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The top 7 best 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes

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.

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.

Pros and Cons

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.

Expert Experience

Steve Inindy | Contributor – June 11, 2006

I really like these tires. Not just that they are tough but they ride real smooth. They swallow up holes and uneven pavement like they aren’t there. Seams in pavement that would have caused a loss of control on other tires are taken in stride on these. Need to ride in the grass or on a trail? No problem. For commuting on dilapidated city streets these tires are great.

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

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 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 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

Specifications 26 inch road tires for mountain bikes

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Schwalbe Big Apple
26×2.00
50-559
675
Black
Black Reflex
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Big Apple
26×2.15
55-559
710
Black
Black Reflex
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Big Apple
26×2.35
60-559
780
Black
Black Reflex
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Billy Bonkers
26×2.10
54-559
490
Black
Tan
ADDIX
foldable
Schwalbe Hurricane
26×2.10
54-559
620
Black
Black
ADDIX
RaceGuard
wired
Maxxis Hookworm
29×2.50
63-622
1230
Black
Black
Single
wired
60

Sources

Steve Inindy, Maxxis Hookworm Tire review, Bentrider, June 11, 2006
Dave Atkinson, Panaracer RiBMo folding 700C 28mm tyre, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
Dan Joyce, Schwalbe Marathon tyres review – Original touring classic, Bikeradar, November 22, 2008
Shaun Audane, Continental Contact Plus tyres, Road.cc, July 11, 2017
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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