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The top 6 best Continental 26 inch mountain bike tires

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

Continental is a brand I always turn to when the occasion arises of purchasing a new set of tires. I feel they are not as popular as Schwalbe or Maxxis in the mountain bike category, but that might only be the case because the marketing of the other two brands is better, not their product offering.

From both personal experience and because of my research in the subject, I can honestly say that Continental makes some of the best 26 inch mountain bike tires money can buy. Their proprietary BlackChili compound adds great durability to their premium lineup, which has the lightest tires you’ll ever come across.

From slicks to full-blown downhill mud tires, Continental has them all. So without further ado, here’s my list of the best Continental 26 inch mountain bike tires.

Continental CONTACT Speed

Continental CONTACT Speed
Continental CONTACT Speed

Meant for the road the Continental Contact Speed is a slick tire in the true sense of the word. A minimalistic profile will turn your bike into a city slicker.

In the commuting and touring range from this German brand, it sits in the fastest category and is one of the most affordable options to obtain a fast-rolling tire.

It also has excellent puncture protection with Continental’s more than adequate SafetySystem breaker technology. Chances of flats are minimized.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – June 30, 2020

For me at least, the Contact Speeds strike an excellent balance between speed, comfort and puncture resistance – in that order. The wide range of sizes is another big draw and I’d even do a bit of weekend/lightweight touring with them. If these are your priorities, there’s little to touch them. However, if you put reliability and durability over everything else, there are plenty of options for similar money and, indeed, less.

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

Continental Der Baron Apex

Continental Der Baron Apex
Continental Der Baron Apex

The Continental Der Baron Apex is Continental’s most aggressive mountain bike tire. Massive blocks sufficiently spaced ensure you have both maximum grip and maximum mud clearance, making this tire a solid downhill allrounder in both wet and dry conditions.

The BlackChili compound keeps the weight at a respectable 1245 grams, which is light enough for a 2.5 inch width tire.

Although the Continental Der Baron is a great all-round tire, you might opt for putting the Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex in the rear, since that tire has better braking performance than this one. The two make for a deadly downhill combo.

It’s hard to recommend Der Baron Apex above the tires from Maxxis on this list, if not for the fact that they are extremely durable. So in the long run, they will hurt your wallet less.

Expert Experience

Gerow | Product reviewer – February 10, 2020

While we all have different tastes and expectations for traction, I can’t type enough good things about this set of tires. If you like riding fast and hard on trails that were built to flat tires and throw riders off their line, you will likely dig this combination of rubber circles.

Pros and Cons

Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex

Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex
Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex

The Continental Der Baron Projekt is a very aggressive mountain bike tire. Massive blocks sufficiently spaced ensure you have both maximum grip and maximum mud clearance, making this tire a solid enduro allrounder in both wet and dry conditions.

Even in the 2.4 inch width version, this tire weighs 890, which makes this tire a great option if you want to ride all year round, but you stay away from the trail in the worst of conditions.

The BlackChili compound from Continental is known for its great durability. So if you’re also looking for a tire that’ll last you a very long time, and save on cash that way, the Der Baron Projekt is a solid choice as well.

Expert Experience

Jeremy Benson | Product reviewer – November 2, 2020

The Continental Der Baron Projekt is a user-friendly tire that works best in looser and loamy conditions. The most notable design aspects of this tire are the relatively low knobs and open tread pattern. Even though this tire doesn’t have big knobs with an aggressive bite, the open pattern helps them hook up surprisingly well. Rolling speed is sub-par and there is noticeable drag on firm surfaces. I found braking traction to be below average and I found the tire slipped into skid-mode a little too quickly. I was impressed with the longevity as our test tire showed minimal wear with over 300-miles on it. At this price, it is difficult to recommend this tire over the competition. Still, the Der Baron is a respectable performer.

Pros and Cons

Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex

Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex
Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex

When riding in dry conditions you might want to choose the Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex. This premium offering is faster than the more allround Der Baron in a number of respects.

Although at 1100 grams, this is a light tire, it is by no means meant to be a fast-rolling trail tire. The knobbies are spaced to wide for a low rolling resistance, something that matters less when going downhill. The horizontal rows of knobs make for some phenomenal braking power. So for those who want to go down at breakneck speeds this tire has your name written all over it.

Expert Experience

Pat Donahue | Senior Mountain Bike Editor – November 2, 2020

he Continental Der Kaiser Projekt ProTection Apex is a rock-solid tire that delivers impressive performance on the front and rear wheel. The side knobs are stout and supportive, and the Kaiser trends towards a square profile with excellent cornering abilities. I also found the braking and pedaling traction to be excellent. The sidewalls offer ample support with a robust feel that works well at lower tire pressures. I was particularly impressed by their longevity, as the sidewalls and cornering knobs were still in great shape after approximately 300 rough and chunky test miles. My biggest gripe is that the aggressive tread feels quite draggy on the climbs. That said, if you’re searching for a hard-charging, long-lasting tire for gravity or aggressive trail riding, the Der Kaiser is a solid option to consider.

Pros and Cons

Continental Race King ProTection

Continental Race King ProTection
Continental Race King ProTection

The Continental Race King ProTection is an extremely light tire. In the weight department it means it outshines every comparable tire from every other brand by far. And it’s also the best XC tire in the rolling-resistance department.

I cannot stress enough that with respect to speed and acceleration, a light tire makes all the difference. And tires are also the most cost-effective way to reduce the overall weight of the bike.

Try reducing a couple of hundred grams of any other bike component and be ready to spend in the hundreds of dollars. Not so the case with tires. And on top of that the tire has the advanced ProTection puncture protection, with a composite breaker and a bead to bead sidewall protection polyamide fabric.

All that speed comes at a price, because traction is not this tire’s strength when compared to other mountain bike tires. And it’s the reason this tire performs best in dry conditions.

But when riding in those conditions getting up to speed and keeping it is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It rightly deserves its name.

Expert Experience

James | Site owner – May 30, 2023

The Race King ProTection is absolutely blisteringly fast! Doing some airstrip rides alongside my friend on his fixie with road tires really showed that even ‘large’ tires can be fast now! Heck, the amount of roadies I’ve passed while coasting downhill is downright satisfying. Seriously, it felt like a whole new bike in the speed department – at least concerning regular daily riding conditions (pavement, gravel, tarmac, cobble, etc).

Pros and Cons

Specifications Continental 26 inch mountain bike tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Continental CONTACT Speed
26×2.00
50-559
665
Black
Black Reflex
SafetySystem Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental Cross King Racesport
27.5×2.00
58-559
600
Black
Black
BlackChili
RaceSport casing
tlr
Continental Cross King Racesport
26×2.20
55-559
495
Black
Black
BlackChili
RaceSport casing
tlr
Continental Der Baron Apex
26×2.50
62-559
1245
Black
Black
BlackChili
Apex casing
tlr
Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex
26×2.40
60-559
1100
Black
Black
BlackChili
Apex casing
tlr
Continental Race King Racesport
26×2.20
55-559
465
Black
Black
BlackChili
RaceSport casing
tlr
3/180

Sources

Shaun Audane, Continental Contact Speed Reflex 26×2.0 tyre, Road.cc, June 30, 2020
David Arthur, Continental Race King BlackChili Protection tyre review, Bikeradar, November 5, 2020
Jeremy Benson, Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection APEX Review, Outdoorgearlab, November 2, 2020
Pat Donahue, Continental Der Kaiser Projekt ProTection Apex Review, Outdoorgearlab, November 2, 2020
James, Race King ProTection – Best MTB bikepacking tire, Canadianomad, May 30, 2023
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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