Plus Bikes - is bigger, better?
11 February, 2020
The Mountain Biking world has come a long way, especially so in recent years where the introduction of a myriad of competing standards and technologies has made things incredibly exciting for riders (if also a bit confusing).
The introduction of 29ers (29” wheels) caused a stir in a world where there was previously only one wheel size on offer. Those in the 26” camp scoffed at these ‘ridiculous’ sized wheels - saying there was no need for a larger diameter wheel - but the results spoke for themselves and the faster, smoother wheel all but killed off the 26” wheel standard.
Later, 650b (27.5”) came out to offer a middle ground between the older 26” wheels and the newer 29ers. To give much of the rollover capability of a 29er with the agility of a 26er was the aim and this standard has now largely taken over as the preferred diameter.
Confounding things further, bizarre things called Fat Bikes then started to emerge. Designed to tackle the harshest of terrain, these monster bikes had giant 4” wide or greater tyres to chew up dirt, sand and snow. Offering unparalleled grip, these beasts started to infiltrate the wider mountain biking community with their out and out silliness and confidence inspiring grip that opened up previously unrideable terrain.
All of these standards offer their own advantages and disadvantages so it can be tough to find the right bike for you. If only there was some way to take the best of each and combine it into a single platform…
Enter the PLUS Bike
Is there a way to get the best of all worlds - good rolling speed, crazy amounts of traction and a nimble feel on the trails? The answer is the Plus, or ‘mid-fat’ bike. This new standard is quickly being adopted by all the major component manufacturers and major brands now all offer Plus bikes in their ranges. Plus is here to stay.
Simply put, Plus sized bikes run bigger tyres with higher volume that give great traction for climbing trails and then running fast, technical descents. The bigger wheels also soak up the bumps and forgive less-than-perfect technique so you don’t need to carry as much suspension.
These bigger tyres mean wider rims, wider rear triangle for clearance, wider hubs, wider fork and wider cranks to keep the chain line. To make all this possible, our PLUS bikes incorporate the BOOST system (hub system originally developed by SRAM - 12x148mm rear, 15x110mm front).
As the above front cross-section shows, the big rubber on the wider rims make the bike bite down and grip on the corners, instead of wanting to roll over like a standard tyre/rim setup. All this adds up to being able to stay off the brakes and tear around a berm like never before!
Who is this bike for?
Stable and grippy without a huge weight penalty or loss in handling feel. Reviewers are unanimous that this new platform is perfect for really boosting the skills and confidence of beginners to intermediate riders looking to take on more technical trails. These are fun bikes that push the rider to go faster and brake less.
Plus bikes also give some great benefits to expert riders with added stability and strength in the wheelset. Regular 27.5 and 29” wheels have been known to flex when cornering hard, but widening the hub and rim on Plus wheels give more stiffness under more pressure. Perfect for the rider who really tests the limits of their equipment.
Can I still climb hills?
Like a goat! The wide footprint will hold any ground and forgive a bad line, and the huge range offered by the 11 – 40t cassettes on the higher level Vice bikes will let you power up any hill. You’ll find those technical climbs become easy as you roll over everything in your path. You will probably even start to look at stairs differently…
Will the additional weight and grip of the tyres slow me down?
These bikes are not whippet-like XC racing machines, but they are certainly well-rounded trail bikes designed to blast all sections of the ride - from long climbs to fast switchback descents.
On the climbs you’ll find that you won’t have to be as active when choosing a line, and the added compliance and comfort afforded by the larger tyre volume will compensate to a degree the additional energy required to power the pedals. The confidence inspiring traction will then see you go faster than ever before when the trail points down.
How low can I go?
When converted to tubeless the tyres can be run at very low pressures, meaning the tyres will conform and spread out further offering even greater levels of grip. So this would be a great option for places where the terrain is sketchy, such as snow and sand.
Test ride a Plus and see for yourself
If you are a beginner to intermediate rider, you will appreciate the stability, grip, and control of Plus. If you are an advanced rider, then you'll love the increased stiffness and strength of PLUS. There's something for everyone in the new Vice Plus.
Either way, this new wheel standard is here to stay and is definitely worth a test ride at your nearest Reid Cycles store.
Special thanks to Andy at Andy’s Fat Tyre Bike Lodge on Mt Buller for doing the photoshoot of the Vice range.