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The top 12 best 26 inch gravel tires

In this article Im going to cover my list of the very best 26 inch gravel tires of 2022.

In its never-ending search for new innovation, the cycling industry decided to dust off the age-old concept of the hybrid bicycle. Though some might argue otherwise, we all know that the current rise in popularity of gravel bikes was born decades ago.

Nonetheless, some innovations are so blatantly obvious, its absurd we couldnt think of them sooner. Like platform pedals, wider handlebars, and 29 inch wheels. And now, putting knobby tires on road bikes for people who want to eat more than just pavement on their average ride, without having to worry about getting flats constantly when traversing anything else but tarmac.

And so the gravel bike was born (again), and with it a new market for tires suitable for this ride. What also came with it, was a renewed interest in older-style mountain bikes from the early nineties, or late eighties. Non-suspended frames for 26 inch tires that turned out to be perfectly suited for your average gravel ride.

So for the people who dont want to dish out thousands of dollars for the latest and greatest gravel bike incarnation, I present you with the best 26 inch gravel tires of this year, to turn those old mountain bike frames into hardpack-eating monsters.

Maxxis Ikon

Maxxis Ikon
Maxxis Ikon

Hailed as an allround cross country tire the Maxxis Ikon has the classic tiny-knob-all-over-the place look. It’s allround nature makes it a great option for diverse road conditions.

At a claimed 607 grams, this is a pretty light tire. The reliable EXO compound, also used for harsher enduro racing, means youll enjoy this tire for many miles.

As with any tire with this type of tread, itll perform well in dry conditions. The 26 inch version has both a 2.35 and 2.2 inch width option. You can run this tire both front and back, and might opt for the wider version in the front for some added grip. Especially if you expect some portions of your ride to be particularly rough.

Reasons To Buy

– Lightweight cross-country / light trail tire
– Can be used front and rear
– Pair with Ardent Race in the front for fast XC setup

Reasons To Avoid

– Less suitable for highly technical trails

Maxxis Minion DHF

Maxxis Minion DHF
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.

Reasons To Buy

– Superb allrounder
– Loads of sizing / compound combinations possible
– Combines with Maxxis Minion DHR II for an excellent allround trail setup

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Maxxis Minion DHR II

Maxxis Minion DHR II
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 DHR 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 youll 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 thatll 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 its 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.

Reasons To Buy

– One of the best rear tires available.
– Combines with Maxxis Minion DHF for an excellent allround trail setup

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Schwalbe Nobby Nic

Schwalbe Nobby Nic
Schwalbe Nobby Nic

The Schwalbe Nobby Nic is more of an allround tire than a cross country one. And one look at the tread pattern reveals why.

It has considerable more pronounced knobs that are much higher. The side knobs are twice the size of Continentals Cross King.

You can go up to a size 2.35 if you want to and its also the only tire that comes in a 26 tan version. So if youre looking for a solid allround 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.

Be sure to buy the Super Ground Speedgrip version (with the blue line in the tread) to take advantage of the increased rolling resistance. Its much more expensive but itll improve rolling resistance, durability, damping ability and grip.

With 755 gr. for the 2.25 version and 810 gr. for the 2.35 one, it might be a grippy tire with good forward momentum, but its also heavy. Ive seen package deals with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph, which means this tire is a good front option, with the lighter Racing Ralph in the back.

Reasons To Buy

– High quality fit-and-forget allround trail option
– Loads of sizing / compound combinations possible
– Front and rear tire

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Schwalbe Racing Ralph

The Schwalbe Racing Ralph is the go-to option to combine with Schwalbes Nobby Nic. As stated on the website, the Racing Ralph was designed for the rear.

This means the Super Ground Speedgrip version is a fast-rolling tire with a tread pattern support good acceleration and braking power.

Although its meant for a combo setup with a grippier tire in the front, you could use it as a dual setup when you prefer riding mostly in dry conditions and the occasional trail. Also when you do a lot of climbing.

