I don’t know exactly how long it’s been. Maybe five or six years? I think it was 2013 when I first fiddled with 29+ tires, and the world just hasn’t looked the same since.
But lots of people have ridden plus tires. They feel different from everything that came before but still sort of normal. Like, normal, but with more cush and additional privileges bestowed upon the rider. I briefly rode 26″ x 4″ tires and they were crazy capable but equally slow. That phase burned hot, bright — but only briefly before I moved on. Where I really turned a corner was when I started riding “B Fat,” aka 27.5 x 3.8″ tires.
There is something about this combo that just works for me as a daily driver on the Colorado Plateau. The ability to run high single digit pressures is part of it. The capability of five or six inches of travel suspending the rider above those meats is another.
There are other options for this wheelsize out there—I’ve ridden every one I could get my hands on—but it took Devin Lenz and his fabrication wizardry (Lenz Sports) to dial in the geometry.
Tires this size will never approach the climbing speed of a 29er with 2.5-inch tires. But the rougher the trail, the more chossy the line, the more amped up the landing, the more the Lenz Fatillac shines.
I don’t enjoy crowds so as they continue to flock to my current home trails I find myself riding more of the fringe routes and lots of off-piste. This chassis shines at that sort of thing: Plump tires to smooth out the rough, low gearing to tractor up anything, sporty geometry to keep me grinning when things point down, and tying it all together is supple, tractable, tunable suspension that can be (and has been) dialed to suit me. Or you.
It’s not much of a secret that I did unspeakable things to my body in the years that I was harassed by endurance racing demons. I’m paying that bill now. I need a cushy, compliant ride or I’m limited on how long I can ride or how often. I’m delaying ankle fusion as long as I can because that’s a one-way street, and in that hopefully substantial interim the Fatillac pictured here is my ticket to ride.
I mentioned above that I turned a corner when I started riding B Fat. It’s sort of like eating plain macaroni every day and being perfectly fine with it. Then one day you discover that you can has cheese…
The past few years have seen a steady stream of manufacturers offering bikes that can be swapped from 29 x 2.5″ wheels to 27.5 x 2.8″. Choices are good, right? The bummer is that that size of 29″ tire is so harsh, and that variant of a 27.5″ tire is so short. From where I sit that combo is literally the worst of both worlds—unless we’re talking 26″. Which we aren’t.
In a similar vein, I have a second wheelset with 29 x 2.8″ tires that I can quick-switch into this bike when needed. I spent about 30 minutes micro-shimming the rotors out such that no brake adjustments are needed: When I want to swap wheels for a ride it’s a two-minute job and out the door I go.
But that’s rare. I like cush—pretty much require it—and the calm, competent cushiness of the B Fat Fatillac has been a revelation this spring.
Our trails have only been dry enough to ride for roughly three weeks, and in that time I’ve repeatedly torched my legs while incinerating endorphins (and grinning ear to ear) six days out of every seven.
It’s not for everyone. No one bike is. If you like chunky, chossy, messy trails, or exploring washes and off piste, or steamrolling through babyheads…
And a video of Mike enjoying his bike with the big meats
This post originally appeared at Lacemine29.