29+ Tires List and Guide

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In our second Low Down gear guide we go back to our roots with 29+ tires. This guide includes a comprehensive list of tire options with weights, specifications, and our take on each one that we’ve tested. Plus, read the backstory on 29+, why it’s prevalent in the bikepacking scene, tips on rim width, and more…

Back in 2012, when the first 29+ tires were unveiled with the release of the the Surly Krampus, a collective lightbulb turned on above the heads of bikepackers everywhere, and that was before bikepacking had begun to surge in popularity. There was just something about those big, cushy 29 x 3.0” tires that seemed to open up a world of possibilities. In short, 29+ tires curbed the need for suspension on a trail mountain bike by borrowing a bit of the volume, traction, and cushion from fat bikes and rolling it into a more nimble package. They offered much of the float and comfort of fully fledged fat tires without all of the weight and rolling resistance penalty associated with their fatter brethren.

29+ Tires List, 29 plus tire options

The fact is, even when used on a rigid bike, 29+ tires are extremely capable off road. They allow more aggressive riding over rough surfaces without suspension, and without the beating that a rigid 29er would dish out. They also provide incredible traction and the confidence to ride over tricky obstacles that comes with it. In many ways, 29+ rules supreme across rough terrain, thanks to its ability to roll over even the largest of babyhead sized rocks. What’s more, 29+ tires – and all plus tires, for that matter – also provide added floatation, increasing a bike’s ability to traverse sandy roads, pebbly river bottoms, and other soft terrain. Combined, these factors ensure more comfort over longer distances and on a wider variety of terrain. In short, the perfect recipe for bikepacking.

  • 29+ Tires List, 29 plus tire options
  • 29+ Tires List, 29 plus tire options

Fitting to its nature, one of the first bikes claiming to be bikepacking specific was the Surly ECR, a bike that many folks referred to as the “bikepacking Krampus” when news of it initially surfaced. Released in 2013, the original ECR was shod with 29 x 3.0” tires and set new precedents for capability and utility in a rigid bike. Since then, several companies have created bikepacking-specific bikes around the 29+ platform, including the Chumba Ursa 29+, the Carver Gnarvester, Salsa’s Deadwood and Woodsmoke, the Bombtrack Beyond ADV, the Why Wayward, and the Trek 1120. There are a few others as well, and likely more to come.

Ideal Rim widths for 29+

The original 29+ rim, the Surly Rabbit Hole, was designed in conjunction with their 29 x 3.0˝ Knard tire. The Rabbit Hole is 50mm wide with an internal width (IW) of about 45mm, which has become the standard for 3.0” tires and provides a wide, stable footprint that maximizes the tire’s profile for traction and float. Typically, 2.8-3.0” tires require at least a 35mm IW rim to safely engage the bead hook and provide an appropriate profile. Even so, we think wider is better, and stand behind 45mm as an ideal IW for 2.8-3.0” tires. Rims that we’d recommend in this width include the WTB Scraper i45 and the Industry Nine Backcountry 450. That said, many turn to WTB ASYM i35s or Backcountry 360s for 2.6-2.8” tires as they offer a versatile platform if you plan on switching between standard 29er and plus-sized tires. In a nutshell, we like 35mm IW for 2.6″ tires, 40mm for 2.8″, and 45mm for 3.0″.

29+ tires remain a solid choice for bikepacking and mountain biking alike, especially for taller riders. Smaller riders under 5’8” may run into real estate issues between tires and bags, especially for rear seat bags that often require over 6” between the saddle rails and rear tire. That said, smaller riders may still use 29+ tires with a rack and small panniers, which might better suit those bound for big international trips. Speaking of which, another plus for 29+ is that if bikepacking abroad is your thing, standard-width 29er tires are globally available, should you need a bailout option for your mid-fat rim, though 29+ tires are much harder to find internationally than their 26” counterparts.

In fact, since the surge of 27.5+ and the advent of “wide trail” (which we consider 2.7” and under, the topic of a future Low Down list), the development of new 29+ tires seems to have waned somewhat, but there are still a solid range of options, and several proven bikepacking-friendly 29+ tires on the market. With numerous large brands producing bikes based around the 29+ platform, its future looks secure enough for now. Here’s our full list of 29+ tires. Note: tires with the T icon have been tested by one of us here on the site.

