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The top 14 best Schwalbe 26 inch mountain bike tires

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

Of all the tire brands, Schwalbe is probably the brand I’ve used most through the years. And yes, that says something. I believe I use them for all of my tubes, and I’ve got tubes 2 decades old that still work just as fine as when they came fresh out of the package. I’ve also used multiple iterations of their phenomenal Marathon lineup, for daily drivers and touring cycles.

After diving more deeply into bike restorations Schwalbe lost a bit of its previous allure. Instead I started using Panaracer, mainly because that brand offers incredibly light true skinwall tires, which simply look awesome on vintage wheels.

Nonetheless, the Schwalbe lineup on this list offers incredible value for money. And it also contains one of my all-time-favorite allround mountain bike tires: the tan wall Schwalbe Nobby Nic.

So without further ado, here is the list of the best Schwalbe 26 inch mountain bike tires.

Schwalbe Big Apple

Schwalbe Big Apple
Schwalbe Big Apple

The beaded Schwalbe Big Apple tires are a great value for money and come in three different sizes, from 2 to 2.35 inches.

It’s not my favorite in the racing department, they’re simply too heavy for that. But as mentioned before, extra rubber does mean more durability in general, and more miles.

So besides already being cheaper than other options on this list, it will last you a long time as well and you’ve got the RaceGuard puncture protection to boot.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Big Ben

Schwalbe Big Ben
Schwalbe Big Ben

The Schwalbe Big Ben is the Big Apple’s brother, which means it’s even heavier. In fact, they’re almost the heaviest tires overall in this list. But on the flipside it does come in a number of brown colors other than black to accentuate your frame and make for a cool retro build. And it’s also reflected in a price which will hurt your wallet the least.

The Plus version is also probably the plushest ride here, but with almost a kilo per tire, don’t expect to be flying away when the light goes green.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Big Betty

Schwalbe Big Betty
Schwalbe Big Betty

The Schwalbe Big Betty is the go-to rear tire for the Schwalbe Magic Mary. Where the Magic Mary has proven to be among the top tires in terms of traction, when combined with the Big Betty you improve your overall braking power.

It has a horizontal tread pattern to do so, that’s sufficiently spaced to have sufficient clearing characteristics as well when you release the brakes again.

Of all the downhill combinations available on the market today, I can’t think of a single one that beats Schwalbe’s current offering of Magic Mary and Big Betty. It’s one of the heaviest sets of downhill-specific tires, that’ll provide you the ultimate in traction.

Expert Experience

Mike Kazimer | Technical reviewer – May 19, 2021

The Big Betty’s braking traction is its standout trait – as soon as the brakes are applied those center knobs get to work, biting ferociously into the ground. That tenacious grip is especially noticeable in loose conditions, whether that’s dry and dusty or wet and muddy, and it’s in those instances that I’d put the Big Betty ahead of the Maxxis DHR II as far as overall braking traction. The DHR II is obviously no slouch in the braking department, but it doesn’t dig in quite as hard as the Big Betty does.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Billy Bonkers

Schwalbe Billy Bonkers
Schwalbe Billy Bonkers

The Billy Bonkers is Schwalbe’s answer to the popularity of the Maxxis DTH for pumptrack and slopestyle. They also come in an extremely light 490 grams 26 inch version, making it the perfect tire for fast city flying, gravel and cross country riding.

The Billy Bonkers also comes in a tan-wall version, but you’ll have to stick with a 2.1 inch width, because that’s the only one in Schwalbe’s lineup. The German brand has made a racing tire, which also proves to be very fast and grippy.

It’s a tough choice to make between the two. One isn’t necessarily better than the other

Expert Experience

Michael Stenning | Site Owner – March 1, 2021

The Billy Bonkers aren’t just for jumping and similar duties. They’re surprisingly quick and super compliant, so a good choice for those seeking a budget tyre that will bowl along the tarmac quite nicely and allow exploration and spirited detours. There are better choices for laden, mixed terrain touring but if you’re looking to experiment without blowing heaps of cash, the Billy Bonkers could be a winner.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Fat Frank

Schwalbe Fat Frank
Schwalbe Fat Frank

The biggest appeal of the Schwalbe Fat Frank is that they come in a variety of great colors. Besides your standard black, you have beige, creme and tan options for both tread and sidewall. So if you’re looking to add some design flair to your ride you can get the Fat Frank with a brown tread pattern and creme sidewalls, or entirely creme.

This is not a racing tire as some of others, that are meant for slopestyle and pump track. That means it won’t be faster or lighter than those tires.

They come in a 2.35 inch width version besides the standard 2 inch. So if you can get over the weight of 975 grams per tire you’re in for both a colorful and plush ride.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Hurricane

Schwalbe Hurricane
Schwalbe Hurricane

I also decided to include the Schwalbe Hurricane in this list. It’s a shame they don’t sell them in skinwall versions as well. But the tire packs a solid combination of a flat centerline and side knobs.

