Maxxis Creepy Crawler Tire Test - Round Ground GrippersPosted in Product Reviews on April 29, 2014
If you’ve reached your boiling point with out-of-round, stop sign–shaped tires wreaking havoc on the street but you need the off-road performance and durability of an aggressive bias-ply, choices are few and far between. Recently we found ourselves pondering our options, while at the same time trying to decide if it was better to muckle onto the steering wheel or let it go to do its “thing” during a nasty bout of tire-induced death wobble. This wasn’t our first butt-puckering rodeo, but it was the last straw. Time to pull the trigger on replacement rubber.
When a tire is severely out-of-round as soon as it leaves the factory mold, there’s little that balancing weights are going to do to counteract the bouncing, shaking, and overall orneriness it’ll exhibit on the street. Since our ex-military 1 1⁄4-ton 1984 Chevy CUCV truck pictured here does in fact see some road time—including a 75-plus-mile jaunt up north to a huntin’ camp a couple times a year—we needed a tire that would hold up to our off-road abuse, while being livable enough on-road to get us where we needed to go. After weighing the options, the Maxxis Creepy Crawler got the nod.
Since our old 38s were getting the heave-ho and we had a little extra room in the wheelwells to play with, we placed an order for the 38.5x14.5-16LT size. And, in what seems to be a rarity among tire manufacturers, they actually measured a true 38.5 inches tall. The 8-inch-wide wheels we were previously running were far too skinny to accommodate the Creepy’s 14.5-inch section width, so we ordered up a set of supercool, eight-lug 16x10 Series 82 wheels from Wheel Vintiques, to mount ’em on. These wheels are the epitome of antibling, and we dig that. They’re also superdurable and reasonably priced, and they resemble the steelies that would’ve come as factory equipment on this truck.
While the Maxxis Creepy Crawler tires are indeed DOT-compliant and, thanks to their quality construction, pound pavement with a higher level of civility than most bias-ply tires out there, expecting them to go the distance on a daily driver will be setting yourself up for disappointment. The soft and sticky rubber compound simply isn’t designed to offer the high-wear characteristics of a typical radial tire on the street. It is, however, engineered to stick like glue to rocks and roots, shuck mud and snow with the best of ’em, and take a severe beating while doing it.
During testing, we had our Chevy at some pretty hairy angles while climbing on loose soil up hillsides. Where the previous tires would dig their own graves, the Maxxis Creepy Crawler continued a pattern of slipping then biting, and pulling the truck uphill—an impressive contrast between old and new tires. Testing was conducted during cold, late-fall conditions in New Hampshire and, inadvertently, we managed to find the only unfrozen mud in the entire state. We got ourselves more stuck than we’d been in a while, but not before the Maxxis Creepy Crawler allowed the truck to bulldoze a wall of rock-strewn mud to nearly hood height. What this exercise showed us was that the shallower center-third of tread would get packed fairly quickly, but the deeper outer two-thirds would shed mud in an extremely effective manner—even with the anemic 6.2L diesel doing the spinning.
The Creepy Crawlers are widely known in the off-road competition community as one of the toughest tires out there, but we had our own durability testing in mind. GM lists the truck’s curb weight at 5,900 pounds, and we’re guessing it’s closer to 6,200-6,300 pounds with all our gear; not super-heavy, but definitely not a lightweight either. To see how the tires lived up to our particular requirements, we purposely rolled over stuff that stood a good chance of puncturing a tire—such as sharply cut saplings, punji-stick-littered log landings, and lots of sharp granite. The six-ply tread and four-ply sidewalls remained unphased throughout, with zero chunking or noticeable damage. Between the added protection of the substantial shoulder lugs and sidewall tread, as well as the center-tread’s impressive ability to conform and roll with the punches at our test pressure of 10 psi, the Creepy Crawlers get top marks for durability in our book.
In the end, we tested these tires on nearly every terrain the northeast has to offer, and came away impressed on all accounts. On the street—using Centramatic wheel balancers—they rolled smooth and true (and surprisingly quiet) up to 65 mph, which is always a good indicator of overall tire quality. If your criteria is similar to ours, we’re guessing you’ll be mighty pleased with your new Creepys too.