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The top 7 best 26 inch downhill mountain bike tires

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

26 inch mountain bike tires are a dying breed with the entire industry adopting the 29 inch standard. But as with all new technologies, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with the old.

This entire website is a testament to the fact that older technology is far from being obsolete. Sure, I’m not advocating the use of caged pedals, and 29 inch tires bring a lot to the table, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still bomb down a trail with a mountain bike sporting 26 inch tires.

Besides this article you might also be interested other posts I’ve written about 26 inch mountain bike tires.

So for those of you who don’t mind being flipped over your handlebars a bit faster with those tiny wheels, I proudly bring my list of the best 26 inch downhill mountain bike tires. Ride or die!

Maxxis Minion DHF

When you’re looking for a mountain bike tire it’s almost impossible not to have heard of the Maxxis Minion DHF. The reason being it’s like the ultimate fit-and-forget mountain bike tire on the market. That means that the tire is just about perfect for any local trail riding, to enduro and downhill races.

The tread pattern shows that this tire prefers to sit on your front wheel. You can opt to put another fan favorite, the Maxxis Minion DHR II, at the back. That tire has horizontally aligned knobbies for increased braking power.

On its own, or paired with the Minion DHR II, the Maxxis Minion DHF is such a no-brainer that it’s hard to not recommend it to anyone for allround trail-riding and downhill.

Maxxis Minion DHR II

The “DH” in DHF and DHR stands for “downhill”. The “F” and “R” for “front” and “rear” respectively. The “downhill” in the name is a bit misleading, because the horizontal tread pattern of the Maxxis Minion DHR II not only aids breaking but also gives more traction when going uphill. Both tires have the same side knobs to maximise grip while cornering.

Be sure to buy the “super tacky” compound casing which will aid your grip. As a 26″ tire this means you’ll run a 2.35 DHF front tire and a slightly wider 2.4″ DHR rear tire to add a bit more cushioning for a tire that’ll needs to bear the brunt of your weight and impacts.

Maxxis intended these two tires to be used together as their go-to allround solution for trail riding. And these tires are in some many lists that it’s probably the best allround no-worries solution money can buy.

Choose the dual compound for lower rolling resistance and longer life or the super tacky compound for more grip.

Together witth the Minion DHF, the Maxxis Minion DHR II is a fantastic and confidence inspring tire that will take your downhill rides to the next level.

Schwalbe Magic Mary

If you don’t want the Maxxis combo on your bike, chances are you turn to this tire. The Schwalbe Magic Mary is just as much a no-brainer as the Maxxis Minion DHF when going downhill.

It has top-of-the-line traction combined with super fast rolling characteristic and a good feel for the trail at high speeds. If you want to be in the moment and experience flow going downhill 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 and downhill.

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 in 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 beaviest set of downhill-specific tires, that’ll provide you the ultimate in traction.

Kenda Hellkat

The only 26 inch option left in Kenda’s lineup for allround trail, enduro, and downhill purposes.

Unlike other brands like Maxxis, Schwalbe, and Continental, Kenda seems to be moving away from 26 inch tires for their premium lineup. Although an understandable move it’s still a shame. It means that for downhill you’ll have to settle for the Kenda Hellkat over the Kenda Pinner.

Nonetheless the Kenda Hellkat is an impressive offering which propels the brand back among its peers. The Maxxis DHF’s and Schwalbe Magic Mary’s have been at the top of downhill lists for a very long time know, so it’s good to see Kenda taking a shot with this tire that has excellent traction and durability characteristics.

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 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.

Specifications 26 inch downhill mountain bike tires

NameSizeETRTOWeight (gr)Tread colorSidewall colorLineCompondBuy at AmazonBuy At Ebay
Maxxis Minion DHF26X2.5055-5591205BlackBlackSuper Tackylinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26X2.5055-5591265BlackBlack3C MAXX GRIP
Maxxis Minion DHR II26X2.4061-5591,240BlackBlackSingle
Maxxis Minion DHR II26X2.4061-5591,225BlackBlackSuper Tackylinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26X2.4061-5591,265BlackBlack3C MAXX GRIP
Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex26×2.4060-5591100BlackBlackBlackChililinklink
Continental Der Baron Apex26×2.5062-5591245BlackBlackBlackChililinklink
Kenda Hellkat26×2.4060-559807BlackBlackDuallink
Schwalbe Magic Mary26×2.3560-5591210BlackBlackSuper DownhillADDIX Ultra Softlinklink
Schwalbe Magic Mary26×2.6065-5591320BlackBlackSuper DownhillADDIX Ultra Softlinklink
Schwalbe Big Betty26×2.4062-5591040BlackBlackSuper TrailADDIX Ultra Softlinklink

And those are my top picks for the best 26 inch downhill mountain bike tires.