After​ ​years​ ​of​ ​unchanging​ ​sizes,​ ​mountain​ ​bike​ ​wheels​ ​have​ ​recently​ ​undergone​ ​–​ ​if​ ​you’ll  pardon​ ​the​ ​pun​ ​–​ ​a​ ​revolution.​ ​The​ ​options​ ​now​ ​are​ ​vast.​ ​But​ ​what​ ​does​ ​it​ ​all​ ​mean?​ ​What’s​ ​a fat​ ​bike,​ ​and​ ​what’s​ ​a​ ​Plus​ ​bike?​ ​And​ ​where​ ​does​ ​Boost,​ ​27.5in​ ​and​ ​29in​ ​fit​ ​in?​ ​Here’s​ ​the Hargroves​ ​Cycles​ ​guide…

Both​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​and​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​judged​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​‘regular’​ ​bikes,​ ​so​ ​first​ ​let’s​ ​define​ ​them.  For​ ​many​ ​years,​ ​off-road​ ​tyres​ ​stayed​ ​between​ ​2.1in​ ​and​ ​2.3in​ ​wide,​ ​while​ ​rim​ ​widths​ ​slowly  crept​ ​from​ ​17-19mm​ ​to​ ​21-26mm.​ ​Although​ ​‘regular’​ ​rims​ ​have​ ​recently​ ​spread​ ​up​ ​to​ ​30mm  (thanks​ ​largely​ ​to​ ​the​ ​emergence​ ​of​ ​fat​ ​bikes),​ ​2.3in​ ​tyres​ ​are​ ​still​ ​the​ ​norm.

Fat​ ​bikes,​ ​by​ ​contrast,​ ​have​ ​massive​ ​4in-5in​ ​tyres​ ​sitting​ ​on​ ​80-100mm​ ​wide​ ​rims.​ ​This​ ​means they​ ​need​ ​special​ ​extra-wide​ ​cranks,​ ​hubs​ ​and​ ​frames.

Plus​ ​bike​ ​sit​ ​between​ ​‘regular’​ ​bikes​ ​and​ ​full-on​ ​fat​ ​bikes,​ ​featuring​ ​2.8in-3in​ ​tyres​ ​and  40-50mm​ ​rims.​ ​They​ ​fit​ ​into​ ​regular​ ​frames,​ ​so​ ​all​ ​the​ ​other​ ​components​ ​can​ ​remain​ ​standard.

Don’t​ ​get​ ​this​ ​expansion​ ​confused​ ​with​ ​wheel​ ​diameters,​ ​which​ ​have​ ​followed​ ​a​ ​similar  trajectory​ ​of​ ​late.​ ​After​ ​many​ ​years​ ​of​ ​nothing​ ​but​ ​26in​ ​wheels,​ ​a​ ​sudden​ ​rise​ ​in​ ​popularity​ ​for  29ers​ ​was​ ​rapidly​ ​followed​ ​by​ ​the​ ​midway​ ​option​ ​of​ ​27.5in​ ​(650b).​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​almost  exclusively​ ​use​ ​27.5in,​ ​while​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​actually​ ​have​ ​26in​ ​wheels​ ​because​ ​their​ ​huge,​ ​tall​ ​tyres  have​ ​an​ ​effective​ ​29in​ ​anyway.

The​ ​Boost​ ​wheel​ ​standard,​ ​meanwhile,​ ​purely​ ​concerns​ ​the​ ​width​ ​of​ ​the​ ​axle.​ ​Boost​ ​is​ ​wider  (110mm​ ​front​ ​and​ ​148mm​ ​rear,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​100mm/142mm)​ ​and​ ​found​ ​on​ ​‘regular’​ ​bikes​ ​too,​ ​for the​ ​extra​ ​wheel​ ​stiffness​ ​it​ ​gives.​ ​Many​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​use​ ​it​ ​for​ ​the​ ​extra​ ​tyre​ ​clearance.

WHO​ ​ARE​ ​FAT​ ​BIKES​ ​FOR?

Originally​ ​created​ ​for​ ​snow,​ ​and​ ​also​ ​fantastic​ ​on​ ​sand,​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​great​ ​for​ ​anyone​ ​looking  for​ ​the​ ​ultimate​ ​in​ ​comfort​ ​and​ ​grip.​ ​Fat​ ​bikes​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​be​ ​simple​ ​and​ ​very​ ​rugged,​ ​and​ ​will  tractor​ ​their​ ​way​ ​up​ ​seriously​ ​tricky​ ​climbs​ ​that​ ​leave​ ​regular​ ​bikes​ ​spinning​ ​and​ ​stalling​ ​out.

