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  1. #1
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    2.5 vs. 2.8: Which helps a beginner more?

    I've had a Maxxis DHF 27.5 x 2.5 up front for about a year now, love that tire, still going strong after around 1000 miles. But the + tire craze got to me, and I just had to buy one for the front of my standard 27.5 bike. However, since I upgraded to a Suntour Raidon fork, I noticed that the arch is a bit lower than the stock XCT fork --- did they do this on purpose to prevent 27.5+ tires from fitting in this standard fork, so you have to drop an extra $100 on the 27.5+ fork? Anyway, I decided to play it conservative, and got a 26" rim and a 26x2.8 tire. It fit fine.

    Performance on some trails is just unreal. I can do choppy, rutted, super rocky switchback trails that I simply could not do before. And the ones I could do before, with the new 2.8 I'm often destroying my old times I did with the 2.5 on the front. The 2.8 just floats over rocks like they are not even there, like being on a hovercraft. Rollover is not an issue; the 2.8 is 27.3 inches high so roughly the same height as some 27.5x2.1 tires. Some trails there is no advantage, and in loose dirt it's about the same. So it really depends on the trail, either there is a big advantage with a 2.8, or there is a small/non-existent advantage. But it's never been significantly worse.

    So that makes me wonder, yes, a + tire helps out a beginner, but why would it not help out everyone? Wouldn't a pro like floating over everything too? Some of these trails are so rocky, there is no 'good' line to pick, you just have to mash through the rocks, so why not do it with a wider tire no matter what your skill level is? If someone falls in love with a + tire, does that hurt their skill development long-term? Is a skinnier tire better for learning even if it's learning the hard way? A few weeks back I tried to do a fairly easy trail with an older 26 x 1.95 tire up front and it just was not fun. It bounced around and was HARDER to steer, not easier, because the higher PSI needed hurt its handling. I don't even want to ride a tire under 2.4 up front now unless it's on pavement. So...are the pros and experienced riders out there that are still riding relatively skinny tires, like 2.1 to 2.3, are they doing that for speed, for the principle of it, because their local terrain is not rocky/loose dirt, or...why? Why not go wider if it helps everyone in their performance? Are they just being iconoclastic in bucking the trend or something?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    I've had a Maxxis DHF 27.5 x 2.5 up front for about a year now, love that tire, still going strong after around 1000 miles. But the + tire craze got to me, and I just had to buy one for the front of my standard 27.5 bike. However, since I upgraded to a Suntour Raidon fork, I noticed that the arch is a bit lower than the stock XCT fork --- did they do this on purpose to prevent 27.5+ tires from fitting in this standard fork, so you have to drop an extra $100 on the 27.5+ fork? Anyway, I decided to play it conservative, and got a 26" rim and a 26x2.8 tire. It fit fine.

    Performance on some trails is just unreal. I can do choppy, rutted, super rocky switchback trails that I simply could not do before. And the ones I could do before, with the new 2.8 I'm often destroying my old times I did with the 2.5 on the front. The 2.8 just floats over rocks like they are not even there, like being on a hovercraft. Rollover is not an issue; the 2.8 is 27.3 inches high so roughly the same height as some 27.5x2.1 tires. Some trails there is no advantage, and in loose dirt it's about the same. So it really depends on the trail, either there is a big advantage with a 2.8, or there is a small/non-existent advantage. But it's never been significantly worse.

    So that makes me wonder, yes, a + tire helps out a beginner, but why would it not help out everyone? Wouldn't a pro like floating over everything too? Some of these trails are so rocky, there is no 'good' line to pick, you just have to mash through the rocks, so why not do it with a wider tire no matter what your skill level is? If someone falls in love with a + tire, does that hurt their skill development long-term? Is a skinnier tire better for learning even if it's learning the hard way? A few weeks back I tried to do a fairly easy trail with an older 26 x 1.95 tire up front and it just was not fun. It bounced around and was HARDER to steer, not easier, because the higher PSI needed hurt its handling. I don't even want to ride a tire under 2.4 up front now unless it's on pavement. So...are the pros and experienced riders out there that are still riding relatively skinny tires, like 2.1 to 2.3, are they doing that for speed, for the principle of it, because their local terrain is not rocky/loose dirt, or...why? Why not go wider if it helps everyone in their performance? Are they just being iconoclastic in bucking the trend or something?
    I don't think so.

