Trying to improve on Ardent 2.4 / Ikon 2.2 combo for XC- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Trying to improve on Ardent 2.4 / Ikon 2.2 combo for XC

    I ride longer (25-35 miles) XC with lots of solid rock, loose rock, crushed rock, loose over hard. My bike is a Yeti 4.5. Wheels: Ibis 935s / 29mm internal.

    Front Tire:
    I tried Forekasters 2.35 front and Ikon 2.2s back -- and could scream up hills and straight rollers; however, at the turns, it got really sketchy. I'd end up riding my brakes or outright having the bike come out from under me in turns. There's such little confidence in my mind riding them yet I LOVE the light feel, speed, and great acceleration.

    Switched the front tire to an Ardent 2.4 and could stay fully off the brakes. I pushed turns as hard as I know how and they just stuck hard. However, I feel the extra weight and/or rolling resistance on longer XCs. Climbing, acceleration, straightaway speed suffers. If I was only doing 10-15 mile rides for speed or just riding for fun, it'd be an acceptable tradeoff. However, on the longer XC stuff for speed, I sure feel the constant weight and resistance.

    So, for the front, is there something that is light and rolls like the Forekasters (mid 700s) yet grips like the Ardent 2.4 in the loose stuff and turns -- and would be a good fit on a 29mm wheel?

    Rear Tire:
    On the rear, I have no complaints with the Ikons except the flats. They grip way better than I'd guess from just looking at the tread; rarely slip unless I am out of the saddle and pulsing a climb. But flats have been a problem. I've had 3 in 150 miles -- with the latest today slicing the sidewall past repair. I love the low weight, low rolling resistance, and ample grip.

    Any suggestions for a good, light XC tire on the rear around the weight of the Ikon (mid 500s) with more flat protection?

    I greatly appreciate any suggestions anyone may have. I look forward to getting some suggestions, ordering a few tires, and giving it a whirl.

  2. #2
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    I've been in a similar boat to you. I'm currently running an Ikon out back, and a Ardent Race up front. For my trails I get way better grip out of the Ardent Race than I did with the standard Ardent. That being said... I do want a good front tire that is a bit more aggressive than the AR.

    There are a lot of good words going around about Vittoria tires at the moment. My next set of rubber will be a Barzo up front, and most likely a mezcal out back. I saw some pros runnin this setup at the Snake Creek Gap time trials this year, and it's had my attention since then. Seems like a fast rolling setup with good traction and puncture resistance.

  3. #3
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    You aren't going to get a mid 500s rear tire with more flat protection. It. Does. Not. Exist.

    You're riding an XC tire on non-XC terrain. You're going to have to nut up and pay the grams for reliability.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the response. It's amazing to me to look at the Forekaster and Ardent side by side, mounted. They look so close; however, the Forekaster spins up and rolls so much better yet slips so much worse than the Ardent. I would think the feel wouldn't be so dramatic based on the look being so close -- but they certainly are.

    I'll look into Vittoria and the Ardent Race. The plain Ardent has plenty of grip for me; if the AR has even more, I'd be fine.

    A few of the Cat1 XC guys that ride these same trails swear by the Continental X-Kings 2.4 up front. One guy won the State XC championship on them up front, Ikons on the back -- and that course is tougher on tires than where I ride. Still, I read horrible reviews on the X-Kings, yet they still swear by them and say they offer really good sidewall protection plus really grip in the loose stuff / corners. May get one just to try... Can find them online as low as $35.

    Appreciate the input... Will post back any improvements found.

  5. #5
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    They just updated the Cross King. The Barzo is a similar tire.

  6. #6
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    I have had the forekaster for about a year.

    It is highly sensitive to pressure, and it needs to be run a little soft.

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  7. #7
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    Not sure how you are feeling the Forekaster is a worse gripping tire then the Ardent. As the above post said you need to run it soft, up front at 18-20 lbs for a 190-200lb rider works well. I run it on the rear also but have moved to a 2.6 REKON up front which just destroys the super loose gravel and sand we have out here. Still have a Forekaster in the rear which works well. Almost anyone (including myself) will tell you Ardents just don't have the cornering grip since the side nobs are too narrow.