Reasons To Buy

– Unsurpassed rear XC tire
– Fast rolling with loads of grip
– Low weight

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Panaracer Gravel King

Panaracer Gravel King
Panaracer Gravel King

The best option for gravel afficionados is the Panaracer Gravel King. Im a fan of the Panaracer brand ever since I first used these tires on my Koga Miyata Adventure.

In all honesty, looking at the tread pattern, they are the only tires that are true to their name and 100% meant for pure gravel riding. So if thats what youre looking for, this absolute beauty of a tire should be your go-to choice.

I cant find the 26 inch version of this tire on their website, but I know for sure they exist in a 26 x 2.1 inch version.

These ones are truly meant for hardpack and gravel only, providing practically zero grip in rougher conditions.

Reasons To Buy

– Superb allround gravel tire
– Very lightweight
– Japanese build quality

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Continental Cross King Racesport

Continental Cross King Racesport
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 youre 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. Its by far the lightest 26 inch cross country tire combination available, with a 2.2 setup staying well under 1 kilogram.

Reasons To Buy

– Extremely lightweight XC / light trail tire
– Durable compound

Reasons To Avoid

– None
– Performs best in dry conditions

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.

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

Reasons To Buy

– Great allround XC tire
– Perfect for gravel and bikepacking
– Very fast tire

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Maxxis Ardent Race

Maxxis Ardent Race
Maxxis Ardent Race

The Maxxis Ardent Race is a solid option to mount as both front and rear 26 inch XC tires.

With a reasonable weight of 686 it means its still quite a bit heavier than the Schwalbe Rocket Ron or Continental Cross King RaceSport.

But paired with the Maxxis Ikon in the back you still have a very speedy setup from this brand with EXO casing protection.

The triple compound provides a fast-rolling center with softer and grippier side knobs for added traction and cornering confidence.

In dry conditions the traction will prove to be outstanding. In wet conditions the small close-knit knobs can get packed with mud. So youll need to resort to a different tire if you want to ride year round without swapping tires.

Reasons To Buy

– Great combination with the Maxxis Icon
– Front XC tire

Reasons To Avoid

– Performs best in dry conditions

Continental Race King Racesport

Continental Race King Racesport
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.

Its 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 at the low end of the spectrum. If youre 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 its shallow tread pattern.

Reasons To Buy

– Extremely lightweight XC / light trail tire
– Durable compound

Reasons To Avoid

– Performs best in dry conditions

Continental Trail King ProTection Apex

Continental Trail King ProTection Apex
Continental Trail King ProTection Apex

The aptly named Continental Trail King ProTection Apex is the German brand’s allround trail-tackling solution.

It performs exceptionally well in all sorts of conditions, and might only wafer a bit on the steepest of technical downhill sections. That means this tire is a very good and lightweight all mountain solution indeed.

It’s one of the faster tires on this list, well-suited for those among you who don’t shy away from a steep climb. The tread pattern provides high levels of traction and with even the 2.8 width version sitting at just over a kilo, which is about 20 percent lighter than its competitors.

The knobs are rather spaced-out from each other, which means this might not be the grippiest tire in the front. On the flip side, riding in wet conditions is marginally improved because it’ll shed mud better and won’t clog up that easily.

Reasons To Buy

– Very fast allround trail tire
– Extremely puncture resistant

Reasons To Avoid

– Not the trail tire with the most grip

Continental Mountain King ProTection

Continental Mountain King ProTection
Continental Mountain King ProTection

The Continental Mountain King ProTection is a very lightweight, vey fast, and very grippy tire.

Just as the Trail King it comes with the BlackChili compound and ProTection multi-ply casings. That means the tires are a bit harder than their competitors, fast-rolling on dry trails, and very durable in general, with superb puncture protection and durability characteristics.

The Mountain King has better mud and dirt shedding features in the tread pattern than the Trail King. It means you can either choose for a dual setup for aggressive riding, or put the Mountain King in the front with the Trail King in the back.