    Because nothing helps out everyone. Everyone is different.

    Maybe.

    Weight? Cost? Casing fragility?

    Maybe.

    Maybe.

    Because it works well for them.

    If this then that, sure. Sounds iffy.

    If this then that other thing sure. Also sounds iffy.

    HTH

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zowie View Post
    Maybe.

    Maybe.

    Maybe.
    I agree.

    I disagree.

    Not sure on this one.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by noapathy View Post
    I agree.

    I disagree.

    Not sure on this one.
    Fair enough.

    Preposterous!

    I can respect that opinion.

  5. #5
    All fat, all the time.
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    It's nice to have options!
    I can ride the same trail, but it's a different experience of I'm riding my normal plus bike, or the fat bike, or my old skinny 26x2.2's.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    ....

    So that makes me wonder, yes, a + tire helps out a beginner, but why would it not help out everyone? Wouldn't a pro like floating over everything too? ...
    Because terrains are different, a 2.8 is slower in many conditions, most likely less precise, and a pro floats over everything anyway. If you look at Enduro racing, or Downhill, few people actually use anything bigger than 2.4-2.6. Cross country racing is changing and frankly some courses are harder than many trails around, especially at the speeds these guys are going. Still people use narrow tires on those because they are faster (by hand full of seconds, but seconds matter). I personally use 2.35 on my HD3 and I am very happy. 2.8 is fine, but has its limitations.

  7. #7
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    I learned to stop imitating what pro's do a while ago and I've benefitted from it.

    Plus tyres are very terrain and setup specific as you elude to. Where I live and ride plus is awesome and I ride 2.8 front and 2.6 rear. But I've ridden places where my tyres are of no benefit (namely hero dirt) and in which case I'm sure when seconds count they're probably slowing me down slightly. Pro's are pro's because they can find traction in places most can't and use it in ways most can't, they'll however have less advantages of plus but increased drawbacks from tyre squirm and tyre rebound/rim strikes. Add to this the fact that many plus tyres aren't actually constructed for super agressive riding and the window of suitability is much smaller for top level elite riders.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Why not go wider if it helps everyone in their performance? Are they just being iconoclastic in bucking the trend or something?
    Because it doesn't.
    And not following a new trend would be the opposite of iconoclastic.

  9. #9
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    what helps a beginner doesn't necessarily benefit an experienced rider. In the case of plus tires it's often a detriment. Tire choice is dependent on where you're riding, as mentioned.

    DHFs are not good beginner tires.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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  10. #10
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    You can't ride plus tires really fast, they roll off the rims, tear sidewalls, bend rims, bounce and so on.

    Plus tires are great for beginners particularly on loose terrain, and fast riders out on an easy day. If you ride real fast on plus tires, the tires will literally roll off the wheel about 3 turns in.

    I've witnessed this many times. I even had a friend that had to sell a one month old plus bike for this reason. It wasn't even safe at his pace.

    Narrower tires cut in to the ground and stick.

    I'm shopping for a nice used plus bike for my wife's first bike. Should be perfect for her.

    I ride 2.5s on my Yeti 5.5 and love them.

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suns_PSD View Post
    You can't ride plus tires really fast, they roll off the rims, tear sidewalls, bend rims, bounce and so on.

    Plus tires are great for beginners particularly on loose terrain, and fast riders out on an easy day. If you ride real fast on plus tires, the tires will literally roll off the wheel about 3 turns in.

    I've witnessed this many times. I even had a friend that had to sell a one month old plus bike for this reason. It wasn't even safe at his pace.

    Narrower tires cut in to the ground and stick.

    I'm shopping for a nice used plus bike for my wife's first bike. Should be perfect for her.

    I ride 2.5s on my Yeti 5.5 and love them.

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
    So a 2.5" tire is perfect, but a 2.8" tire is unusable?

