After 3 weeks riding my WFO with the 29 minus conversion, here is my update to Part 1 of 29 Minus – 27.5 Plus Meets Niner WFO
I discovered 0.5 psi makes a big difference when you are playing with only 10-13 instead of 22-28psi. I was able to dial the tire pressure over the course of a few rides, always carrying a pressure gage. For most riding, 12.5psi front and 13.5 rear are my magic numbers to prevent flats or rim damage on my local trails. Riding on my home trails was a good reference to continue testing since I initially was testing on out of town trails.
Since the wheel’s diameter is slightly smaller than 29, I ended up changing to a couple teeth larger chainring in order to compensate.
The comfort and grip is good, and the rolling fast. I still could feel the limit of the tires in G-outs, or drop to flats. I went up to the longest and gnarliest descent we have here in Sedona, Munds Wagon. There is about 20 minutes of lava rock, embedded baby heads and other loose pieces of rocks where I was curious to see how it would do. The top section, a bit more trialsy, was great and the extra volume and grip allowed me to clear everything up and over rocks and logs.
Further on the trail as the speed rises, the bike was really plush and felt smooth and fast over everything. Really playful. At mid way, my rear tire felt low, so I stopped and realized I pinch flatted. I found two cuts at the bead and on top side knobs. I never felt the hit, but wasn’t surprised to get a flat there, considering I wasn’t holding back at all.
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This confirmed to me that the WTB tires are great, but you will need to watch it on big high speed rock gardens and sharp edges.
The first few seconds I went back to my 29er wheels, with 2.3 tires at 24-25 psi, it immediately felt stiff and efficient. But also uncomfortable. I could feel every bit of the terrain under my wheels, and it was an interesting feeling. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not.
After a few rides on the 29er, it confirming my initial impressions. The 27,5+, is incredible on off camber sections, loose gravel, roots or slow rock sections. The rolling resistance is not slower, and the cornering feels a bit tighter.
I am convinced that this set up would make you a better rider 85% of the time. If the companies can figure out a stronger tire (maybe the Maxxis Chronicle EXO) without getting it too heavy, it might be better 99% of the time.
Words By: Alex Petitdemange
Alex Petitdemange is an enduro racer from Annecy, France now living and training in Sedona, AZ. He raced as a XC JR and U25 pro for 5 seasons while mixing it up with some moto. After 9 years with no racing he jumped back into the sport while living in Moab, Utah and finished well enough for a podium position and was hooked back into racing as a pro in enduro.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]