Today, we join in on the debate between the 27.5+ and the 29” bikes where we seek to find answers on which of these two bikes is better than the other. At the end of this article, we hope to put to bed the 27.5” Plus vs. 29” debate.
So, is 27.5 Plus faster than the 29-inch bike?
If you are biking enthusiast, you’ve probably tried the 27.5plus and the 29-inch bikes, or you might have come across passionate arguments in online forums discussing the two bikes and which of the two is faster. But before we look at how these two bikes differ, it’s worth noting that the 27.5 plus and the 29ers have the same outer diameter, which means that it’s possible for you to install the 29” wheels in your 27.5” bike, and vice versa.
It’s also worth noting that before the introduction of 27.5” and 29” wheel bikes on the cycling scene, the only mountain bikes present were the 26-inch bikes, which is why the bike’s wheel size wasn’t something that cyclists really took note of. But after the introduction of the 29” or the 29er, then the 27.5”/ 27.5” plus, also called the 650b wheels, things have changed significantly. Before you select a mountain bike, you need to take into account the wheel size as it affects the terrain that the bike can handle.
27.5 Plus vs. 29 Bike: Comparison Table
27.5 Plus vs. 29 Bike
Long/ Short Rides
Short, fun rides
5 plus vs. 29 plus – Which is the best Plus bike for you?
There has been a rise in the number of bike brands releasing bikes in sizes 27.5+ and 29+ wheel sizes. While some brands have bikes in both sizes, others come in either size.
To know which of thesetwo plus-sized bikes you need to select, your first need to know that the 2.8-3.5” wide plus wheels are often set on the tubeless bikes that fall in the 10-18psi range rather than the 2.1-2.5inch range for the regular size bikes set in the tubeless bikes in the psi range of 20-35.
The 27.5+ tire features a rim diameter same to that of the regular 27.5” tire, with the only difference between these two tires being the fact that the 27.5plus’ outer diameter is more than 27.5 inches. Most of these bikes sport the trail bike geometry, and they are a lot like the regular 27.5 bikes, with the main difference being the fact that the 27.5+ is close in size to the 29ers.
Regarding performance on the trail, the 27.5+ bikes slung lower than the regular bikes, and they stick to the ground very well thanks to the wider tires that allow the bikes to run at a lower pressure. As a result, they are more maneuverable; they will lift up quickly when repositioning the wheel, changing the lines, or whipping around corners. Thanks to the increase in tire contact, the high volume/ low-pressure, and the wide design, these bikes inspire confidence. These features and the high-performance/ confidence are the reasons behind the rise in the production of these 27.5+ bikes as full-suspension ad hardtail bikes.
With a similar rim diameter to the 29er/ regular tires, the 29+ has an outer diameter bigger than 29 inches – actually closer to 30.5 inches. These bikes fall into the cross-country geometry, and they are ideal for anyone looking for a bike capable of maintaining momentum.
The 29+ bike is wide and a perfect fit for anyone planning to roll over large obstacles like cobbles on a river bed or rock gardens at a relatively slow speed. These tires have a nice gyroscopic effect, they are quite stable, and the ability to maintain momentum over different terrains means that such a bike would inspire confidence. And given the larger rollover and volume, such bikes tend to be more forgiving, hence their use in fire roads, riverbed washes, and continuous or flowing single tracks.
5 plus vs. 29 plus Mountain Bike
Essentially, the 27.5+ is better than the 29ers in several aspects, including the fact that it offers a very high level of acceleration, it’s lighter, its maneuverability, it’s ideal for shorter riders. On the other hand, 29ers’ acceleration is not as high, although it offers better traction than the 27.5 plus, better attack angles, and it’s ideal for taller riders. The 29ers tend to be heavier, but the maneuverability isn’t as good as the 27.5plus
The 27.5+ are faster and more manageable to ride than the 29+ because of the smaller diameter that allows for easy navigation through the tricky and tight trails. The smaller diameter also means that the bike responds to the rider’s input easily, which is a huge win for smaller riders unable to control the larger 29+ bikes. The low weight of the 27.5+ also means that the bike is an energetic, more playful ride that allows for a quick change in direction. The only catch is that this bike won’t feel very stable at very high speeds. So, for better balance, the 29+ would be a preferable option.
But if you need to maneuver large obstacles with ease, you might want to try the 29+. This is also the best option for maneuvering straightaways, where you need the 29+ to easily build and maintain momentum.
5 Plus Climbing/ Downhill
The 27.5plus is very maneuverable, and a better option for the technical maneuvers and quick turns around punchy and short climbs. The bike is also light on the climbs, hence a good overall acceleration. But it’s not ideal for use on smooth, gravel roads, or straight single tracks where you will need the 29+. Overall, the 27.5+ is great for accelerating through short uphill sections and tight turns.
