Maxxis Ardent EXO 27.5″ Tire Review

by Brian Mullin on August 8, 2013

I have been testing the Maxxis Ardent
on and off since the winter time, with multiple other tires getting
swapped in at various points in time for cross referencing. Those tires
included the Geax Goma, Pacenti NeoMoto and Vee Rubber Trail Taker; the
latter turned out to be my favorite of the bunch. I bashed and smashed
the Ardent through my local testing terrain, which is predominantly
loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock
gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly,
loose gravel.

The Ardent are a good all around and versatile tire,
with low rolling resistance, a good footprint, which works well in a
variety of terrain, with more emphasis towards drier conditions. The
tires offer decent volume and weight, round profile, widely spaced knobs
and great toughness with the EXO sidewall protection. The 27.5″ size is
new for this product line, and is currently offered in only the 2.25″
width, in foldable and foldable EXO options, all with 60 tpi casings,
and retail for $56 and $59 respectively. Although they’re not tubeless
ready, they’re easy to set up tubeless on a variety of rims, and it
didn’t take too much coaxing with a compressor to get them going, and
they perform better in that mode than with tubes.

Measured Specs:

  • Weight – 710 grams and 707 grams
  • Carcass width – 2.23″
  • Knobby width – 2.19″

The
2.25″ width puts them on the low side of the fatter tires, and they
offer a decent-sized footprint and volume, while not being too large,
which can be a great advantage when trying to fit 27.5″ tires into some
frames, like my Ibis Mojo HD. When being run tubeless, the decent-sized
volume allowed them be aired at decreased pressures, though if set too
low, they did get squirrelly. Most of the time the volume is adequate
and offers good cushioning, but when cranking up to higher speeds
through rough rock gardens it gives a harsher ride than expected. It
would be nice if they offered a 2.4″ version in the 27.5″ size, as the
extra girth would add some much needed float, volume and footprint.

The
Ardent roll really well for a decently fat tire, and they snap up to
speed with very little effort, sort of low resistance accelerators. That
is a real advantage when working on some technical terrain, where
instant jams onto the cranks can make or break a maneuver. They are also
a joy when rolling along on undulating terrain, and less energy seems
to be required to facilitate momentum. The dual staggered ramped center
knob design along with the subtle angled ones on the shoulder
accentuates this sense of acceleration and low rolling resistance.

They
had good traction in loose conditions and braked well, but I didn’t
find them the best in wet conditions, where they felt a bit sloppy and
slippery, especially on wet rocks. On rocky climbs and terrain, they had
good pliability and adhered well to the conditions, though they didn’t
feel sticky enough when you got them on steep rock ramps and slickrock.
When cornering, I always felt like they gave a vague feeling, and would
drift and washout like they had a mind of their own, which I found
disconcerting and not at all confidence inspiring. Even when pushing
them over past the transition of the shoulder to side knobs, it didn’t
help the vagueness, though at least they did hook up better. When pushed
hard into some good berms and rollers, they gave decent feedback, and
they did have nice responsive and quick steering through terrain
features. The deftness and steering capabilities were quite noticeable,
and offered instant changes in technical and gnarly terrain, allowing
one to steer just about anywhere.

The EXO protection sidewalls,
which offer increased abrasion and cut resistance, have been pretty
tough, and work much better than the normal version, though I did end up
tearing a sidewall when ripping down through some nasty rocky
conditions. Another hallmark of these tires has been their durability,
and even with my hard abuse in continual rock gardens and gravelly
trails, the knobs haven’t torn off or worn out prematurely.

The
Ardent also comes in 26″ and 29″ sizes, in both 2.25″ and 2.4″ widths,
in a variety of versions, including normal, EXO and LUST.

Bottom Line
The all-around Maxxis Ardent EXO 27.5″x2.25″ had great rolling
characteristics, and bounded up to speed well, and steered quickly and
precisely through multiple types of terrain. They had decent stickiness,
except on steep slickrock conditions, and overall had decent braking,
good traction and rolling, though they lacked good deep cornering
skills, with an uninspiring sense of vagueness. The tough EXO sidewall
protection gave it nice robustness in rock gardens, and the tire has
excellent durability, with no premature wear or torn knobs. Even with
the decently sized volume and footprint, they felt somewhat harsh at
speed when traveling through rough rock gardens. They preferred dry
conditions, and weren’t the best in the wet, especially on rocks. 

Pros

  • Durable
  • Low rolling resistance – good acceleration
  • EXO sidewall protection
  • Quick steering
  • All around tire

Cons

  • Vague cornering characteristics
  • Harsh ride at high speeds
  • Mediocre in the wet – especially rocks
  • Need the 2.4″ sizing in 27.5″

Overall Rating: 3.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous August 9, 2013 at 4:29 am

Thank you for the review Brian. How much clearance does the Ardent have in the rear of your Mojo HD? I have heard these are fairly tall for 2.25. Given my experience with a 2.25 Grip'r being too big for the Mojo HD, I would like to hear how well these fit. TIA, Sti.

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