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The top 6 best Continental 26 inch mountain bike tires for 2023

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 occassion 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

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.

Continental CONTACT Speed Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Affordable slick tire , with excellent puncture protection
Reasons to avoid
None

Continental Cross King Racesport

The Continental Cross King RaceSport is a lightweight XC tire. Besides the Continental Race King RaceSport the 2.2 version is the only tire that remains below 500 grams.

With this tire you’re able to get more grip in both dry and wet conditions and veering of the path into the woods is an option with more prominent side knobs.

With the Cross King in the front and the Race King in the back it means your main focus is speed while adding some extra traction for the front tire. It’s by far the lightest 26 inch cross country tire combination available, with a 2.2 setup staying well under 1 kilogram.

Continental Cross King Racesport Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely lightweight XC / light trail tire, with a durable compound. In combination with the Continental Race King provides the lightest XC setup possbile.
Reasons to avoid
None

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 allround 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.

Continental Der Baron Apex Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely aggressive tread pattern, light, front tire, durable
Reasons to avoid
Meant for downhill

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.

Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely lightweight gravity tire, durable
Reasons to avoid
Meant for downhill or enduro

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 in than the more allround Der Baron in a numer 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.

Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Fast, light, great braking power
Reasons to avoid
Meant for downhill, not the best tire in wet conditions

Continental Race King Racesport

The Continental Race King RaceSport is an extremely light tire at 465 grams. In the weight department it means it outshines every tire from every other brand here by far.

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.

All that speed comes at a price, because traction is not this tire’s strength. If you’re doing any sort of hard trail riding and you still want to take advantage of this tire, consider combining it with the Continental Cross King RaceSport. Especially in wet conditions.

This tire performs best in dry conditions because of it’s shallow tread pattern.

Continental Race King Racesport Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely lightweight XC / light trail tire, made from a durable compound. Super fast with very low rolling-resistance.
Reasons to avoid
None

Specifications Continental 26 inch mountain bike tires

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

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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