Maxxis Ardent TR EXO Review
If you’re looking for an all-around mountain bike tire that’s usable in a wide variety of conditions, is highly puncture resistant (especially when set up tubeless), won’t break the bank, and is immensely popular with riders, it might be difficult to go wrong with the Maxxis Ardent EX TRO. It’s not perfect, though, and might work best as a rear tire for most situations.
- Fantastic price and widely available
- Puncture resistance
- Adaptable in different conditions – a solid all-around tire
- All-day comfort
- Its tendency to push or wash out in softer terrain means it might not be a go-to option as a front tire
The Maxxis Ardent EXO is an extraordinarily popular mountain bike tire that’s been in production for years. After riding the foldable version for several seasons, we provide long-term, hands-on insight into its performance.
With its ramped center knobs, sizeable block-style side knobs, dual compound tread rubber, and high-volume casing, Maxxis advertises the Ardent TR EXO as a do-it-all trail tire.
Combined, they tell us these features minimize rolling resistance and improve braking, acceleration, and grip during high-speed cornering. Plus, with its densely woven sidewall fabric (dubbed EXO technology), the website indicates riders can expect fewer cuts and abrasions, without impacting performance.
Although Maxxis doesn’t list an MSRP on their website, online retailers like Amazon, Backcountry.com, Competitive Cyclist, Jenson USA, REI, Chain Reaction Cycles, and Performance Bicycle (to name just a handful) sold the Ardent for between $47 and $62 at the time of our research.
The Ardent line has been around since at least the late 2000s, and its three different sizes (26”, 27.5, 29”) remain extraordinarily popular today. Does this mean it’s necessarily worth mounting on your rims, though? Or, that it will deliver the trail confidence advertised by Maxxis?
We rode the modern TR EXO tires, front and rear, for three years, in all seasons and across a wide variety of terrain throughout the western U.S. Here, we’ll quickly condense everything we’ve learned in that time so that you can make a more informed decision.
First, let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty.
Ardent TR EXO Tech Specs
|Ardent TR EXO
|Trail, Cross Country (XC)
|26”, 27.5, 29”
|650 – 895 g
|35 – 65 PSI (2.5 – 4.1 bar)
|Threads Per Inch
We reached out to a Maxxis rep, who advised that the modern Ardent TR EXO was approved for production during the first or second quarter of 2013 and introduced at Interbike 2013, although, we found online references to the line as far back as 2009. The current version is currently available in six different sizes:
- 26 X 2.25
- 26 X 2.40
- 5 X 2.25
- 5 X 2.40
- 29 X 2.25
- 29 X 2.40
Depending on the model, Maxxis lists the weight between 650 g and 895 g, with a 60-65 max PSI. Foldable/wire bead and single and dual compound versions are available.
All TR EXO models feature 60 threads-per-inch, while L.U.S.T. (Lightweight Ultimate Sidewall Technology) versions boast 120 TPI. Available on some 26” and 29” models, Maxxis describes this tech as “a thin fabric layer on the sidewall, covered in a special airtight rubber compound,” which creates “a casing that is lighter, tougher, and holds air better.”
Along these same lines, Maxxis’ EXO technology involves lightweight, highly flexible, densely woven fabric in the tire’s sidewalls, which is said to offer protection against cuts and abrasions. We’re told it’s ideal for “exceptionally rocky, treacherous trails,” without affecting the tire’s performance.
Finally, a 27.5 eBike version of the TR EXO comes with Maxxis’ SilkShield technology, which promises to offer additional bead-to-bead puncture protection. One 29” skinwall version is also available.
My Long-Term Experience With the Maxxis Ardent TR EXO Tires
|Age: 41 Height: 6’ 1” (185 cm) Weight: 185 lbs (84kg)
|2015 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 750, size large. Sun Ringlé Helix TR rims.
|27.5 (650b) x 2.4
|All (slick, tacky, combination)
|All (wet, dry, windy, calm, hot, sub-freezing)
I’ve ridden the Maxxis Ardent TR EXO tires thousands of miles over the past three cycling seasons, both front and rear, on all types of surfaces and terrain, and in all conditions.
And overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time on the tires. So much, in fact, that I decided to replace my worn out rear Ardent with a fresh one this past March. I’ve found they provide dependable traction in a variety of scenarios, are extremely puncture resistant, easy to fit, and comfortable.
Although I’m a fan, would I recommend that you hand over your hard-earned money for them? Let’s quickly break it down.
