Hutchinson's Taipan Koloss is an unashamedly large, rear-focused plus-size tyre that works well on rough and rocky ground whether it's wet or dry. It lacks real bite in mud or wet roots, though, and the price is high.
Despite the reinforced 'SpiderTech' sidewalls – there to add stability and strength – the Taipan Koloss mounts pretty smoothly on rims from 30mm to 35mm. The wider rims give it a noticeably better profile than narrow ones, too.
Once on it's at home in dry or otherwise firm to intermediate terrain, where it offers pretty decent grip thanks to that large volume and a tread profile that offers plenty of edges. In the wet, those relatively close and shallow knobbles shed mud to a certain extent, but quickly gum up in deep or tacky mud.
I used it in snow and on hard pack welsh trails in very wet weather, where it cleared well and could be run at pretty low pressures for increased grip. During the test it stood up well to rocky and flinty terrain, and I’ve not managed to tear or slash the walls, which feel robust.
I ran it on the rear only, feeling it lacks the bite to work as a dependable front tyre, or decent-sized edges for hard braking or loose cornering. To be fair, Hutchinson do suggest it as a rear tyre. It rolls pretty well considering the size too, but it isn’t a fast tyre by any means. The Taipan Koloss isn’t a tyre to sprint with, but it also isn’t as draggy as some other large volume tyres I’ve ridden.
The SpiderTech sidewalls do a fair job of keeping the tread in shape, and only at very low pressures does it begin to feel squirmy.
One thing it does very well is climb, assuming you stay in the saddle. The large volume makes for a very positive contact patch, and grip is really solid. Standing climbs and sudden efforts can make it break out, though it's still not bad unless it's getting wet and muddy.
Traction is decent and reliable in intermediate conditions: in anything from damp and loose to dry and dusty trails it's quite capable.
Feel is consistent when cornering (at least in the dry) until the tyre limit, where the lack of large side blocks means it can slide quite a while before finding traction again. It’s not up for aggressive or sudden changes of direction, but for flowing trails with linked corners it holds well and feels predictable.
It's fine with small roots too, finding grip with a fair amount of tenacity, but larger roots send it sliding and skittering - that shallow tread just can't cope. At £60 per tyre it's competing with some very capable all-rounders, too, so unless you live in the bedrock the value is questionable.
All in, its a capable tyre for rough, rocky riding on firm-ish surfaces, but suffers from lack of bite when the going gets softer, muddier and slipperier. It does offer decent cushioning thanks to it’s size, so on a medium travel bike it can add confidence for taking the rougher line choice.
For UK riding, where mud is a given in the wetter seasons (which is all of them, usually), this isn't my first choice. But if you typically ride rockier trails, like a well-cushioned rear and prefer to avoid the filth – so to speak – the Taipan is a decent option.
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