A new tire size is coming and it doesn’t suck

What the hell is mid plus?

27.5 29er Company Spotlight Plus Tires
Specialized Enduro 27.5

The new Specialized Enduro ships with house made 2.6” tires.

Mtbr: What type of rider will benefit most from this tire size?

ENVE: Plus tires show their strengths in flatter and slower terrain. People are riding very fast on plus, so I wouldn’t say exactly that 2.6 is for faster riders, but on steeper terrain and hard packed corners, you really need more knob traction than casing traction.

Ibis: Someone who is looking for an extremely versatile tire across a lot of different riding situations. We’ve found that the 2.6″ is suited for most types of trail riding. And now that we have a lot of rim choices in varying and most importantly wider widths, 2.6 tires on 35mm rims deliver what we think is an ideal combination.

Maxxis: Higher volume tires work much better in softer or bumpier conditions. The added volume can offer both a flotation effect on soft loamy conditions as well as a slight damping effect to absorb trail chatter before the suspension can react.

Specialized: I don’t really think there’s just “one type” of rider who necessarily benefits from a 2.6”, just like there is no “one type” of rider that benefits from 2.3” or 3.0”, or 29” wheels. Take a look around on the trail and you’ll see a wide variety of tire and wheel sizes, all riding the same trail. I think a lot of different riders see a lot of different benefits. People have different things they want out of a tire: rolling resistance, flat protection, traction in dry, traction in wet, confidence in rough terrain, the old “flickability” argument, etc. No other industry makes such a fuss over the alleged correlation between the diameter and width of tires, and the ability to have an enjoyable experience. Sports cars, for example, have myriad wheel and tire sizing options yet they all feel relatively similar to each other and are a blast to drive.

Vittoria: I think anyone who is an enthusiast, and not looking to race XC, will have fun on this size. The same is true of Plus bikes in general, but the 2.6 will offer just a bit more of a traditional feel.

Ibis Mojo Plus

Ibis was an early proponent of ultra wide rims, which helped popularize larger volume tires.

Mtbr: Where do you see the 2.6” tire fitting into the landscape? Will they become the new normal on short travel trail bikes, heavy hitting enduro bikes, etc…

ENVE: Tires are about terrain, anyone looking for a winner or a one tire/wheel size to rule them all has been reading too many quiver killer reviews. Landscape is the key word, what works awesome on one trail may be handicapped on another. 29ers brought traction, and Fat bikes introduced flotation to mountain bikes. Now riders have the chance to refine the elements to match their personal needs and style. BS aside, trail riders – in particular aggressive trail riders (who may or may not participate in competitions classified as ‘enduro’) will love them.

Ibis: They’ll be the new normal on trail bikes. They’ll only make it into enduro if we also get reinforced casings (like we see on the 2.5″ tires). Weight could be a buzz kill with the bigger tires though.

Maxxis: Tire size isn’t very indicative of a particular style of riding or type of bike these days. As seen with the full range of plus bikes from short-travel hardtails to long-travel enduro bikes, 2.6” will eventually encompass a similarly wide range of riding styles. We initially launched our WT design using the most aggressive tires in our lineup but will be working down the line to our trail and cross country tires soon.

Specialized: Well, for starters, they fit nicely between 2.3” and 2.8”. I think 3.0” tires opened a lot of people’s eyes as to how much confidence can be had with a high-volume tire. As people get to try different sizes and see the differences, our guess is that things may swing back towards the middle a bit. But take all of this with a grain of salt, of course because even though I see no questions here about 26” tires, we still sell plenty of them in the aftermarket.

Vittoria: I honestly think it’s a way for frame designers to increase the useful range of any bike. The lemonade I make out of all these new standards is that even simple hardtails are now much more versatile in terms of terrain types that they can tackle.

Mtbr: Is 2.6 an indication that the “plus” movement may have taken things too far?

ENVE: It’s more of an indication that mountain bikes are still the best choice for most riders. Our opinion is that plus bikes are more terrain and speed sensitive than some of the sales hungry “next best thing” advertising might suggest.

Ibis: Yes, this is the rebound. We still think there’s a place for 2.8 tires, but a lot of people are going to opt for 2.6″ It could become the most popular tire next year.

Maxxis: Not at all. The plus platform offers the versatility of a rider to choose between 2.8-3.2” tires without going outside the design considerations of their bike. The same versatility is offered with standard bikes working well with 2.2-2.6” tires.

Specialized: Not at all! If anything, it’s an indication that more volume can often equate to a better riding experience. 3.0” was better than 2.5” and now 2.6” is better than 2.3”. And we have 2.8” for those looking for yet another volume option. The spectrum has just shifted towards more volume across the board.

