Are Plus Tires And Bikes Still A Thing?

Examining the rise (and fall?) of the wide-tire revolution

Plus Tires
Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

Santa Cruz is among the many bike makers that still offer Plus tire-equipped build options. But are people still buying them? Photo courtesy Santa Cruz

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 10/19/2018 and updated on 5/23/2020

As riders search for ways to make riding better, plus tires have found their place in a few key categories. First, plus tires help to make hardtails more fun and capable and many newly released hardtails are coming with plus tires to make them more shred worthy. Second, e-bikes are a great platform for plus tires as these heavy steeds with lots of power can benefit from improved traction especially on those techy climbs we all seek out when aboard these modern rigs. Lastly, kids bikes are an awesome example of where plus tires greatly improve the experience for a specific rider and kids who are fresh to two wheels benefit immensely from the larger contact patch and lower pressures.

Related: Mtbr’s 26+ / 27.5+ / 29+ wheel and tire forums

For full suspension bikes though, both on the Trail and All-Mountain categories, the plus tire hype seems to have died down. The Specialized Stumpjumper 6fattie is no longer an item and the Santa Cruz Hightower is rarely sold now in plus format. The trend now seems to lean towards giving a bike rear tire plus capability but not ship it with plus tires.

We spoke with some industry folks to hear what they had to say about the future of the plus tire:

Aaron Chamberlain — Maxxis Tires — “Once the novelty of plus tires wore off, the demand plummeted. And that’s both from the OE and aftermarket segments. Our sales of 29+ (3.0″)tires, in particular, are almost nonexistent. We have seen some bike manufacturers try the mixed wheel size moto thing on their e-bikes with a 29er front and a 27+ rear, but it doesn’t seem to be a trend that’s catching on. However, our 2.60″ wide tires – both 27.5 and 29 – continue to sell very well. It seems that size is a sweet spot for many riders who want a more forgiving ride without giving up too much in the way of precision. In terms of application, we see a lot of our plus tires on hardtails, especially those geared towards adventure, exploration, and bikepacking.”

Ken Avery — Vittoria Tires — “Plus tires were a natural evolution, with influences from both the Trail and Fat tire categories. Trail bikes and particularly e-bikes both benefitted from larger volume tires, with greater contact patches for traction, and cushion for impacts. As with any evolution, trends continue, and today we see effects from this. Lately, I’ve seen a ton more 2.35 XC tires, and 2.5-2.6″ trail tires than ever before, as riders experiment with “slightly” larger volumes. Sure, there are less 3.0 tires being used, but I’d argue that the 2.6″s that we see would not have been possible without the initial push of 3.0s. In the end, I think riders enjoy having a bit more volume for traction, but without the bulk of a full Plus tire. For this reason, riders have trended back towards a 2.35-2.6″ usable range.”

Chris Cocalis — Pivot Cycles — “They’ve really turned out to be a great for non-expert level riders.  The tires are so planted at up to 80% race speed that they instill a higher level of confidence and capability for a wider range of riders.  Also, if the bike has great tire clearance (which ours do), they are also great in bad weather.  When the trails are almost too crappy to ride in the early spring and late fall, having an extra set of plus wheels to switch out from your 29er can really extend the rainy season.   We sell a fair amount of 2nd wheels sets on our Switchblade and Trail 429 for this application.”

Clayton Wangbichler — WTB — “We’re seeing a shift where plus tires are starting to be used less and brands are migrating to tires somewhere between 2.4 and 2.6, which are widths in the traditional and line-blurring mid-plus categories. We’re also seeing hardtails shifting up from 2.25 to 2.3-2.4. They’re still being used on bikes that are less performance-oriented and more for entry-level riders where the bigger tires can…wait for it…inspire confidence. The more discerning customer is weary of the sensitive tire pressures with plus tires and the undamped suspension effect. The mid-plus size seems to be the sweet spot where tire weight is not atrocious and the pressure is less sensitive.”

Have you ridden a plus bike? If so, did you like it for your specific riding style or local riding zone? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this specific tire trend and where it may be headed in the future of mountain biking.

Originally posted 10/19/18: Plus tires, we hardly knew ye. You seemed like such a great idea. Once riders got tired of the squish and weight of full fatties, you jumped in as a way to still get the benefits of wider rims and tubeless tires without the penalties of phat.

When Derby and then Ibis introduced lightweight wide carbon rims, Plus tires offered better handling and traction at low psi than the longtime 2.25-2.35 trail standard, which tended to bottom out or fold under aggressive riding.

For riders who preferred poppy and maneuverable 27.5-inch wheels but liked the extra rollover of 29ers, you seemed like the perfect compromise.

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

One place Plus has had no impact is at the highest levels of racing, be it enduro or downhill. Photo courtesy EWS

For bike makers wanting to offer riders a best-of-both-worlds bridge from 27.5 to 29ers, you provided the option of trying both on the same steed. For a while there, forum chatter was all about which setup on a given bike was better and why.

But as always happens, the world evolved. Big wheeled 29ers, aided by single-chainring setups, got more aggressive, nimble, and lively. Wagon wheels didn’t seem so sluggish and clunky anymore. And tire makers got clued in, keeping high volume and tall sidewalls while adding casing stiffness, more compliant knob patterns, and rounder profiles to reduce squish on wider rims.

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

Of course weight is one argument against Plus.

In response, Plus tires started going minus. Aggressive riders wanted faster rolling, less squirmy rubber with a narrower footprint. From 3.0, the sweet spot went to 2.8. Then last summer, 2.6 became the new magic bullet. Bike makers such as Scott, Ibis, and Santa Cruz started offering builds with 2.6 tire compatibility — mostly for 27.5 wheels but also 29ers.