5 vs. 29 Enduro
Enduro is a brand of super mountain bikes, but just because you are looking at an Enduro bike doesn’t mean that you get to pick any bike you come across. The bike’s wheel size is important, which is why you have to take this factor to heart.
Essentially 27.5+ and 29 bikes have large wheel rims, and since they have the agility of the narrower bikes, they offer more stability and traction. Comparing the 27.5+ and the 29er, these fat bikes offer a better grip. However, out of the two, the 29ers offer a better, more confident grip than the 27.5+. The difference between the two is, however, barely noticeable, especially in terms of the bike’s climbing ability. Both chubby tires offer a large rolling resistance.
Just be careful when riding at high speeds where the bounce effect becomes more noticeable, and the handling gets sloppy. As a result, you really have to wrench at the handlebars to stay on track. Overall, 27.5+ is more maneuverable and faster.
There are numerous 27.5plus wheelsets on the market today, and they boost higher speeds and better performance on trails and uneven surfaces. They have a higher roll-down speed.
650b vs 29er
While the general consensus is that the larger bikes 27.5 and the 29ers make better mountain bikes because they are more stable with good acceleration, there are some differences.
The 27.5 or the 650b rolls over roots and rocks easily because of the wide circumference, it covers more distance (per pedal revolutions), comes with a bigger wheel size for longer travels, and the higher air volume smooths out the rides. It’s imperfect, though, and its large radius means that you need a stiff wheel build and stiffer fork to prevent/ lower deflection. You also have to deal with geometry and sizing issues trying to convert your 26 into a 650B.
The 29er, on the other hand, is larger, which means more weight. So, in as much as it will roll over roots and rocks easily because of the wide tires, the extra weight affects its handling, and the bike might become sluggish. Also, the 29er’s side knobs often end up standing too high, and this impacts the ground footprint negatively, as the rims keep deforming.
To choose the best bike, consider your height – 650B and 29ers work for most heights, but the 29er might not be a good option for a short rider. Keep in mind the trail and the travel you are looking for.
Can you put 29-inch wheels on a 27.5 Plus?
Yes and no. In theory, you can convert your 27.5+ into a 29er if you need a fat bike with a higher level of maneuverability, especially if you are planning to ride on a trail with gravel or rocky areas that call for a bike with more stability. This conversion will, however, affect the bike’s geometry, and you must know what you are doing.
While some people note that this conversion is possible, we wouldn’t recommend it 100%, especially if your fork and the frame are unable to accommodate the 29er tire. And as mentioned above, this conversion will affect your bike’s geometry, which means that if the impact on the bike’s geometry is too big, you shouldn’t avoid this conversion.
Assuming the bike’s frame can accommodate the bigger rear wheel size, you will end up with a reduced rear wheel clearance, hence a restriction in the tire choice. The conversion will be affected severely in case there is mud or any other form of damage to the rear wheel. The BB will go up, and the handling efficiency from the smaller tires will be gone, especially with the stuffing of larger tires into non-optimized frames, which will plow rather than turn.
Even though the 29er is more capable of rolling over obstacles with ease compared to the 27.5, the switch might not yield the race-changing effects expected. The best bet for anyone looking for a wider wheel bike would be to buy a new 29er because you wouldn’t have to compromise on other design features or affect the bike’s overall integrity.
Are 26” wheels dead?
No. 26” wheels are nowhere near dead. Though rare, they are now used almost exclusively for kids’ bikes. These bikes also do well in twisty and tight areas. But since these bikes are being phased out by manufacturers, you might want to look for 27.5 plus or 29ers. If buying a new mountain bike, avoid the 26”.
Can you put 27.5 plus in the rear and 29 in the front?
Yes, you can. While placing the 29er at the rear and the 27.5+ at the front is a bad idea since the bike can easily flip forward, leaving you some broken bones, you can actually place a 27.5+ at the rear and a 29er. In fact, some manufacturers do this because the tire diameters are closely matched to each other. With the smaller wheel at the back, you have a steeper climbing head angle, but the smaller rear while slackens that head angle, making this mismatch a not-so-bad option.
5 plus vs. 29. Which is better for short riders?
The 27.5+ is preferable for shorter rides, and the 29er is ideal for long, high-speed races.
5 plus vs. 29. Which one is faster?
The 27.5+ is faster than the 29er because of the fast acceleration for the 27.5+ resulting in fair weight distribution. The 29er, on the other hand, is slower because the larger wheels add to its weight; hence an increase in the rotational mass and a slowed down acceleration. Note that these differences in weight and acceleration make the 29ers ideal for long rides and the 27.5+ ideal for shorter rides.
The decision to choose the 27.5+ or the 29er largely depends on what you need the bike for. Though both wide bikes offer a good degree of maneuverability, the 29er is best suited for longer rides and taller individuals, while the 27.5+ is best for shorter rides and shorter riders.