Why I changed my mind
Exactly 2 years ago at SeaOtter Gerard asked me if we should do an OPEN fatbike. Back then he was a lot in contact with Steve Hed for our fully project and HED is probably the biggest producer of carbon fatbike rims. He rode a fatbike with Steve, loved it and following the OPEN principle that we build what we want to ride ourselves, he suggested a fatbike could be next.
I didn't believe in fatbikes unless you live on the beach or in a place with lots of snow. I thought there were too many disadvantages: Q-factor, weight, rotating mass and most importantly, the frame is not really important on a fatbike. Since OPEN it is all about making the best frames, we might enjoy riding a fatbike but that doesn't mean we should make one.
Then some time later, Gerard came up with the idea that with the new Boost standard, we could fit two wheel sizes into our new hardtail design: 29er and 27.5+. Although I still thought that a hardtail is for racing and to go as fast as possible, I thought that's quite a good idea. Like on the U.P. you can start to play with wheel sizes without having to mess up your pedalling efficiency (Q-factor) or riding position.
You can get some (not all of course) the advantages of a fatbike but without any compromise. Add just a couple of 100 grams on the tires (instead of a few kg) and that's it. Or even better you have a light 29 race wheel set for the summer and a cheaper 27.5+ wheelset with a 3.0/3.25 tire for the winter.
So I was in, but under one condition: the performance of the super-light XC 29er set-up had to be absolutely perfect, we could not compromise that. That set-up had to be the best it could be - better than our current O-1.0 - and if we could add the 27.5+ compatibility on top of that, great! Then we have the best of both worlds and the range of use for this bike gets really big.
Then, I got to actually ride our ONE+ prototype for the first time. I was really surprised what you can do with that bike in the 27.5+ set-up. You can ride trails that you normally only would do with a full-suspension bike. Traction is incredible and also riding on paved road is not at all as bad as I had thought….
So my ONE+ will be 9 months per year in the 29er setup and the rest of it in 27.5+ for winter, muddy trails or if I want to do a rocky trails as you see it in the last blog in Spain. When we did that test session I had a blocked back. The day before we left I had to go to my doctor to get an injection so I could at least travel (in a van, 11 hours to Spain!) I did not even start to think about the ride. After 3 days riding my back felt much better than before the trip. I guess that's proof of the additional comfort that you get out of those 27.5+ tires.
Just a little note for people that think the rims that we used on the 27.5+ prototype are not wide enough: you are 100% right but back then those where the only boost wheels that I could get. Definitely I would go wider now that more choices are available.