It’s an open question whether even 2.6 is the goldilocks fit, though. Now 2.4 and 2.5 tires that feature stiffer sidewalls and a broad tread fit the bill for many riders. Some bike makers seem to agree, topping out rear-triangle clearance at 2.5 on some models, think Santa Cruz Hightower and Devinci Spartan 29.

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

Tire clearance is another issue with Plus setups.

So here’s the burning question: Assuming we define it as 2.8 and above, is Plus still a thing? Most industry observers say, yes. But only in a qualified niche-targeted kind of way.

“If you really want to charge a trail, ride hard and aggressively, Plus isn’t a factor,” said Dustin Adams, president of Kamloops-based wheel maker WeAreOne Composites, which has a Plus wheel under development. “But for someone who likes lots of traction, isn’t as concerned about weight, and just wants a comfortable, confident ride, Plus still has its place.”

In winter months, when trails turn sloppy, Plus wheels mated with hardtails or even fully rigid mountain bikes can suit aggressive riders with a “klunker attitude,” added Adams. “They’re not looking to set Strava PRs, they’re just out to have fun.”

High-end wheel maker ENVE’s M640 rim, earmarked for tires from 2.7-3.2, is a hit with Plus riders, claimed marketing director Jake Pantone. “Most are intermediate weekend warrior types who are older than 40, or very novice riders but passionate about their newfound love of mountain biking,” Pantone explained. “For riders looking for added confidence and comfort at lower speeds, Plus is great.”

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

Tire makers such as Bontrager continue to offer an array of Plus tire options.

Indeed, big name brands are sticking by Plus as a way to attract the broadest customer base possible. Santa Cruz’s Bronson, 5010, and Chameleon all play nice with Plus, while Trek’s Stache, Remedy, and Fuel models accommodate up to 2.8 and even 3.0 tire widths in some instances.

“We’re engineering Plus into our bikes early on and making it work for as many riders and bikes as possible,” said Trek marketing manager Travis Ott.

Other applications where Plus still finds favor include bikepacking, where weight is a non-factor but traction and durability are premium; e-bikes, where the added bulk of the bike again puts traction and stability high on the list; and regional riding conditions like the Southwest, where dry, rocky terrain benefits from Plus’ traction and support. Tempe-based Pivot was an early Plus supporter with its Switchblade, and offers Plus on its Mach429 SL lightweight racer, Trail 429 all-arounder, and Shuttle e-bike.

Then there’s the intermediate or casual rider for whom Plus offers extra traction and stability. “A good example is my girlfriend — she loves the extra confidence of 2.8,” notes Julien Boulais, brand manager for Devinci, whose 27.5 Troy model fits up to 2.8 tires.

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

Is this the true best application for Plus tires and bikes?

At the Downhill Zone bike shop near Seattle, owner Adam Schaeffer still gets requests for Plus bikes. But they’re mostly from riders still learning or moving on a path toward more aggressive riding. On sketchy, blown-out trails Plus retains some draw, said Schaeffer. But with the explosion in long-travel 29ers, the width and cush of Plus may be unnecessary. “Sometimes you want firmer suspension but with a softer base, where Plus can play a role,” he said. “But once speeds hit a certain level, Plus tires in general just feel vague and unresponsive.”

Many observers believe the majority of riders of all stripes will settle on 2.4 to 2.6 tires fitted to wheels with internal rim widths of 30mm or 35mm, with a lean toward the latter. The Ibis 942 and 742 (35mm internal) rims, for example, outsell their narrower 29mm cousins by 9 to 1.

At ENVE, sales of the aforementioned M640 (40mm internal) rims have dropped by over half compared to 2017, while ENVE M630 (for 2.3-2.5 tires), and M635 (2.5-2.8) have spiked.

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

For Nukeproof’s just launched 2019 Mega line, clearance for 2.4 tires is plenty wide enough.

Simultaneously, tire makers are continuing to offer enhanced sidewall, tread, and compound options in wide but non-Plus formats. Bontrager is touting a whole array of 2.6 options designed around different weights, casings and rubber types. Other tire makers have similar expanded options under development.

“Look at all of the new 2.6 tires — XR2, SE2, XR4, SE4, XR5, SE5 — from Bontrager,” said Trek’s Alex Applegate. “You get the benefits of larger volume — traction, support, lower pressure — while still maintaining snappier accelerations and a more precise on-trail feel associated with traditional tires.”

So here’s the deal, as Mtbr sees is. Tire sizes now designated as Plus may hang on. But Plus as a distinct category, and reference term, seems destined to go away. Instead, bike makers will continue to offer plenty of clearance for whatever size tire a rider wants to use.

“There really isn’t a need for a 27.5 bike to exclude Plus-sized tires, or for a 29er to run Plus wheels,” said Joe Brown, owner of Methow Cycle & Sport in Winthrop, Washington, which still does a brisk business in fat bike tires for groomed Nordic trails in winter. “Just let the customer decide which size wheel and tire they want.”

Are Plus tires and bikes still a thing?

As the popularity of fat bikes waned, Plus jumped into the wide-tire breach. But now 2.5-2.6 seems to be the more popular choice.

Some suspect Plus was a solution to a problem that never existed. All that needed to happen was for bikes to accommodate wide rims outfitted with appropriate tires for whatever skill level and type of riding suited the purchaser.

“We felt the magic of wide rims before Plus even existed,” said Colin Hughes, engineering manager at Ibis, whose trail bikes are 2.6 but not Plus compatible. “It took a while for the tire manufacturers to catch up is all.”

What do you think, is Plus still a thing? And if so where does it fit in the wider mountain bike world?

About the author: Paul Andrews

Dividing his time between Seattle and Santa Cruz, career journalist Paul Andrews has more than a quarter century of mountain biking under his belt, which he wishes had a few less notches.