Vittoria: Having ridden the 3.0 tires extensively, I don’t think so. I think the 2.6 is a nice transition into “Plus”, but I think both serve a purpose. I may argue that the Plus movement is a correction on the Fat segment for riders on normal terrain, but I can see 2.6-3.2 as one category.

Continue to page 3 for more Q&A on the new tire size »

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  • JCWages says:

    “Baby Fat” Awesome! Haha

  • Mark says:

    It seems to me a new mountain bike standard should be developed where bikes have internal width 30-35 mm rims, boosted hubs, and fit a broad range of tire widths from 2.4-3.0 inches. Just pick tire width depending on your conditions and personal preference. I’ve mounted everything from 1.8 to 2.4 inch wide tires on my “narrow” bikes which is a similar width range and it didn’t seem to affect the bike geometry much.

  • joseph says:

    Tire manufacturers need to stop worrying about the weight weeny crybabies and make tough durable plus tires…… if you don’t like the extra weight that comes from a aggresive trail ready plus tire……… then don’t buy one …….. stick to normal size bikes. Want a plus bike or fat bike? Deal with the weight. Now go ride.

  • jc says:

    Maxxis Rekon+ 2.8 on i35 rim is 2.63″ wide, so there you go.

  • Mark says:

    Mount a 3.0in wide tire on an i30mm (i = internal width) rim and you get a 2.8in wide tire. Mount a 2.8in wide tire on an i30mm rim and you get a 2.6in wide tire. Rule of thumb – 8mm of internal rim width change produces 0.1in of tire width change.

    • Pilot says:

      I’ve got a Specialized Camber 29er (base model) that came with 20mm wide rims. I’m not extremely pleased with the ride quality over its 2.3 wide tires. The front tire is always sliding sideways on me. It feels like there’s not enough surface area on the places I’ve been riding, especially when I’m pushing hard on climbs. So I’ve been contemplating switching to the 27.5 Plus but I don’t even know where to start and I’m not sure how much money I’d have to be spending on rims, tires, spokes, tires, plus labor for someone to do the job for me . I was really afraid of this (torn between 650b and the 29er) when I bought the bike a year ago (it was quite a bit over my budget to begin with) and now I just feel like selling the bike altogether and just buy cheaper 27.5 plus hardtail. Any ideas and opinions would be appreciated. Thank you!

  • PinkFloydLandis says:

    What’s with the rampant flats? First I’ve heard of it. I’ve put 2000 miles on my 3″ tires and have yet to flat. Same w/ my main riding partner. Article seems to give no explanation why a 2.6″ tire is fine, but on 2.8 you’ll “blow half your day patching flats.” Drop the hyperbole.

  • dddd says:

    Like the title of the article says, this “new” tire size doesn’t suck, in part because the tires are appropriately designed for current rim widths.
    And like jc says, this isn’t quite a new size, just a new designation that the tire makers will be working around with their sizing, design and marketing.
    I’ve been running the inexpensive and generously-sized Vigilante 2.3’s on my i35 rims, still gives 2.6″ width, and which works a lot better than on the i45 rims I was using.

  • Tom from RI says:

    Bought the 275 plus Stump jumper-carbon and love the bike- had nothing but problems with the Ground Control 3.0- thought the GRID was going to do the trick and the bead separated from the tire(running tubeless) have resorted to putting a tube in the rear- the front is the Purgatory and I had problems with sealant leaking through the side wall but has been fine for a while. This tire size is a work in progress- we will see how my warrantee request goes and the replacements- if not good it will be three strikes you are out…got my eye on the High Roller II and going to do some more research on tire width and relation to rim width- again knew that there were going to be some issues you cannot have such a big light tire and expect no issues. Absolutely love the bike and thinking I will end up with 2.8- I ride very aggressive technical love riding rocks- had 0 issues with the sidewall getting slashed which I have heard of- people are going to need to understand this rim width vs tire to get this the way they want it…also it is possible to just get a bad batch for those that farm out the job so that just wrecks any onesie twosie type of analysis -it could of been that one of the two of these just did not come out of the factory right- these forums are great- would love to be able to hook up my ole 26 inch trail bike with a lighter 2.5 or 2.8 if it exists-run High Roller 2.5 DH on my DH bike and 0 issues-tubeless also. These would be way to heavy for the trail.

  • dddd says:

    I should have said “…still gives [I]nearly[/I] 2.6″ width…”, and that the narrower rims did reduce sidewall-trauma issues with those tires ridden here in Auburn, CA.

