Last Novemer I built up a pair of 27+ wheels for my 29er frame. For rims I chose the very wide (45mm inner width) WTB Scrapers, and for tires I went with the WTB Trail Boss 3.0. I built them up on some used hubs I had lying around and went out to hit the trail. After noticing some chain stay rub, I had to switch to a 2.8 in the rear. The 3.0 clears my fork by only about 2mm on either side but I haven't had any problems there. Nearly 9-months later, I've ridden this setup in a lot of different conditions and have the following impressions to share:
Traction, traction, traction! Plus tires are grippy, due to the wider contact patch. This makes for improved cornering and climbing traction, which leads to more confidence in sketchy conditions. In loose-over-hard to loose dry conditions these tires railed corners and adjusted quickly to rider input. In some cases where the tires did break loose in a corner, it felt more like a controlled drift than a near crash. On hard-packed or damp, grippy dirt these tires roll well too, though there is probably negligible traction benefit when the dirt is near perfect. The one situation where the plus size is a drawback is mud. The tires have enough float so that they skim the surface rather than sink in to find solid ground. As I try to avoid riding muddy trails, I don't anticipate many issues with this.
Compared to the 29x2.3 WTB Vigilante tires I was running, I feel faster and more nimble on rough and twisty trail but slower on pavement and hardpack. The inflated diameter of the 27+ tires are only about a half inch less than the 29s, but that has a noticeable difference. My belief is that the diameter is so close, that the increase in absorption of the 27+ tire allows it to hold more momentum when encountering obstacles, while having just enough extra drag and smaller diameter to feel slower where there are no obstacles. I'm looking forward to building a frame that will take 29+ tires so I can compare.
Bottom line: I am having a ton of fun riding 27+, and isn't fun the ultimate unit of measure? If you want more smiles per mile, try plus.
This bike is going to my mom and has a few special features designed just for her. The down tube is curved slightly to allow for the more dramatic curve of the top tube. This allows the widest and lowest step-through possible with two separate tubes. I'm finishing the fork now and hope to get it all off to powder in a few days.
custom seat stay caps made from one-inch diameter tubing
I put a threaded boss under the brake bridge for clean fender mounting.
Because of the curves, I'm routing the cables along each side of the down tube and through custom brass guide tubes on the BB shell. The rear brake cable is routed like a bottom pull front derailleur. Also visible here is the kickstand plate.
Matt's bike is finally built up and on the trail. It's going to have a finish and logo , but he couldn't wait to try it out so we built it up raw. It handles just how he wants it to and couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I'm quite pleased myself! I'll add gallery pics once we get the frame/fork coated and all built up again.
new project, new challenges
Matt has asked me to build him a B+ (27.5 x 3" tires) mountain bike. These new plus -sized wheels and tires are taking the bike industry by storm this year. Matt's bike will have a playful trail geometry but will also have some features to allow for the occasional bikepacking outing. Among the challenges I have taken on are bending straight tubes into gentle curves for the top tube, seat tube, and fork blades.
The bottom third of the seat tube is curved for tire clearance and the entire top tube has a continuous, gentle curve because, well, it's cool. I'm also taking on my first five-piece segmented fork.
As you can see, the fork is made up of a tapered steerer, two short horizontal tubes, and two fork blades. (This is just a temporary dry fit, as there is more shaping to be done.) It is different from other styles of fork (unicrown, plate style, lugged) in that it has pretty much infinite variability. In order to fit the wide tires and boost front hub, the segmented style seemed the best way to go. Plus, I love the aesthetic!
There are a host of other small details in this project that will be firsts for me, some of which require new expensive tools. But I couldn't be happier about the opportunity. I'm looking forward to delivering Matt a rad bike.
Vicki is now zooming around Port Isabel on her new bike. It looks like it suits her! She has already received some compliments, which makes me feel proud. But the most important result is that the customer is happy - and she is.
It's been a busy couple of months at the day job, but now that things are slowing down again I'm able to spend some quality time in the shop. I've set up the jig for my next personal mountain bike, an all-mountain hard tail. The first tubes have been mitered and fit. It feels good to cut the tubes by hand with files, carefully shaping each miter (or cope) until the the tubes just fall into place. What you see in the picture is a fixed head tube and bottom bracket with the seat tube and down tube held in place only by gravity.
Jay just sent this photo of his bike out in the world. He's been having a great time riding the country roads near Chicago. I'm thrilled that he is happy with the bike. Makes me want to go riding... yep, I'm going riding. See ya!
Wow, it took me quite a while to get things rolling again after moving to Medford and starting a new day job at Marty's Cycles. There is still a lot to do, but I have the shop 75% set up and have been brazing again. Working part time at a bike shop is really great. I'm getting to know more people in the cycling community here and learning new valuable skills.
I'm happy to say that Vicki's town bike is done and in the queue at Custom Powderworks. This is the last pic of the bike before Bob gives it a lovely coat of cream with terra cotta logo panel. The build kit is all ready to go and it's going to look sweet! I just need to finish getting the wheels up to tension and true. More on this project in a couple weeks when I get the frame and fork back from powder.
I am batching it for a few days, plus it rained, so today was a productive day in the shop. I'm working on Vicki's town bike, a 3-speed step-through (or ladies' bike). I managed to fit up and braze the chain stays to the dropouts and to the frame. I also uploaded some pictures of my progress to the gallery page.
I'm exploring some new techniques and parts with this build, so it is constantly entertaining. I'm really starting to enjoy the subtleties of heat control when it comes to melting silver. Sweating the silver through the dropout plug was new for me, but it went flawlessly. Every moment with the torch on is so intense and so engaging. it's a lot like fly fishing for me; caught up in the moment I focus completely and lose track of time.
Ah yes, the marrow. I roasted bone marrow for the first time today and it was delicious! I served it with crusty bread, sea salt, and a tangy salad of parsley, lime, capers, and red onion. Just the thing to fuel an afternoon in the shop.