Tread Pattern & Traction
Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve focused on riding slower, technical trail sections involving a combination of rocks and tree roots, as well as extended climbs.
And overall, I’ve found that the Ardent TR EXO’s wide tread spacing and chunky knobs provide good-to-great grip when climbing on most surfaces. They feel surefooted and controlled.
On looser surfaces (e.g., gravel, sand, small rocks), though, it can take a fair amount of body English to avoid rear slippage.
Along these same lines, I’ve found that with the Ardent mounted in front, it tends to push and wash out in looser conditions, such as sand, deep loam, and so forth.
Despite its chunky knobs and my relatively low air pressure preferences, the Ardents feature low rolling resistance and are reasonably fast. When it’s time to head downhill, I’ve found that I don’t have to think about them constantly—I simply let them do their thing and enjoy the ride.
When I want to add input (such as skidding or dragging a foot through a corner), they oblige and are predictable, which is precisely what I want from a mountain bike tire.
Here on the Front Range’s rocky, goathead thorn-ridden trails, Maxxis’ EXO technology seems to come in especially handy for preventing punctures. In fact, combined with Orange Seal tubeless sealant, I’ve never had a puncture flat across three riding seasons (*fingers crossed*).
The Ardent’s 60 threads-per-inch count is relatively standard among middle-market mountain bike tires, while the 120 TPI on their L.U.S.T. versions is also common on higher-end tires.
Pro tip: According to Schwalbe, if you encounter TPIs above 150 during your research, the manufacturer is likely adding the number strands across all layers together. In layman’s terms, anything higher than this number probably won’t provide more puncture protection for your money.
Related: A Visual Guide to Bike Tires
Am I alone in these experiences?
What Are Other Riders Saying About the Maxxis Ardent TR EXO?
Professional Ardent Feedback
From a professional perspective, MTBR’s Brian Mullin, along with Bike Magazine’s Vernon Felton, tested the Ardent TR EXO back in 2013. They both felt it worked well on a variety of terrain types, delivered a good amount of volume, rolled well, and offered surefooted traction in all but the sloppiest of conditions.
Together, Vernon called it “the most underrated tire on the market.”
“Over the past two years this tire has been my go-to tire in winter mud, summer hardpack and every condition in between,” he said. “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.”
Despite this enthusiasm, he noted that the Ardent doesn’t deliver the same cornering grip as some other MTB tires in the Maxxis lineup. Something that Mullin seemed to agree with:
“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.”
As noted in our experience earlier, this is something I frequently encountered as well. In fact, I would estimate that this front-washing propensity is responsible for the majority of my spills over the last few seasons.
Ardent Customer Reviews
Among 200+ reviews across popular online retailers like Amazon, Backcountry.com, Competitive Cyclist, and REI, the Maxxis Ardent TR EXO seemed to come with an average rating of more than four stars.
Compliments seemed to mirror those from professionals, including excellent mixed terrain traction, good low-PSI performance, predictable operation, and fantastic puncture resistance.
Complaints, similarly, often related to less-than-stellar traction in wet, muddy, or otherwise loose or sloppy conditions. Most agreed that it’s ideal in a variety of conditions as a rear tire, but that another tire might work best up front.
Using all of these details as a foundation, let’s wrap everything up in the next section.
Our Bottom Line About the Maxxis Ardent TR EXO Mountain Bike Tire
Based on my experience, as well as feedback from professionals and everyday riders alike, there seems to be a lot to like about the Maxxis Ardent tire.
It’s reasonably light, adept in a wide variety of conditions, highly puncture resistant, affordable, and widely available in all popular sizes via online retailers, big box sporting goods stores, and even at many local mom-and-pop bike shops.
I’ve also found that it covers a vast middle ground between fully downhill and cross-country tires, and remains comfortable during long days in the saddle.
And although one of the top complaints (from professionals and consumers alike) is that it might not work great as a front tire, I’ve had success with my dual-Ardent setup for the better part of three cycling seasons. In fact, while I can certainly see where front-mounted Ardents have a tendency to wash out in softer conditions, I’ve appreciated them so much that I replaced my rear tire with another Ardent this past season.
Will I buy another one when the time comes? Despite all of the Ardent’s pros and its very few cons, I feel like I’ve sufficiently explored these tires. So, I’m ready to try something new.
But, while no tire will meet every cyclist’s needs, if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive all-around mountain bike tire that won’t continuously leave you flat on the side of the trail, you probably can’t go wrong with the Maxxis Ardent TR EXO. And many online retailers offer money back guarantees if it doesn’t meet your needs.
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