Two rides on a Specialized Fuse Expert 6Fattie

The 27.5 x 3″ tires on this hardtail deliver micro float with mega pump: Perfect for shredding rocky trails.

Bonus: 6Fattie wheels on my S-Works Enduro 29!

The Specialized Fuse Expert 6Fattie costs $2,100. I got it straight out of the box with a TransX dropper post, SRAM components and a Manitou fork. Nothing fancy there. Geometry is modern and shred approved. The exciting bit: 45mm rims with Ground Control 3.0 tires!

Specialized Fuse Expert 6Fattie

According to my high-pressure gauge, I like these tires at 18 psi front, 20 psi rear. Lennard Zinn’s digital low-pressure gauge read 13 psi, so who knows.

I got two rides at Heil Ranch outside Boulder, CO. This place has loose rocks, embedded rocks, rock piles and random rocks — all goading aggressive riders into coarse flow.

Climbing on smooth ground, the tires feel (or maybe just sound?) slower than normal. No biggie unless you’re in a hurry.

Climbing on rocks, the tires feel — smooth! Easy. The bike feels soft like a Camber or Stumpy but snappy like the hardtail it is. This I like.

Reach the top. Drop the seat. Attack.

I was riding with Coach Kevin Stiffler: a great rider on his ~$6K carbon Enduro. We pinned it! We pinned it so fast Kevin PRed most sections. And the $2K stock Fuse was freaking awesome.

Loose turns where Kevin was drifting? I was carving, feet up, waiting for the next thing. The amount of traction was incredible. Life changing.

Bad lines over and through nasty rocks? Whatever. The bike tracked like my Fox-powered Camber. Blap blap blap, sorry about the dented rim, but I didn’t notice it happening.

Barreling through random mess? What mess? The huge tires suck it up better than suspension ever can.

Pumping and hopping and cavorting? Heck yes. This bike gives you mega traction and cushion, yet when you load the tires it hooks and pumps like a hardtail. This, right here, is the magic. A bike that floats and claws when you want it to — and pumps and carves when you want it to. Load into your feet and it’s a totally different, snappier, ride.

So much of the MTB press says plus bikes are for beginners, and I can see that, but dude. Dude! All that traction and small-bump absorption, plus the connection of a hardtail — this is one fun bike! And a real weapon in the right hands.

I can’t wait to ride the new Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie. Everyone who’s ridden one says there’s no going back — even to their trusty 29ers.

Bonus: 6Fattie wheels on my S-Works Enduro 29

They fit. Tightly. But they work, and they show what can be done with big tires plus suspension.

160 mm FOX 36 fork + 155 mm FOX Float X shock + 3-inch tires! This thing is a +++ bike!

After a couple rides, it looks and feels normal. The new normal.

No surprises here:

Crazy amounts of cornering traction! Turns that should be sketchy … just plain aren’t. We’ll have fun finding the new limits.

A new level of bashing through stuff! A 6-inch bike with 2 inches of tire travel is basically a downhill bike.

Micro float! This is my favorite thing about plus tires. Pointy bumps penetrate the airspace easily so you can roll over rocks smoothly. When you load the pedals, the tires become firm so you can snap corners and pump backsides. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.


Normal Q factor! We mountain bikers can currently ride tires between 2 and 5 inches wide. Above 3 inches, the cranksets have to get wider. For me, a 3″ tire delivers the most grip with the least knee pain.

Two-bike quiver! God forbid I ever have to live with just two bikes, but a plus hardtail and a plus trail bike, a la the Fuse and Stumpjumper, would be a heck of a quiver. Both bikes accept 29er wheels, just in case you need that.

Many of us will be riding plus bikes soon enough. Go try one.


Know more. Have more fun!

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35 replies
  1. andrew says:

    How do you feel about riding a bike like this in a place like demo in Santa Cruz if your goal is fun but not necessarily absolute max speed?
    I find a normal hardtail there doable but super unforgiving.

