About two years ago, back in March of ’16, then BBR Test Pilot, David Glover tested a pair of the Maxxis Colossus, but Moab doesn’t get too much snow, at least, not enough to groom, like we get in America’s Dairyland. This is what Glover shared about the Colossus “The Colossus tire looks to be a solid winter tire with tall, widely spaced knobs. This pattern is designed to keep the tread clear of packed snow so the tall knobs can dig in. Maxxis used a special rubber compound that is supposed to stay pliable in freezing temperatures. The tire looks like will hold up on the trail as well with EXO protection to help keep your sidewalls intact.” The only thing that I’d add is that our Colossus test units are also Tubeless Ready.
So this winter, as soon as we had good snow conditions, I mounted a pair of the Colossi on a set of 100mm HED BFD Carbon rims and took some measurements. The 26×4.8 test tires weighed in at 1572/1531 grams. When laid out flat the bead to bead measured 246 mm and the outside edge of the tread is 150 mm. The Colossus’ knobs are 6mm tall at the outside shoulder – 5 mm mid-tread and 4 mm in the center. When we mounted the tires to a set of 100mm HED BFD Carbon rims the casing measured 119.34 mm and the tread was 120.58 mm (we have a new digital tire caliper). This was my go-to snow set up, mounted to my bike, Ten Beers.
Maxxis describes the Colossus as a snow tire so I thought we should circle back and test them out in the snow. (thanks Capt. Obvious). Winter finally got with the program and we had a good six weeks of snow riding, as long as I was willing to drive a few hours to find it. Our test started with mounting the tires tubeless. The first tire snapped right into place with almost no coaxing. The second one made me work for it a little bit. The situation forced me bring out the big blue canoe strap and resort to a little tire bondage to get the bead set, but once we got that settled, they’ve been holding air like champs! They haven’t burped or wept at all over the last couple of months.
Even though I ran these predominantly on snow, my local loop involves a bit of gravel and pavement to get to the (ungroomed) snow. For such a big toothy tire the Colossi roll fairly easily on hard surfaces with no knob squirm or self-steer at 10-12 psi. Once you get the Colossi onto the surface that they were designed to conquer (snow) at 4-8 psi they really shine.
Last Winter, I ran a set of Bontrager Barbegazi’s 26 x 4.7 for snow and Surly Bud & Lou 26 x 4.8 for deep snow. Deep snow was pretty rare during the winter of 2016/17, but it did happen. This winter was a better year for snow and I never felt that I needed to switch to Bud & Lou for deep snow. The Colossi gave me the confidence to tackle fresh ungroomed snow. I’m not saying that the Colossi are as aggressive as Bud & Lou. I’d put the Colossi in the sweet spot between the low knobbed Barbegazi’s and the super aggro Bud & Lou. The Colossi were aggressive enough, that I never wished that I had mounted the Bud & Lou even in 4-6 inches of fluffy ungroomed snow. Additionally, the tires felt equally at home on the relatively infrequent excursions on groomed trails.
One of the unique characteristics of the Colossus, that made me take notice, is their ability to deflect or correct when ‘rut riding’. In ungroomed snow or on a rutted groomed track the front tire deflects your forward progress back into the rut or track that you’re trying to follow. It’s a subtle thing but something that happened often enough that I felt couldn’t be a coincidence. I knew that it couldn’t be attributed to any skill on my part. We didn’t experience any flat tires or leaks during testing. These things just worked as advertised.
The one knock that I have on these snow tires is the big Hi-Viz Yellow Hot-Stamps on the sidewalls, but that’s more of a style preference that does nothing to detract from how well the Colossus performs. Earlier this year, we shared how to permanently delete provocative graphics from fat-bike tires (here) just in case that you want to cover them up. In fact, you may notice in some of our photos that we used a reader’s suggestion and deployed a sharpie marker on one of the (I)’s on this set of tires. I like these Maxxis Colossus tires better than the Barbegazi’s that I ran last winter. I rated the Barbegazi’s 4.625 gnomes (out of 5), so that the basis for the Colossus capturing a 4.825 gnome score, before the mandatory .2 gnome penalty for the big yellow sidewall hot stamps, leaving them with a composite score of 4.625 gnomes out of a total of 5 gnomes.