Finding the right bike for a specific kind of riding is essential for the ultimate amount of enjoyment. Most bike riders know that, but it can be difficult to find just the right fit for those who might be relatively new to everything.
General categories such as fat bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and road bikes all have pretty clear definitions, but there are even more specific options out there. One just happens to be a plus size tire mountain bike.
Are they actually worth getting something so specialized, or should people stick with a more general option? It really depends on how a person wants to ride, but there are some reasons to go with this niche choice.
What is a Plus Size Tire Mountain Bike?
To put it as simply as possible, a plus size tire mountain bike falls in between the size of a standard mountain bike, and a fat bike. When fat bike started to grow in popularity, manufacturers thought that many people would be looking for a tire that offers some of those benefits, without adding quite as much weight or squish to the ride.
It is still very much a niche type of bike size, mainly because it does not do anything particularly well when used on average rides. It is a well-rounded option that a lot of non-competitor riders gravitate towards, but they have never become mainstream like some other options out there.
The width of a plus size tire officially falls in the range of 2.8 inches to 3.25 inches. If the tire is skinnier, it is a mountain bike tire, and if the tire is wider, it is a fat bike tire. The lines are blurred a bit with all the different labels, so make sure to pay attention to actual measurements to get a better idea.
Everything else is the exact same set up as a mountain bike. In fact, some mountain bikes allow for people to change their tires and use a fatter option if they want.
It all comes down to personal preference. It can be a hassle to switch out tires all the time depending on what type of riding is being done, but some people have no problem doing this if they want to maximize their ride every single time.
Who Benefits Most From Plus Size Tires?
Many people believe that intermediate riders benefit the most from plus size mountain bikes. They have the opportunity of going on typical mountain bike trails with a lot more stability on tough terrain. Instead of worrying about falling off or crashing, they can have a much more enjoyable ride overall.
It also might come in handy for people who want a little bit more speed and agility compared to a fat bike. A person can take a few more chances using this bike compared to a standard mountain bike, but they do not have to graduate all the way to a fat bike. The geometry of a fat bike is slightly different as well, so this allows people to stay close to a mountain bike set up.
A loose terrain found in a lot of trails near deserts would benefit greatly from a plus size mountain bike. It can be pretty slippery with using just a standard mountain bike, especially if it is extremely dry. That extra bit of traction can make a huge difference. Speed build up is easier, and turns are capable of being a lot sharper.
Anyone who views plus size tires as a great way to ride with confidence as a new mountain bike rider is doing things the right way. It allows people to discover some of the joys of riding, and really getting into a sport that opens up a lot of opportunities. Mountain biking on a normal bike with a pretty tough trail can prove to be a huge challenge.
Science Behind Plus Size Mountain Bikes
It is a pretty simple process to break down why plus size mountain bike tires make sense. The same reasoning for a fat bike tire can be used for a plus size, with the only difference being that the difference is not as extreme.
If a tire can flatten out a bit more on the bottom, that means it provides more surface area contact with the ground underneath. That is not going to help with speed, but it is going to help with stability.
Anyone using a plus size mountain bike will need to make sure that they are on terrain that is a bit difficult to handle. Otherwise, it forces a rider to spend more energy than they need to in order to keep up with faster bikes.
What are Some Challenges With Plus Tires?
One of the biggest challenges people find when they invest in plus size mountain tires is that it is pretty challenging to find the perfect type of tire pressure. People want to have a balance of traction, comfort, and overall durability.
With a mountain bike, people like to inflate them pretty high, but a fat bike is notorious for very low PSI. Plus size tires usually sit in the 17 to 20 range for PSI, but that can vary on a variety of factors.
Another challenge is that it constantly feels like it is out of place on many different trails. There are times when people are frustrated that they can’t go faster, and ultimately wish that they had a mountain bike or a fat bike. If this happens to be the case, it might be time to go with one or the other instead.
What is the Availability Like for Plus Size Mountain Bikes?
