MTB Tire Test: Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR

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Test Summary

Conclusion: 3 / 5 Recommended
Weight: 759 grams
Rolling Resistance: 35.1 watts
Puncture Resistance: 7 / 5

Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR road bike tire on a rolling resistance test machine

It's been more than two years since I've tested a Maxxis MTB tire. After looking at the current Maxxis MTB tire lineup, the Ardent Race appears to be the most interesting tire to put on the test bench. The Ardent Race bridges the gap between the trail focused Ardent, and the cross-country focused Ikon (read review) that I've already tested some time back. The Ardent Race uses the same 3C MaxxSpeed compound that's also used on the Ikon 3C; this should be their fastest compound.

Buy Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR at (advertisement)

The Ardent Race I'm testing is the 3C/EXO/TR version which means it uses the 3C MaxxSpeed compound on top of a 120 TPI tubeless-ready (TR) casing with reinforced sidewalls (EXO). A 50 grams lighter non-EXO version is available as well; the non-EXO version should be a bit faster. Let's run some tests and compare the Ardent Race with the Ikon 3C and the top performing reinforced tires like the Schwalbe Racing Ralph SnakeSkin (read review) and Schwalbe Nobby Nic SnakeSkin (read review).

Manufacturer Specs
Brand Maxxis
Model Ardent Race 3C EXO TR
Year 2016
Supplied By Bought in store
New or Used New
Mileage 0 km
Price Range High
Buy At (advertisement)
Manufacturer part number TB96742100
TPI 120
Compound 3C MaxxSpeed
Bead Folding
ETRTO 56-622
Size Inch 29"
Width Inch 2.20
Specified Weight 720 grams
Max Pressure 60
Made In Taiwan
Available Sizes 29x2.35

Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR Test Results

Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR  mountain bike tire on a rolling resistance test machine

Size and Weight Measurements

Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622-17C, Pressure: 35 psi / 2.4 bar)
Specified Weight 720 grams
Measured Weight 759 grams
Measured Width Carcass 52 mm
Measured Width Tread 54 mm
Measured Height 52 mm
Measured Knob Height Center 2.9 mm
Measured Knob Height Edge 4.2 mm
Measured Total Thickness Sidewall 0.70 mm
Measured Total Thickness Center (excluding knobs) 1.50 mm

The specified weight of the 29x2.20 3C/EXO/TR Ardent Race is 720 grams; my sample comes in a good bit more at 759 grams. The measured width of the casing is 52 mm; the knobs stick out a bit further making the maximum tire width 54 mm.

The measured knob height is 2.9 mm for the center knobs; the edge knobs have a maximum height of 4.2 mm. The Ikon came in at 2.3/3.8 mm so the Ardent Race should provide a bit more grip. As expected, the sidewalls of the EXO version are a bit thicker at 0.70 mm as compared to the non-EXO Ikon sidewalls that have a thickness of 0.45 mm.

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Rolling Resistance Test Results

Rolling Resistance Test Results (Speed: 29 kmh / 18 mph / 8 m/s, Load: 42.5 kg / 417 N)
Inner Tube Conti MTB 29 (225 gr butyl)
Rolling Resistance 55 psi / 3,8 Bar 25.9Watts
CRR: 0.00776
Rolling Resistance 45 psi / 3,1 Bar 27.2 Watts
CRR: 0.00815
Rolling Resistance 35 psi / 2,4 Bar 29.9 Watts
CRR: 0.00896
Rolling Resistance 25 psi / 1,7 Bar 35.1 Watts
CRR: 0.01052
Use the formula: RR (watts) = CRR * speed (m/s) * load (N) to calculate rolling resistance at a given speed and load

When we compare the specifications of the Ardent Race with the Ikon (read review), rolling resistance of the Ardent Race should be a bit higher as it's heavier, has bigger knobs, and comes with reinforced sidewalls. When we look at the results of the rolling resistance test, rolling resistance of the Ardent Race comes in close to 11% higher at the most important air pressure of 25 psi / 1.7 bars. It doesn't look like Maxxis made any significant improvements to the 3C MaxxSpeed compound in the last two years.

When we compare the Ardent Race with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph SnakeSkin (read review) and Schwalbe Nobby Nic SnakeSkin (read review) (the best performing MTB tires with reinforced sidewalls), rolling resistance of the Ardent Race at 25 psi / 1.7 bars comes in at a 40 - 46% disadvantage. In my opinion, 40-46% is a huge difference which will be hard to justify even if the Ardent provides better grip or is more wear resistant.

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Puncture Resistance Test Results

Puncture Resistance Test Result (higher is better)
Puncture Resistance Tread 7 Points
Puncture Resistance Sidewall 5 Points

In the puncture resistance tests, the Ardent Race doesn't impress either. The tread puncture test comes in at 7 points which is very similar to most other MTB tires. In the sidewall puncture test, the EXO sidewalls don't perform that well. With a score of just 5 points, it comes in 1 to 2 points lower than the Schwalbe SnakeSkin tires as those usually score 6 to 7 points.

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Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR  mountain bike tire on a rolling resistance test machine

Two years have gone by without me testing a Maxxis MTB tire. This long period is because I simply wasn't that impressed by the Maxxis Ikon and preferred to invest my time in testing tires that are known to roll better. After waiting two full years, I'm still not impressed by the Maxxis Ardent Race with 3C MaxxSpeed compound as it can't touch the Schwalbe Racing Ralph and Schwalbe Nobby Nic in the rolling resistance test. I hope Maxxis invests in some better (faster) compounds as I do like their tires and competition should bring us better tires.

If you've always liked Maxxis tires despite their higher rolling resistance, the Ardent Race could still be the perfect tire for you. If you value low rolling resistance (like me) check the (MTB overview page) to find tires that perform better in our tests.

Buy Maxxis Ardent Race 3C EXO TR at (advertisement)

RATING: 3 / 5


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