Maxxis suggests running the Ardent Race up front, paired with an Ikon at the rear, for out-and-out speed – given that I’m just as interested in staying on the trail as I am in going fast in a straight line though, I much prefer it as a rear tyre matched with something gnarlier up front for improved bite.
The 3C triple compound system mixes up the properties of (you guessed it) three different rubber compounds for the best combination of grip and resilience – there’s none of that horrible ‘sucky’ feeling you get with a ‘proper’ sticky compound, but then neither is there the associated limpet grip; it’s a trade-off between rolling speed (high, helped by the ramped centre treads) and soft-conditions grip (it does clog in thicker mud, which isn’t a surprise when you look at how low-profile the close-packed tread is). The trademark rounded cross-section familiar to users of the regular Ardent is still there, though, and I like it.
At a nominal 2.2in it’s definitely on the small side, but the benefit is that it fits between chainstays with plenty of room to spare. A higher volume version would be lovely for front wheel use in dry conditions. It’s tubeless-ready and the sidewalls aren’t too flimsy, so it stands up to hard cornering well without the wallow associated with lighter tyres – and while we’re on the topic of weight, the EXO sidewalls are a perfectly acceptable compromise between abrasion protection and additional heft. They’re just as easy to pinch flat as a regular light-ish, supple-ish tyre, but there’s still enough there to stop you tearing through them with one clumsy pedal stroke.
Really though it just resembles a regular Ardent that’s reached the prized sweet spot between worn in and worn out. I guess that means it’s got an even shorter life span and at £50 or so a wheel, that’s going to be hard for many folk to stomach. Mine is already rather worn.
Overall: A faster, racier version of an old favourite. Could do with being fatter, though.
|Product:||Ardent Race 2.2 x 26in|
|From:||One Industries, oneindustrieseurope.com|
|Tested:||by Jenn for Three months|