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  • Denny says:

    idk just tell me what to buy as usual please!
    wait, you just did…

  • Suns_PSD says:

    Article is mostly on point, except for the part about 35mm ID wheels being the future. 35s are too wide and really don’t work all that well. Maybe they are a good width for the 27.5 2.6 tires, but on a 29er that needs 2.4-2.5 tires (actual, not labeled) around 30mm really works better.
    I would have loved to have found a nice used Yeti Sb5+ for my wife’s first bike however.

    • eb1888 says:

      Rim width depends on the tire volume and whether it has a rounded tread profile. And your terrain and speed. You may be right for Maxxis on endure terrains. For Bontrager XRs at lesser speeds their higher volume more rounded profile needs 40 for a 2.6 35 for a 2.35 and 30 works perfectly on a 2.2.

  • Lisa says:

    I like plus tires because I ride in sandy areas where I live. They don’t have to be too plus, but more than 2.3 is …. well, a plus!
    And of course fat tires for winter snow.

  • Plusbike Nerd says:

    When Surly created that first Plusbike, the 29+ Krampus, they started something new and wonderful but they they mostly got the deatils wrong. Those early bikes had 1250gm 3.0in non-tubeless tires and 800gm drilled non-tuebless i45mm (i=inner width) rims. If you rode one of those early Plusbikes you could feel the magic of increased traction, tire suspension, and flotation but they were overweight tanks with excessive wheel weight. It was just to much tire and especially to much rim and it gave Plusbikes a bad reputation. Now if the those early Plusbikes had come with sub 1000gm tubeless 2.8 tires and ~550gm tubeless i32 rims, I believe Plusbikes would be more accepted. Why i32 rims? Because you can also mount 2.4 -2.8 tires on an i32 rims. In fact, I think all modern Trailbikes should come with i32 rims (any rim i30-35 works) and be designed to use all those tire widths, 2.4-2.8. Thats what a Trailbike should be! No Plusbike-no Narrowbike- just Trailbike that can use Plus or Narrow tires. Bike companies are already building these bikes. The Specialized Stumpjumper and the Scott Genius are just a couple of examples of the many bikes that can bridge the Plus-Narrow divide. I like 2.8 tires and you might like 2.4 tires and now we can both ride the same bike. Before Plus, Trailbikes had 2.0-2.4 tires on ~i23rims. After Plus, Trailbikes have 2.4-2.8 tires on ~i32 rims. Plus didn’t die, it became what we ride!

    • David says:

      I love my krampus and it is a fun bike. I am now worried so day I might not be able to get tires. It’s not for everyone. I am a big guy and the bigger bikes and tires work well for me.

  • Matt says:

    Plus tires are all over hardtail bikes and I don’t see them going back. And why is 2.6 not a plus tire?? Odd article.

    • Sevo says:

      2.6” isn’t a plus tire and only a newbie/novice would even suggest such. No one in the tire world, bike design world, etc… ever saw the 2.6 as a plus tire. Ever. At least no one that knows their stuff. 🙂

  • guysmiley says:

    I love my 29+ carbon ht w/pike. AMAZING! Its eliminated the need for any other bike and Ive owned them all.

  • MDW says:

    I am an aging 46 year old rider that has been riding for the last 20 years here in the Northeast. This year I picked up a Cannondale Bad Habit that has transformed my riding to more confidence, more fun and a faster ride. I had the similar model in the non plus version for two years and going to the 2.8 Rekon was just amazing. Sold the “normal” sized Habit and have never looked back. My 120tpi Rekon weigh in around 780grams, so don’t take the “heavy” tire statement across the board. There are some great tires in the 700gram range for sure. For the few select race events I do a year, I have a 29er HT, but for general trail riding, plus has been a great switch for me.

  • Rodney says:

    When talking about plus sized tires, the elephant in the room is ebikes. Plus tires will never go anywhere as long as ebikes are around. Increased torque while climbing really necessitates a wider tire. I have some WTB Bridgers 27.5 X 3.0. They measure exactly 3.0 and they don’t bleed Stans from the sidewalls like Specialized tires do. They also are not squishy when ridden with low pressures like other plus tires. I have also noticed plus sized tires are not as squishy if you use tubes but I prefer tubeless for the ease of trail side repair. (ie: plugs)

  • Brad says:

    I’m actually really surprised that nobody ever mentions the old Nokian Gazzaloddi 3.0, the original plus tire. It was heavy, square and heavy, but gave a ridiculous amount of traction. I had these on the front of my Stinky Deluxe back in 1999. It only took another 15 years for everyone else to realize the benefits of lots of rubber, but now they can make them in a manageable weight. I ride a full fat bike with 26×4.6 tires. I’m 47. I like the lack of maintenance of a hardtail. I love the traction. Weight wise, I’m certainly less than that of my old Stinky Deluxe.

  • Andrew says:

    “the majority of riders of all stripes will settle on 2.4 to 2.6 tires”

    The majority of riders I see ride with a 2.3″ rear tire.
    And many prefer 2.3″ in the front and rear.
    Still plenty of folks that buy 2.2 and 2.25″ for XC.

  • dusty steve says:

    I love plus bikes, especially hardtails. In the southwest, they really serve a purpose. I’d rather ride the whole enchilada on a plus bike than on a bike with 2.3s or 2.4s.

    In northern CA, I have no need for a plus, even on a hardtail. Most trails are so smooth that I rarely need more than 120mm suspension, or anything wider than a 2.3. (Tahoe and sierras excluded).

    it all comes down to where you ride and how you ride. I couldn’t care less about strava times, and so many of my intermediate and beginner friends really benefit from the confidence of wider tires. Surprisingly, I don’t feel that traction is the main benefit of plus tires. I have plenty of traction on 2.3/2.4 tires. The biggest benefit is taking the edge off square edge hits, and floataion in sand.

  • Highway Star says:

    I think people will eventually figure out that 26×2.30″ (modern maxxis sizing) is generally the best size for all around trail mountain biking. 26×2.5 if you’re really riding rough stuff.