If​ ​you​ ​value​ ​fast-trail​ ​precision​ ​and​ ​zippy​ ​climbing​ ​on​ ​smoother​ ​surfaces,​ ​however,​ ​you​ ​may  find​ ​the​ ​huge​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​rubber​ ​at​ ​very​ ​low​ ​pressures​ ​a​ ​little​ ​cumbersome​ ​and​ ​draggy.  Upgrades​ ​and​ ​repairs​ ​can​ ​be​ ​trickier​ ​too,​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​the​ ​less​ ​common​ ​sizes​ ​of​ ​some​ ​parts.​ ​The  payoff​ ​is​ ​huge​ ​fun​ ​everywhere​ ​else.

DO​ ​I​ ​NEED​ ​A​ ​PLUS​ ​BIKE?

Plus​ ​bikes​ ​offer​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​the​ ​benefits​ ​that​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​do,​ ​but​ ​without​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​downsides.​ ​Their  2.8in-3in​ ​tyres​ ​don’t​ ​create​ ​much​ ​more​ ​drag​ ​than​ ​a​ ​standard​ ​tyre,​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​generally  shallower​ ​treads​ ​–​ ​they​ ​can​ ​get​ ​away​ ​with​ ​that​ ​because​ ​they​ ​have​ ​much​ ​larger​ ​contact  patches.​ ​Rubber​ ​compounds​ ​can​ ​also​ ​be​ ​softer​ ​and​ ​stickier​ ​for​ ​great​ ​grip​ ​on​ ​rocks​ ​and​ ​roots,  without​ ​slowing​ ​things​ ​down.

A​ ​40-50mm​ ​wheel​ ​rim​ ​means​ ​they’re​ ​much​ ​wider​ ​at​ ​the​ ​base​ ​than​ ​‘normal’​ ​tyres,​ ​creating​ ​a huge​ ​air​ ​volume​ ​for​ ​a​ ​comfy,​ ​compliant​ ​and​ ​generally​ ​very​ ​forgiving​ ​ride.​ ​This​ ​makes​ ​them​ ​an  especially​ ​excellent​ ​choice​ ​on​ ​hardtails,​ ​where​ ​they​ ​give​ ​noticeable​ ​extra​ ​grip​ ​and​ ​comfort,  and​ ​great​ ​for​ ​beginners​ ​too.

Sure,​ ​Plus​ ​tyres​ ​are​ ​heavier​ ​than​ ​standard​ ​sizes​ ​–​ ​though​ ​not​ ​massively​ ​so,​ ​as​ ​their​ ​carcasses  are​ ​generally​ ​thinner​ ​–​ ​but​ ​they’re​ ​far​ ​lighter​ ​than​ ​a​ ​full-on​ ​fat​ ​bike​ ​tyre.​ ​That’s​ ​important​ ​if​ ​you  do​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​climbing​ ​and​ ​stop-start​ ​accelerating,​ ​as​ ​rotating​ ​weight​ ​has​ ​a​ ​big​ ​effect​ ​on​ ​your efforts.

PLUS​ ​BIKES​ ​FOR​ ​ALL

The​ ​Plus​ ​bike​ ​range​ ​at​ ​Hargroves​ ​is​ ​carefully​ ​selected​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​our​ ​favourite​ ​selection​ ​of high-value​ ​hardtails​ ​and​ ​cutting-edge​ ​full​ ​suspension​ ​bikes​ ​that​ ​can​ ​nail​ ​any​ ​trail​ ​or​ ​climb.

For​ ​a​ ​recommended​ ​reliable​ ​performer,​ ​the​ ​2018​ ​Specialized​ ​Fuze​ ​Expert​ ​Carbon​ ​6Fattie (£3,250),​ ​​is​ ​a​ ​neat​ ​update​ ​to​ ​a​ ​proven​ ​carbon​ ​hardtail​ ​frame​ ​with​ ​Fox​ ​Rhythm  Float​ ​34s​ ​providing​ ​120mm​ ​of​ ​smooth​ ​travel​ ​up​ ​front.​ ​The​ ​spec​ ​list​ ​includes​ ​SRAM’s​ ​matchless  X1​ ​transmission​ ​and​ ​huge​ ​Guide​ ​R​ ​hydraulic​ ​brakes,​ ​and​ ​27.5in​ ​wheels​ ​shod​ ​with  Specialized’s​ ​own​ ​3.0in​ ​wide​ ​Purgatory​ ​and​ ​Ground​ ​Control​ ​tyres​ ​–​ ​blending​ ​exotic​ ​style​ ​with  a​ ​ride​ ​that​ ​won’t​ ​let​ ​you​ ​down.

Specialized Fuze Expert Carbon 6Fattie

Don’t​ ​think​ ​Plus​ ​is​ ​just​ ​about​ ​making​ ​hardtails​ ​comfier​ ​and​ ​faster.​ ​Take​ ​a​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the sensational​ ​spec​ ​of​ ​Scott’s​ ​Genius​ ​700​ ​Tuned​ ​2018 ​(£6,999)​​ ​and​ ​you’ll​ ​see that​ ​Plus​ ​tyres​ ​sit​ ​at​ ​the​ ​cutting​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​mountain​ ​bike​ ​technology.

Scott Genius 700 Tuned

Leave a comment