A common complaint a lot of people have about plus size tires for mountain bikes is that they can be pretty hard to find regularly. It seems like they were very trendy a few years ago, but then they never caught on. Once manufacturers found out that they didn’t catch on, they were pretty much removed from a lot of different stores and websites.
The choices are not nearly as plentiful as one might expect when they are doing their initial search. It is a challenge, but there are still some highly-rated options out there. For people who have never tried any of these tires out initially, read through reviews and pick out what option stands out the most.
If a person lives in a smaller area, it might be troublesome to find a local bike shop that carries any plus size mountain bike tires. If that is the case, everything will need to be ordered online and then worked on by them.
The rest of the process, such as replacing them and putting new ones on, is pretty straightforward. There are no other issues with the replacement process.
What are the Best Plus Size Tire Options Out There?
There are a few quality options out there for people who want to go the plus size tire out. Most people are going to buy a brand new bike when doing this, but there is the opportunity to go ahead and just purchase new tires as well. Below, we break down some of the best options in both scenarios.
Quality bike options for those who want that plus size tire include the Voodoo Wazoo, The Sonder Transmitter MNX1 Recon, the Vitus Sentier VR+, and the Trek Roscoe 8. All of these are very quality options that allow people to ride with quality components without spending too much money.
The last thing a person wants to do is waste a ton of money on a bike that they might not end up liking. It is much better to stick with affordable solutions so that if it does not end up working, a person can sell it to get a lot of my money back.
This bikes all compare very favorably to a standard mountain bike. There is not much, if any, upcharge for the plus option, which people will welcome. Initially, some companies did charge a bit of a premium, but that is no longer the case since the popularity never took off.
Tire companies have put a lot of money into making sure that there are at least a few options for the plus size mountain bike riders as well. All of the bikes above come with some pretty good stock tire options, but there are some upgrade opportunities as well.
Another trust a company is Surly, and their Dirt Wizard comes in sizes that people use for plus size riding. Finally, the Specialized Butcher GRID is a favorite for people who are very aggressive riders wanting to handle the most difficult conditions.
Keep in mind that all these tires are only going to work best if a person makes sure that they are inflating everything properly. Getting the right PSI is essential to maximize any ride. Otherwise, a person is not going to get the same type of speed or responsiveness that they are hoping for.
What Does the Future Look Like for Plus Size Tire Options?
Anyone who is a true fan of this tire size might be looking at some bad news down the road. This official category never really took off, but mountain bike and fat bike options are as plentiful as ever. That leaves a bit of a gap, but they are always going to be options that works pretty much just like a plus size tire.
Eventually, it probably makes the most sense to search by tire width. Using the term plus size tire might not always give a person a lot of opportunities to search. Some local bike shops might not even know much about this category, as not that many people use it.
There is really no reason to stop production completely, but they are the next big thing like so many people thought. There will still be people who swear by the size, but it is never going to outperform mountain or fat bikes.
Most riders are going to be better off with either a mountain bike or a fat bike. It makes the bike a little more versatile, which is never a bad thing by any means. There are also more options readily available from all of the top companies, so getting the right fit and look is perfect.
Even something as simple as getting replacement component parts is also very affordable and easy. At times, people trying to fix a more specialized type of bike might find it difficult to get everything they need.
With so many different tire with options available these days, there is not really too much special about the plus size tires these days. There will always be some people who really like this set up, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Just like hybrid bicycles that are available in between road bikes and mountain bikes, they do a lot of things well, but nothing great. For people who want a skinnier fat bike tire, they can actually set up their fat bike to be accommodating for different widths.
The same goes the other way for people who want a thicker mountain bike tire. Not all companies offer this, but frames that offer versatility always hold their value a little bit better.
As long as people know that going in, and they even get a chance to try things out, most are going to be happy with whatever decision they end up making. At this time, it’s just not going to catch on like some people initially thought. Too many riders end up wishing that they had another bike in the end, as mountain bikes and fat bikes are very popular for a reason.