By Vernon Felton
Maxxis’ Ardent 2.4 is, in my opinion, the most underrated tire on the market. When it comes to Maxxis’ treads, people tend to gravitate to the established gravity-meats (i.e., the Minion or High Roller series) or the pinner XC treads, such as the Ikon. The Ardent, however, covers that vast middle ground and covers it damn well.
I’d ridden the Ardent in its original 2.2-inch size and wasn’t terribly impressed with either its grip or general ride feel…and then one day a svelte little 29er cross-country sled came my way wearing these big meats that barely fit between the chainstays and I quickly changed my mind about the Ardent. That extra volume of the 2.4 version goes a long way in rocky, rooty terrain. I routinely run stupid low pressures for my weight and clod-hopper riding style and almost never pinch flat. The traction and compliance or awesome and yet, with a decently wide (21 millimeters) rim, squirm is rarely a problem.
The Ardents are not blessed with that absolutely fearless cornering grip of the High Roller or Minion, but they corner more predictably than either of those two and when it comes to covering long distances, these things just kill it. For a tire with fairly aggressive tread and a huge casing, the Ardents have fairly low rolling resistance. I used the Ardents during the recent BC Bike Race, ran `em at 25 PSI and never thought twice about flats, squirm or sidewall failures. No tire is bullet proof, but the Ardent 2.4 takes a hell of a beating. I should mention here that I’m running the EXO casing–I’ll always accept extra grams of rotating weight on any tire if it means one less slice in the sidewall.
Over the past two years this tire has been my go-to tire in winter mud, summer hardpack and every condition in between. It’s my tire of choice on my cross-country bike and my all-mountain rig. Not a whole lot of tires can shine in both of those mediums. True, the Ardent 2.4 is not as stellar in sloppy conditions as a dedicated mud tread nor does it roll as fast as one of those file-tooth patterned hardpack tires, but when the going gets scary and tough, this particular Maxxis model just flat out kicks ass. There still aren’t a ton of great, large-volume 29er meats, which makes this wagon wheeler version of the Ardent that much better.