29+ Tires (29 x 3.0”)

29 x 3.0 is how it all got started. Some might argue that a full 3.0 inch tire is a true “plus” tire and all others should be called something else. Regardless, here is the full list of 29+ tires on our radar:

Surly Knard 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0
Surly Knard 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0
Surly Knard 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0
Surly Knard 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0
Surly Knard 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Surly Knard (3.0”)

The Surly Knard is the original 29+ tire. As such, it was the first one we took on a big expedition. To be specific, there are two versions. We’ve use the 27TPI with wire bead (1240g) version, which seems far more durable for bikepacking and touring than the 120TPI version with Kevlar bead (980g). Logan put over 7,500 kilometers on a pair and probably could have squeezed out a few hundred more. With that said, the 27TPI Knard is certainly the best tire of the batch if you are strictly looking for durable tread life. It’s also pretty fast comparable to most, if not all, of the tires listed here, save the Vee Speedster slick tire, perhaps. It has tightly spaced block tread that grips fairly well on multiple surfaces but is most at home on rock, gravel, packed dirt, and, believe it or not, pavement.

Aside from being a rather heavy wire bead tire, the 27TPI Surly Knard’s biggest downfall is that it’s not technically tubeless-ready. It’s certainly been done but might require some creativity.

Pros: Fast rolling; Very long lasting tread
Cons: Heavy (over 2.8 pounds each); Not the best choice for cornering traction; Not ideal for muddy trails and slick roots; Wire bead/not tubeless ready

  • Weight (27TPI) 1280 grams
  • TPI 27 (tested) or 120
  • Width (actual on 45mm IW rims) 70mm at casing / 74mm at side knobs
  • Price $65/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices JensonUSA
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

Maxxis Chronicle EXO TR (3.0”)

The Maxxis Chronicle is the bellwether tire of the group and has seen more mileage by our testers than any other 29+ tire listed here. The tread on the Chronicle may look aggressive at first glance, but it’s actually next to perfect for mixed terrain, gravel, and all-around dirt touring. The profile is characterized by short 2mm center directional tread that gets more aggressive as you move outward to the 5mm angular side knobs. The resulting squat profile means more tread on the ground, but the outcome of the Chronicle’s dual compound design is a surprisingly fast roller on hardpack, gravel, and tarmac. The soft yet warlike outer tread is happy to be pushed into corners, even on loose hardscrabble. Our only complaint in the traction department comes when braking on very steep, loose stuff; oddly enough, the tire climbs fairly well on steep, loose rubble, but when railing down the same surface it’s easy to lose grip with a tap of the rear brake. In addition, out of the 29+ tires we tested, the Chronicle has one of the longest lasting tread compounds, second only to the Knard. Note that we tested the 120TPI EXO Tubeless ready version.

Pros: Medium-fast rolling; Long lasting tread; Tough; Good middle ground of speed and traction
Cons: Not the ideal tire for mud (doesn’t shed or grip well); Expensive

  • Weight 1050 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) 75mm casing / 76mm side knobs on 45mm IW Scrapers
  • Price $125/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices JensonUSA
WTB Ranger Review, 3.0 TCS Tough, 29+
WTB Ranger+ TCS Tough, Bikepacking
WTB Ranger Review, 3.0 TCS Tough, 29+
WTB Ranger Review, 3.0 TCS Tough, 29+

WTB Ranger+ Tough (3.0”)

We gave the WTB Ranger+ Tough a Best New Component award in our 2017 Bikepacking Awards. Given the steep pricing that beleaguers the plus tire world, it’s great to see such a high quality, great performing tire come in at such a competitive price point. The Ranger Tough rolls well, corners nicely, and the sidewalls are a big improvement for bikepacking over their lighter weight predecessors. Rangers are also available in a wide variety of sizes, including 26”, 27.5”, and 29”, with 2.8″ and 3” and widths on offer, too. While we’ve found they wear faster than some other, more expensive tires, we certainly can’t fault them for their price.

There is also a light version that weighs 902g, 238 grams less than the 1140g Ranger Tough. However, we can’t recommend these for bikepacking. While Logan took a pair across the rocky, 613-mile Tian Shan Traverse in Kyrgyzstan with nary a flat, the light casing is prone to tears as well as serious weeping with a tubeless setup.