  • Erik Peterson says:

    I’m 64 and not shredding like I used to–I ride a Fuse Fatty6 hardtail and I love my 3.0 Ground Controls–love the confidence and handling–especially in the rough stuff–always interested in trying something else in tires if anyone has any recommendations–ride in SF Bay Area–besides, what else would I put on my I45 Scraper rims? Don’t make plus size go away………at least until I retire from riding…

  • Plusbike Nerd says:

    In regards to Trailbikes, any tire wider than 2.8in and any rim wider than i35mm (i=inner width) should be sent to the graveyard of outdated tech. With that being said, a 2.8 tire mounted to an i35 rim might be the best Trailbike wheel made. Plus done right is amazing.

  • slcdawg says:

    I upgraded my 29er HT this year to a 27+ HT and would never go back. The bigger volume tires provide just enough cushion to be easy on the back while still being fast. It is the ultimate in small bump compliance. 🙂 As far as handling, I’ve set PR’s on technical descents and on longer XC rides – I personally don’t see any disadvantage.

  • hirschmj says:

    I’ve been riding my Krampus since 2014 and plus tires have gotten a lot better since then. The thing is a blast to ride, super fast downhill on all but the chunkiest stuff, and climbs great. I’m curious to spend more time on a full suspension plus bike.

  • gravitylover says:

    Being fast is something that’s so far from important for me that tire size surely isn’t going to change but what it does change is my line choice through rocky stuff and tracking in soft corners. I love the fact that I can point it into rock gardens and take a much straighter line than I can on my skinny (2.5) tired bike and with all the rain we’ve had in the northeast this year it’s been softer than usual and I find myself washing out a lot less frequently with more and bigger knobs on my 2.8’s and 3.0’s. The higher volume tires also make it easier to roll through deep leaf covered trails without getting bounced off line as frequently. Bottom line is my fat, slow, old self just has more fun on higher volume tires than otherwise. I’ve been mt biking for over 30 years and have been through every tire and wheel size iteration that’s happened so have a pretty good base to judge from.

  • GJDinoBiker says:

    I’ve ridden the Krampus since it first came out. I’m in my 40’s and live in the 4 corners west. I’ve tried to use a smaller diameter wheel (27.5+) but cannot get over the capability of 29+ and have stuck with it. Most of my friends on suspension can’t keep up. It floats over all but the biggest holes where the smaller diameter wheels get bogged down. Railed Crested Butte Evolution bike park on it several weeks ago. Point being, tire size doesn’t dictate what you can/can’t ride, or how fast you can go, or what type of trail. Ability RULES….

  • Ray a.k.a. derby says:

    Hey Paul, Thanks for recognizing Derby Rims! High speed DH and very similar high speed Enduro DH need very firm 28 to 30 psi tire pressures in Derby 35i (35mm inside wide) rims according to my pro test riders with 2.4 to 2.6 DH large knob tires, to keep the large knobs from folding in corners, because the sharp edge of the knobs provide the traction, not tire patch size. So that narrow 30mm inside wide rims are also plenty wide with firm tires. The tire profile is better cornering with 35i according to elite riders going to Derby 35i rims, and because mountain tire’s profile in fact changes very little in 5mm rim width increments. The pro XC racers also use firm pressures in 2.25 and smaller fast rolling tires on lighter weight 25mm inside wide rims for low rolling resistance, compromising cornering and braking traction for the most important rolling and lighter weight climbing efficiencies where XC races are won. For the vast majority of recreational trail riders for pleasure and exercise, we ride moderately fast but not at DH race speeds in most areas to be safe and responsible for all others, and plus tires 2.6 to 2.8 measured tire are simply easier pedaling and rolling and offer more traction with smaller knobs and greater stability with softer tire pressures than smaller than 2.6 plus tires on the same wheel size. 29 plus tires 2.6 to 3.0 pedal and roll even easier but are a little heavier than 27 plus in the same rim and tire widths. Maybe I’ve tested more tire sizes on wider rims than anyone else in the 6 years since beginning Derby Rims. With very rare exception, 23mm to 30mm inside width narrow rims are ideal for 2.25 and smaller. 35mm inside wide are ideal for 2.3 to 2.5, 40mm inside are ideal for 2.6 to 2.8, and 45 inside wide are ideal for 2.8 to 3.2. Also tires narrower or wider by up to 0.2 or 0.3 inch also work well either side of the ideal rim-tire combinations. The only tire I found to not fit these recommendations is the Minnion SS 2.3, which is apparently designed for a 25mm or narrower XC mountain or gravel bike width rim. All these big brand recommendations for narrow 30mm rims or narrower for 2.3 to 2.6 are because those brands have large rim and wheel inventories to sell that would become obsolete if they were either honest or experienced with the huge improvement of proper width rims for tail riding. See for much more detail!

  • Joe "Jay Bone" says:

    Gravitylover – you hit the nail on the head. I don’t care to be fast – I love taking sloppy lines and bombing over anything and cornering without slipping on wet rock or mud. to me, 27.5 and 3.0 is god dang ideal.

  • Haas says:

    I had a 2016 Specialized 6fattie Stumpjumper that I rode for about 18 months. I tried several tire combos, found I liked 3.0 front and 2.8 rear. I sold it to fund an Ibis purchase, which I’m running 2.5 front and rear. I don’t regret the Ibis, it’s fantastic. However, there are days I wish I had my Plus Bike still and I’ve started shopping for another. They are just fun and forgiving. Great first MTB, great everyday MTB, just fun fun bikes and roll over and pop off anything you throw at them.

  • C. T. says:

    I would never ride a hard-tail ever again without plus-size tires. My 27.5 RSD Titanium Hardtail is absolutely fantastic because I can run the rear with such low pressure, and, as well, they excel in the winter… Maybe this article is just a lazy mans excuse for having no fresh idea’s upon which to mount a more relevant and interesting article. Nothing to see here. …Move along, move along.

