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The top 10 lightest 26 inch mountain bike tires

In this article I’m going to give you the lightest 26 inch mountain bike tires money can buy.

Tires is the best place to look when you want to reduce weight. Because the amount of money you have to invest to shave off hundreds of grams, or maybe even a pound or two, is relatively low. For instance, it’s much, much more expensive to buy a very light full carbon saddle to shave off 100 grams than it is to use one of the tires listed here to shave off hundreds of grams more for a fraction of the cost. Since full carbon saddles are incredibly expensive.

To level the playing field, I didn’t include tires with a width smaller than 2 inches. If you do you move more into the touring section of tires than into straight up knobby mountain bike tries. The tires listed here all have a weight below 500 grams. If this doesn’t say much, just consider that your average MTB trail tire weight almost twice that amount.

The easiest way to reduce weight is to use less rubber, which is the heaviest compound that makes up a tire. But that weight reduction does come at a price, since the tires listed here should be used for either gravel or cross country purposes. Grippier tires have bigger blocks and huge side knobbies. Bigger knobs obviously means more rubber used, hence an increase in weight.

Another component is that the these tires have thinner sidewalls, increasing the opportunity to reduce overall tire weight. Thinner sidewalls also means that sidewall ruptures are more likely to occur. Naturally sidewall ruptures are something you’ll find on enduro, downhill and rough trail riding. Again, an area where you should not be using these tires.

That’s enough talk for now, here are the lightest 26 inch mountain bike tires.

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

– 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

Maxxis DTH

Maxxis DTH
Maxxis DTH

The Maxxis DTH is probably the tire I see most often on retro MTB builds besides the Nobby Nic and Billy Bonkers. Its a semi-slick meant for BMX, dirt-jumping, and pump tracks.

Maxxis is known for providing a wide range of high-quality tires, and with the added benefit of providing both a standard black and tan version, it’s no wonder many older mountain bikes get outfitted with a pair of these.

Sizes range from 2.15 up to 2.3 inches, which will make for a great-looking setup with a very plush road feel.

Reasons To Buy

– Fast and reasonably light, with tan options available.
– Great for vintage MTB builds
– Excellent puncture protection

Reasons To Avoid

– None

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

Panaracer RiBMo

Panaracer RiBMo
Panaracer RiBMo

At 26 x 2 inches and 560 grams the Panaracer RibMo is among the lightest tires for its size on this list. Its minimal tread pattern moves it into the direction of being a slick tire, perfect for fast urban commuting.

The Panaracer RiBMo uses their proprietary ProTite technology, which is an extra puncture-resistant layer which runs the entire length and width of the tire. And they offer a more durable, commuter-friendly compound.

The conclusion is this tire will make your bike feel fast and nimble for many many miles at a reasonable enough price.

Reasons To Buy

– Ultra-light slick tire
– Affordable, durable, and supple
– Japanese build quality

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

Schwalbe Billy Bonkers

Schwalbe Billy Bonkers
Schwalbe Billy Bonkers

The Billy Bonkers is Schwalbes 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 replaces the Schwalbe Table Top, which was a heavier, wider, and slower tire.

And with a max PSI of 80 (thats 5.5 bar), you can turn them into a proper set of fat road tires as well. Just make sure you get the Performance versions, which are the lighter ones.

Reasons To Buy

– Very lightweight tire
– Tan option available

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Schwalbe Kojak

Schwalbe Kojak
Schwalbe Kojak

When used in their 26 inch variant, the Schwalbe Kojak feel very similar to WTBs ThickSlick: almost no profile, the same width, but slighter lighter at 570 grams. So if you dont like the screaming white branding of WTB, sporting a couple of Kojaks will be more your thing.

Reasons To Buy

– Affordable slick
– Very lightweight

Reasons To Avoid

– None

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme

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 in the market, the ROI is high nonetheless.

Reasons To Buy

– Fantastic grip
– Durable and puncture-resistant
– Fantastic lightweight touring tire

Reasons To Avoid

– None

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

Specifications lightest 26 inch mountain bike tires

NameSizeETRTOWeight (gr)Tread ColorSidewall ColorCompoundPuncture ProtectionTire BeadBuy at AmazonBuy at Ebay
Continental Cross King Racesport26×2.2055-559495BlackBlackBlackChiliRaceSporttlrlinklink
Continental Race King Racesport26×2.2055-559465BlackBlackBlackChiliRaceSporttlrlinklink
Kenda 3-Sixty26×2.2557-559583CremeBlackSingleTubeless Racetlrlink
Kenda 3-Sixty26×2.2557-559598BlackBlackSingleTubeless Racetlrlink
Maxxis DTH26×2.1552/54-559555BlackLight TanSingleSilkwormfoldablelinklink
Maxxis DTH26×2.1552/54-559570BlackBlackSingleSilkwormfoldablelinklink
Maxxis Ikon26×2.2055-559592BlackBlackDUALtlrlinklink
Panaracer Gravel King26×2.1054-559590BlackTanZero Slip GripAX-Alpha / ProTite Shield Plustlrlinklink
Panaracer RiBMo26×2.0048-559560BlackBlackMile CruncherProTite Shieldfoldablelinklink
Schwalbe Billy Bonkers262.1054-559490BlackBlackADDIXfoldablelinklink
Schwalbe Billy Bonkers262.1054-559490BlackTanBlackChilifoldablelinklink
Schwalbe Kojak26×2.0050-559570BlackBlackADDIXRaceGuardfoldablelinklink
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme26×2.0050-559560BlackBlackADDIXV-Guardfoldablelinklink
Schwalbe Rocket Ron26×2.2557-559585BlackBlackADDIX SpeedSuper Ground, E-25tlrlinklink