29er or 27.5+ ?

steve_sordy Posts: 2,443
edited October 2018 in MTB buying advice
I am looking at a bike with two wheel options.
One is 29 x 2.6" on a 30mm internal width rim.
The other is 27.5 x 2.8 on a 40mm rim (the "plus" option).

I'm assuming that both will be the same diameter as each other, or close enough anyway (but is that true?). According to the Schwalbe tyre/rim guide, each rim width is perfect for the tyre chosen to fit on it, although either tyre is "in the zone" for the rim.

I know that the wider tyre is a bit heavier than the 29er, but only by 65g per tyre. And the rims will be heavier too. That weight will be all in the worst place for weight to be on a bike. In addition, one of the reviews I read of the plus version of the bike said that in extreme cornering, the tyre rubs on the frame. I know myself well enough to know that I won't be doing much, if any, extreme cornering, so frame rub is unlikely to be an issue for me.

So far, I'm leaning towards the 29 x 2.6 option. But what are the advantages of the wider and taller tyre? I'm assuming that it is to do with the extra cushioning, ie smoother ride, maybe better grip from the bigger footprint on loose climbs and corners. Maybe worse grip in sloppy conditions.

But is 0.2" on the width really going to make that much difference?

I would welcome views from anyone that has experience of this topic, or can point to a good article on the subject. :)


  • jamski
    jamski Posts: 737
    I haven't ridden a plus bike much, a couple of my mates have them. I have a 2.6 up front, and personally I think that's the 'best of both worlds' area. More grip that a 2.3 and better rolling that a 2.8. I've literally just seen this on a Bike Radar article, and it sums up my thoughts perfectly.

    Bigger mid-size rubber
    The perennial wheel- and tyre-size debate never seems to disappear, and we reckon for 2019 it will still feature heavily over a post-ride drink.

    While fat tyres seem to have largely disappeared, and true plus widths never quite caught on, from the 2019 bikes we’ve seen so far it looks like 2.5in and 2.6in rubber might just make its mark.

    Wide enough to offer bumper levels of grip, but just about narrow enough to keep handling quick and fun, this mid-plus tyre size may well have the legs where wider tyres fall by the wayside.
    Daddy, Husband, Designer, Biker, Gamer, Geek
    Bird Aeris 120 | Boardman Team 650b | Boardman Pro FS | Calibre Two.two
  • As a lot of bikes available now can take both wheel sizes why not both? I bought a plus bike and a set of 29'r wheels and often run it in both set ups. The Plus tyres are great at trail centres as the grip through berms etc is epic. They also work really well for medium distance XC rides as the extra cushioning reduces fatigue. The 29'r wheels are better in the winter and more precise through rock gardens etc. The diamater isn't the same so the 29'r gives a bit more crank clearance through really uneven terrain which helps. I think basically at either extreme of use the 29'r wheels are better - so racing XC or enduro but anything in the middle you're fine with plus. If I had to take one and stick with it though I'd go for the 29 as it is more versatile overall.