  • Chris says:

    I love my plus tires. I ride WTB i45 with 3.0. They are a bit heavy but as pointed out in the article, I am not out to set KOM. I love to ride and I love the stability and traction. When Riding steep rocky sections I drop the pressure and enjoy the ride. Plus, please don’t go.

  • JtotheC says:

    Two hardtail quiver: One with 29×2.3ish tires for longer days out, and the other runs 27.5×2.8 with a nominally more aggro tread. The latter is slower going up and a few notches funner coming down. I can ride both bikes on the same trails mostly, but each shines in different settings. If it’s steep, fast, loose, jumpy or any combination of these qualities, the plus bike is going to win out. Unless it’s a 25+ mile day…

  • Bike Nerd says:

    For 2020, bikes with 29×2.6 tires on i30 rims are popping up like weeds. In 2019, bikes with 27.5×2.6 tires on i30 rims were popping up like weeds. Bike manufacturers are starting to get a handle on how to have Plus without all the weight. What’s so great about i30 rims is that they can reasonably mount 2.2-2.8 tires which are the tire sizes that most of us use. All Trailbikes should come with i30 rims and and have frame and fork clearance for 2.8 tires. I think 29×2.8 tires on i30 rims are best mountain bike wheel you can get because you get a lot of width,volume and rollover without a lot of weight. Let’s call 2.6-2.8 tires on i30 rims Plus-Light. With i30 rims, you also get the option to use narrower tires if desired, say 2.2 tires to do an XC race or 2.5 tires to do an Enduro race. 3.0 tires on i35-45 rims are obsolete! Plus-Light, 2.6-2.8 tires on i30 rims, is the future.

  • Andy Olsen says:

    Who wrote this crap? Ever rider is different…..hell man!

  • ben says:

    All the industry members, journalists and all, who swore 3.0 tires were superior in every way over regular 2.2-2.3 tires, I wonder what you think now? Were you just full of crap and trying to sell more SH*T to us?

  • Matt says:

    Or did the bike manufacturers see a trend of many people selecting their lower priced hardtail with plus tires over the more expensive full suspension? Feels like there is a reason bike manufacturers are calling it a fad.

  • Chris says:

    Tire width=Trail Conditions. Out here in the AZ, its all kitty litter and marbles under foot. We dont have much hard pack or loam. So having a wider footprint is definitely the way to go. I ride Hightower 27.5+ with 2.8″ Rekon+ on i44 carbon wheels. This thing shreds around corners and downhill. Penalty for climbing though. The other bike plus tires marry well with is Hardtail bikes. That extra suspension of 2.6-3.0″ tires really helps. I had problems running my 2.8″ on i35 wheels. THey kept rolling on me and burping out…

  • David Matthew says:

    I have an Intense Carbine 27.5 back in Cali. However, I am currently residing in the philippines, specifically only about 7 kilometers away from the TAAL Volcano which erupted in January 2020. I only had a road bike in the philippines. So I bought a FELT Surplus and turns out that I like it. Ash has covered everything, yet at the same time there are not groomed trails here. Lots of square edge ruts (water channels) and lots of exposed tree roots crossing the trails (Which are actually usually narrow walking paths around the hills near Tagaytay. The 27.5+ size tires float over the ash which acts more like sand, yet I have reasonable traction at the same time. Plus, I can hit things pretty hard without as fuss.

    • Red Endozo says:

      I have a Turner Sultan with 29 x 2.6 and luv it. Never went back to any sizes anymore. I’m from the Philippines originally, but my home now is in El Paso, Texas.
      I luve this city, it has many MTB trails to offer. I will miss this place once I retire next year.
      I have been to some Tagaytay trails, in Santa Rosa and surrounding areas. Once we did a trail, from main Tagaytay road down to Taal lake, and it’s all single tract. I missed that particular trail.
      I did some MTB also, Santa Rosa race, 7-11 twice and Cordillera Challenge 4 times
      and they were all fun.

  • MikeG says:

    I love 29 x 3.0 plus.
    I’m tall, so it suits me.
    I ride full rigid, so they help with some cushion.
    I commute year round, in Canada, and they’re a better than skinny tires for stability but, faster than a fat bike.
    I use one (custom frame) bike, for everything.
    Large plus tires please!
    I just wish that there were better 3.25 options.
    Let people have what works for them.
    Just ride.

  • Brandon says:

    I have been wanting bigger (plus) tires for my mountain bikes since before they were available (25 years ago). I just purchased a new stump jumper and am installing some 27.5×3″ Purgatory tires on it. A true 2.8″ tire would be enough for me, but the 2.6″ that the bike came with measure more like a 2.3″ tire. Sincerely hope that the fork and frame clearance remains on bikes for those of us that want to run a larger tire. And I hope that plus tires continue to be available moving forward.

  • Todd C says:

    As a “weekend warrior” type hobbyist, I love plus tires on a hard tail. Many rough and rooty trails around that they love rolling over with added cushion. They are also awesome like they mentioned, when the trails are soft during the spring thaw. Being someone who will never win a race or set a record, I try not to take articles like this too seriously and think i messed up by buying a plus bike because it is a very fun and versatile setup. And the beauty is that I can switch to 29 if I ever want.

  • Mr-EPIC-3 says:

    I run a Maxxis DHF 2.8″ front and a DHR 2.6″ rear on my eMTB and it works great.
    I have tired a Maxxis Assagi 2.6″ on the front, which work good, but still didn’t have the grip of the DHF 2.8″.

  • Loll says:

    I still ride my plus full suspension bike. Is great for messing around on due to the extra safety measure of wider tire. When traction is good, the bike will use 29er spare wheelset. When conditions are dry like marble right now, the additional traction is also great. Don’t really need it for winter or spring riding at my local trail when traction is hero dirt like. Also, the traction provided on gravel uphill is also great. Helps with avoiding spin outs.