  8. #8
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    I've been running the Mezcals front and rear. They do roll really nice and dry grip is ok, but grip on wet roots and rock is sketchy. It feels more like a rubber compound issue than a tread design, and I've had quite a few Conti's with the black chili which gripped much better even when completely worn out. I'm just having trouble deciding which Conti's to go with as they've changed their whole line up. Mid 700's is as heavy as I'd like to go, so it looks like the new Mountain King or X King. Leaning toward the Moutain King but I fear that it looks to be a slow roller.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porkchop_Power View Post
    Not sure how you are feeling the Forekaster is a worse gripping tire then the Ardent. I run it on the rear also but have moved to a 2.6 REKON up front which just destroys the super loose gravel and sand we have out here. Still have a Forekaster in the rear which works well. Almost anyone (including myself) will tell you Ardents just don't have the cornering grip since the side nobs are too narrow.
    I hear you and have heard the Ardent not gripping hard. But it latched-on for me much more than the Forekaster. I did what you you said and dropped the Forekaster from 22 to 17 and there was a noticable improvement.

    The 2.6 Rekons are interesting. That's a pretty low weight on a tire that big. Will put it on the list of what ot try. Thanks for the input.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hellion View Post
    I've been running the Mezcals front and rear... and I've had quite a few Conti's with the black chili which gripped much better even when completely worn out. I'm just having trouble deciding which Conti's to go with as they've changed their whole line up. Mid 700's is as heavy as I'd like to go, so it looks like the new Mountain King or X King. Leaning toward the Moutain King but I fear that it looks to be a slow roller.
    I'm with you. I've ordered a 2.35 X-King for up front, 2.2 in the back. Also bought at 2.3 Mountain King as well -- to swap with the 2.35 X-King and see if there's any noticeable change.

    My rough plan after trying out the X-Kings and Mountain King:
    * Minon SS 2.3, 795g. Looks like a mix between the Ikon and Minon.
    * Rekon 2.6 as someone here suggested. 780g on a 2.6 tire is interesting
    * Vittoria Barzo 2.35 when it becomes available
    * Vittoria Mezcal as you suggested
    * Maybe Schwalbe Fat Alberts at 780g...
    * Schwalbe Nobby Nic

    Sure appreciate the input. Thanks.

  11. #11
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    It would be great if you could report back on the durability and width of the 29x2.4 nexgen CrossKing. My experience has been horrible regarding durability, but they were blazingly fast on the previous model.

  12. #12
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    I feel like about any tire I run grips reasonably well after you find the right pressure, and that is very rider weight & style, suspension set up, rim width, and terrain dependent. But here in NE I have had excellent luck with 2.35 Ikons F&R, 2.35 AR front W/ 2.35 Ikon out back, 2.35 Rocket Rons, 2.25 Mezcal G+ (in all but leaves!), and currently on the new Specialized Fast Track 2.3 (I am really liking this tire, but have to run it a little higher PSI than others).

    My favorite all around XC tire (again in Maine with LOTS of roots and rocks) is 2.35 Ikons F&R

  13. #13
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    One thing I noticed with my Ikon 2.2 rear on a i29 rim is the profile almost seemed a little stretched where there was tons of sidewall showing. Sure enough I sliced it after maybe 150-200 miles.
    Just put on a Ikon 2.35 in the rear to go with my Ardent Race 2.35 front. Iím hoping thereís a little more protection with this tire profile on a i29.
    Like the OP, I like running XC tires on my hardtail on ďenduroĒ trails. Really XC in my book but the sharp rocks donít help. If this doesnít work Iím really looking at the Bontrager XR2ís. Bontrager sidewalls (XR3 at least) have always served me well but I like the Maxxis Grip better.
    My previous setup before the Ardent Race / Ikon was Schwalbe HD / NN. Thatís a heavier setup than Iíd like, but bulletproof for me.

