Plus size, mid-fat – call it what you like. Manufacturers are adopting this tire size and each is putting its own spin on it. The Scale 720 Plus is Scott’s entry into the category. With a 2.8″-wide tires on a 27.5″ x 40-mm wide rims, you have serious rubber making contact with the dirt. Traction is king when it comes to larger tires. Also, it seems the plus-size tire does not suffer the same slow rolling and pogo-stick-like feel that its fat-bike brethren do.
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When installed on a 27.5″ wheel, plus-size tires create an overall wheel diameter that is almost equal to that of a standard 29″-wheel mountain bike. Having ridden many hardtail 29″ bikes, I wanted to see how the Scale Plus compared. Initially, the bike did feel a little bouncy. With so much volume to play with in these tires, it took me a few laps to really dial in the air pressure. I settled on 17 p.s.i. in the rear and 15 p.s.i. in the front.
The 720 is quite light. Not carbon, race-bike light. But it was easy to accelerate and get the bike up to speed off the line and out of the corners. With Schwalbe 2.8″ Rocket Ron tires and a slack head-tube angle (67.6 degrees), you can tear around corners faster than you ever could on a 29″ race bike. On corners where there is little to no berm, you can really lean the bike over and trust that you won’t wash out. I was skeptical about how the bike would climb because of its slacker geometry, but I found the higher-volume tires will conform to most rocks and roots, allowing you to put the power down and crawl over almost anything.
Components: Shimano Deore shifters and front derailleur, Shimano XT rear derailleur, Shimano M425 brakes
Suspension: Suntour Raidon RL-R fork, 120 mm
Wheels: 27.5″ Syncros X-40
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Pedalling out of the saddle over root sections feels like climbing a set of stairs as the bike hooks up so well. With the tires providing such a large contact patch, you can really get over the front end without the rear wheel slipping. On descents, I found the only limiting factor to be speed itself. With so much traction and the slack geometry, charging downhill feels effortless. It’s easy to gain confidence, over cook into technical sections and get bounced around and off line. The larger-volume tires almost make you forget you’re riding a hardtail. However, if you carry too much speed into a rock garden or through some big bumps, you may get a harsh reminder.
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The Scale 720 Plus comes with an aluminum frame, outfitted with a Suntour Raidon RL-R front fork. The fork comes with an air spring, 15-mm thu axle, tapered steer tube, remote lockout and rebound adjust. Although the small-bump sensitivity was not great, the higher volume tires helped to make that issue less noticeable. I was never impressed with the performance of the fork, but I also never felt hindered by it. A host of housebrand Syncros parts make up most of the build with exceptions being the Shimano 2 x 10 drivetrain (a mix of XT and Deore) and the Shimano M425 brakes.
The Scale 720 Plus was an absolute blast to ride. It is light and fast enough to keep up on cross country rides. It also has enough travel and tire volume to hold its own when the trail turns rowdy. The Scale 720 Plus is a very capable bike overall.