Depending on your point of view, 27.5+ is either an intriguing new size, or a terrible half measure that doesn’t provide any real advantages. The latter is a little hard to back up given that most of us haven’t actually ridden any of the 27.5+ products yet. We would be lying if we said we weren’t at least a little interested in trying out the new size, especially as it pertains to fat bikes. While many riders have already been building up 29+ wheelsets to convert their fat bikes for summer duty, the added girth usually results in a higher bottom bracket and noticeable changes in handling.
Will a 27.5+ set up be the perfect wheel swap for fat bikes? Will all Enduro wheels and tires eventually fatten up so that 27.5+ will become the new middle ground? We’re not sure, but we are excited to do some experimenting starting with the WTB Scraper rims…
Measuring a full 45mm internally with a 49mm external width, the Scraper seems to qualify for the + designation. Next to something like the Ibis 741 27.5″ wheels, the Scrapers don’t appear comically wide, until you realize the 741s are gargantuan compared to rims we were all riding just a few years ago. As one of the first commercially available 27.5″ rims, the Scraper will also be offered in a 29″ diameter to satisfy the 29+ plus crowd though WTB has no plans for a 29″ version of the Trailblazer 27.5×2.8″ tire (more on that later).
The rim uses a double wall construction that is still fairly low profile. Connected with a welded seam, the WT69 alloy rim uses WTB’s 4D angled drilling and an eyelet-less design.
Relying on WTB’s TCS tubeless standard, the Scraper is sealed with tubeless tape and a pair of TCS valves.
On the scale, rim comes in at 695g which isn’t super light, but should be plenty light to build a faster summer wheelset if that’s your goal.
We chose to build the Scrapers to a pair of Industry 9 fat bike hubs so they would be a direct swap for my personal Borealis Echo. That means a 197×12 rear and 150x15mm front hub which for I9 is a 135mm fat bike front hub with a 15mm drive side adapter. Currently, it seems like this will be the most common use for 27.5+ wheels and tires since most 27.5″ mountain bike frames probably won’t have clearance for the monster treads.
At this point Industry 9’s hubs probably need no introduction, but they are manufactured in Asheville, NC and include some of the highest quality materials you can find. After riding a different pair of I9 hubs on a fat bike all winter, they are still spinning like new which is no small feat considering how sloppy this winter has been.
At 187 for the front and 356g for the rear, the I9 Torch hubs will certainly help keep the total wheelset weight down.
One look at the purple ano of the hubs was all we needed to decide on matching purple aluminum nipples from Wheelsmith. The build finished with32 Wheelsmith DB 14/15g spokes per wheel. After prepping the spokes and using some Phil’s Tenacious oil on the spoke holes where the nipple’s shoulders will rub, the wheelset built up with little fuss. Exactly what you want when building a wheel. The final product
As soon as the Trailblazer 2.8″ tires roll into stock we plan to do a full comparison between a large 27.5″ tire and a 27.5+ to see how the new size actually stacks up. Until then, you can purchase your own Scraper rims from WTB for $149.95.