The Maxxis tire combo is a tough one to beat these days. With tons of options for front and rear, the combination is endless. In this review, our customer Jordan goes with the Ardent in front and Forekaster in the rear. Is this the best tire combo? Let's find out!
My first trail bike came shod in Maxxis Ardent 29x2.25 with no option for tubeless. They sure looked the part for a do all tire in the Pacific North Wet (yes wet) with their well-spaced ramped center tread and transition nobs. However, the narrow casing and lack of tubeless options were lackluster at best. I'm a big fan of Maxxis and find all their tires to be reliable. When it came time to put together a tough and light wheel/tire combo I looked at Conti, Speci, and Schwalbe but ultimately returned to Maxxis. After pouring through their catalog comparing tread designs and weights, I settled on a Forekaster and Ardent.
The Ardent 2.4 is marketed as a do it all tire with high volume and comes in at 864g. Not super light but it's worth it for the EXO protection and not feeling the need to carry a tube. Mounted on a 26mm inner width rim it measures out exactly 2.4" at the nobs and casing making it a respectably wide tire. Not to be confused with Maxxis Wide Trail tires that are designed around a 30-35mm rim. The Ardent filled out to a nice profile on my 26mm rims.
The extra width and volume over the old 2.25 Ardent really made this tire shine on the trail. Its no weight weenie xc tire but it does roll much better than either of the Maxxis Minions. The transition nobs do their job translating to a predictable feel. When you really lean into it the square and H shaped side nobs dig in well and the extra volume helps conform to the trail. This tire handled a mix of hardpack, medium, and loose over hard no problem. Where it struggles is in sticky mud as the nobs aren't tall enough. Good grip in a variety of conditions, decent volume, low drag, and peace of mind. What more could you want? Maybe a rear tire too.
For the rear, I opted for something a little lighter that I thought might be more likely to give it up in fast tight turns. I prefer less cornering grip in the rear than the front because as those of you who have rear wheel drive cars know; oversteer is fun! Enter the Forekaster 29x2.35 Maxxis's unapologetic copy of the Schwalbe Nobby Nic. The difference is this tire doesn't blow out sidewalls like the NN. been there done that. No thanks. The Forekaster weighs only 735g with dual compound and EXO sidewall protection. Two thumbs up. It measures 2.35 at the nobs and 2.3 at the casing on a 26mm internal width rim.
The Forekaster sports shorter medium sized nobs in an open pattern. The side nobs are not as aggressive as those on the Ardent. They work great for getting loose when you want to. The ample sipes on the nobs make for some sure-footed climbing on both medium dirt and rocks. With their lower well-placed design, the pattern rolls well too.
Don't get me wrong, I love going hard on my Minion DHF/DHR combo. I think I found a better combo here for the mid travel trail bike and longer rides. The dual compound offers great grip and wear characteristics and adds to this combos value. Lastly, I simply can't trust a trail tire that doesn't have some sort of added protection. The EXO construction is well worth the slight weight penalty and is easily offset by not having to carry tubes. I've ridden through some nasty rock gardens and roots with these and have had zero issues.