Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS: RYAN WALSCH IM­AGES: TIM BARD­S­LEY-SMTIH

The Taipan is pitched as Hutchin­son’s “Ul­tra Ver­sa­tile” all sea­son XC/Trail tyre. Of­fered in a range of cas­ings, widths and wheel sizes we fit­ted the Hard­skin trail ver­sion of the 29 x 2.35” (27.5” is also avail­able) tyre front and rear for our re­cent New Zealand ad­ven­ture. Their 2x66 ply cas­ing is just what you’d ex­pect – two 66 thread per inch cas­ings laid over each other. So we ex­pected they should be pretty strong! Hutchin­son claims that the Taipan is well suited in a range of trail con­di­tions from dry and loose con­di­tions to wet and muddy util­is­ing its mud shed­ding knob pro­files. Look­ing at the Taipan it is easy to see this is a high vol­ume and bal­loon like tyre with the side knobs sit­ting quite pro­nounced from the cas­ing it­self. The cen­tre knobs are lower in pro­file and a harder com­pound for faster rolling and long term dura­bil­ity with all knobs equipped with a very slightly an­gled edge to keep them shed­ding de­bris and not cak­ing up in the mud. In the dry we found the Taipan to roll very fast con­sid­er­ing the large and well spaced tread pat­tern with a pre­dictable tran­si­tion from the cen­tre to side knobs with­out the bike want­ing to tip in and break away sud­denly. Some cor­ner­ing trac­tion has been sac­ri­ficed with the choice of durable com­pound in the dry but it re­mained com­posed on most sur­faces. The Hard­skin cas­ing did per­form very well and took lots of abuse cross­ing loose and sharp scree slopes. We did suf­fer a small hole in the side­wall from a sharp stick, which we sealed up eas­ily with a Weldtite tube­less tyre re­pair kit. Thank­fully the high thread count and Hard­skin cas­ing stopped the hole from tear­ing and is has per­ma­nently sealed. In the wet the Taipan did bite well into the dirt and mud shed­ding even clay quite well and re­main­ing clear enough to main­tain good trac­tion both climb­ing and de­scend­ing. It did strug­gle on wet rocks and roots with the hard yet durable com­pound glanc­ing off on the an­gle of the of­fend­ing ob­ject. As the rains cleared and the sun came out leav­ing a loose and tacky dirt, the Taipan was highly ca­pa­ble. Just the right mount of shed­ding abil­ity, sta­ble knobs that don’t fold and a pro­trud­ing side knob meant they hung onto the loose and crafty lo­cal lines. Un­der hard brak­ing and quick di­rec­tion changes, we did en­counter some tyre cas­ing squirm and de­for­ma­tion due to the light yet durable Hard­skin. While Hutchin­son claims this tyres dips its knobs into the En­duro realm we ques­tion its sta­bil­ity at speed when the go­ing gets rough. If you’re look­ing for a light weight and durable all sea­son tyre that can in­deed han­dle both wet and dry then this could be the Jack of all trades tyre you have been look­ing for.

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