    So even while it's true that a plus wheel/tire combo will be heavier than a 29er one, it's a subtle difference, and in order to control for all the other confounding factors, you need to be able to compare the exact same bike at the exact same build level with the two wheel sizes to really identify how the two wheel sizes affect how the bike rides.

    For you, I would say don't bother with too many details. They're not important at this stage. What you need to be doing is simply deciding if the bike is fun and feels fairly comfortable to ride. You want a bike that you'll want to ride. That's all. If looking at used bikes, you also need to consider the condition of the bike. You can dive into details when you have more experience, stronger preferences, and better skills.

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