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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #1 
OK -- this isn't strictly about gravel bikes; but I know lots of you come from, or have a lot of mountain bike experience. I know very little about mountain bikes; but for several reasons, I'd like to add one to my vast collection of 2 wheel vehicles. Having recently discovered the delights of riding on unpaved surfaces with my increasingly mountain bike influenced gravel bikes -- disc brakes, thru axles, tubeless tires etc., I'd like to start expanding my repertoire to the many unpaved and unmaintained farm and logging roads is my area. You more skilled, and younger riders, would likely tackle these wider double tracked trails with your gravel bikes; but being 74 years old with many old scars and broken bones from racing bikes for almost 60 years, I'm reluctant to learn the hard way on my new gravel bike which can only take 40mm tires. After considering the many alternatives out there, from monster cross to full blown dual suspension 29er mountain bikes, I've zeroed in on 27.5+ single suspension bikes with 4"+ wide tubeless tires as perhaps my best choice --- either kitted out as a flat bar mountain bike, or as a drop bar super monster cross machine. I'd like to keep the cost around $3,000 or less. Suggestions and advice much appreciated - thanks.
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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #2 
My only question to you would be:  Why choose 27.5+?  Especially for someone coming from a road background, those tires are going to make the bike feel slow and sluggish.  It seems a XC 29er with some fast tires would be a more enjoyable tool.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljsmith
My only question to you would be:  Why choose 27.5+?  Especially for someone coming from a road background, those tires are going to make the bike feel slow and sluggish.  It seems a XC 29er with some fast tires would be a more enjoyable tool.

Good question. I'm not totally sure. Frankly, banging around the gnarly New England single track trails wasn't on my agenda. I'm happy just to hike these abundant trails in my area. But, you are correct, a 29er hard tail might be a better choice. Any good suggestions for something for wider, less challenging unmaintained trails. In my area we have a lot of so  called "Class A trails", which are old farm roads which are on the maps; but not maintained. Maybe a monster cross with 29er wheels?
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LewisQC

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Reply with quote  #4 
Plus bike will give more confort and grip when things get really rough vs a regular 27.5 or 29er bike. Beginner and less experience riders will find confidence faster on those tire. This is relevant mostly for mtbiking in technical single track.  Experience mountain biker will often (not always) find these bike slower and sluggish for agressive riding (deformation of larger tire in cornering) For the type of riding that you described, they're probably not the best tool... That said, even if I own a FS carbon 29er (140/130mm travel), I'm still regularly riding my rigid aluminium fat bike with 4.7 tire in technical single track, flow trail, bike path or around the neighborhood with my kids because bigger tires are just fun. So even though a road bike with 650b, bigger 700c or a hardtail 29er should be a better choice, if you feel like buying mtb+ it may open some new riding too.

My brother has a FS fat bike with 29+ (3" Maxxis Chronicle) for summer riding. We exange bike this week on a 30km single track ride and I was really impressed. If your a tall guy, 29+ really keep their momentum while rolling and just eat everything you throw at them...As for suggestion, look at RSD bike offering. They have 27,5+, 29+ and 700c with 45c clearance with pretty reasonable pricing (like 2300$us for a complete 27.5+). Also Salsa have both carbon and aluminium 27.5+ bikes. Something like a Salsa Fargo should be on your list in my opinion but it's not a mountain bike!
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LewisQC
Plus bike will give more confort and grip when things get really rough vs a regular 27.5 or 29er bike. Beginner and less experience riders will find confidence faster on those tire. This is relevant mostly for mtbiking in technical single track.  Experience mountain biker will often (not always) find these bike slower and sluggish for agressive riding (deformation of larger tire in cornering) For the type of riding that you described, they're probably not the best tool... That said, even if I own a FS carbon 29er (140/130mm travel), I'm still regularly riding my rigid aluminium fat bike with 4.7 tire in technical single track, flow trail, bike path or around the neighborhood with my kids because bigger tires are just fun. So even though a road bike with 650b, bigger 700c or a hardtail 29er should be a better choice, if you feel like buying mtb+ it may open some new riding too.

My brother has a FS fat bike with 29+ (3" Maxxis Chronicle) for summer riding. We exanged bike this week on a 30km single track ride and I was really impressed. If you'r a tall guy, 29+ really keep their momentum while rolling and just eat everything you throw at them...As for suggestion, look at RSD bike offering. They have 27,5+, 29+ and 700c with 45c clearance with pretty reasonable pricing (like 2300$us for a complete 27.5+). Also Salsa have both carbon and aluminium 27.5+ bikes. Something like a Salsa Fargo should be on your list in my opinion but it's not a mountain bike!

