|Less "fat"- more "mtb".|
This is almost the case again, only now it isn't about which suspension design is going to end up being "best", but what wheel size, and even more than that, how wide and voluminous a tire are we going to end up with.
Fat bikes are part of this, but so are the 29+ and the 27.5+ bikes. Big, voluminous tires on wider rims are all the rage now. Regular 2.4" tires, which were considered huge only 5-6 years ago, are now seen as "ho-hum" skinnies. Even I have caught myself looking at 3.8"-4.0" fat bike tires and thinking they were "small". Then I remember when I built up the Snow Dog in 2011 and thought those 3.8" Larrys were humongous!
So, what the heck is going on here? Do we really need these monster truck tires? I've been having several interesting conversations with folks in different parts of the cycling world that have given me a lot to think about. Here's where I think all this is coming from and going to......
|29+: Fat and TALL!!|
If there was one thing that 29"ers existence did for mountain biking, it was to show the mtb tribes that there might be better alternative wheel and tire sizes to consider. Several years later, the 27.5er size was floated, then fat bikes rose to prominence, and it was on from that point. Surly has been a rabble rouser in the alt tire size scene with its 27.5 sized 26 inch based tires and of course, the 29+ tires which debuted on the Krampus.
Things in the mtb world tend to be cyclical with regard to vast choices. It seems you see tons of innovations and then a weeding out process. For instance, has anyone seen any Allsop stems or Boulder Defiants lately? I rest my case...... well, not really!
This just to point out the folowing: Expect the tire sizes to weed out to something "in the middle". Fat bikes and 29+ are on the extremes. XC sized rubber in 27.5"er and 29"er sizes is on the conservative end. Somewhere in between I feel things will settle out, and that "somewhere", in my opinion, is 27.5+.
|Vee Tire Trax Fatty 27.5 X 3"|
What if you could get some of those "fat bike benefits" in a slightly lighter, more traditional bike dimension friendly package? Fat tires have inherently attractive qualities for the off roader. Volume means lower air pressures which gain you comfort, traction for days, and stability which bodes for more confident, faster railing of terrain. However; fat bike tires, rims, and their dimensions push the weight limits and biomechanic boundaries a bit too far for some folks. Not to mention the special designs for frames and suspension bits.
29+ showed us that going slightly skinnier was a great idea to cut down on the "fat" and super wide bottom brackets. However; the huge diameter of these wheels, (something over 31" in most cases), is ponderous and just too big for a lot of people to have a bicycle designed around them. Enter B+/27.5+ tires and wheels.
Understanding that 29"er wheels have already had every conceivable type of mtb designed around their diameter, the 29-ish diameter size of the 27.5+ wheel is an easier thing to accommodate for. It would fit a wider slice of the mtb populace than 29+, and it can be had in 2.8"-3.0" widths already. Many current 29"er hardtails already exist which would work with the wheel size and full suspension designs could be executed without too much trouble going forward.
Plus sized benefits with fat bike tire traits in a package that is already somewhat familiar to current mountain bikers? Sounds like a plan to me.