29er vs 27.5 plus handling differences

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  • 29er vs 27.5 plus handling differences
  • My 29er is fine for most of what i ride (XC Chilterns) but in the Quantocks on steep technical trails it felt a bit of a barge.
    Granted a good deal of that is me being out of practice, but was wondering on the differences between a 27.5plus vs 29er wheel – in theory they’re similar diameters, so do they handle similarly?

    Premier Icon cynic-al

    My guess is not all 29 or 27.5+ bikes can be compared generally.

    Geometry and other factors will make each different.

    No doubt some will draw comparisons of course!

    True – but theoretically i could put 27.5 plus wheels in a 29er frame and the diameter and geometry (eg BB height, head angle) would stay the same…so aside from grip what other aspects of handling would change.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    Where are the steep technical trails on the quantocks? 😉

    Where are the steep technical trails on the quantocks?

    Steep and technical for me! (i did say i was a bit out of practice!)


    jimfrandisco wrote:

    True – but theoretically i could put 27.5 plus wheels in a 29er frame and the diameter and geometry (eg BB height, head angle) would stay the same

    That would depend on the tyre size. There’s a massive difference between a skinny B+ tyre like a Trailblazer and a big 2.4 29er.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon

    I’ve only got a full fat bike and a 29er so the comparisons a bit more extreme.

    The 29″ wheels tend to feel like they get pin-balled between rocks/roots, whereas the fat tyre is more bounce/dragged between them, the effects the same but it feels different. Other than tat they’re both bikes, both will roll through stuff if you let off the brakes and trust them.

    Fat tyres grip better on loose but dry surfaces, 29er grips better in mud.

    Thin tyres make the bike feel lighter, even if it’s not actually by all that much.

    Fat tyres are forgiving (somewhere under that big 4″ contact patch there’ll be something grippy, the thin tyres scrabble about until they hit it).

    Don’t get too hung up on it. It’s just like any other tyre choice, there will be compromises. People saying plus (or fat) are heavy/slow/crap in mud, probably wouldn’t ride on CV tyres (the illogical conclusion of going narrower). It’s always a compromise.

    I’d be interested in a 650b+ bike, even though the rational part of my brain has no idea why. I suspect they’d be a right hoot on a 130mm trail bike for places like the Peak (with tough tyres) and trail centres (with lightweight semi slicks) and ‘enduro’ (with big grippy tyres). But then all those are true with 29ers (or 650b).

    I’m 6ft and weigh 100kg, why shouldn’t I ride a bike with a 20% bigger contact patch if I’m 20% bigger than the norm. In the same way female specific bikes tend to be 26″/650b because they inhabit the opposite end of the bell curve.


    The main difference is the undamped suspension that the plus tyres give you. Hitting a series of bumps at a speed that almost matches the rebound speed of the tyres isn’t fun!

    The increased grip is also noticeable on the plus tyres. I find that the plus tyres soak up small chatter rather than big hits so the ride feels much more comfortable. I did a comparison loop on both sets of wheels and the plus tyres were quicker, I expected it on some parts due to the surface (loose stones) but not on others. I managed one very short and steep climb on the plus tyres that I’d never cleaned on either 26″ or 29″ tyres.

    Like all these variations: in some places they are the same, some places better, some worse.

    For me the difference in handling is 27.5+ is numb and sterile. Very little feedback from the trail, you can’t really feel for the grip. Yes they are more comfortable, but with that comfort comes less feel so when you’re pressing on on a trail you know well you just can’t feel where the limits are – its all a bit squidgy. I didn’t like them – fine for a bike that you might be trekking on or touring, but on a trail that you’re wanting to ride as fast as you dare for fun then 27.5+ just numbs it all down.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    A 27.5+ in a 29r won’t change the geometry but it will change the BB height.

    I test rode a Hightower at Aston Hill back to back with 29 and 27.5 plus wheels. In short, in the dry at least, the plus bike was faster and less fatiguing, particularly over roots and chattery bumps. It was less precise in faster berms, but it made me laugh out loud in the way you could point it whatever way you wanted over off camber roots and it just gripped.

    Then it rained and the Rekon tires just slid over the greasy chalk and it was scary!

    The bike wasn’t really any more playful on the smaller fatter wheels, but it was more fun (In a ‘how did it do that?’ kinda way) and faster, for me anyway, and so much smoother over small bumps. The extra grip is addictive.

    I ended up buying a 29er, as over winter at least, it’s a more useable bike, but I’m getting some plus wheels for it and suspect they’ll be my default choice over summer.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    not sure why but when i had my bandit29 setup as a plus (2.8 Nobby Nics), I got terrible hand pain on long rocky DH’s.

    went away instantly when I swapped back to 29r wheels. nothing else changed.

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