Update: July 19, 2015
We’re here in Park City, Utah for the US release of the 2016 Plus bikes by SCOTT. We get to see the bikes in person and get to ride them on the massive singletrack network this area has to offer.
Europe is normally not a leader in new wheel standards, nor is SCOTT. But for Plus bikes, SCOTT seems to be taking a leadership position on introducing bikes on the new wheel platform. Plus bikes are generally believed to be the future of hardtail bikes since they introduce a new level of comfort and suspension for otherwise stiff riding bikes. But what SCOTT brings to the table is a full commitment into a line of Trail bikes and All Mountain bikes.
With the Genius LT Plus, SCOTT is making a full bet with a 160mm travel bike with 2.8 tires. Developing the bike with 13 psi as the target air pressure, the engineers at SCOTT pushed for this platform since they fully believed in the ultimate traction, control and speed of the bikes.
Seeing the bikes in person, we were surprised to see that their 2.8 tires that sit on 40mm rims look huge. They are about the equivalent of most manufacturer’s 3.0 tires since the tires have generous volume and there’s substantial knobs on the Schwalbe Nobby Nics. So our initial concerns about the 2.8 tires not being big enough have been appeased.
We learned that the bike is very versatile indeed as well as the owner can put 29er wheels and tires on this platform. The bike will be raised slightly by a few millimeters but the head angle will not be affected. The Genius uses Boost 148 and 110 wheels so those sizes will need to be used in any wheelset used.
Plus wheels add 250 grams on the wheels compared to a 29er so the weight gain is minimal. Additionally, current SCOTT Plus bikes use an aluminum rear triange so there is another 250 gram weight gain there. The bikes are not as heavy as they look and climbing performance is about the same for most riders.
June 18, 2015
SCOTT Sports is jumping in head first into the 27.5+ Plus Tire platform. These are defined as bikes with a 2.8 to 3.2 tires on the 27.5 wheel size. This is huge news indeed as SCOTTis a Swiss based company and their adoption of this wheel size gives this movement huge momentum in Europe and the US.
SCOTT believes the excitement surrounding PLUS bikes is well founded. The increases in traction, control, and tire stability are dramatic, and with the design of their new bikes, agility and handling are not compromised. On the 2016 Plus bikes, the Syncros rims have 40mm internal width and wear 2.8-inch Schwalbe tires. We worked closely with Schwalbe to determine the 2.8 size as an ideal balance of added traction (+21% contact patch) with minimal added rolling resistance ( +1%). Furthermore, weight gain is minimal, and frame geometry is subtly adjusted to take full profit of the added traction.
The Scott Team talks about the R&D behind their Plus bikes efforts and their discoveries.Syncros and Schwalbe Relationship
The key to being able to be a first mover in the Plus sized bike market is to control the wheel and tire components. One has to be able to design, prototype and test rim and tire sizes very early on before the components are available from other manufacturers, This allows the bike manufacturer to design bikes around the platform and decide whether this is a worthwhile effort or not.
SCOTT owns Syncros so they were able to develop the wheels. And they have a tight relationship with German tire giant Schwalbe so they were able to develop tires together. This has allowed SCOTT to do the R&D on the Plus sized bikes.
Q&A with US Marketing Manager Zack Vestal
Mtbr: Why Plus? What are the advantages and trade-offs? Who among the SCOTT customers can benefit from this?
Zack Vestal: In general, the Plus size is a natural progression of modern mountain bikes. As the bikes have become more capable in general, riders are tackling more and more challenging terrain. Plus tires and wheels are one way the bikes can accommodate rider’s interest in riding more diverse terrain. Plus, the fun factor increases substantially. In the same way that suspension, dropper posts, and disc brakes have made more challenging terrain more fun for more riders, Plus sized wheels and tires will open up more terrain and trail to more riders. To be clear, high-performance racing riders (both XC and DH) will probably not adopt Plus size. But in that wide swath of fun-seeking trail riders, we see a vast potential for riders to really get into the Plus size tires.
Mtbr: Why 27.5+ and why 2.8 tires? Will these bikes fit 3.0 tires or bigger? What tire pressures are ideal?
ZV: We’re fans of the 27-plus size because of the dramatic increase in tire contact patch (+21%) coupled with minimal gain in weight and rolling resistance. The advantages are clearly increased traction and control on all surfaces. In testing with Schwalbe, our product team found that 2.8 was the perfect balance between maintaining low weight, meaningfully increasing contact patch, and minimizing rolling resistance. The bikes will fit 3.0 tires if desired, and if a rider chooses, the bikes will also fit 29-inch wheels with 2.3-inch tires. Furthermore, with 27-plus there’s really no penalty when it comes to the bike’s overall geometry. Boost hub spacing keeps the frame, fork, and wheels as stiff as possible. The short chainstays maintain agile handling, and the crankarm Q-factor doesn’t have to increase.
Mtbr: Is the appetite for Plus sized bikes the same in US as it is in Europe?
ZV: It’s interesting, because SCOTT is a European company and the riders and product managers there have been vocal proponents of this platform for over a year. In the past, these trends have started in the US and migrated globally. But our developers at SCOTT are early adopters: first with 29 and 27.5 wheels in general, and now with 27 Plus. I think European riders will jump on the big tires very readily, because so much of the riding there is wet and slippy for most of the year. The big tires will prove to be popular.
Mtbr: How long have you been working on this Plus project?
ZV: It’s been over a year. The Switzerland office lunch ride was peppered with Genius Plus bikes starting in December 2014.
Mtbr: How many do you expect to sell? What is the future market share of Plus bikes?
ZV: This is too early to gauge, but over time, most people who spend time on a Plus bike get the feeling that they’ll be widely adopted by trail riders.
Mtbr: Does it affect other wheel sized bikes like fat, 29er, race? Is there room in the line for all these?
ZV: No question there’s room for all the bikes. Every bike has its place. I attached a graphic to outline the positioning we envision. The 27-plus mantra is “traction and control” which are highly desirable for most trail riders! So we see racers of all types sticking to their preferred platform, whereas trail and adventure riders, the guys who want to ride mixed terrain and epic rides, they’ll probably really enjoy the big tire benefits.