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 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 needs. 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 takes 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Specifications 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes
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Schwalbe Big Apple
Schwalbe Big Apple
Schwalbe Big Apple
Schwalbe Billy Bonkers
Johan van Seijen
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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