Maxxis has long been a standard-bearer for mountain bike tires, and every few years, they come up with the “it tire” that everyone wants.
At a time when momentum was growing behind pushing the definition of “cross country” riding to the fringes, they produced the Ardent, a tire of massive volume, thick casing, and chunky center tread that seemed out of place for only a short time. The Ardent set the bar for aggressive, fast-rolling tires (lower rolling resistance).
These can be a bit difficult to find in store, but I've had great success finding the Ardent 2.4 (and variations) over at CompetitiveCyclist. Typically the best prices and frequent seasonal discounts!
Its reputation as a good all-around tire has made it Maxxis’ number one top-selling tire, with multiple wheel sizes, a skinwall version for the NAHBS crowd, a lighter “race” version (Ardent Race) and even an e-bike specific version.
An aggressive tread in high-volume casing, designed with great traction in mind. The Ardent doesn't forget the racer with large block-style side knobs offering numerous edges for high-speed cornering. The center tread, while ideal for braking and acceleration.
With its medium-height tread, the ardent race bridges the gap between the xc-oriented Ikon and the trail-oriented ardent. The center knobs are ramped to reduce rolling resistance, and the side knobs are angled and stepped to provide great biting traction.