Disclosure: When you click a link and buy stuff to pimp up your build, I may earn a commission so I can put some more bling on my rides as well.

The top 8 best 26 inch MTB trail tires

In this article I’m going to give you what I feel to be the best 26 inch MTB trail tires money can buy.

I’ve written a lot of articles about bicycle tires and this was one of the first. This version includes a number of important updates. One of them is that I’ve made the selection more true to trail riding. This meant I’ve removed the Maxxis Ikon, which is a fantastic tire, but too XC for my taste.

New additions are the Continental’s Trail- and Mountain King. The German brand has proven itself and these two tires are worthy additions to the list. And I’ve chosen to let the Schwalbe Nobby Nic be accompanied by the Hans Dampf, to create an extremely grippy all-condtion setup

The fantastic Maxxis DHR and DHF still wear the crown as probably the most dependable trail setup. And of course, as a bike restorer, I’ve added the Panaracer Smoke and Dart combination as well.

The tires with the exception of the Smoke and Dart, range from a 2.3 inch to a 2.5 inch width. So depending on your riding style, and the type of trails you ride in terms of complexity, you can vary in tire widths.

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

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 option
– Loads of sizing / compound combinations possible
– Front and rear tire

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Schwalbe Hans Dampf

Schwalbe Hans Dampf
Schwalbe Hans Dampf

The Schwalbe Hans Dampf is a good rear enduro tire.

A classic-looking allround tire with large side knobbies, and smaller horizontally aligned knobbies in the center tread. This tire transitions smoothly from fast straight into tight cornering, something not every tire does.

That smooth feel provides exciting reliability on everything but the most aggressive trails, where you might want larger knobs providing more grip in corners.

It’s become harder to distinguish tires within a certain category from each other, with all premium tires from mayor brands nearing perfection. With this tire it’s the same. It checks all of the boxes, but maybe outperforms none of its competitors who sacrifices on characteristic to excell more in another.

That means this tire is very reliable for the majority of riders out there.

Reasons To Buy

– Aggressive rear allround tire
– Reliable option

Reasons To Avoid

– Performs best in dry conditions

Panaracer Dart

Panaracer Dart
Panaracer Dart

This site covers a lot of information about restoring older bicycles. So it’s only natural that the Panaracer Dart also made the list. The Panaracer Dart is the companion to the Panaracer Smoke. The Dart is meant to be used as a front tire and is a reissue of a classic mountain bike tire from the nineties.

Both the Dart and Smoke come in a 2.1 inch width version, and being true to their vintage nature, are only meant for 26 inch wheels. 2.1 inch was considered downhill territory in the nineties, but nowadays, this tire weighting 620 grams is both the slimmest and lightest tire on this list.

It means I can no longer recommend this tire as a good downhill option, and maybe not even as one of the best trail tires. What I can do is recommend it as the best option for purist vintage mountain bike restorers. And it so happens I’ve put both the Dart and Smoke on a 1994 Cannondale Super V.

The Panaracer Dart is a true skinwall tire, which were all the rage in the eighties and nineties. It means that the sidewall are thinner, because of a lack of black rubber used for the center tread. It means skinwall tires are lighter and more supple than their non-skinwall counterparts, but also more prone to punctures. And skinwall tend to dry out when exposed to UV light.

The Dart has elongated knobbies that follow the rotation of the wheel. These knobbies are meant to dig deep into the soil, giving you that front-wheel grip necessary for trail riding. For such a slim tire they perform pretty good on the trail.

Reasons To Buy

– The ultimate vintage front trail tire

Reasons To Avoid

– Not the grippiest
– Single 2.1 inch size

Panaracer Smoke

Panaracer Smoke
Panaracer Smoke

The Panaracer Smoke is a classic reissue of a very popular tire with the same name from the early nineties.

The tire comes in both a black and light tan wall option, with the latter being much more popular for obvious reasons.

The Panaracer Smoke is meant to be ridden with the Panaracer Dart. With the Smoke going on the rear wheel and the Dart on the front. This classic combination will serve you best if you go cross-country and light trail riding.

The Panaracer Smoke has the classic tread pattern of a rear tire, with horizontal knobbies for increased braking and traction. But its not uncommon to use them both front and back.

Reasons To Buy

– The ultimate vintage rear trail tire

Reasons To Avoid

– Not the grippiest
– Single 2.1 inch size

Specifications best 26 inch MTB trail tires

NameSizeETRTOWeight (gr)Tread ColorSidewall ColorCompoundPuncture ProtectionTire BeadBuy at AmazonBuy at Ebay
Continental Mountain King ProTection26×2.3058-559675BlackBlackBlackChiliProTectiontlrlinklink
Continental Trail King ProTection Apex26×2.4060-559875BlackBlackBlackChiliProTection Apextlrlinklink
Continental Trail King ProTection Apex26×2.2055-559735BlackBlackBlackChiliProTection Apextlrlinklink
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 Dart26×2.1054-559620BlackTanfoldablelinklink
Panaracer Smoke26×2.1054-559620BlackTanfoldablelinklink
Schwalbe Hans Dampf26×2.3560-5591035BlackBlackADDIX SoftSuper Gravity, E-25tlrlinklink
Schwalbe Hans Dampf26×2.3560-559920BlackBlackADDIX SoftSuper Trail, E-25tlrlinklink
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