Pros: Fast rolling; Reasonably long-lasting tread; Tough; Good mix of speed and traction
Cons: Tread wears out faster than the two tires mentioned above

  • Weight 1145 grams
  • TPI Undisclosed
  • Width (actual on 45mm IW rims) 73.6mm at casing / 76mm at side knobs
  • Price $70/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices Amazon
Trek 1120 review
Trek 1120 review, Rear Rack
Trek 1120 Review, Bikepacking
Trek 1120 review

Bontrager Chupacabra (3.0”) — Now Called XR2

We were pleasantly surprised by the Bontrager Chupacabra. Its seemingly small, widely spaced square center tread and less-than-burly side knobs certainly don’t appear that aggressive. But, after learning of their prevalence in the southwestern US, it was clear the Chupacabra is a solid performer when it comes to rubble-strewn hardpack and fast singletrack.

After finally getting to ride a set of Chupas on the Trek 1120, a few standout qualities were immediately apparent. First, the 120TPI casing is very supple, roughly comparable to the Ranger+ Light’s casing. After putting some loaded miles on them, it seems like the sidewalls provide a good middle ground between weight and stability. The biggest selling point of the Chupacabra is their weight. At less than 900g, the Chupa is lighter than most of the tires on this list, which is quite surprising for a tire this size. All told, the Chupacabra rolls quickly and corners with a level of confidence that far surpasses what one might expect.

Pros: Very lightweight; Fast rolling; Exceptionally good cornering and traction; Surprisingly durable
Cons: Not as burly as others, such as the Chronicle; Some claim the sidewalls are prone to cuts; Not great for wet conditions

  • Weight 880 grams
  • TPI 120/each
  • Width (actual) 75mm on Duroc 46mm IW rims
  • Price $95/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
Surly Dirt Wizard 29 x 3.0, 29+
Surly Dirt Wizard 29 x 3.0, 29+
Surly Dirt Wizard 29 x 3.0, 29+
Surly Dirt Wizard 29 x 3.0, 29+
Surly Dirt Wizard 29 x 3.0, 29+

Surly Dirt Wizard (3.0”)

When Surly announced the Dirt Wizard it was just the third or fourth 29+ tire released. However, it took over a year before it was actually available to the public. We had a chance to try out one of the early prototypes, which was significantly different from the production version. Since then they’ve also added sidewall protection for more durability as well as a tubeless ready, folding bead, but the tread design is the same.

The Dirt Wizard features beveled dual row tread in the center and massive side knobs to provide miles of traction and cornering grip. Its substantial lugs combined with a relatively soft rubber tread compound give the DW tons of traction, although at the expense of markedly high rolling resistance. That said, these are tough and rugged tires that are well suited to rocky terrain, muddy trails, and slippery roots, but are overkill for many bikepacking applications, especially when they involved pavement and hardpack.

Pros: Great for technical, wet, and loamy terrain; Lots of traction
Cons: Very slow on hardpack and tarmac; Not quite 3” in width, more like 2.8” tires

  • Weight 1390g (60tpi) / 1096g (120tpi)
  • TPI 60/120
  • Width (actual on 45mm IW rims) 67mm at casing / 74mm at side knobs
  • Price $90/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices JensonUSA
Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review
Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review
Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review
Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review
Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

Vee T-Fatty (3.0”)

The Vee Trax Fatty was the first 29+ tire to market after the Surly Knard. On first impression, it seems more like a 2.8” tire, although we never got an official caliper measurement. The Trax Fatties have a tight row of paired center knobs that are fairly fast rolling and seem to exhibit minimal noise on pavement and hardpack. Their biggest downfall is a very pronounced self-steer quality that can sometimes feel a bit squirmy. While it may not be the ideal choice for rugged mountain terrain, the VTF certainly makes a fine all-around tire for bikepacking on routes that involve hardpack, sand, and moving fast.

Pros: Fairly fast rolling; Cheap
Cons: Pronounced self-steer squirminess; Not as big as they claim

  • Weight 920 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $60/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices Amazon
Maxxis Minion DHF Plus, 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Maxxis Minion DHF Plus (3.0”)

DHF stands for Down Hill Front, and this tire certainly has some lugs. If your intended terrain is wet, rough, steep, and loose, this might be your front tire. Here’s what Maxxis has to say, “Just run a DHF. How many times have you heard or said this when asking about tire advice? For over a decade, the Minion DHF has been the tire to beat when racing your friends on Saturday or the clock on Sunday. The tread pattern behind countless championship wins is now available in a high-volume, plus tire design so you can make new memories with an old friend.”

