What do you think is the perfect tire width for all-around riding? We asked a similar question a year ago, but a lot has happened during these past 12 months. For starters, the whole plus-size thing has evolved, with not-so-bouncy 2.8-inch models becoming the go-to size for that niche. And then there's the whole plus-curious thing on the horizon. Maxxis, Schwalbe and Specialized have all recently trotted out 2.6-inch tires that are starting to gain traction—even with some riders who’ve sworn a blood oath on the forums to never, ever ride down that dark 2.8-inch, plus-sized path, but who, you know, could maybe do a little 2.6-inch action on the sly if no one was watching. So, now that things have settled a bit and more riders have had a chance to actually ride some of those fatter tires, what's your tire width of choice? Has it changed?
Photo by Brad Walton.
Let's be clear, I’m not talking about the extreme ends of the mountain biking bell curve—neither XC racing or full-on, chairlift-assisted bike park laps. I’m talking about rides that can be as steep and fast as you want, but still require that you pedal to the top. I guess you could call that trail riding or all-mountain or enduro or…I dunno, fill in the blank with the currently-hip word of your choice.
Naturally, tire choice largely boils down to your own soil conditions and riding style, but, still, I’m curious—What’s your ideal tire size?
Remember when it was rare to find a trail bike that’d take anything larger than a 2.1-inch tire between the chainstays? I’m dating myself here, but for the longest time, the average rider had one tire size to choose from—skinny. Sure, there was that brief late `90s Gazzaloddi dalliance, but much of mountain biking’s past was dominated by underwhelming, undernourished-looking tires. That’s all changed, obviously, in the past decade, particularly with the advent of plus-size tires and the not-quite-so-plus 2.6-inch models hitting the scene. What's your choice for general trail riding (you know, not XC racing and not doing laps at the bike park--the huge swath of riding in between those two extremes). And, no, dammit, I'm not talking about fat bikes either.