  • Shredman says:

    26+ rocks! I’ll never stop using it as long as I can. 120tpi 26 x 2.8 DHR2’s on 40i carbon LB rims. Light, strong and grip for days! All the advantages of both 26 and 27.5. Handles like a 26, roll over like 27.5 and more traction than 29.

  • Bob says:

    Got a 29er hardtail plus bike (Trek Stash) couple of years ago and love it. I’m 69 and just getting back into off road riding after dirt motor cycles in the 70’s. The great dry traction and forgiving nature of Plus gives me a bit more confidence. I ride mostly easier single track with lots of gravel roads and like the lighter hardtail on the long climbs. gets a bit sketchy on fast rough down hills but not any worse than my old Husqvarna.

  • Teela says:

    To better see where each commentator is coming from I’d like to see everyones stats (height, weight, skill level, age, usual riding conditions, and speed) posted under their name. Many of us us just ride with people similar to ourselves, so it’s not easy to see how others are using the same equipment or our personal biases. Manufacturers may have the same issue if they get most of their feedback from bike racers.
    I used to be a competitive swimmer but at 50 now I’m biking for fun and adventure, at 6’4″ and 270 and towing a loaded bob trailer for camping I ask a little more from my bike ( trek full stache) than average. (28 spoke wheels trek?, really)
    For me the plus tires let me run lower tire pressures closer to the ‘average’ rider, have better small bump compliance for riding undeveloped animal trails in AK. I’m far from wanting to move to a lighter more performance (speed) oriented tire. I’d really like to try 29×3.5 or 29×4 tires. 29×5 or 29×6 for winter as well.
    Bike fit should be more than just getting the right sized frame, it should also take into account rider weight and riding style to help select strength and dimension of other bike components. A 29×3 wheel on an XL frame with a clydesdale rider has far different geometry and handling than a 29×3 on a medium frame and a 150lb xc world cup racer. Or you don’t put monster truck tires on Indy Cars.
    The Trek Full Stache is the first mountain bike I’ve owned that felt like it was the right dimensions all around. Makes my old 26″ XL Specialized Epic look like a circus bike with tiny skinny wheels.

    • Eric says:

      I’m a big proponent of wheel size matching human body size. As an XL rider, the stache 29×3.0 feels like the right bike fit. I’m big enough I can throw it around, I have the mass to keep the undamped vibrations down, and I can still push all the locals around on their fancy full squish bikes.

      I’ve seen some people on small frames with 29+ and they look so out of place though..

  • urmb says:

    Really like the Terrene Cake Eater 2.8 x 29+ for riding my fatty in the summer. Wish the cake eaters were a true 2.8 though. Closer to 2.6 on 35mm ID rims.

  • Neo says:

    I prefer 2.8 in the 27.5 size, and really don’t like regular 27.5 bikes much. I never liked 26 so they are just dead. 29ers are my thing (2.4/2.5) though I do have a 2.8/2.8 27.5 that I do like as well.

  • BFNastali says:

    I’m first and foremost a roadie, but I ride everything including mountain bikes. In modern times, I’ve raced 29, 27.5, and 27.5+ bikes…in the end, when it came time to build my almost-forever mountain bike, I went with a 27.5 boost, so I can run 27.5 training and racing wheels and tires, but also a set of 26+ wheels and tires for just having fun. When I’m looking for all-out thrill and speed, it’s the 27.5s all the way, but, I have to say, the plus tires are just plain fun! The extra grip, forgiveness, and cushion…just pure fun, without the extra balk of a fat. I’m a fan! But than again, I’ll ride pretty much anything.

  • Jared Wilcox says:

    I have a 2020 Yeti SB140. Even though Yeti says it can’t do plus, I can proudly say it does. I’m running a 27.5×2.8 DHF front and 27.5×2.8 Rekon in the rear. I’m riding rocky, technical, trail/enduro style terrain. The plus size tires give so much traction and confidence. The Rekon is pretty much just along for the ride on steep downhill sections, but if I just keep moving and let the DHF lead the way, everything is all good. The Rekon only lasted 2 months before being worn nearly smooth, but damn this bike is fun. I haven’t even tried smaller tires, but have some on the way. Something tells me I’m going to be using the plus size more often than not. I wish plus size wasn’t in decline. In the desert of Phoenix, AZ there is nothing better.

  • JB says:

    29+ all the way for me. Never will ride skinnys again. I came from 2.4s on my Mary full rigid and it is cushy heaven. I hope manufacturers will not abandon the plus market. It won’t be the lions share but it will always be around I hope

  • PNWmtnBKR says:

    Love 27.5 2.6 on my FollowingMB. I have a lot more fun with those tires than I do the 29s.

  • PJM says:

    I run 26″ x 2.8″ WTB Rangers on my Ibis Mojo SL with a Fox Talas Fit 115-155mm fork and it is fast, fast, fast. I run 35psi in the back and 27psi in the front because low pressures under my 195lbs squish all over the place and I HATE IT!! Rolls like a 27.5, but is quicker and nimbler with more travel than my brand new $7,000 Mojo3 with 2.4’s on 33mm wide rims.. Sorry about that “off the cliff buffalo riders” with your big/heavy wheelsets. You drank all the cool-aid! Off the cliff you go I say. My pals on wagon wheels are off the back. Sorry if this doesn’t meet your needs or match the narrative but it works for me. Ride what you want. 26″ x 2.8″ and 27.5″ x 2.6 is the cats meow. If you have a high-end but retired 26-er with wide stays and fork bridge, runs some light weight 2.8’s and see what happens….WOW! BAM!!