  • Weight 1160 grams (60TPI) / 1110 grams (120TPI)
  • TPI 60/120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $82/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
Maxxis Minion DHR 2 Plus, 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Maxxis Minion DHR II Plus (3.0”)

The R stands for, you guessed it, Rear. This is a faster-rolling version of the aforementioned DHF. Here’s Maxxis’ remarks, “The Minion DHRII is the Yang to the DHF’s Yin, the perfect complement, and now available for the most capable plus bikes on the market. Proven paddle knobs down the center not only provide decreased rolling resistance compared to the DHF but also offer increased braking when the trail gets loose. You may not notice it outside of the steepest terrain but those knobs allow you to brake harder in the rear to maintain your balance as you let the high volume casing absorb any trail irregularities.”

  • Weight 1160 grams (60TPI) / 1110 grams (120TPI)
  • TPI 60/120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $82/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
Panaracer fat B Nimble 29+, 29 x 3.0 Tires

Panaracer Fat B Nimble (3.0”)

The Panaracer Fat B Nimble is the lightest 29 x 3.0” tire in this list, and, as far as we know, the lightest on the market. Here’s what Panaracer has to say, “Bike B Nimble, bike be quick. The Nimble is available in three diameters and widths. This is an amazingly capable tire at amazing weights considering the amount of tread you are putting on the ground. Get your fat on, Nimbly.” The Panaracer Fat B Nimble comes in 26 x 4.0”, 27.5 x 3.5”, and 29 x 3.0”.

  • Weight 765 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $74/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices JensonUSA
Vittoria Bomboloni 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Vittoria Bomboloni (3.0”)

Untested/From Vittoria, “Bomboloni is your choice for fast rolling, multi-condition performance, on Plus and Fat bikes. Italian for Donut, Bomboloni delivers the sweet traction you expect, without the guilt of the slower rolling competitors.With a World Championship proven TNT bead, dual compound, sidewall protection, and premium 120 TPI casing, the Bomboloni is sure to satisfy. Now you can have your cake, and eat it too!”

  • Weight 1040 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $119/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices JensonUSA
Vittoria Cannoli 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Vittoria Cannoli (3.0”)

Untested/From Vittoria, “Taking your Plus or Fat bike into rough terrain, or deep snow? The Cannoli is designed to conquer, and provide maximum traction, regardless of the conditions. Sharing the same World Championship proven TNT bead, dual compound, sidewall protection and premium 120 TPI casing as the Bomboloni, the Cannoli steps up with deeper tread profile and fully siped paddle-style knobs. Designed to dig out of any situation!”

  • Weight 1170 grams (oz)
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $105/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices JensonUSA
Bontrager SE4 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Bontrager SE4 Team Issue TLR (3.0”)

Untested/From Trek, “The SE4 Team Issue Tubeless Ready tire offers incredible grip and fast-rolling efficiency in a lightweight enduro-spec casing. Our innovative Core Strength construction provides DH-level protection at a fraction of the weight. Combined with a 61/50 dual-compound rubber, this tire can handle the roughest terrain and live to ride another day.”

  • Weight ~1200 grams
  • TPI 60
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $105/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
Bontrager XR4 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.0

Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR (3.0”)

Untested/From Trek, “The XR4 Team Issue TLR tire offers incredible grip and fast-rolling efficiency in a new and improved tread pattern with 120 TPI casing. Save yourself from punctures with our Inner Strength sub-tread protection while squeezing out every bit of cornering traction with the 61a/50a dual-compound rubber. This tire really is that good.”

  • Weight ? grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $95/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
Innova Pro Transformers

Innova Pro Transformers (3.0″)

There’s not a lot of information floating around about this tire. However, several commenters below mentioned getting it added to the list, “… 29×3.0 and they are excellent here in dry over hardback [in] So Cal. Med sized knobs with good shoulder tread. Listed at 900 grams, good durability, oh yeah and only $42/each folding bead 60tpi.”

  • Weight 920 grams
  • TPI 60
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $45/each
  • Check prices Treefortbikes.com

29+ Tires (29 x 3.25”)

At the top end of the size range of what’s considered plus, but still not quite fat, there are two 29 x 3.25” tires on the market…

Vee Bulldozer, 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.25

Vee Bulldozer (3.25”)

Untested/From Vee Tire, “The Bulldozer plows through any terrain you can challenge. Center tread knobs are shaped to grip hard and keep you on the trail. Built for the most demanding fat bike riders, the Bulldozer’s aggressive side and transition knobs keep you upright and provide excellent grip in the corners.”