Thanks - very helpful advice. I like the "fun" part. I'm not likely to get very serious about off roading. Also plan to do some riding around with my 6 year old grandson on much less challenging stuff. A plus bike - especially 27.5+ is very appealing. I also noticed that Salsa makes a convertible model that can be run with either 27.5+ or 29er wheels. Not sure how it works -- but apparently there is a switch in the suspension system that changes the bike geometry to accommodate either wheel size. Every time I see someone on a real fat bike, they seem to have a big smile on their face, though! This may sound like blasphemy, but I've even seen some 27.5+ e-bikes. Hey - why not? At 74 orbits around the sun, I don't have to prove anything anymore.
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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LewisQC
Plus bike will give more confort and grip when things get really rough vs a regular 27.5 or 29er bike. Beginner and less experience riders will find confidence faster on those tire. This is relevant mostly for mtbiking in technical single track.  Experience mountain biker will often (not always) find these bike slower and sluggish for agressive riding (deformation of larger tire in cornering) For the type of riding that you described, they're probably not the best tool... That said, even if I own a FS carbon 29er (140/130mm travel), I'm still regularly riding my rigid aluminium fat bike with 4.7 tire in technical single track, flow trail, bike path or around the neighborhood with my kids because bigger tires are just fun. So even though a road bike with 650b, bigger 700c or a hardtail 29er should be a better choice, if you feel like buying mtb+ it may open some new riding too.

My brother has a FS fat bike with 29+ (3" Maxxis Chronicle) for summer riding. We exange bike this week on a 30km single track ride and I was really impressed. If your a tall guy, 29+ really keep their momentum while rolling and just eat everything you throw at them...As for suggestion, look at RSD bike offering. They have 27,5+, 29+ and 700c with 45c clearance with pretty reasonable pricing (like 2300$us for a complete 27.5+). Also Salsa have both carbon and aluminium 27.5+ bikes. Something like a Salsa Fargo should be on your list in my opinion but it's not a mountain bike!


Everything you say is true, but you aren't addressing where Bob said he was actually going to ride the bike.  He said he would be riding farm and logging roads not singletrack.  As a mountain biker, I don't consider those type of conditions "really rough".  And I will stand by my comments that a 29er is by far a better tool for the job, unless you enjoy a slow sluggish bike.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #7 
I just can't feel comfortable on a 29" bike.  They feel like trucks to me.  Yeah, fun on a rolling downhnill, but not as agile as I want.

27.5 gives me the agility similar to a 26" but with more volume and smoother ride (approach angle) than a 26.  

For Bob - a 27.5+ and a 29 are going to have the same diameter.  For a bike to be able to fit both, it just needs the width to take a wide tire.  You don't necessarily need to switch the geometry.  I think this site did a video of the Lynskey GR250 where they tried out both wheels as the bike can fit either wheel (although not going up to 27.5+ size since it is a gravel bike).

and bob, I've built a couple of e-bikes.  I think a 27.5 ebike would be a ball on dirt roads - if I'm ebiking off pavement, I use a 26x2.4 tire, but 27.5+ would be even better.
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knl2stl

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Reply with quote  #8 
OK, I (mostly) read everything....so please forgive me if I missed something.  First, 4+ wide tires are not plus sized, they are fat sized.  

If you don't feel comfortable on a 29er, then don't bother with them.  I find 29ers fine, but 29+ to be simply too much.  And there is probably a reason why the industry is producing fewer of them every year in favor of 27.5+.  

After riding a fat bike for rather sometime, I just don't see the point of any 26, 27.5, or 29 tires that are under 2.8.  

I have 700c bikes for road and off road, and they have their place.  For any kind of single track with flat bars, however, if you are not racing, there is simply too much to gain in traction and comfort with plus tires.  You can simply ride so much easier, with fewer concerns.  

They are not sluggish.  You can pedal harder, lean more, and brake less, and just hit the lines you want to with less work and worry...be that rocks or erosion from water or tech.  

There are so many 27.5 plus bikes and fat bikes that you just need to start looking and start test riding.  

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SpartyinWI

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Reply with quote  #9 
I love my 27.5+ bike and it does not slow me down nearly as much as I perceived that it would.  With that said I ride over plenty of rocks and roots on single track.  

Check out a Salsa Timberjack that can take 27.5+ and 29.  The GX1 is an excellent value.  
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nalax

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Reply with quote  #10 
I'm with LJ on this and I've been riding 650b since the Quasi-Moto and Neo-motos came out(which really wasn't that long ago). Bob is tall and IMO would fit a 29er far better than me (I'm 5-6). For fast XC riding 29ers roll faster than 650b. I prefer the handling of 650b but that short fast guy Nino Schurter switched to 29 this year. But I'm short and slow.
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LewisQC

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Reply with quote  #11 
Everything you say is true, but you aren't addressing where Bob said he was actually going to ride the bike.  He said he would be riding farm and logging roads not singletrack.  As a mountain biker, I don't consider those type of conditions "really rough".  And I will stand by my comments that a 29er is by far a better tool for the job, unless you enjoy a slow sluggish bike.

