Is two-six the new Enduro? Meet the mid plus-sized tyre

Consider yourself a fit and committed gravity rider? There is a new tyre size you can not afford to ignore.

This Easter long weekend, friends and family inevitably enquired about how your ‘mountain biking’ is going. And bless them, they attempted to appear genuinely interested, by asking the one question all non-riders believe mountain bikers obsess about more than any other: “how much does it weigh?”

 

We might count, calculate, and curse grams but the true obsession should be tyres. No single component has a greater influence upon your riding, and tyre failure is the most prevalent mechanical to end a ride. Tyres are our true fixation and with a variety of diameters and widths, confusion – instead of solution – reigns.

 

Two-six returns. Sort of.

 

To add even greater complexity to the issue of tyre choice, and its influence upon rider feedback, is the potential resurgence of two-six. Yes, indeed: two-six tyres are possibly going to be your trail riding solution in the future. True, it’s a cryptic description, 26-inch diameter tyres are not being reborn, but the 2.6-inch width tyre is our dear MTB-industry’s latest sachet of product marketing Kool-Aid.

 

Although 3.0 was once the preserve of DH racers, conventional wisdom – and product planning bias – meant you couldn’t ride anything wider than 2.4, aside from a few nearly impossible to find 2.5 or 2.7 mouldings, with crushingly heavy wire beads.

 


Maxxis-Minion-DHF-DHR-II-26wide-trail-mtb-tire02.jpgMaxxis's Minion DHR and DHF in 2.6 widths.

Maxxis-Minion-DHF-DHR-II-26wide-trail-mtb-tire05.jpgThere is a 7% difference in volume between a 2.5 and 2.6 Maxxis tyre.


Despite the collective knowledge that wider tyres cope with lower pressures, enabling a volume coefficient benefitting traction, you couldn’t really blame tyre manufacturers for not offering anything wider than 2.4 in the market. Why? Rims.

 

Since the very first Californian rigid mountain bikes of the late 1970s, riding ambitions have been limited by rim choice: in width, weight, and strength. Large volume tyres on proportionally narrow rims, reward riders with cornering and terrain feedback similar to stirring a pot of Taystee Wheat porridge with your fork. Hardly ideal.

 

As rim manufacturers have edged towards – and surpassed – the 30mm internal width measurement, tyre manufactures have recognised the opportunity to go wider too.

 

Fat lite?

 

Why would you be interested in 2.6 width tyres? Well, because the world’s most influential tyre brands have committed to them. Maxxis and Schwalbe have both shown their 27.5 2.6 tyres options, with the Germans having 29 2.6 moulds too. Specialized? They’ve also got 27.5 2.6 tyres available.

 

Remain sceptical? It’s understandable. Why would you want to ride a tyre that is only marginally wider than a 2.4, and that margin narrower than a 2.8, which is the entry-point to 27.5+ riding?

 

There is no question that the sheer size of most 27.5+ tyres make them a deeply confidence-inspiring platform for riders rolling blind, down natural trails, with extensive root channels and rock gardens. The issue is their greater sidewall protrusion – due to width – making them more vulnerable to sniper roots and rock edges. To keep the rolling mass to a tolerable endurance point, many 27.5+ tyres, even in 2.8, aren’t particularly heavy, but they are not the best platform for high-speed cornering either, as the sidewalls are where most material has been thinned-out for weight reduction.

 

hs463_nobby_nic_27,5+.jpg
Schwalbe refer to their 2.6" Nobby Nic as a second generation plus-size tyre.

 

The logic of 2.6 is to give a greater volume benefit than 2.4, optimising the current trend of internal rim widths of 30mm and beyond, without edging too wide, necessitating weight savings and the inevitable sidewall strength compromise.

 

That said, mass savings with 2.6 over a comparable 2.8 aren’t enormous, averaging around 50g. Maxxis and Schwalbe have 27.5 2.6 options encouragingly shy of 800g, which is a comfortable margin away from the dreaded four-figure tyre weight range most people consider unsuitable for anything but shuttling.

 

Something we actually want?

 

Far too often, with all manner of mountain bike componentry, we wish there was an ‘option between’ the ones we have. The desire for that silver bullet the industry, for reasons unfathomable, can’t – or worse: won’t – supply. The addition of another tyre width is a moment of consumer happiness and one which non-plus platform riders can credit the fat bike ‘lite’ crew for.

