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The top 7 best 26 inch touring tires for 2023

With this blog I’ll share my top picks for the very best 26 inch touring tires. I use several of my older-style mountain bikes for something else than trail riding and there are a couple of solid options for those who want to use their bikes for many miles.

Personally I feel that puncture-resistance and durability should be at the forefront of a tire which falls in the “touring” category. Being able to ride with confidence across less-than-ideal roads without having to worry about your tires holding out is what a great touring tire is all about.

It does mean that touring tires are heavier than their race counterparts, but that’s a necessary tradeoff if you want to get the most miles out of your tire setup. I’ve chosen tires which have a proven trackrecord as mile-crunchers and offer the best protection the market has to offer.

So with that out of the way. Let’s head over to my list of the best 26 inch touring tires.

Schwalbe Marathon HS420

I’ve run multiple Schwalbe Marathon’s on various bikes in various sizes and I can’t remember ever running a flat.

To me, this original Schwalbe Marathon set the standard for a package of puncture-protection and durability. And it spawned an entire category of spin-offs for various other cycling disciplines.

I believe it’s one of the best-selling commuting tires because they do what they’re meant for, keep you riding. And they do so consistently.

Schwalbe Marathon HS420 Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
The go-to touring and commuting tire, mile-cruncher.
Reasons to avoid
None

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

The Schwalbe Marathon is the ultimate allrounder in the tire department and one of the best-selling tires in the market. So the German brand decided to make a MTB-specific version of this tire: the Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB.

Although it looks like a knobby tire, if you look close enough you can see that center tread will let you run smoothly across pavement. And just like the standard Marathon is meant for commuting and touring, the same goes for this one.

It’s a heavy tire when compared to some of the XC racers. But the biggest plus for hauling all that extra weight is that in terms of puncture protection, this tire has no equal. The reason is pretty simple. Schwalbe stuffed a 5mm strip underneath the center tread, made from highly puncture resistant rubber. And as simple as that sounds, it’s extremely effective in preventing punctures.

So for those of you who want the risk of flats nearing zero, this is the tire for you.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Mile cruncher, unparalleled puncture protection
Reasons to avoid
Heavy, meant for commuting, touring, and bikepacking.

Continental RIDE Tour

The Continental RIDE Tour is a fantastic allround tire meant for urban commuting. It’s a 4-season option for those people who want to ride their bike year round.

As an allrounder it shows characteristics of durability and puncture-proofness. With both reinforced sidewalls and a puncture-resistant breaker underneath the center tread.

An unbroken center tread means it’s reasonably fast in a straight line, and it offers a tread pattern to support riding in the rain.

With all that added material and rubber, you should pick this tire for its long-lasting lifespan, and to get you from A to B every single day.

Continental RIDE Tour Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Ultra-durable, great allround, 4-season option for urban riding and commuting.
Reasons to avoid
Heavy

Continental CONTACT Plus

The Continental CONTACT Plus is another great allround commuting tire from the German brand.

It sets itself apart from the other tires in the lineup because of a cut resistant casing, besides the puncture-resistant belt and reinforced sidewalls.

The tire sacrifices a low weight in favor of basically never running a flat, and does so perfectly. It’s flat center tread pattern means it’s a great long-lasting-durable commuter option.

Continental CONTACT Plus Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely puncture-resistant
Reasons to avoid
Heavy

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 Cross King ProTection Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Maximum puncture protection in a lightweight cross-country racing tire.
Reasons to avoid
None

Panaracer GravelKing SK

The Panaracer Gravel King SK has become my favorite gravel tire in the market. In my mind there are two brands that stand out from the crowd, and those are american-made WTB and their Japanese counterpart Panaracer.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Panaracer. When the gravel-craze took hold of the bicycle industry, they created the tire that would serve as the de facto standard for gravel tires with the GravelKing.

The GravelKing SS might have topped that tire. It has just the right weight, just the right tread pattern, just the right puncture protection, and all wrapped up in a beautiful package, both in black and tan-wall options.

Deservedly so the Panaracer Gravel King SK is in my mind the true fit-and-forget, all-weather, all-season option for gravel afficionados. But will serve those bikepackers and hard-riding daily commuters just as well.

Panaracer GravelKing SK Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Superb allround gravel tire, very lightweight, with japanese build quality.
Reasons to avoid
None

Panaracer RiBMo

At 26 x 2 inches and 560 grams the Panaracer RibMo is among the lightest tires for its size on this list. Its minimal tread pattern moves it into the direction of being a slick tire, perfect for fast urban commuting.

The Panaracer RiBMo uses their proprietary ProTite technology, which is an extra puncture-resistant layer which runs the entire length and width of the tire. And they offer a more durable, commuter-friendly compound.

The conclusion is this tire will make your bike feel fast and nimble for many many miles at a reasonable enough price.

Panaracer RiBMo Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Ultra-light slick tire, affordable, durable, and supple, japanese build quality
Reasons to avoid
None

Specifications 26 inch touring tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
Buy at Amazon
Schwalbe Marathon HS420
26×1.50
40-559
730
Black
Black
ADDIX
GreenGuard
wired
Schwalbe Marathon HS420
26×1.75
47-559
875
Black
Black
ADDIX
GreenGuard
wired
Schwalbe Marathon HS420
26×2.00
50-559
970
Black
Black
ADDIX
GreenGuard
wired
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
26×2.10
54-559
1150
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard, E-50
wired
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
26×2.25
57-559
1260
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard, E-50
wired
Continental RIDE Tour
26×1.75
47 – 559
780
Black
Black
 
ExtraPuncture Belt
wired
Continental CONTACT Plus
26×1.75
42-559
1040
Black
Black
 
SafetyPlus Breaker
wired
Continental Cross King ProTection
26×2.30
58-559
675
Black
Black
BlackChili
ProTection
tlr
Continental Cross King ProTection
26×2.20
55-559
565
Black
Black
BlackChili
ProTection
tlr
Panaracer GravelKing SK
26×2.10
54-559
590
Black
Tan
ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) Natural
Advanced Extra Alpha Cord
tlr
Panaracer RiBMo
26×2.00
48-559
560
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
ProTite Shield
foldable
Panaracer RiBMo
26×1.50
37-559
460
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
ProTite Shield
foldable
Panaracer RiBMo
26×1.25
32-559
350
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
ProTite Shield
foldable

Bicycle tire puncture resistance

EXO, GreenGuard, AGC, AEC, ATC, do you ever get confused with all the jargon related to puncture protection. I know I did? That’s why I’ve written a separate article about puncture resistance technologies. That way, you’ll be able to better understand what’s out there and if it’s worth your money.

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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