  • bob says:

    how is that “new”? its 27.5+ tires…

  • meeseeks says:

    ridiculous maxxis icon+ recon+ “2.8” is no bigger than continental trail king 2,4 which coming in black chili and protection apex with same weight and twice cheaper.
    why no one asked companies who make real +size tires like WTB, Schwalbe, Duro.

    we need more sizes and also more rims for each size, don’t forget separately adventure, trail and enduro specifics tires

  • Highway Star says:

    I bought TEN 26″ tires this spring. 8x maxxis – 2.3″ to 2.5″ DHF, DHR2, Shorty, Aggressor, Minion SS. Also a pair of Schwable Nobby Nic.

    Won’t be buying any 27″ or plus tires any time soon.

  • narf narf says:

    love the 27.5 2.6″ Rocket Rons on Nox Teos. Perfec combo

  • Rodney says:

    My experience with Maxxis tires is that they are always more narrow than the tire size suggests. So is a Maxxis 2.6 really going to be a more like a normal 2.4?

  • Fo says:

    Darn and the Stan’s Flow Mk3 are 29mm inner width :-/

  • Rickets says:

    Try riding with rickets!

  • Highway Star says:

    This spring 2017 I’ve spent approximately $1000 on 26 Inch wheels and tires. A new Hadley/Flow Mk3 wheelset, and TEN 26″ tires. My bike is also all new within the last 2 years, 26″ frame and fork etc.

    I’m currently running a maxxis Shorty 26×2.5″ Front and 26×2.4″ DHR2 Rear on the Mk3’s. These are HUGE, soft rubber, GRIPPY tires, and at 875g-925g on a 460g rim, they are right on the far limit of is acceptable in weight on a trail bike. They are also not too big to feel floppy bouncy like a plus size. They roll over everything but can still be handled accurately.

    Anyone riding a 27.5″, I strongly recommend getting you hands on a 26″ wheelset with a roughly 30mm inner width, and trying a 750g-900g set of 2.4-2.5″ tires. Keep in the actual difference between 26″ and 650b (27.5″) is only an inch, and a half inch in radius. Compared to a 27.5″ with a 2.2″ tire, the 26×2.5 will be extremely close on ride height and rollover, a similar overall weight, sharper handling, stiffer, stronger, quicker, and will obviously be wider and more grippy.

  • Roger says:

    All the planned obsolescence has ruined mountain biking for me. You guys with big wallets can continue keeping up with the Jones’s. I’ll be buying used 26ers and parts.

    • Christian Ahlmann says:

      Roger, I just tuned up my 1999 Cannondale Super V with Lefty fork and 26″ wheels. Rides great. We’re on the same page ; )

  • gg says:

    Highway Star’s proposal looks interesting.
    MTBR make this happen within an El Comparo or shootout.

  • Stunnerbear says:

    I have a few bikes in the quiver and choosing the right one is just a matter of attitude. Of course choosing the right bike for the right ride does make a difference. For me time is my biggest enemy and the easier it is to set up and go, the easier it is for me to ride more. I choose carefully this year for my new bike and I got an S works Fuse and right away put 2.8 Rocket Rons in the lightest set up I could. Got the bike down to 24.5 lbs with pedals 2 cages and a multi tool. Once I got the tire pressure figured out 13.5 to 14 front and 16 to 17 rear I can now ride this bike faster than I could ever ride my 5″ full sus. trail bike of near same weight. It’s really more about your style and skill that makes what you choose right for you. I wanted a HT trail, light enduro shredder that I could send over doubles and go downhill fast. I guess what I am getting at is this tire option is way better than my 29er CX race bike and more fun than my 26er 5″ trail bike.

  • GuyOnMtb says:

    Didn’t the industry a year ago say the same thing about 30mm rims for 2.5 tires?

    The issue to “refine” fat tires into Plus tires, into Sub+ tires, to finally create the 2.6″ was a waste of energy and time. 2.5″ casings could have been refined and the tread patterns could be widened across the 2.5″ casing to create a tire with less weight then the “new 2.6 standard”.

    New standards before I can break my current standards; is merely a push to create more revenue and screw the consumer out on compatibility and longevity.

    Maybe next we can throw away the 31.8 handlebar and only have 35 bars, leaving about 3 tons of unused aluminum. Or, maybe we can make the BMX rear axle diameter a new standard on MTB?

    Know why this article didn’t have one pro-rider answering questions? Because they would have asked why we are no longer working on 30mm-35mm x 2.5″.

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