Thursday, December 19, 2013

REVIEW: Maxxis Ardent mountain bike tires

Prior to competing in RAID Uppsala this year, I purchased a new Felt Nine 80 29-er which came standard with a set of Geox AKA trail tires which were great for gravel roads, but not exactly grippy for climbing root covered, rocky trails in the wet Swedish autumn.

This led me to search for a tire with a more aggressive tread and after a lot of research on the internet I purchased a set of Maxxis Ardent 2.25 x 29 tires from I paid a very reasonable price of 66 EUR including shipping to Sweden. Bike Discount shipped the next day and I had the tires in hand the same week I ordered them. 

Here are my impressions after about 90 days of ownership: 

The MAXIS Ardent are marketed as "an aggressive tire designed with great traction in mind", and this is an accurate description of my experience so far. The tires have proven to provide outstanding grip on all kinds of surfaces, including hard-packed gravel, forest trails, light mud and even (shallow) snow. Basically, these tires will bite into and grip just about any deformable surface. In addition to this great traction, the center tread (see closeup picture) provides a low resistance surface for riding on asphalt and other hard surfaces, and even during the log stretches of asphalt that David and I covered during RAID I never felt that I was wasting precious energy fighting the tread. 

While the tread provides fantastic traction on soft and hard packed (i.e. bite-able) surfaces, I have experienced some loss of traction on one surface: wet stones. In one case this led to a pretty hard fall when I completely lost traction on my back tire during a hard turn. This is probably not surprising given that no tread is really going to grip a hard, wet surface. Maybe a softer rubber compound or lower tire pressure could help in these situations, but then again those changes would come with their own trade-offs. On any case, if your plan is to spend extended time crossing rainy mountain ridges, you might want to consider other options. Otherwise, I think you can't go wrong with the Ardent tire. 

Overall, I'm really pleased with these and they've proven to be great in the majority of conditions that I've tested them in. In June, they'll get a real workout in the muddy trails of Åre when Team Form competes again in Åre Extreme Challenge.

What tires are you using in your MTB training and competitions? 

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