  14. #14
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    First feedback:

    I put on Continental Cross King Protections (Black Chili / 2018) front and back today. 2.35 front @ 20, 2.20 back @ 22. Way more grip than I'd have expected. I could push corners hard and stay off the brakes. But what surprised me most was the rolling and climbing ability. They look like they'd have a good bit of resistance, but they rolled and climbed better than the Forekaster 2.35 / Ikon 2.2 combo despite being heavier. Extremely good feel.

    I also recieved a Continental Mountain King incase the Cross Kings didn't grip enough, but I really don't think they will be needed. Very likely will send them back.

    My only nit-pick: When I went over a few damp areas the grip went from great to nothing in a flash. However, other than some morning dew, I don't ride in muddy conditions due to the damage it does to the trails. Acceptable tradeoff for me.

    Will keep them on the bike and see how long they can last without flats. If I can get anything even close to reasonable (>300 miles) without a flat, I'm going to leave well enough alone and just stick with them.

    FWIW -- this is trail I rode with them -- trail/tech XC -- little bit of everything but the loose rock on sweeping turns is what I was worried about -- and the Cross Kings did wonderfully. Certainly not easy on tires.
    https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/702...-complete-ride
    Last edited by Marty McCasland; 06-14-2018 at 04:54 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty McCasland View Post
    First feedback:

    I put on Continental Cross King Protections (Black Chili / 2018) front and back today. 2.35 front @ 20, 2.20 back @ 22. Way more grip than I'd have expected. I could push corners hard and stay off the brakes. But what surprised me most was the rolling and climbing ability. They look like they'd have a good bit of resistance, but they rolled and climbed better than the Forekaster 2.35 / Ikon 2.2 combo despite being heavier. Extremely good feel.

    I also recieved a Continental Mountain King incase the Cross Kings didn't grip enough, but I really don't think they will be needed. Very likely will send them back.

    My only nit-pick: When I went over a few damp areas the grip went from great to nothing in a flash. However, other than some morning dew, I don't ride in muddy conditions due to the damage it does to the trails. Acceptable tradeoff for me.

    Will keep them on the bike and see how long they can last without flats. If I can get anything even close to reasonable (>300 miles) without a flat, I'm going to leave well enough alone and just stick with them

    FWIW -- this is trail I rode with them -- trail/tech XC -- little bit of everything but the loose rock on sweeping turns is what I was worried about -- and the Cross Kings did wonderfully. Certainly not easy on tires.
    https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/702...-complete-ride
    This was the setup I had on my felt edict for my first season which it. I loved everything about it for my dry conditions here in Utah. The durability was not great, though I never had a flat. Hopefully, the new ones are better in the durability dept. I have since added a new x King up front and added a mountain king in the back, which Iím not as keen on as having both x kings.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dromos123 View Post
    I have since added a new x King up front and added a mountain king in the back, which Iím not as keen on as having both x kings.
    Thanks for that feedback. I was wondering if the Mountain King on the back would do anything. I can return it with confidence and just keep both Cross Kings front and back.

    I felt the Ikon on the back performed better in term of grip, but 3 flats in 150 miles was just too low reliability for me. As someone said, hard to expect much durability at 550g. Hopefully the Cross Kings in the mid 750s will be better.

    Take care,
    -mm

  17. #17
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    A few asked for an update on the new 2018 Continental Cross Kings / X-Kings.

    I've ridden them about 250 miles through pretty unforgiving Northwest Arkansas trails. While many locals would consider these trails "cross country", it's not just nice dirt pack, pinestraw, etc. It's that plus lots and lots of rock, crushed and otherwise. The rock is flint-like and pretty sharp (I had a very minor spill and by the looks of the cuts on my leg you'd think I was pro downhill rider). Anyway, the X Kings are holding up fine. I haven't flatted once, air pressure stays up better than the Maxxis tires I removed, and I don't see any "near miss" gashes in the sidewalls waiting to blow.

