Just before the 12 Hours of Old El Paso a few weeks ago I was getting my single speed ready and dropped into San Juan Cycles (Durango) to get a new Maxxis Icon rear tire. Those of you who know me know that I don’t mess around with ultra lightweight tires. I have been using the Icon 2.2 EXO TR for a couple years now as my standard race and everyday rear tire. It’s fast rolling, good traction, and in the 600g weight range, meaning it can put up with some abuse, without much worry about the dread sidewall slice.
Tom Nebb introduced me to the newly released version of the already very popular Ardent all-mountain tire. The Ardent Race is a smaller casing and shorter knobbed version to give it a lighter weight and lower rolling resistance for XC racers like myself.
I decided to try it out for Old El Paso. Three weeks later its got over 100 miles of riding on it, 66 miles of that being at that sandy/gravelly/rocky 12 hour race. I have found my new favorite rear tire! The Icon tire is a great tire, but this Ardent Race seems to have better traction on the steeps. This is very important for single speed riding. Many times we SS riders are standing and mashing up very steep inclines, just barely making it over the top. One slip by the rear tire, and it can mean clipping out and having to restart, or even a smashed knee into the stem! The tread pattern on the Ardent Race seems to make to Icon traction to another level, especially in gravelly or sandy situations.
I also noticed the lean angle seems slightly better. I feel I can push the outside pedal and lean just a little harder, allowing more speed through turns.
I am also very happy with the tread wear. Tires these days are $55 and up, and I expect the tread to be tough enough to give me at least a few months of riding. I have ridden other tires from other manufactures that start out a great tire, but then loose those center knobs very quickly. $65 bald tires? No Thanks!
The center knobs are ramped like the Icon, for faster rolling, but they are showing hardly any wear so far.
The Ardent Race and other great Maxxis tires can be found at San Juan Cycles in Durango, or the The Broken Spoke bike shop in Santa Fe.