On the Trail
If you’ve made it this far, you know I wasn’t a believer in plus sized tires before I started this review. As I mentioned, every complaint you’ve read or heard about plus tires is true. The tires are extremely sensitive to air pressure, have a tendency to blow up, and are not precise. Any one of those demerits would normally be a deal breaker, but then there are the benefits.
The massive tires make everything easier. It’s like hopping on a full suspension bike for the first time after only riding hardtails. You could pick lines, but you don’t have too. When things get technical, there’s no better performance enhancer.
It may sound ridiculous, but Rocky Mountain’s product video (posted above) perfectly encapsulates the Pipeline. This bike dumbs down trail. It instills the sort of reckless confidence you sometimes feel riding a super slack enduro rig, except you can turn around and pedal up just about anything. It’s not until you try riding your old 29er or 27.5 bike that you realize just how much those plus sized tires let you get away with.
Under hard cornering, the Pipeline does suffer from frame flex which results in mild oversteer. While that might sound like a complaint, we felt that it was actually advantageous in some situations. The one area, in particular, was tight corners. Plus tires have so much traction they can be hard to break free, so that little flex helped get the bike to swing around switchbacks.
If there’s a downside to this lifestyle, it’s the pile of trashed tires the Pipeline has left in its wake. The problem is that standard tires aren’t tough enough. That’s changing rapidly, but that extra durability comes with a weight penalty that’s noticeable when climbing or making last minute line adjustments.
There’s this perception that plus bikes are best suited for beginners, but that’s an oversimplification. There are a number of places where a plus bike can offer even professional level riders an advantage. If you fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, you’ll love the big tires ability to truck up and down the most technical trails.
So should you buy this bike? Well, if you’re looking for a playful trail bike that can be ridden in any condition, the Pipeline is worth your consideration.