  2. leelikesbikes says:


    What a complicated question. That depends on riding style, ups vs. downs, which trails and, of course, whether it’s rained lately.

    The best all-around tool for the Demo has been full suspension for many years (the forest has gotten a lot rougher since I started riding there in 1993). Depending on riding style, 4-6 inches of travel with the biggest wheel that fits you.

    If you love a hardtail, I think this Fuse will kick ass on any ‘normal’ hardtail. To me, it feels like riding my 120/110 mm Camber, but with more snap.

    Would love to test this, but I think a 6Fattie hardtail can be the ultimate bike in the right hands.

    *After a rain, the traction is so good any tire will do!

  3. Dave says:

    I bought a Fuse Expert about a month ago as a second bike to my Santa Cruz Nomad3. I originally intended to ride it on easy trails near my house with my boys and in snow/mud in the winter since I don’t like the gyroscopic feel and weight of the fat bikes I’ve ridden. I’ve been shocked at how fun this bike is. I wouldn’t choose it for my only bike, but it is great on loose, rocky, sandy, or washed out trails. It makes climbing loose trails feel almost like climbing slickrock in Moab. You can climb out of the saddle with your weight way over your front wheel, and the rear tire still maintains traction. The short chainstays, low bb height, and crazy traction allow it to corners on a different level.

  4. Eric says:

    Hi Lee,

    I’ve got an Enduro 29er I’ve been thinking about converting to 650+. I’m also running a double front ring, did you have any problems with chain line clearance? Would you recommend the change?


  5. leelikesbikes says:


    Great question!

    With my XTR 2×10 drivetrain and the 3.0″ tire, there was no clearance for the small ring.

      With a smaller (2.7 of 2.8) rear tire, you might have clearance for the small ring.

      There’s always the 1X option. I use my inner ring as a bailout, and I never needed it during my test.

    With the slightly smaller wheels (and more tire sag), the bottom bracket is lower than normal. I was striking pedals more often on technical climbs.

    The bike handles phenomenally. I can see going 3.0 in front and 2.7-2.8 in the back for a bit more tire clearance. That would make one heck of a bike.

    ALSO: Most current + tires are light duty to keep their weight down. I tore a rear tire 1 minute into my first rocky descent on the “Enduro 6Fattie.” On a bike this capable, either be careful or get burlier tires when they come out.

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    My Enduro didn’t get the same wheels as on the Fuse. The local Specialized rep, Jason, has a set of wide 650B rims on standard hubs. Expect to see lots of Enduro 29s running 6Fatty tires.

  7. Grant says:

    I’m a bit late to this party, but do you think a 27.5+ 2.8 tire (Nobby Nic) would fit in the 2016 Fox 36 29″ fork, with enough room to spare for a small mudguard such as a Marsh guard? Cheers 🙂

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    Grant, I can’t speak for safety, warranty and morality, but I can say a Specialized 27.5×3 Ground Control fit in my FOX 36 29er fork just fine. Maybe not on a muddy day, but certainly on a dry day!

  9. Grant says:

    Hi Lee, thanks for the speedy reply! I must say your website is excellent – really enjoy reading your articles and reviews. Cheers.

  10. Ron says:

    I rode the SJ 6Fattie and thought it was fun on the technical climbs, I loved the way it leveled the trail trash. As soon as I pointed it down a rocky technical descent I felt like I was sledding on a tractor inner tube. The bike was bouncing all over the trail, no precision with the undamped bounce from the tires. I literally bounced off my line at one point and almost ate it.

    I had pressure set at 14F/15R and did not experiment with it. Who knows what pressure I really had as it seems all gauges read differently. Anyway I wonder how more pressure would have made things feel. I felt the tires folding in turns when pushing hard too.

  11. Gary says:


    How do +tires fit in for someone who does XC and endurance races? That is the rub for me, I participate in several XC and endurance races throughout the year.


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