Plus bikes are one of the key growth areas of our sport, as riders discover bigger tire volumes and lower air pressures. But most of the available Plus tires thus far have very small cornering side knobs. Until now that is. Maxxis has just sent us the 2.8” versions of their best selling all mountain tires, the High Roller II and Minion.
Plus tires are indeed a revelation, as they provide ~ 60% more tire contact area compared to a 2.3” tire. Along with lower air pressures, this translates to better traction and better comfort for the rider. But just like initial 29er tires, the first gen of Plus tires have more of a semi-click, small knob pattern, with very thin casings.
The reason this has been done is to counter objections to Plus bikes and speed up their acceptance. Slow and heavy are the common prejudices, so the industry anticipated that and delivered the first blow with big tires with hardly any knobs. Performance was actually quite good because the contact patch was so big and the tire pressure so low (around 16 psi). But immediately, the market started clamoring for better tires. These bikes had significant potential in gnarly terrain so tires with studier side knobs and tire casing were needed.
Skinnier Tire on Wider Rim
The initial wave of Plus tires were 3.0 and rims were 30mm to 35mm wide. But now that we’ve learned a lot about these bikes and these tires, the industry has gravitated towards 2.8” tire and 40mm internal width rims.
Simply put, 2.8” tires seem to ride aggressive terrain better than 3.0” tires. They achieve the happy medium between hard cornering, active jumping, and climbing. Couple that with the big knobs arriving and 2.8” makes a lot of sense.
Key to the formula are 40mm internal rims, as they give these tires proper sidewall support. Tire pressure can be lowered sufficiently without too much of that dreaded sidewall squirm. Carbon rims and new aluminum construction help keep weight down, too.
Consider this a great day for Plus bike users.