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The top 9 best 26 inch dirt jumper tires for 2023

In this article I’m going to focus on the best 26 inch dirt jumper tires.

26 inch might seem obsolete to many mountain bikers, with everyone basically running either 27.5 or 29 inch tires. The same does not apply in the dirt jumping scene, where you want to have the combination of both speed and a bike that’s nimble. 26 inch is still the way to go here.

As far as dirt jumper tire characteristics are concerned, you see either semi-slicks or cross-country tires fitted. The first are really fast on dry hardpack, with the second adding a bit more bite with small and numerous knobbies. Both tire types, sem-slicks and XC’s, are found as race-worthy low-weight options.

So for this list I’ve picked the fastest 26 inch dirt jumper tires, with the best rolling-resistance characteristics to own your local bike park with confidence. Let’s see what made it one the list!.

Maxxis DTH

Maxxis DTH
Maxxis DTH

The Maxxis DTH is by far the tire I most often see on (retro) MTB builds, and for good reason. It’s a gorgeous-looking semi-slick tire that’s exceptionally fast because it’s meant for BMX, dirt-jumping, and pump tracks.

That means the tire has a racing pedigree, which brings both fast-rolling characteristics, and grip with it. It’s wrapped in a very lightweight package. And because of its intended usage on the race track, it also means the tire is great for gaining momentum quickly.

Maxxis is known for providing a wide range of high-quality tires, and with the added benefit of providing both a standard black and tan version, it’s no wonder many older mountain bikes get outfitted with a pair of these.

Sizes range from 2.15 up to 2.3 inches, which will make for a great-looking setup with a very plush road feel.

Maxxis Ardent

Maxxis Ardent
Maxxis Ardent

If you want more grip than the Ardent Race might offer, you’ll be looking for the Maxxis Ardent. It’s a crossover tire sitting somewhere in between a trail and a cross country one.

When you resize the knobs on the Ardent Race and make them bigger, you’ll trade in a bit of speed for more grip. And that’s what they did with the Maxxis Ardent.

And trading in speed has to be taken with a grain of salt, for this is still a very fast tire, which excels on dry, hardpack trails.

Maxxis Ardent Race

Maxxis Ardent Race
Maxxis Ardent Race

The Maxxis Ardent Race is a great option to mount as a very grippy dual XC setup, an aggressive XC front tire, or a lightweight, fast-rolling trail tire.

The triple compound provides a fast-rolling center with softer and grippier side knobs for added traction and cornering confidence.

In dry conditions the traction will prove to be outstanding. In wet conditions the small close-knit knobs can get packed with mud. So you’ll need to resort to a different tire if you want to ride year round without swapping tires.

Maxxis Ikon

Maxxis Ikon
Maxxis Ikon

The absolute cross-country king in Maxxis’ lineup. The Maxxis Ikon has near perfect all-round tire characteristics, which makes it an excellent option for diverse road and trail conditions. Though it’s categorized obviously as an XC tire, it’ll also perform superior for bikepackers and gravel riders.

That being said, this is a racing tire, which means it’s light. But the reliable EXO compound, also used for harsher enduro racing, also means you’ll enjoy this tire for many miles.

As with any tire with this type of tread, it’ll perform well in dry conditions. The 26 inch version has both a 2.35 and 2.2 inch width option. You can run this tire both front and back, and might opt for the wider version in the front for some added grip. Especially if you expect some portions of your ride to be particularly rough.

It’s undeniable that the top-of-the-line products of Maxxis are superior to many if not all of their competitors. And the Maxxis Ikon shows it, with a perfect blend of weight, speed, grip, and protection.

Maxxis Hookworm

Maxxis Hookworm
Maxxis Hookworm

The Maxxis Hookworm is a durable urban road bike tire meant to last for many miles as a trustworthy commuting companion.

It’s a large volume, round, and heavy wired tire that smooths out small bumps and road buzz once it has gathered momentum. It’s definitely not a race tire.

It has one of the weirder looking tread patterns I’ve seen on a tire, which makes it fall into the semi-slick category since there are no knobbies whatsoever. The swirling patterns probably do well siphoning water away to the outside in wet conditions.