    I will say these tires are sensitive to pressure. I started out 20lb front and 22 rear and it felt fine. To experiement, I increased it 5 pounds front and back -- and was bouncing much more plus I very noticably felt a good bit of grip reduction front and (especially) rear. I dropped them back to 20F/22R and it's just fine.

    If I had to do it over again I probably would just put 2.35s front *and* back. I feel the rear wheel wanting to slip from time to time and think the slight increase in width / resistance / weight may be worth it. I have taken the pressure as low as 15lb and the slips are all but eliminated, but that low with my weight (190lb) makes me uneasy due to how the tire squats. I feel I'm asking for wheel damage plus risking burping the tire -- so I run them higher @ 22.

    Also, ordered 2 Vittoria Barzo Graphine TNT 2.35s - the new 2018 model -- as something to compare to when I wear these Xkings out / slice them.

    Bike: Yeti 4.5 (29")
    Wheels: Ibis 935 - 29mm internal
    Weight: 190lb

  18. #18
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    The new Rekon Race might be the ticket for the rear. 2.25, 670g in the EXO version, 120 tpi. https://www.maxxis.com/catalog/tire-569-140-rekon-race
    Never underestimate an old man with a mountain bike.

  19. #19
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    Nvm

  20. #20
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    Any experience with the Rekon 2,25 vs ikon or maybe Aspen? Got aspen f/r now but I want to have a whole year set like ikon/AR or Rekon/Rekon race


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  21. #21
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    Update II on the 2018 Continental Cross Kings. Have 325 miles on them now and had first issue. Very small pin-prick on back tire (29X2.2) that I could barely see, but could hear and feel. Stuck a worm in it and all is fine.

    Tread on both is holding up fine. Have a very slow leak in the back (1-2 psi / day), but I know my rim tape is gouged in a few places and it's probably due for some sealant refresh.

    All in all, they are performing and handling far harder conditions (I'm intentionally hitting lots of rock to put them through the ringer) for hundreds of miles than what I was expecting from a ligher (mid 700g) XC tire. Curious to see how far they will go.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty McCasland View Post
    I'm with you. I've ordered a 2.35 X-King for up front, 2.2 in the back. Also bought at 2.3 Mountain King as well -- to swap with the 2.35 X-King and see if there's any noticeable change.

    My rough plan after trying out the X-Kings and Mountain King:
    * Minon SS 2.3, 795g. Looks like a mix between the Ikon and Minon.
    * Rekon 2.6 as someone here suggested. 780g on a 2.6 tire is interesting
    * Vittoria Barzo 2.35 when it becomes available
    * Vittoria Mezcal as you suggested
    * Maybe Schwalbe Fat Alberts at 780g...
    * Schwalbe Nobby Nic

    Sure appreciate the input. Thanks.
    I know this is an old thread, but it's been hard to find an awful lot of good information regarding the X-king vs some of the newer Maxxis offerings.

    When I upgraded my Trek SS's wheels to Stan's Flow EX rims, I started playing with tires and eventually landed on the Maxxis Ikon front/rear setup. After washing out the front end a few times, I threw an Ardent on the front and finally had traction back, but really just wasn't too happy with the rolling resistance vs. the Ikon f/r pair.

    LBS talked me into trying a Continental X-king. Seemed to me to roll comparably to the Ikon but have more grip. Was a perfect front tire. About 1k miles later, when unloading the bike one day I noticed the X-king was bubbling sealant from about 8 places--that concerns me a bit, but the tire only lost 1-2 psi over a 1 week period -- less than the Ikon which was NOT visibly bubbling sealant. I may be pushing my luck, but for now I haven't replaced it. In fact, I may get an X-king for the rear of the SS at some point.

    In the mean time, I've been trying to get a Canyon Spectral rideable. The Minion DHF front and Rekon rear just sucked miserably for the XC-ish trails around here, and of 3 local bike shops, all 3 gave me different opinions on how the Rekon compared to the Ikon.