  • Weight 1030 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $63/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices Jones
Duro Crux, 29+ Tires, 29 x 3.25

Duro Crux (3.25”)

Untested/From Jones Bike, “The Duro Crux is one of the largest 29″ tires on the market, and we are big fans! The tire has big knobs for great traction, a supple sidewall, and huge volume, giving it an incredible ride! These are hard to get ahold of, but after working on it for about a year, we are very excited to have them available for sale!”

  • Weight 1215 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $85/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • Check Prices Jones

29+ Tires (29 x 2.8”)

While a lot of folks thought 29 x 2.8” would catch on, it really hasn’t. It’s a great tire size, but there’s only a couple that are presently available…

Terrene McFly Tire, 29+ 27.5+
Terrene McFly Tire, 29+ 27.5+
Terrene McFly Tire, 29+ 27.5+

Terrene McFly (2.8”)

Terrene, a relatively new tire company, designed the Mcfly to be a jack of all trades tire for anything from local cross country trails to backcountry adventures. The Mcfly comes in both 27.5 and 29 x 2.8, each with two casing options, Light or Tough. Our local tester, TJ Kearns, has been on the 29 x 2.8 Tough version for a couple of months in all conditions here in Pisgah. They have seen multiple overnight trips as well as some of the hardest trails in Pisgah.

TJ summarized, “These tires seem to climb anything. With the right air pressure, I was constantly surprised at what I was able to climb with these tires, both loaded and unloaded. Running about 15psi in the front and 22psi in the back gave me all the traction I needed to keep me from hiking. The McFly is equally impressive while descending. The wider-spaced knobs seem to dig into the dirt and shed mud well. The tires maintain control when cornering at high speed, even in loose gravel.”

The Tough version of the Mcfly adds 120 grams of weight, but it also adds peace of mind. Throughout the course of this test, TJ claims to have bottomed out rims on multiple occasions, one of which required him to bend the rim back into place. After two months of hard use, the rear tire is showing a little wear in the center and some on the edges of the side knobs. Terrene has really hit the nail on the head with this tire. It rolls fast, has plenty of traction, and so far seems durable.

  • Weight 930 grams (Tough) / 810 grams (Light)
  • TPI Undisclosed (Light and Tough)
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $80/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
Vee Speedster 29+ Tires

Vee Tire Speedster (29×2.8″)

Untested/From Vee, “The Speedster was designed for rolling speed and minimal drag on hard pack or paved terrain. The honeycomb center tread provides virtually zero rolling resistance and unbelievable tread life. The honeycomb feature also gives you excellent traction in dry or wet conditions. Large diamond shaped side knobs provide the grip you need in corners, while the tread knobs get smaller towards the center for the ultimate speed and traction. And with its balloon-style structure, you’ll feel like you’re floating on air.”

  • Weight 980 grams
  • TPI 120
  • Width (actual) TBD
  • Price $60/each
  • Manufacturer’s Details Link
  • 29+ Tires List, The Low Down Gear Guides
  • 29+ Tires List, 29 plus tire options

29+ Tires Weight Comparison

For reference, here is a list of all of the tires with claimed weights (or actual weights, where possible).

  • Panaracer Fat B Nimble 765 grams
  • Terrene McFly Light (2.8”)810 grams
  • Bontranger Chupacabra 880 grams
  • WTB Ranger+ Light 902 grams
  • Vee T-Fatty 920 grams
  • Innova Pro Transformers 920 grams
  • Terrene McFly Tough (2.8”) 930 grams
  • Vee Tire Speedster 980 grams
  • Vee Bulldozer (3.25”) 1030 grams
  • Vittoria Bomboloni 1040 grams
  • Maxxis Chronicle 120TPI EXO TR1050 grams
  • Surly Dirt Wizard 120tpi 1096 grams
  • Maxxis Minion DHF Plus 120TPI 1110 grams
  • Maxxis Minion DHR II Plus 120TPI 1110 grams
  • WTB Ranger+ Tough 1145 grams
  • Maxxis Minion DHF Plus 60TPI 1160 grams
  • Maxxis Minion DHR II Plus 60TPI 1160 grams
  • Vittoria Cannoli 1170 grams
  • Bontrager SE4 Team Issue TLR ~1200 grams
  • Duro Crux (3.25”) 1215 grams
  • Surly Knard (27TPI) 1280 grams
  • Surly Dirt Wizard 60tpi 1390 grams
  • Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR ? grams

What about 29 x 2.6″, you might ask? We’ll approach this newer tire size in a similar post on its own. Stay tuned. As always, if you have any thoughts to add, or see anything we missed, please add a comment below.

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