At 26 x 2.5 inches make sure you’ve got enough frame clearance to be able to actually run these big tires.

I’ve run these types of heavy round tires and can say they offer an incredible plush and comfortable feel, and once you get going are fast enough for quick urban assaults.

Continental Cross King ProTection

Continental Cross King ProTection
Continental Cross King ProTection

The Continental Cross King ProTection is the newer version of a magnificent, lightweight cross-country racer.

ProTection replaces the RaceSport moniker. It’s a three- and four ply system underneath respectively the tread and sidewall, ensuring maximum puncture protection and shieldwall tearing.

This doesn’t take away from the fact that this tire is still one of the lightest in its category. A true racer.

Continental Race King ProTection

Continental Race King ProTection
Continental Race King ProTection

The Continental Race King ProTection is an extremely light tire. In the weight department it means it outshines every comparable tire from every other brand by far. And it’s also the best XC tire in the rolling-resistance department.

I cannot stress enough that with respect to speed and acceleration, a light tire makes all the difference. And tires are also the most cost-effective way to reduce the overall weight of the bike.

Try reducing a couple of hundred grams of any other bike component and be ready to spend in the hundreds of dollars. Not so the case with tires. And on top of that the tire has the advanced ProTection puncture protection, with a composite breaker and a bead to bead sidewall protection polyamide fabric.

All that speed comes at a price, because traction is not this tire’s strength when compared to other mountain bike tires. And it’s the reason this tire performs best in dry conditions.

But when riding in those conditions getting up to speed and keeping it is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It rightly deserves its name.

Kenda 3-Sixty

Kenda 3-Sixty
Kenda 3-Sixty

The Kenda 3-Sixty is a semi-slick tire meant for slopestyle that also comes in a 26 inch version.

The tire comes in a standard black and a creme tread pattern. But the color isn’t just there for looks, but denotes a difference in functionality. The creme version uses a rubber compound that is ideal for dry condition tracks. While the black tread rubber is the perfect solution for wet conditions.

Kenda Booster Pro

Kenda Booster Pro
Kenda Booster Pro

The Kenda Booster Pro is the only 26 inch XC tire on this list that comes in a 2.4 inch width.

It’s unfortunate I don’t have the weight and rolling resistance numbers for that version of the tire.

The knobs are extremely densely packed with 6 in a row, so you know the tire is meant for speed and will lose its grip very fast in wet conditions.

It looks very similar to the Continental Race King RaceSport with its arrowhead like tread pattern, making it ideal for cross country and dirt jumping.

Specifications 26 inch dirt jumper tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Buy at Amazon
Kenda 3-Sixty
26×2.25
57-559
583
Creme
Black
Single
tlr
Kenda Booster Pro
26×2.40
61-559
618
Black
Black
Single
tlr
Maxxis Ardent Race
26×2.20
55-559
686
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
tlr
120
Maxxis DTH
26×2.30
55/58-559
859
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
wired
60
Maxxis Ikon
26×2.20
55-559
676
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Ikon
26×2.35
60-559
742
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
120
Maxxis DTH
26×2.15
52/54-559
570
Black
Black
Single
foldable
60
Maxxis Hookworm
26×2.50
63-559
1076
Black
Black
Single
wired
60
Maxxis Ikon
26×2.20
55-559
592
Black
Black
Dual
tlr
60
Maxxis Ikon
26×2.20
55-559
657
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
120
Maxxis Ardent
26×2.25
57-559
714
Black
Black
Dual
tlr
120
Maxxis Ardent
26×2.40
61-559
861
Black
Black
Dual
tlr
120
Continental Cross King ProTection
26×2.30
58-559
675
Black
Black
BlackChili
ProTection casing
tlr
Continental Cross King ProTection
26×2.20
55-559
565
Black
Black
BlackChili
ProTection casing
tlr
Continental Race King ProTection
26×2.20
55×559
535
Black
Black
BlackChili
ProTection casing
tlr
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

FoundeR Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.

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