Reasons To Buy

– Durable trail tire

Reasons To Avoid

– Performs best in dry conditions

Specifications best 26 inch gravel tires

NameSizeETRTOWeight (gr)Tread ColorSidewall ColorCompoundPuncture ProtectionTire BeadBuy at AmazonBuy at Ebay
Continental Cross King Racesport27.5×2.0058-559600BlackBlackBlackChiliRaceSporttlrlinklink
Continental Cross King Racesport26×2.2055-559495BlackBlackBlackChiliRaceSporttlrlinklink
Continental Mountain King ProTection26×2.3058-559675BlackBlackBlackChiliProTectiontlrlinklink
Continental Race King Racesport26×2.2055-559465BlackBlackBlackChiliRaceSporttubularlinklink
Continental Trail King ProTection Apex26×2.4060-559875BlackBlackBlackChiliProTection Apextlrlinklink
Continental Trail King ProTection Apex26×2.2055-559735BlackBlackBlackChiliProTection Apextlrlinklink
Maxxis Ardent Race26×2.2055-559686BlackBlack3C MAXX SPEEDtlrlinklink
Maxxis Ikon26×2.2055-559676BlackTanDUALEXOtlrlinklink
Maxxis Ikon26×2.3560-559742BlackBlack3C MAXX SPEEDEXOtlrlinklink
Maxxis Ikon26×2.2055-559592BlackBlackDUALtlrlinklink
Maxxis Ikon26×2.2055-559657BlackBlackBlackChiliEXOtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.3552-5591120BlackBlackSuper Tackytlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.5055-5591205BlackBlackSuper Tackytlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.3552-5591080BlackBlackSingletlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.5055-5591265BlackBlack3C MAXX GRIPtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.3552-559700BlackBlackSINGLEfoldablelinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.3552-559825BlackBlackSUPER TACKYSTwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT55-5591200BlackBlackSUPER TACKYST/DHwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT55-5591265BlackBlack3C MAXX GRIP3CG/DHwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT55-5591180BlackBlackSINGLEDHwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT55-559860BlackBlack3C MAXX TERRA3CT/EXOfoldablelinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT55-559940BlackBlackSINGLEST/EXOfoldablelinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.3058-559840BlackBlack3C MAXX TERRA3CT/EXO/TRtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT63-559905BlackBlack3C MAXX TERRA3CT/EXO/TRtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHF26×2.50WT63-559905BlackBlackDUALEXO/TRtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.4061-5591,225BlackBlackSUPER TACKYtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.4061-5591,265BlackBlack3C MAXX GRIPtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.4061-5591,240BlackBlackSINGLEtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.3058-559755BlackBlack3C MAXX TERRA3CT/EXO/TRtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.3058-559780BlackBlackDUALEXO/TRtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.40WT61-5591240BlackBlackSINGLEDHwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.40WT61-5591265BlackBlack3C MAXX GRIP3CGwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.40WT61-5591225BlackBlackSUPER TACKYST/DHwiredlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.40WT61-559865BlackBlackDUALEXO/TRtlrlinklink
Maxxis Minion DHR II26×2.40WT61-559865BlackBlack3C MAXX TERRA3CT/EXO/TRtlrlinklink
Panaracer Gravel King26×2.1054-559590BlackTanZero Slip GripAX-Alpha / ProTite Shield Plustlrlinklink
Schwalbe Nobby Nic26×2.2557-559720BlackBlackADDIX SpeedGripSuper Ground, E-50tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Nobby Nic26×2.3560-559810BlackTanADDIX SpeedGripSuper Ground, E-50tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Nobby Nic26×2.4062-559775BlackBlackADDIX SpeedGripEvolutiontlrlinklink
Schwalbe Nobby Nic26×2.2557-559720BlackBlackADDIX SpeedGripSuper Ground, E-50tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Nobby Nic26×2.3560-559BlackBlackADDIX SpeedGripSuper Ground, E-50tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Nobby Nic26×2.4060-559775BlackBlackADDIX SpeedGripSuper Ground, E-50tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Racing Ralph26×2.2557-559610BlackBlackADDIX SpeedSuper Ground, E-25tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Rocket Ron26×2.2557-559585BlackBlackADDIX SpeedSuper Ground, E-25tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Rocket Ron26×2.3560-559640BlackBlackADDIX SpeedSuper Racetlrlinklink