In this review, Daniel Dorr talks about the new Maxxis Ardent Race tire mounted to his Yeti SB 5.5C. Let's see what he thinks about this fast rolling tire!
Maxxis Ardent Race 29 x 2.35 3C MaxxSpeed EXO/Tubeless Ready
Securing the “optimal” tire has always felt unattainable for me. I’ve taken note that many of today’s most committed riders frequently switch out tires from one ride to the next to gain a trail-specific performance advantage. For the passionate rider who prefers a “set it and forget it” set up, the quest can be daunting and seemingly eternal—but also a little exciting, because, let’s face it, there’s nothing like some new rubber on an old trail to get you amped.
Set up: This review is for a rear mounted Ardent Race on a Yeti SB5.5C with a Vittoria Morsa 29x2.3 mounted front tire.
Experience on other rear tires: For additional context, other tires I have ridden in a 29er size consist of the plain ol’ Maxxis Ardent, Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Schwalbe Hans Dampf, Maxxis Ikon, Vittoria Mezcal, Vittoria Morsa, and more.
Location: Since my trails are located in the Greater Phoenix Area, the terrains that I have tested the Ardent Race on has consisted of loose over hard, hard pack, and loose—probably in that order. My trail preference varies from fast flowing single track to technical feasts, but they all have one thing in common, I like to ride fast and hard.
Terrain Performance: I was anxious to test the Ardent Race on two of my local staples, both loose over hard, fast-flowing xc speed racers, with steady climbs, switchbacks galore and plenty of high speed chases. The tire immediately felt fast rolling and I did take notice of the roughly 175 grams of weight savings over the Vittoria Morsa it had replaced (one of my favorites, front or rear).
There was no loss of traction on steep climbs, where it kept a solid footing beneath me. I knew that the moment of truth for me would come in two ways, the first was how it would connect while charging hard into the switchbacks, the second, how my times would stack up on Starve—considering I had devoured these trails many times over.
When hitting the switchbacks at high speed I quickly concluded that while the smaller nobs wouldn’t result in an equal amount of “traction” as some of my previous tires, it was more than sufficient and the predictability of the “slide” earned very high marks in my book. The net result was plenty of confidence and no sense of compromising—a pleasant surprise for a lighter and faster tire than most in its class. To remove any placebo effect, Strava helped to confirm that the tire was fast, with several PR’s and some encouraging times.
Conclusion: I’ve since ridden the tire in quite a few hard pack conditions and can say that the tire also performs very well on this terrain, perhaps even better than the loose over hard. How did she shape up as a rear tire on loose conditions? Better than I would have thought, actually. While other tires such as the Vittoria Morsa, Hans Dampf, and Maxxis Aggressor would provide more traction, I was again confident enough to conclude that the Ardent Race should not be relegated to the ranks of an “XC” tire in any way, like the Ikon or other similar tires.
While I cannot yet speak for wet conditions, the 2.35” width, decently sized side knobs and EXO sidewall have convinced me that the tire will serve you well in DRY conditions of great variety. I’m not sure which tire would dethrone it right now for me. I suspect that the Vittoria Mezcal (recently released in 2.35 sizing) is a tire that will give it a run for its money—I’ve ridden the 2.25 and found it to be very fast, but not as trail worthy as the Ardent Race; the extra width should have it matching up quite nicely. I am very happy with the Ardent Race 2.35 for my conditions, if you buy one, buy it from the guys at Worldwide Cyclery, of course!