Perspective Shift: 2.6″ and 2.8″ Tire Opinion

Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.8

After experimenting with larger rubber on a wide variety of exciting NEW bikes recently I felt the need for an update.  Plus tires and bikes are evolving and the number of bikes sporting larger rubber isn’t decreasing.  The perspective shift of 2.6″ and 2.8″ tire opinion has definitely changed with the ability of more bikes to run larger tires.

Do the larger 2.8″ or 2.6″ tires offer a real benefit over the standard 2.35″ or are they simply another way for the bike industry to push the new product?  That’s a tough question to answer and highly depends on the rider, but 2.6 seems destined to be the next popular size.   Ultimately we do this for fun and if we can maximize the fun by optimizing our bikes the benefit is certainly real!

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Ibis Ripley V3 Nobby Nic 2.6
2.6’s help give the Ibis Ripley a new level of confidence.  Read the 2.6″ Nobby Nic review : http://crankjoy.com/speedy-trail-slayer-schwalbe-nobby-nic-2-6-review/
Everone’s riding styles and preferences are different.  Me: I love to stomp out big gnarly backcountry rides as well as enjoy fast xc type trails.  I’m 145lbs and extra weight on the bike is much more noticeable to me than larger riders.  I like faster rolling predictable tires on my full suspension bike.  Lately, I’ve been having a ton of fun with the added grip of some of the larger tires though.
Riding style factor’s in depending on how hard you lean in the corners and how aggressive your lines are.   If you try to run really low pressures you may notice a little more tire flex and less precision. Aggressive riders will want to be careful to pick a plus tire that matches there style and terrain.  If you need a heavy-duty tire in a 2.35 you will also need a heavy-duty tire in a 2.6 or 2.8.   I personally don’t notice any less durability in a 2.35, 2.6 or 2.8 Schwalbe Nobby Nic.

Who might enjoy larger tires?

Those seeking a more forgiving tire that will give added confidence on the roots, rocks and loose corners will enjoy the extra volume.  For hartail and unsuspended riders, the benefits of being able to run less air pressure to smooth out the trail is certainly nice.

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2018 RMB Pipeline Fruita
Riding the new Rocky Mountain Pipeline with 2.8’s along Mack Ridge in Fruita, CO.  If you know this trail, you know how rocky it is. The 2.8 Minions offered truly impressive grip and fun here. I do believe the 2018 Rocky Mountain Pipeline WILL shift some perspectives.

The new 2018 Rocky Mountain Pipeline is my current favorite in plus full suspension.  The beauty of this bike is its ability to morph its geometry to accommodate 27.5 plus OR 29×2.6.  Read my review here: http://crankjoy.com/camp-fruita-2018-rocky-mountain-pipeline-review/ 

Rocky Mountain Bicycles is showcasing the Pipeline with this video of Wade Simmons and Jesse Melamed. Wade is considered the godfather of freeride and Jesse is one of the fastest enduro guys in the world.

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“My motivation in mountain biking has always been to find creative lines and link uber-tech sections with fluidity. Having up to this point ridden 2.3-2.5 tires for 20+ years, I know the limitations. Now with the addition of the + tire, I find my line choices evolving and that’s awesome to me!” – Wade Simmons

Creativity has always kept things fresh for Simmons. On the trail, he makes things happen that simply shouldn’t be possible, all while navigating extremely technical terrain with ease. He’s always been this way. Looking back at his segment in “Shift,” a breakout role for a much younger Godfather, it’s always been about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. – Rocky Mountain Bicycles

“It’s become apparent to me that the big advantage of running + tires is the ability to maintain momentum and speed over rough terrain. The tires eat rough for breakfast! It can be a bit more finicky dialing in the tire pressure, but once you find the right balance, it’s game on.” – Wade Simmons

Jesse is laser focused, and his race results against the World’s fastest are proof. He knows when to go for it, and anyone who’s ridden with Jesse will attest that he’s all-in once his tires hit the trail. Commitment is in his character, and being able to unlock and tap into unconventional lines has set him apart at the EWS and back home in Whistler.

“Running plus tires is great for reminding me there is more than one way to see a trail. It opens my mind to what’s possible and helps me visualize the different lines when practicing for an EWS race.” – Jesse Melamed

Which tire size is best for you?