The side knobs means the tire is more versatile than the average slick, opening up the possibility to take your bike offroad and away from the beaten path.

If you want to keep a MTB look for your tires without sacrificing too much speed on the road, this is the perfect tire for you. Especially if you like the occasional trail as well because of the added grip.

Expert Experience

Alaskan | Contributor – December 2017, 2019

This tire is whisper quiet on paved surfaces and rolls very easily. It is a very fast tire, almost as fast as Marathon Supremes. The traction on road and trail is very good, verging on excellent. It is sure footed on wet pavement as well.

For me the new Hurricane fits with my riding better than any tire I have ridden on. This tire comes across as the best all purpose tire I have ridden to date.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Kojak

Schwalbe Kojak
Schwalbe Kojak

When used in their 26 inch variant, the Schwalbe Kojak feels very similar to WTB’s ThickSlick: almost no profile, the same width, but slighter lighter at 570 grams. So if you don’t like the screaming white branding of WTB, sporting a couple of Kojaks will be more your thing.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – October 15, 2015

The Schwalbe Kojak offers great all-weather cornering prowess and are the fastest big volume slick I’ve ever used. Superior town manners mean they’re a real hoot when shod to crossers that do turns on the tarmac. Reflective sidewalls, dynamo tracks and similar detailing are notable by their absence, however, and despite a sympathetic riding style, the race guard protective belt seemed unduly susceptible to thorns, sharps and other roadside debris.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Magic Mary

Schwalbe Magic Mary
Schwalbe Magic Mary

The Magic Mary is Schwalbe’s grippiest tire from their entire lineup. It performs both brilliantly as a downhill tire, but is just as effective for all-round trail riding in brutal conditions.

It has top-of-the-line traction combined with super fast rolling characteristics and a good feel for the trail at high speeds. If you want to be in the moment and experience flow going down sloppy slopes the Magic Mary delivers big time, with virtually zero cons.

Good braking power, allround riding characteristics in dry and wet conditions, this is Schwalbe’s top tire for all-mountain, enduro and downhill, no matter what the conditions are.

Expert Experience

Tor Weiland | Contributor – November 03, 2022

The Magic Mary is a seriously universal tire because of how many configurations it comes in. It’s right at home on the front of a trail bike in the Super Trail casing, on an enduro bike in the Super Gravity casing, or on a downhill bike in the Super Downhill casing. As long as you’re happy to put up with the high rolling resistance that you should expect from a performance tire, there aren’t many people that I wouldn’t recommend this tire to. It’s versatile enough to perform excellently in the wet and the dry, and dependable enough to take to your next race.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme HS469

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme HS469
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme HS469

The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme is meant for speed with hardly any profile at all on very light tires.

It’s a great fast-rolling commuter and touring tire that offers excellent puncture-resistance characteristics as well.

Though it might not be the flashiest tire on the market, its appeal lies in its ability to crunch many miles. So even though it might not be the most affordable tire on the market, the ROI is high nonetheless.

Expert Experience

Cass Gilbert | Contributor – March 27, 2008

The Magic Compound tread has proved extremely grippy in the dry, perfectly reasonable in the wet and impressively long lasting – which goes some way to justifying the hard-to-swallow price tag over the standard Marathons.

Having run a set of 700x35s (470g) on several tours, I can report little visible wear, with puncture-free riding that’s carried through to commuting in winter months.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Nobby Nic

Schwalbe Nobby Nic
Schwalbe Nobby Nic

The Schwalbe Nobby Nic is the best all-round trail tire from the German manufacturer. If there’s a tire that could rival the dominance of the Maxxis DHR and DHF and its omnipresence on the trail, it’s this one.

It’s tread pattern provides loads of grip and traction. Its allround nature means it’s just as good in the front as it is in the back. And it’s also often seen as a grippy front tire for aggressive XC riding, with a faster and lighter tire in the back.

You can go up to a size 2.35 if you want to and it’s also the only tire that comes in a 26 inch tan version. So if you’re looking for a solid all-round setup, meant for every conceivable condition, dry and wet, hardpack and forest trail, and you want to ride a tan version, this is the tire for you.

Expert Experience

Drew Rohde | Editor in Chief – December 1, 2020

The Nobby Nic Super Ground tires opened my eyes in many ways as to what a lighter weight trail tire is capable of and what sort of ride advantages a lighter casing trail offers. We also saw the limitations of the SpeedGrip tread compound on certain types of terrain and obstacles. If you ride harder pack terrain, want a fast rolling tire that has a solid tread pattern, can climb, corner and brake well, these are certainly worth considering. The downside to this long lasting compound is that they won’t offer the confidence and traction on wet roots, loose terrain or angled and steep rock faces.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe’s lineup consists of a number of highly specialized cross-country tires. The Schwalbe Racing Ralph being one of them.