    While I don't disagree with your sentiment, I think that was much much more extreme than the real world.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  12. #12
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    I've been riding a 275+ bike pretty exclusively for the last couple season, on 3" tires.
    This season, I've been alternating between that bike and my old 26" warhorse with " tires.

    When running plus tires soft enough to take advantage of their 'floatiness', they suck at hard/fast cornering. If you jack up the pressure enough to avoid this, they bounce all over the place, and you're carrying all that extra weight for nothing. For a beginner or generally mellow rider like myself, they're great. For really pushing things, better off with smaller tires IME/O.
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  13. #13
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    My times are not slower on plus tires, so I enjoy the traction. I find very little difference between 2.5 and 2.8 though.

  14. #14
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    People haven't mentioned terrain yet.

    If you're riding on mainly dirt/hardpack/fire road/smooth singletrack, with some large rock obstacles - where it's more "undulation" than it is rock gardens - there's not gonna be much of an advantage to a 2.5/2.8/3.0. A "skinny" tire could be just as fast, or even faster.

    Each size has its pros and cons.

    One other thing that comes to mind is that in the 4x4 world, sometimes too wide is bad - again, it depends on the terrain. The concepts and principles are the same. A narrower tire may slip between rocks whereas a wider tire might be too wide to fit, suffering sidewall damage. While a wider tire can "squish" with lower pressure and contour to the terrain better, you technically have less pressure on the ground because it's spread over a wider contact patch...a smaller contact patch will have more pressure on the ground which in certain conditions could give the narrower tire *more* grip than the wider one. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it's true.

    But honestly, it's all just splitting hairs. There are other factors that have a greater impact on speed and performance than how many tenths of an inch wider one tire is compared to another.

    I recently went the 27.5+ route...I grew up racing on 26x1.95's, and remember when 2.1's were "fat tires." I like the idea of more air volume and a wider rim, as I'm ~230 lbs without gear, and I tend to be hard on rims. I'm still messing with tire pressures though...and so far, I find that the pressures that I like are considerably higher than the recommended pressures I've seen posted online. At 12-15psi, I feel the rim hitting curbs as I roll up them...too low for a bigger guy. lol.

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  15. #15
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    There's a lot of variables, but if top speed is not your only objective big tires generally make riding over roots and rocks easier.

  16. #16
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    It is nice to have so many tire choices these days. I experimented with plus tires on my hardtail for a bit and while I thought they were a fun alternative, it felt like I was cheating when I put the 2.35s back on. That said, I have a friend who is a solid rider that swears that he is much faster on his plus tires on the same trails I ride. So I guess whatever floats your boat is the way to go!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zowie View Post
    I don't think so.

    Because nothing helps out everyone. Everyone is different.

    Maybe.

    Weight? Cost? Casing fragility?

    Maybe.

    Maybe.

    Because it works well for them.

    If this then that, sure. Sounds iffy.

    If this then that other thing sure. Also sounds iffy.

    HTH

    Zowie, you like 26" tires, have you considered buying a modern-geo 27.5" bike and then adding 2.4 to 2.8 26" tires to it? I really like being a bit lower to the ground and with the seat down it's pretty fun.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfinator View Post
    So a 2.5" tire is perfect, but a 2.8" tire is unusable?

    While I don't disagree with your sentiment, I think that was much much more extreme than the real world.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
    A 2.5 tire has thicker sidewalls and threading in the casing. Plus tires are more supple so they squirm and bounce of object too much when going fast.. They are good for beginners and slow riders. If you want more from your 2.5 tires and ride fast look into cushcore.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    A 2.5 tire has thicker sidewalls and threading in the casing. Plus tires are more supple so they squirm and bounce of object too much when going fast.. They are good for beginners and slow riders. If you want more from your 2.5 tires and ride fast look into cushcore.
    Not really related to my point.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Zowie, you like 26" tires, have you considered buying a modern-geo 27.5" bike and then adding 2.4 to 2.8 26" tires to it? I really like being a bit lower to the ground and with the seat down it's pretty fun.
    If they don't interest me stock, I won't buy them and throw parts at them.

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