    So at the moment, I've moved the Rekon to the front and plan to stick the X-king on the rear. Depending on how quickly I bust my @ss on the thing, I may have things reversed, and/or have to find a good fast-rolling-but-grippier Continental for the front.

  23. #23
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    OP here. Saw exactly what you described with both the Mountain and Cross Kings / X Kings. Just kinda giving up the ghost all of a sudden and oozing sealant everywhere.

    FWIW, a buddy who's in the MTB hall of fame said he had great luck with Ardent Race. I bought a pair and am impressed. Very fast rolling but still lots of grip yet considerably more durable than an Ikon. I have ridden them in harsh, rocky terrain (NW Arkansas) for over 500 miles with no flats. Only thing different I did is give it a generous amount of Orange Seal Endurance (probably 3-3.5 oz instead of the standard 2). It's my new and all-time favorite tire.

    YMMV.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty McCasland View Post
    OP here. Saw exactly what you described with both the Mountain and Cross Kings / X Kings. Just kinda giving up the ghost all of a sudden and oozing sealant everywhere.

    FWIW, a buddy who's in the MTB hall of fame said he had great luck with Ardent Race. I bought a pair and am impressed. Very fast rolling but still lots of grip yet considerably more durable than an Ikon. I have ridden them in harsh, rocky terrain (NW Arkansas) for over 500 miles with no flats. Only thing different I did is give it a generous amount of Orange Seal Endurance (probably 3-3.5 oz instead of the standard 2). It's my new and all-time favorite tire.

    YMMV.
    Great thread. Unfortunately I'm a little late arriving but read with great interest due to recently moving to an area with trail conditions very similar to OP. My current tires aren't cutting it on the loose dry stuff. My question for OP is what sizes of Ardent Race are you running front and rear? I'm guessing 2.2 and 2.35 but wanted to check. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff92123 View Post
    Great thread. Unfortunately I'm a little late arriving but read with great interest due to recently moving to an area with trail conditions very similar to OP. My current tires aren't cutting it on the loose dry stuff. My question for OP is what sizes of Ardent Race are you running front and rear? I'm guessing 2.2 and 2.35 but wanted to check. Thanks.
    I just run 2.35s front and back -- but have them on 35mm carbon wheels (Ibis 935s) so went bigger than say an Ikon 2.0 due to the width of the wheel.

    I'm to 800 miles on them and see knobs starting to fall off and get worn way down. I think they will make 1000 miles before having to change them. Still easily my favorite after all I've tried -- great combination of fast-rolling, grippy in corners, durable but not 1200-1500g a pair. 10/10 for XC

    FWIW - I've seen a few advertisements for Ardent Race at $45/tire lately. I bought a 2nd set early in the summer in anticipation of these needing to be replaced, but the backup set just sits in the workshop. Might make it into 2020 before having to change them.

  26. #26
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    Thanks Marty. The weight penalty (25g) of 2.35 over 2.2 is so minimal I figured I'd put them front and rear also. That also provides the advantage of swapping them if wear patterns are different. I've been looking pretty hard for good pricing but so far no luck. I'd be all over $45.

    800 miles is plenty acceptable especially considering the softer compound on the side knobs which is something I really want. Considering all factors (performance, weight, durability) discussed in this thread and elsewhere the Ardent Race front and rear does indeed seem like my best option for the type of trails available here (Phoenix area).

  27. #27
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    Marty, I'm curious what you have found to be the ideal pressures front and rear with the AR 2.35's? I have them on the bike now. (if anyone else has opinions please chime in as well).

    We are about the same weight (190 lbs) but there are differences in the wheels. I have 27.5" wheels and they are much narrower than yours at 23.4 mm inner. I think with the narrower rims I'll need to run pressure a little higher than what you can (to avoid burps) but still would love to hear what pressures work best for you.

  28. #28
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    Btw Rekon 2.6x27.5" is IRL
    more like 2.35"....

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