29+ and 27.5+ Bikes – Innovation or Scam?

A no-bullshit video investigation into the bike industry's latest wheel sizes

Video by Dan Barham

What’s the deal with 29+ and 27.5+ bikes?

When we first caught wind of the new breed of 29+ and 27.5+ bikes, we were as suspicious as any rider. So, we started asking questions: why have these new standards emerged? Are the new wheel sizes simply a way for industry big wigs to convince consumers to buy new bikes? We flew around the country visiting the folks who are putting the new wheels to work at Rocky Mountain in Vancouver, Canada, SRAM’s Development Facility in Colorado Springs and Trek’s World Headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

Trek and Rocky Mountain are only two of a handful of brands announcing 29+ and 27.5+ bikes. You’re going to be seeing more of these plus-size bikes, and you can be damn sure that we’ll have more to say about them.

Rocky Mountain’s 27.5+ Sherpa

Rocky’s Sherpa is a specialized adventure tool, fine-tuned for riding on marginal terrain. It promises to be a singletrack bikepacker’s dream, and, interestingly, doesn’t utilize Boost 148 spacing. It does, however, feature a rust-proof chain, clearance for up to 3.25″ tires and a Himalayan snow lion-inspired paint job. Stay tuned for more on the Sherpa.

Rocky Mountain Sherpa

 

Trek’s Stache 29+

The Stache isn’t a new name in Trek’s lineup, but the redesigned bike features 29+ wheels and sliding dropouts on its extremely compact rear end. In order to pull off their honey-I-shrunk-the-chainstays design, they had to elevate the drive-side chainstay, carve away material from the bottom bracket and bend the seat tube. Trek’s approach is that 29+ wheels are simply the logical evolution for their aggressive hardtail.

Trek Stache 29+
Photo: JP Van Swae

Boost 148 is an essential technology to many of the new 27.5+ bikes. Learn more about it in this Blueprint video.