Review -

Back Issue | You Plussy! – Fun on a hardtail for softies

Bigger wheel, bigger smiles? Like with nearly every other innovation in the mountainbiking community, plus sized tyres were met with a mixed reception at best. In the coming story we try our hand with plus tires and were pleasantly surprised at what they had to offer… Continue reading or head over and check out the original article in issue #017!

We try our hand with plus sized tyres…
We try our hand with plus sized tyres…

So what, I’m a wimp. There, I’ve said it. Out and proud. And I’ve had enough of everyone who turns their nose up at the advancements that are hitting the sport. “Only steel is real,” is one such argument cited in this ideological war against bike technology. A fully? Electronic parts on a bike? Fat tyres? Sacrilege! E­MTBs? Piss off.

Apparently it is possible to have fun on big wheeled bikes too!
Apparently it is possible to have fun on big wheeled bikes too!

Let’s be honest; humans have always built machines with the intention of making themselves faster, better, and more brilliant. So when it comes to mountain bikes, we’re talking disc brakes, fullys, new wheel sizes, dropper posts, and now plus­size tyres too.

Plus size tyres offer added efficiency and stability.
Plus size tyres offer added efficiency and stability.

Every single innovation is met with jeers and outspoken judgments of marketing hype… how it is a sacrilege to the sport. They’re cursed and condemned as dangers to public safety. But the truth is that they’ve survived – and become the standard. Keep reading to find out why it will be the same with plus­size tyres.

Sun, smiles and sweet trails.
Sun, smiles and sweet trails.

Hardtails have had a bum deal since the last tidal wave of innovation came along – at least when the focus was on fun rather than securing vital uphill seconds. Lighter, more rigid, and more efficient: this was what summed up the hardtail movement. If you were looking for a trailblazing bike, hardtails were quickly maxed out when you hit a downhill. Thus, the main argument in their favour was usually their price.

The main advantage of a hardtail is usually their price.
The main advantage of a hardtail is usually their price.

However, things are starting to change as a new generation of bikes enters the world stage. Fatter, more extreme, and essentially better – this represents the motto of 2016 touted by many manufacturers as they launch new models onto the market.

This is what fun looks like.
This is what fun looks like.

Opting for aggressive geometry stats, fatter tyres, and innovative frame concepts, the hardtail market is being revolutionized and is once again attracting wimps to its altar…wimps like me.

Smiling at the money saved?
Smiling at the money saved?

Don’t get me wrong. I like my riding to be fast, hard, and uncompromising – but preferably with decent traction and stability. And fortunately, this is exactly what the new models are bringing to the table.

The hardtail market is undergoing a revolution.
The hardtail market is undergoing a revolution.
Are we too quick to prejudge new innovations?
Are we too quick to prejudge new innovations?
Less money spent on bikes means more money to spend on beer!
Less money spent on bikes means more money to spend on beer!

These bikes don’t have the mission to win XC World Cups any longer; now they’re focused on fun. Cool riders, aggressive riders, and even those who just love to pedal around can be satisfied with one of these hardtails. With affordable prices, the new generation has opened the market up to so many more riders, and particularly to those whose wallets won’t stretch to the current crop of fullys.

We tested the Trek Stache with 29+ wheels and the Specialized Fuse with 27+ with just one goal in mind: pure riding.

These bikes are for riding, not racing.
These bikes are for riding, not racing.

Roll­over characteristics, traction, and rolling resistance of the tyres are each thoroughly impressive, but the speed of race­orientated XC whippets has been forsaken in favour of superb and spirited downhill handling.

The plus size tyre’s ability to carry speed is impressive.
The plus size tyre’s ability to carry speed is impressive.

And that’s exactly what it is about: a ride that just delivers more fun. Progress through technique. Both the bike – and yourself. Remember, plus­size hardtails ask more of you than a fully.

Specialized Fuse Expert

Specialized_Fuse_BringBackTheFun!_www.enduro-mtb.com_Klaus_Kneist_KKM9045

Weighing 13.9kg (large frame), the Fuse Expert isn’t the kind of hardtail that will see you collecting new KOMs on climbs. But downhills are a different scenario; with its aggressive geometry (67° head angle) and the grippy 3.0″ plus­size tyres, your mates on fullys will see little but the dust your back tyre throws up. Neither efficiency nor weight are at the fore here – it’s traction, stability, and amazing descending capabilities that are in abundance. Costing €2,099 (€1,699 in the Comp version), it’s a serious contender for anyone after a simple yet potent bike!

You can find more information about the Specialized Fuse Expert here.

Trek Stache 9 29+

Trek_Stache_BringBackTheFun!_www.enduro-mtb.com_Klaus_Kneist_KKM9072

Bigger is better: More reminiscent of a monster truck than a bike, the Stache 9 cuts a strong figure with its 29″ plus­size tyres and compact frame. Thanks to the central riding position, weight (12.9kg), and its short chainstays with the Stranglehold sliding dropouts that allow you vary the length, it is anything but lumbering on the trails. Monster grip, extraordinary rollover characteristics, and the high­class spec with a great cockpit results in a super­fun ride. But fun comes with a price tag – €3,999 is the price of the top­of­the­line Trek Stache 9 29+ Hardtail.

You can find more information about the Trek Stache 9 29 here.

Apparel:

Laurenz

Helmet: Sweet Protection Bushwhacker

Glasses: Uvex Sportstyle 109 Vario

Shorts: Sweet Protection Hunter Enduro Shorts

Jersey: Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Jersey Rekon Dawn

Socks: ONE Industries

Shoes: Shimano SH-AM45

Backpack: Mavic Crossmax

Sebastian

Helmet: Kali MAYA

Glasses: Adidas Evo Eye

Jersey: Specialized Enduro Comp jersey

Gloves: Alpinestars F-Lite Gloves

Shorts: Troy Lee Designs Connect Shorts

Socks: ION

Shoes: Five Ten Kestrel

Backpack: USWE F6 PRO Hydropack

Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Klaus Kneist