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The top 7 best 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes for 2023

In this article I’m going to give you my top picks for the best 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes for this year.

It makes perfect sense to turn your mountain bike into something more suitable for urban riding, or maybe even everyday commuting.

I live in a country that’s devoid of any mountains and I have to travel to get anywhere something you could call hilly. That’s great since I have a penchant for mountain bikes that predates the change of the millennium.

Those mountain bikes don’t have the best suspension in the world, but have a certain allure that, in my mind, is hard to beat. And especially rigid vintage mountain bikes make for awesome urban cruisers.

Luckily there’s a broad choice of 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes that’ll suit your need. From all-year-round tires that score high in the puncture-resistance department, to ultra-light, fast-rolling urban slicks for those looking for a sportier experience.

This list of the best 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes only feature tires that start at a width of 2 inches. I feel that anything less than 2 inches take away from the concept of being a mountain bike. If you disagree, well maybe there’s some other list out there for you.

So without further ado, here they are.

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 DTH Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Exceptionally fast racing tire. Tan options available. Fantastic tire for MTB builds, with excellent puncture protection.
Reasons to avoid
None

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 whatsover. The swirling patterns probably do a 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 type 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.

Maxxis Hookworm Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
long lasting slick mile-cruncher, wide tire
Reasons to avoid
Heavy wired tire, might not fit every frame

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

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 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 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 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 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, and be assured of riding with the most effective puncture-protection for an 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.

Continental RIDE Tour Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Ultra-durable, great allround, 4-season option for urban riding and commuting. The best puncture-protection from Continental for a wider commuting tire.
Reasons to avoid
None

Specifications 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
Buy at Amazon
Maxxis DTH
26×2.30
55/58-559
859
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO/Silkworm
wired
Maxxis DTH
26×2.15
52/54-559
570
Black
Black
Single
Silkworm
foldable
Maxxis Hookworm
26×2.50
63-559
1076
Black
Black
Single
 
wired
Continental CONTACT Plus
26×1.75
42-559
1040
Black
Black
 
SafetyPlus Breaker
wired
Continental RIDE Tour
26×1.75
47 – 559
780
Black
Black
 
ExtraPuncture Belt
wired
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
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

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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