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The top 7 best 26 inch touring tires

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 other 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 track record 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

Schwalbe Marathon HS420
Schwalbe Marathon HS420

I’ve run multiple Schwalbe Marathons 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.

Expert Experience

Dan Joyce | Contributor – November 22, 2008

Today there seems to be a version of the Marathon to fill any of the numerous different niches, but the original still holds up well. The KevlarGuard belt offers good puncture resistance and the sidewalls are among the toughest around.

Good cornering grip and rolling performance belie the fact that it’s the heaviest of the touring tyres on test. In my experience this is a durable, good value touring tyre that does everything quite well.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

The Schwalbe Marathon is the ultimate allrounder in the tire department and one of the best-selling tires on 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 the 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.

Expert Experience

Mike | Site Owner – March 15, 2017

Since I’ve made the jump to these large-and-in-charge tires (in my case, on a drop-bar adventure bike rather than a pure mountain bike) I’ve felt like I’m getting pretty close to the right balance of tradeoffs and advantages.

I’m not whizzing through my city streets en route to my favorite forest getaways, but I roll smoothly and comfortably enough out of town. Once I’m on the rough gravel-and-clay surface of the C&O Canal towpath outside my Washington, DC home, I really appreciate the limousine-like feel and peace of mind these tires offer.

Pros and Cons

Continental RIDE Tour

Continental RIDE Tour
Continental RIDE Tour

The Continental RIDE Tour is a fantastic all-round tire meant for urban commuting. It’s a 4-season option for those people who want to ride their bike year round, and be assured of riding with the most effective puncture-protection for a commuting tire.

As an allrounder it shows characteristics of durability and puncture-proofness. With both reinforced sidewalls and a puncture-resistant belt underneath the center tread. The belt differs from the more road-bike oriented, and lighter breaker, offering extremely effective protection against everything you might encounter on the road.

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.

Pros and Cons

Continental CONTACT Plus

Continental CONTACT Plus
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.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – July 11, 2017

Although there are faster tyres around, the weight penalty and more pronounced rolling resistance isn’t going to be apparent on a heavily laden expedition bike, tandem, or off-road on an adventure type build for that matter. The 35mm section is noticeably quicker, much easier to mount, and my choice if you wanted a super-dependable four-seasons road-biased tyre.

Pros and Cons

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.

Expert Experience

David Arthur | Contributor – November 5, 2020

The low weight combined with the shallow tread design ensures this is a supremely rapid tyre right off the bat. Its tread pattern and rubber compound mean it works well when mounted on the front or rear, with reassuring levels of traction even when tackling technical trails.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer GravelKing SK (TLC)

Panaracer GravelKing SK (TLC)
Panaracer GravelKing SK (TLC)

The Panaracer Gravel King SK has become my favorite gravel tire on 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 SK. 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 aficionados. But will serve those bikepackers and hard-riding daily commuters just as well.

Expert Experience

Katherine Moore | Contributor – November 17, 2021

As a ‘road plus’ or gravel tyre for riders who tend to stick to well-surfaced fire roads and tarmac, the GravelKing SK TLC could be a good-value option.

However, for those who like to stray further afield and come across more variable conditions, these are limited by both grip and puncture protection.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer RiBMo

Panaracer RiBMo
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.

Expert Experience

Dave Atkinson | Road.cc founder – October 15, 2015

The tread shape, which is ovalised a bit like the pointy end of an egg, is designed to decrease rolling resistance while still offering good grip when cornering. I can’t say that I ever had any problems with grip, even with the hard compound.

One of the reasons for this is that with a bigger air chamber you can afford to run the tyres at a lower pressure. I’m 100kg and normally put 100psi into a 25mm tyre; I found I could run these RiBMos at 85-90psi without any more danger of pinch-flatting than I’d have with a thinner tyre. That means more grip and extra comfort too, and it didn’t noticeably affect the tyre’s ability to roll.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 26 inch touring tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Panaracer RiBMo
26×2.00
48-559
560
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
foldable
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
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
26×2.10
54-559
1150
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
26×2.25
57-559
1260
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
Continental CONTACT Plus
26×1.75
42-559
1040
Black
Black
SafetyPlus Breaker
wired
3/180
Panaracer RiBMo
26×1.50
37-559
460
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
foldable
Panaracer RiBMo
26×1.25
32-559
350
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
foldable
Schwalbe Marathon HS420
26×1.50
40-559
730
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Marathon HS420
26×1.75
47-559
875
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Marathon HS420
26×2.00
50-559
970
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
Continental RIDE Tour
26×1.75
47 – 559
780
Black
Black
EXTRA PunctureBelt
wired
3/190

Sources

Dan Joyce, Schwalbe Marathon tyres review – Original touring classic, Bikeradar, November 22, 2008
Shaun Audane, Continental Contact Plus tyres, Road.cc, July 11, 2017
David Arthur, Continental Race King BlackChili Protection tyre review, Bikeradar, November 5, 2020
Katherine Moore, Panaracer GravelKing SK TLC tyre review, Bikeradar, November 17, 2021
Dave Atkinson, Panaracer RiBMo folding 700C 28mm tyre, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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