Well if you read my comment carefully, I clearly said two time that for me, a road bike with bigger 700c or 650b tires or a 29er (or a Salsa Fargo) would be better for the riding he wants to do... Just pointing out (from my own experience) that even if it's not the best tool for the job, fat or plus bike are still enjoyable.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:

They are not sluggish.  You can pedal harder, lean more, and brake less, and just hit the lines you want to with less work and worry...be that rocks or erosion from water or tech.  


Some of us like to practice our skills.  Yeah, '+' or fat tires on a long/low/slack bike are fun, easy, and relaxing, but there is some thing to be said to dancing with a light hard tail and some 2500gr wheel/tire combo.  

the weight of some mountain bike these days shocks me...

But bob (especially if he is tall) could have a lot of fun on a 29+ or just a standard 29er.
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knl2stl

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Reply with quote  #13 
There is being skillful and worrying about traction and being skillful and not worrying about traction.  I would not call that relaxing.  When I want to go full on dancing I ride my steel hardtail with 26 inch wheels and 2.1 tires.  But it can get dicey.  Sure, part of the fun.  
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chunkyhugo

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljsmith
My only question to you would be:  Why choose 27.5+?  Especially for someone coming from a road background, those tires are going to make the bike feel slow and sluggish.  It seems a XC 29er with some fast tires would be a more enjoyable tool.

Agree with this. 29er bikes are awesome. For the style of off-roading you want to do, a 29er is perfect.
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imwjl

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Reply with quote  #15 
Delay the gratification and try lots of stuff.

I can tell you why with bikes that can do plus wheels I prefer true fat and 29r, but you should go to demos, rent bikes, try friends' bikes to know yourself.

Regarding age, I do have to say that while I love all bikes the trail/AM/Enduro types my wife and I have facilitate the most fun, least pain and longest days on the bike. That might even bey why for "gravel" I fell in love with a Fargo with fast tires over lighter or skinnier bikes.

Having had different types of links and shocks my wife and I love Trek's "Reaktiv" shock as the bike type that really does get you the best of all worlds. This is especially true if you know how to pump or ride varied terrain. 

Once I got used to higher axle height and found bigger wheeled bikes that handle well I wanted large diameter no matter what. When you test bikes make sure you know that momentum and roll over ability you can get.

I've been part of getting hundreds of new and returning riders on trails and have observed many get poor advice. Their inner weight weenie or racer friend guides them to something too light or fast. Their single speed or fat bike zealot friend says be like me. That's a lot of why I say delay gratification and try stuff.

Have fun shopping and riding. At your age (any age) look for my associate the Mountain Bike Geezer Grif on the web and do his concentration on skills. It will make it all a lot of fun.
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Boo Bear

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Reply with quote  #16 
Hi Bob-  I happen to have a 27.5+ hardtail mountain bike- I have the Advocate Hayduke. It is Reynolds 725. It is probably my favorite bike I've ever owned. I use it mostly for singletrack, but as my wife and I haven't purchased our gravel bikes yet, we've been using our 27.5+ HT's to do some gravel riding this summer and fall. I think you and I live in the same area- I'm in Amherst, NH.  We've been riding Lyndeboro/Mont Vernon/Francestown dirt roads on them.  We will also be using them in the future for off road bikepacking, when the trails will be too much for whatever gravel rig we end up getting.

The Hayduke will also run 29er tires on it, up to 2.5" or so.  I plan on getting a set of 29er wheels for it over the winter to use for gravel riding.  The 27.5+ wheel/tire is a bit slower as some have mentioned, but I'm personally more concerned with smiles per miles than miles per hour, so I don't care much about which is fastest.  (If I were I wouldn't have bought a steel bike in the first place.)

Not sure how tall you are, but I'm 6' with a 32" (cycling) inseam.  If you're around that same size and want to give the bike a spin, let me know.  Not sure if you've considered a fat bike (4" or > tires) as well.  If you haven't that might be a really nice addition to the quiver, you could use it to ride the terrain you're describing in the summer, and get out and ride snow in the winter, which is a blast. (My fat bike needs to have the drivetrain reinstalled, but should be up a running in the near future.)
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #17 
Hi - thanks. We are neighbors. I live in Greenfield just west of Lyndeborough. My house is on the GTA trail network, which I hike almost daily. I also ride on the unpaved roads that you mentioned. I'll try to contact you through the e-mail system, rather than clog this thread with personal chit chat. Yes - my inseam is 34+, but i'm only 5' 10". Love to try your bike. It is very similar to the Salsa Timberjack I'm considering.
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