As stated on the website, the Racing Ralph was designed for the rear. That’s because it has the shallowest center tread pattern, making it perfect for riding as fast as possible in dry conditions.

Although it’s meant for a combo setup with a grippier tire in the front, you could actually use it as a dual setup when bikepacking or gravel riding instead of pure XC racing.

If you want to ride as fast as possible, and maintain that speed when cornering, I suggest pairing it with a grippier front tire. You can opt for the Racing Ray, Rocket Ron, or Nobby Nic. With the Racing Ray offering the least amount of grip and the Nobby Nic the most. The Rocket Ron sits in between the three.

Expert Experience

Jeff Barber | Editor in Chief – April 28, 2023

What really convinced me this is a very fast roller is how it translates into increased momentum on the descents. I noticed myself cruising past heavier riders who usually have the freewheel advantage over me on the downs, and I could coast farther than usual on familiar sections, delaying the need to spin the pedals again. I don’t know if it’s the tread pattern, or the tire carcass, or the compound — or all three — that make this a fast rolling tire, however I am confident that it is well above average in that department.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Racing Ray

Schwalbe Racing Ray
Schwalbe Racing Ray

Where the Schwalbe Racing Ralph was designed as a rear tire, the Schwalbe Racing Ray is meant for the front. It also means that one of the most obvious choices for a Schwalbe cross country setup would be the combination of the two.

And it seems that the combination works for a lot of people better than ever. with great braking power and traction in the back and great traction and grip in the front, even for wet conditions.

Expert Experience

David Arthur | Contributor – October 23, 2020

The forward-pointing arrow-shaped and closely packed centre blocks ensure the Racing Ray is an extremely rapid tyre. It feels blistering quick compared to tyres with blockier tread patterns and when paired with a powerful driving rear tyre is a good setup for ultimate speed on a variety of courses.

It works well in most conditions with the Addix Speed compound delivering ample traction in the wet and dry, and a good predictably on slippery roots and rocks.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Schwalbe Rocket Ron
Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Both the weight and tread pattern puts the Schwalbe Rocket Ron squarely into XC territory. The evenly spaced knobs mean you always hold contact with the ground ensuring a low rolling resistance.

They are small as well, which means you need to look for the Nobby Nic if you want a more allround and grippy trail tire. But if you want a bit more speed the 640 gr. for a 2.35 inch version you can run two of these.

You should be able to confidently do light trail riding in loose and wet conditions with these tires, and the XC-oriented tread pattern combined with either the Super Ground or Super Race compound will provide you with the speed you need.

It’s worthy to note that the Schwalbe Rocket Ron performs really well in the rolling resistance department, as do all Schwalbe tires. So it’s both light and fast.

Expert Experience

Rachel Sokal | Technical writer – May 2, 2018

As well as a general improvement in durability, rolling resistance and grip, the new Addix compound from Schwalbe offers a much greater choice of characteristics to suit different riders and riding. The Speed compound is definitely that and gives the Rocket Ron vastly improved durability over the previous version. I did find front grip from the Speed a little lacking so would choose to run a grippier compound on the front and keep the faster rolling on the rear. While these tyres still aren’t cheap – sadly not many high end tyres are – the lower wear rate means that at least they won’t cost you as much in the long run to replace.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Super Moto-X

Schwalbe Super Moto-X
Schwalbe Super Moto-X

If you want to go really wide with your tires then the Schwalbe Super Moto-X is what you need. Make sure your frame and fork actually fits the enormous 2.4 inches before placing the order though. You wouldn’t be the first with rubbing problems. And that your rims are not too narrow. You don’t want the tire to blow of the wheel as well.

Pros and Cons

Specifications Schwalbe 26 inch mountain bike tires

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
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme HS469
26×2.00
50-559
560
Black
Black
ADDIX
foldable
Schwalbe Nobby Nic
26×2.25
57-559
720
Black
Black
ADDIX SpeedGrip
tlr
Schwalbe Nobby Nic
26×2.35
60-559
810
Black
Bronze
ADDIX SpeedGrip
tlr

Sources

Mike Kazimer, Review: Schwalbe’s Big Betty Tire is Dependable & Durable, Pinkbike, May 19, 2021
Michael Stenning, Schwalbe Billy Bonkers Tyres, Seven Day Cyclist, March 1, 2021
Alaskan, New Favorite Tire – Schwalbe Hurricane, Electric Bike Reviews, December 2017, 2019
Shaun Audane, Schwalbe Kojak 700x35c tyre, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
Tor Weiland, Schwalbe Magic Mary | Mountain Bike Tire Review, Thelostco, November 03, 2022
Drew Rohde, Schwalbe Nobby Nic Super Ground Review, The Loam Wolf, December 1, 2020
Jeff Barber, Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tire Review, Singletracks, April 28, 2023
David Arthur, Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed tyre review, Bikeradar, October 23, 2020
Rachel Sokal, Review: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Addix Speed. Fast XC tyres that last., Singletrack World, May 2, 2018
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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