  • dave says:

    I think for 90%+ of riders that plus tires — meaning 2.6-3.0 — are the way to go. For aggro enduro or DH riding or doing other “gnarly” stuff with full-face helmets and body armor and significant suspension travel, I’m guessing that 2.6 or narrower with stiffer casing may be “more accurate.” But that’s actually very little of the riding that actual people actually do.

    Tire cos., PLEASE keep making light 2.8-3.0″ x 27.5″ rubber. For someone who prefers a hardtail, these tires are the bomb.

    • John says:

      you should try a fat bike with “narrow Q factor” (frame size is more like a normal mtn bike) for NON SNOW with 177mm rear hub, 50mm rims (65mm max), 27.5 x 3.8 tires (hodags) and a Mastodon Pro fork….you’ll run over and thru everything with confidence…haha


  • dave says:

    My 27.5+ Specialized Fuse hardtail is the MOST FUNNEST bike I’ve had in 30+ years of riding them. I’ve ridden a lot. I’ve raced. I’m not jumping over buses or anything these days but I am fast, esp. downhill.

    I think for 90%+ of riders that plus tires — meaning 2.6-3.0 — are the way to go. For aggro enduro or DH riding or doing other “gnarly” stuff with full-face helmets and body armor and significant suspension travel, I’m guessing that 2.6 or narrower with stiffer casing may be “more accurate.” But that’s actually very little of the riding that actual people actually do.

    Tire cos., PLEASE keep making light 2.8-3.0″ x 27.5″ rubber. For someone who prefers a hardtail, these tires are the bomb.

  • Rocco Russo says:

    Bought a Canfield Riot from a buddy this spring who had it set up on 30mm internal 27.5 rims with 27.5×2.8 tires (Minnion DHF and Rekon+). I’m definitely in the intermediate skill category, at best, and while I haven’t ridden this bike as a 29er, I have no complaints at all. I am finding my normal trails significantly easier with almost no lack of traction. I feel much more comfortable carrying speed through sections. I’m curious what a 29×2.5 tire would be like on this bike, but no plan to change up right now.

  • john says:

    On my old 26″ Mojo I have 2.8 Magic Mary and 2.6 Hans Dampf. Both Schwalbe.
    On my Focus Expert only 2.0 Larsen TT front and same size Crossmark rear wheel. Maxxis.
    Different bikes.
    Different set-up.

  • Patrick McCloskey says:

    I ride a Salsa Deadwood 29er Plus with Line 40 Bontrager carbon rims and 3.0 XR-4 Team Issue Bontrager tires. At 65 years old, I don’t race anymore and am interested in being able to ride anything- especially the rocky, rooty terrain we have here in Western Pa and West Virginia. When it is wet, the Bontragers stick to the rocks and roots like glue.. I may not be the fastest in the group, but I am always upright no matter what terrain we ride. For me, this set up has been the best I have ridden to date and I have been riding MTB since 1988. I hope I can always get at least 2.8 tires if not the 3.0s. Long live the 29er Plus Bike!!!

  • greg michaluk says:

    I have 3 bikes: 27.5 plus E-bike, 29+ hardtail, 26×4 fatbike. Plus tires forever!

  • Eric R says:

    I’m not sure why they recycled this article with nothing new, but I’ll throw in my 2 cents. I’ve been running 27.5 x 3.0 & 2.8 on my Why Cycles S7 since getting it. Well, out of boredom and incessant forum posts about how great 29″er wheels are, I decided to throw down and go for a 29 x 2.6″ setup this summer. It took me about 2 rides to realize I didn’t like it at all. I prefer the bigger tires on the HT, and with proper pressure (you can have too low as well as too much), it’s every bit as fast as the bigger hoops but with much more traction and comfort. I realize that 3.0 will probably go away in favor of 2.8, and I am OK with that as long as the REKON, IKON and DHF continue to be made. I’m not worried about those leaving anytime soon as Maxxis still makes most of these in a 26″, so 27.5+ should be a ways behind in the product life cycle.

  • George C. Zankich says:

    Riding a plus size HT with 3.0 still. I love my plus size tires. They are very forgiving and make up for my mistakes. It is hard to find 3.0 tires though, I’ll probably be moving down to at least a 2.8 or a mix 2.8 and 2.6 in the future.

    • jiw71 says:

      Most 2.8 tires actually measure out to be 2.6. Example: Maxxis Rekon 2.8 on an i35 rim = 2.6. However the Kenda Havok 2.8 IS 2.8 on the same rim. This is a good combo for me with the Kenda on the front.

      • PNWmtnBKR says:

        Yep, I have a 2.8 Spec Butcher on the front and it’s closer to 2.6. Same with the Purgatory on the back…2.6 is more like a 2.5.

  • Mark G. says:

    I would consider myself and advanced intermediate rider and love the plus tires. They are a true game changer on my hard tail. I roll a 29×3.0 Bontrager Team Issue XR4’s front and rear on a carbon hard tail and love everything about it. I keep up with most of my buddies that run full suspension and love the instant power grinding up hills. With the true Plus size tires of 3.0 I bike faster, more aggressively with more confidence than I ever have before as a rider. I could maybe go down to a 2.8 tire in the future but I’m hooked on the crazy traction that Plus tires have to offer. Never goin back! Just my 2 cents. FYI I’m 42 years old 6’2 and riding faster now than I ever have in my life. Looking to get even faster as the years pass;)

  • Rick P says:

    While Plus was still the rage (2017) I bought a Cannondale Cujo 1 (HT) and immediately swapped the stock 3.0 WTBs for tubeless 2.8 Nobby Nics. I rode them for two years and really enjoyed the benefits of plus tires–more traction, forgiveness, which made riding the new bike a lot of fun.
    Last year I bought a set of 29er wheels with 30mm internal and laced with Maxxis DHF/DHRII 2.6s and really like how the bike rides now for riding faster on the trails. There’s still some forgiveness but its less sluggish on climbs and other technical riding.
    I’m always recommending Plus bikes to newer riders and believe they should continue to hold a place on bike shop floors.