 

If the desire to own and ride a truly wide set of rims (30-38mm internal) has been great, yet the logic of sealing a 2.4 tyre to those rims appeared a waste of their inherent design advantage, then 2.6 is your singletrack salvation.

 

Moulded at an ideal width to profit from the newly available ultra-wide rims, 2.6 retaining superior sidewall integrity for high-speed cornering and terrain bite into loam by being inherently less ‘squirmy’ than tyres 2.8 and wider. The sidewall cut risk mitigation, by being that bit narrower than 27.5+ tyres, helps make 2.6 an unintended consequence of all things plus: the perfect wide-rim Enduro/trail tyre.

 

We spend a lot of time complaining about trends and ‘evolving’ standards, but 2.6 is a gift delivered unto us by the proliferation of plus-bikes as a platform. As with financial markets, in times of confusion, there is always value to be discovered… 27.5 2.6. For all those who yearn for a return to two-six mountain biking. Your opportunity is now. Never thought that would happen again, did you?




13 Comments

_im_from_earth, Apr 18 2017 06:30

Samples arriving in a few weeks for some real-world testing ;)

Sparky and the Warden, Apr 18 2017 06:53

How can tyres over 800g be only for shuttling? According to Maxxis my current set of 27.5 minions weigh 1390g a piece!!! I'm no Matt Hunter but my spindly legs pedal those bad boys up Helderberg on a reign, I admit not he lightest but far superior sidewall protection than anything else I've thrown down there. I'd rather sacrifice pedaling the extra weight uphill and bombing back down again than walking down while watching my buddies have all the fun.    

 

Anyways this seems like a "Friday" post.... :ph34r:

BaGearA, Apr 18 2017 08:34

Very excited about this !

Simon123, Apr 18 2017 09:12

hmmm, need new rubber in a few weeks.  let me hold out.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Apr 18 2017 10:25

Samples arriving in a few weeks for some real-world testing ;)

YES PLEASE!!!!

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Apr 18 2017 10:25

How can tyres over 800g be only for shuttling? According to Maxxis my current set of 27.5 minions weigh 1390g a piece!!! I'm no Matt Hunter but my spindly legs pedal those bad boys up Helderberg on a reign, I admit not he lightest but far superior sidewall protection than anything else I've thrown down there. I'd rather sacrifice pedaling the extra weight uphill and bombing back down again than walking down while watching my buddies have all the fun.    

 

Anyways this seems like a "Friday" post.... :ph34r:

100% agreed. 

Headshot, Apr 18 2017 01:39

Maxxis needed to do something about their overly narrow tyres. These probably measure out like a Schwalbe 2.3 :-) 

deonkretch, Apr 18 2017 04:11

Samples arriving in a few weeks for some real-world testing ;)

Put me down for a set of these Minions... will be just in time for my 27,5+ wheels for the Tallboy, a.k.a. the Minion :-) 

_im_from_earth, Apr 18 2017 07:22

hmmm, need new rubber in a few weeks.  let me hold out.

 

Going to be a while before they are in stores I'm afraid. Between 90 odd days lead-time and 30 days on the water it will be late in the season. Sorry guys.

NicoBoshoff, Apr 19 2017 08:46

Maxxis needed to do something about their overly narrow tyres. These probably measure out like a Schwalbe 2.3 :-) 

Puh-lease.  The 2.3 Minions present perfectly fine on my 30mm Rovals.

 

BTW, Mayhew, have you found a clean set of shorts after reading this?

Headshot, Apr 19 2017 11:26

Puh-lease.  The 2.3 Minions present perfectly fine on my 30mm Rovals.

 

BTW, Mayhew, have you found a clean set of shorts after reading this?

Oh for Pete's sake - we dont all run 30mm Rovals. Besides, 2.3 Magic Mary's would "present" far better than those actual size  - 2.2 Minions. Hehehehehehe.

 

BTW Myles shorts are totally accident proof - didnt ya know??

TAAHIRWP, Apr 20 2017 12:17

I cant keep up anymore... eish! But i wonder if a 26 x 2.6 Magic Mary would arrive as well.

Traveler, May 10 2018 11:27

So, been on 27.5x2.6 Schwalbe’s for a while. Started out on a Nobby Nic front and Rocket Ron rear. Swopped the Rocket Ron for the Rock Razor. I can just say BRILLIANT.