  • 2.35″ = Riders wanting to go as fast as possible, want the precise cornering feel and the most durable tires.
  • 2.6″ = Riders not concerned with increased weight and wanting a little more traction and forgiving ride from lower tire pressures.  Going from a 2.35″ to 2.6″ will add at least 1/4 lb of rotating mass with most tire models.
  • 2.8″ = Riders looking for a more forgiving tire that offers increased grip and the smoothest ride, but not overly concerned with how fast they get from point A to B.  Going from 2.35″ to 2.8″ will add at least 1/2 lb of rotating weight with most tires.

Tire preferences ultimately come down to riding style, terrain and personal preference.   If you desire more confidence and fun and are less focused on Strava times, 2.6″ and 2.8″ should definitely be a consideration. Have a blast playing with the different choices and finding what works for YOU best.  I will now spend the winter loving the extra grip of 2.6’s on my leaf-covered rocks and roots!
10/31/19 Update:
2.6″ tires continue to be my personal choice for fun times, maximum grip and playfulness.  My favorite 2.6″ tires at the moment are Maxxis Rekon, Bontrager XR4 and Schwalbe’s latest generation of the Hans Dampf and Nobby Nic.
One thing I didn’t touch on here originally was the importance of the wider rim with wide tires.  I believe my current 2.6″ tires on 35mm internal rims give me a bit better sidewall stiffness and less tire roll than a 30mm rim with the same tires.  I wouldn’t think of riding a 2.6 on anything less than a 30mm internal rim though.

For some of the latest tire offerings at great prices, check out  Jenson USA’s tire selector. They have some great 2.6″ tires below $60.  This wasn’t really the case when the size was first being introduced when most were $80+.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. John Russell

    Presumably a hard tail benefits more from larger tyres than a full-suspension? What internal rim sizes do you find work well with these tyre sizes?

    1. Raheem

      35 mm inner width rim for 2.6 and 40mm for 2.8 inner width respectfully.

  2. Chad Davis

    Not necessarily. I would have thought that as well before riding hardtails with plus tires. I have found that not all plus sized tires offer the same damping characteristics or ability to run lower pressures without negativity impacting steering. I’m on a rigid (front and rear) setup right now with 29X3.0 Maxxis Chronicles that don’t seem nearly as smooth riding as the 27.5×2.8 Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s. If I go below 15psi, I can’t stand the way the bike steers with the Chronicles. The 2.8 Nobby Nic’s at higher air pressures felt like they offered more traction and damping than the Chronicles at lower pressures.

    I recommend following manufactures suggested rims sizes for given tires since tire size isn’t necessarily the determining factor on rim width. You have to take tire shape into account as well. I’ve found myself personally gravitating back towards 30mm or less inside diameters with more of a standard 2.4″ tire.

    Are you on a hardtail now and wanting to go with larger tires?

  3. John Russell

    Thanks Chad; I’m on a F/S, but my rims are narrow so I’m increasing tyres and rims to get more grip without losing precision. Tempted to try 40mm internal first with tyres from 2.50 to 2.80 – you gave the Ibis with 40mm rims a nice review – but perhaps 30mm is the limit.

    1. Chad Davis

      John, I am a fan of Ibis wheels. The $549 738 or 938 (34mm internal) alloy option is especially a great way to get into the wide rim world. The internal width of the carbon 741’s that I was riding on the HD3 were 34mm. The newer 742’s are now 35mm internally. I don’t think I would go any wider than that for 2.8’s personally. The weight of rims wider than this starts to creep up and I haven’t really noticed much added benefit.

  4. Smithhammer

    If you haven’t had a chance to ride the Yeti SB5+ you should check it out. I’ve been riding plus and fat tires for years now, and this bike blows my mind.

    1. Chad Davis

      Agree, the SB5 in all of its forms is excellent. We resently had the opportunity to spend some time on the SB5 LR that totally impressed. Keep enjoying!

  5. Bob

    A lot of opinion provided as fact in this article. You might want to read Bike Radar’s analysis on tire width…based on actual tests. You’ll find that 2.8″ tires offer a speed advantage in most scenarios.

    1. Chad Davis

      Hi Bob and thanks for your comment! You are right that I am presenting some of my opinions as fact. I agree with you that 2.8’s have their place and they are a fun and and fast setup in the right conditions. “A speed advantage in most situations” might be true for some, but not all. If that were the case we would see the best racers in the world from XC to enduro and DH on 2.8’s.

      Here is a much more detailed follow up to that post here: Tire Size Shootout

      There’s been some extremely good data recently from the Swiss Cycling Federation that found the fastest XC combo being 2.4 and 30mm internal width rim. The Swiss and the top-ranked Swiss-based world cup team have been mainly running this combo for the past couple of years after their testing.

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