  • wunnspeed says:

    I’m not a DH/AM/Enduro guy… mostly endurance & bikepacking. The 2.6″ is still quite popular amongst that group and as the weather gets colder, the 3″ tends to pop up for snowy 29+ riding. I ride, mostly a 29X2.6″ on my drop bar Singular Ti Gryphon. I also nearly never change tires…. Just ride them till they die. Currently running 2.6″ Mezcals which I love!

  • falllinemaniac says:

    I was disparaged for asking if 2.6 counted as plus. My hardtail 29×2.6 is fast, but I got a 35mm 27.5 rear wheel anyway. A 2.8 Martello has gobs of braking traction and I still can bite thru the loose into the firm underneath on the front 2.6 Agarro. I don’t care how ugly the mullet looks, I’m keeping it until I visit a buff trail in the flatlands.

  • Jaret Johnson says:

    I recently went from a 2.25 Schwalbe Rocket Ron to 2.6 on the front of my Scalpel 3. The tire is much more forgiving and easier to get over the web of roots I’ve been riding over lately.

  • Sevo says:

    Poorly written pieces like this are the problem in the big industry these days. Trying to knock down or call something “dead” that isn’t even close to dead that actually works really well for a lot of people is just stupid. Unless the trie guys are trying to get you to do so because they didn’t sell as many as a normal MTB tire or poorly designed their plus tire as a knee jerk response to a trend they were far behind because they didn’t keep their ear to the ground amongst actual consumers.

    I’ve been on plus tires for a good 6 years now on fully rigid bikes to hard core hard trials with 140mm forks up front. 29+, 27.5+, 29/27.5+ mixed wheel bikes, 27.5/26+ mixed wheel bikes. Riding some pretty fun trails out here in CO that many think you need full squish on.

    In my extensive experience the people who disliked plus used too narrow of a rim or too high of a pressure with their plus tires.

    The Advantages of plus are numerous however. And my gut tells me that either you had designers poorly adapting frames/builds to take advantage of plus tires or marketing departments that told sales if we had a plus tire bike they’d expect outrageous returns.

    Here are the advantages that should keep plus tires alive:
    -Simple suspension
    -Significant increase in traction
    -Perfect for heavier riders who want to see what it’s like to be under 200lbs riding 2.4” wide tires. Scaled tire sizing for size/weight peeps!
    -Negates need for rear suspension in a lot fo environments
    -Allows for aggressive hard tails that don’t have to cost $6000+
    -Traction Traction Traction. If you live in a place with a lot of loose terrain (front range of Colorado and the desert terrain everywhere).
    -Smooths out the ride allowing for far smoother/more powerful pedaling (put an SRM on a bike and you’ll see the difference).

    No, Plus tires aren’t for everyone but what we ought to have learned by now is not everyone is a brah who shuttles their bike to the top of a downhill in the back of their lifted pick up. Not everyone has the beautiful hard pack terrain for small tires to grip nicely into. Not everyone is 160lbs or less and can get away with riding 2.4 or even 2.6. And not everyone wants to plop down $7000 on a full suspension bike that weighs in at 32lbs that will need pivot/shock maintance annually. Plus a lot of people just don’t have the terrain or time or funds to buy such a fancy bike.

    The industry really needs to revisit plus tires and where they fit in things. Pro Tip American bike Makers, look at Europe where the hardcore hardtail scene is flourishing for almost a decade now. A hardtail with trail geo, a 120-150mm fork, a 170mm dropper, and room for 2.8” wide tires rips as well in Wisconsin as it does in the Rockies. We’re missing not only a huge unserved segment of the market, but when the only “nice” well spec’d bikes are either trail/enduro full squish rigs or XC hardtails built for racing….we’re missing out a segment/niche that could be getting a huge load of new riders out there looking for a reasonably priced bike to go ride for an hour or so when they have time after work or weekends. Hell, I know a lot of owners of big travel full suspension bikes that have euro style trail hardtails for after work hot laps or lunch hour spins as they make the easily accessible trails nearby far more fun than that big mountain ripper 160/160 bike does….bonus, makes you a better rider.

    And last, you know I’ve met a lot of overweight (and been in that category myself) riders that stock rear shocks require a bit of expensive work or require pumping up before every ride to work right so we went to plus hardtail. Smooths out the ride and the tire size makes more sense for those 235lbs+ riders period. After all you wouldn’t take the tires you have on your Porsche and throw them on your Suburban would you? No, That’s stupid. So why bike industry do you insist on doing that to potential newbies to our sport?

  • PNWmtnBKR says:

    Wanna really be a dork, run Cushcore in your plus tires. Even lower pressure and no squish. Love it.

    FMB – Advanced Intermediate rider, but ride with advanced riders who are faster…maybe I should get smaller tires or stop eating donuts.

    • Doug says:

      Plus size, 29×2.6” and 27.5×2.8” rear on my Rigid SS and Hardtail bikes with Rimpact tire inserts with i35 or i40mm really make a full rigid or hardtail much more capable to hit trails just like I would on a full suspension bike. The high volume tires put a bit of suspension at the critical contact point, especially when your only 160# and can run really low tire pressures. I like to have fun on the trails and my fun begins after the climbing is done and the descent begins. Bigger tires make my bikes more comfortable and fun.

  • Yeti says:

    Where I live (Lake Tahoe) trails get very soft and sandy during dry summers. Plus tires were a game changer for me. My hardtail has 3.0s and my full suspension has regular 2.3s. I love them both but it was plus tires which convinced me to try hardtail again after riding FS for 20+ years. I hope plus tires they stay on the market. They might not fit everyone’s needs but they shine in certain conditions and and are pure fun to ride on.

  • Matt says:

    This article has reached the status of clickbait.

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