Schwalbe has earned a reputation for producing lightweight, high-volume tires that bring cross-country performance to the all-mountain realm. Aggressive riders who fell in love with the fast-rolling Rocket Ron and Knobby Nic often wished for an armored sidewall and larger tread blocks. Enter Hans Dampf - Schwalbe's
do-it-all, all-mountain tire that promises to provide the Wet-condition grip of the Maxxis MInion, and the dry traction of Kenda's Nevegal. If you don't want to read further, Hans Dampf tires rock. Claimed weight of the 2.35-inch Hans Dampf tire is 750 grams, and suggested retail is $90.
Hans Dampf Tire at a Glance:
-Flat protection: Snakeskin armored sidewalls
-Features: Triple-compound tread, all-condition design, 67 TPI, 3-ply casing
-Tubeless: Tubeless ready
-Weight: 750 grams
-Price: $90 USD
Inside the Hans Dampf All-Mountain Tire
Roughly translated into English, Hans Dampf means "handyman" or a "Jack of all trades." What Hans Dampf means to riders is state-of-the-art rubber compounds, molded onto an armored casing, and capped with a time-proven knobby tread design. Schwalbe upgraded all of its off-road tires to tubeless ready, and the added "Snakeskin" sidewall protection makes the Hands Dampf truly tubeless (although sealant is recommended for any tubeless setup).
While Schwalbe designed the Hans Dampf to suit drier conditions, the spiky tread pattern shreds loamy trails.
Schwalbe's rubber incorporates a micro-fine carbon filler that toughens the compound without robbing its flexibility. To keep the 2.35-inch Hans Dampf rolling fast, Shwalbe uses its "TrailStar" rubber design - two sticky traction compounds for tread, molded over a resilient, springy rubber base layer designed to retain energy. To provide a measure of durability, the center blocks are a medium/soft compound while the cornering blocks are grippier, softer rubber. To squeeze out a bit more traction on hard-pack surfaces, the tread blocks are siped (split lengthwise) to give the upper part of the blocks more flexibility. Construction
: Schwalbe builds the Hans Dampf tire with 67 TPI (threads per inch) casing fabric using a layering process that provides two-ply sidewalls, with a three-ply layer beneath the tread. A special nylon-fabric protection layer (Snakeskin) is laminated to the sidewall and covered with cross-hatched rubber to guard against cuts and abrasion. The Snakeskin armor is reported to weigh 40 grams, which seems like a good trade off between ultimate rolling performance and rock-garden durability.
Closeup view of the Hans Dampf carcass shows the cross-hatch pattern of the "Snakeskin" armored sidewall.
Schwalbe calls the Hans Dampf a 2.35-inch tire. Mounted to an XC width 24-millimeter rim, the casing measures 2.25 inches, and the width of the tire at the edging blocks is 2.35 inches on the money. Mounted to all-mountain-width 28-millimeter rims, the casing measures a full 2.35 inches while the outer blocks measure only slightly wider, at 2.37 inches. We weighed the tires at 755 grams which is nearly identical to a similar-sized Kenda Nevegal and quite heavier than the svelte, 560 gram 2.4-inch Schwalbe Rocket Ron we have been using this season. Tread design:
Hans Dampf tread is a modified version of the textbook moto-inspired staggered-block pattern. This is a good thing, because this design spreads out acceleration and cornering forces over a number of tread blocks at any given lean angle. The rounded tread profile and generous number of transition blocks ensure that there will be no surprises when laying the bike over into turns. Hans Dampf tires are nearly spikes, with 3-millimeter center blocks, 4-millimeter transitions, and 6-millimeter-tall edging blocks.
Ride-Testing Hans Dampf Tires
With the snakeskin sidewall protection, Hans Dampf tires are stiff-feeling at lower air pressures, so it will take some experimentation to get the perfect air pressure. We settled on 22psi up front and 24 in the rear. We ran the tires with tubes to evaluate them against Schwalbe's direct rivals in the AM category (Kenda Nevegal and Maxxis Minion).
Mounted to wider freeride/AM rims, the Hans Dampf casing measures a full, 2.35 inches and the tread pattern fills out a bit.
. Rolling resistance
: Soft rubber, a stiff casing and big tread blocks are all ingredients that slow a tire on flat, hard surfaces. Schwalbe's Hans Dampf feels a bit porky on pavement, but perks up once it hits dirt. There is no change in rolling resistance as the bike is leaned over in a corner, or gripping an off-camber surface. This is a good thing, because most tires with spiky, soft edging blocks (Minions) are draggy when tipped on their sides. Given the fact that Schwalbe chose such a blocky tread pattern, one would expect the Hans Dampf to growl on hard surfaces, but it is silent - eerily so - even at high speed. Climbing and Braking Traction:
Wet or dry, if you didn't make it up the hill, it was probably your fault. Same with braking, there are no directional arrows on the tire, so we set the tread-block sipes facing the braking direction. As expected, the grippy Schwalbe tread pattern allowed us to squeeze the brake levers with authority on almost any terrain without foolish lockups. That said, a rounded tread profile, combined with a carcass on the stiff side, create a tire that is sensitive to over-inflation. If you insist on riding at 40 psi, only the tread on the crown of the tire will be touching the earth, so the tires can slip while climbing or braking. Get the pressure close to the mark, however, and the Schwalbes feel invincible. Cornering:
Schwalbe specifically designed the Hans Dampf to perform on drier, technical trails in North America and Pinkbike can report that this is the case. Grippy tread blocks find their way to traction on almost any surface. Hans Dampf gripped wet rocks, cracked clay, rutted gravel and loose-over-hard soil without unsettling the rider while cornering. No-worry transition tread kept us waiting for an unplanned slide that never came when we first laid the bike over. When the tire does exceed cornering traction, its a nonevent. The grip maintains a certain G-force and when the slide stops, the bike rolls on like nothing happened. In short, the Hans Dampf tread pattern is very forgiving. Durability:
So far, so good. The miles are piling up on two Hans Dampf-equipped test bikes and the tires still look new. No flats, no sidewall damage, and no torn tread blocks.
What Could Be Better?
A rounded tread profile and well-spaced intermediate blocks make for smooth transitions from straight-line braking to leaned-over cornering. Siped tread blocks add grip.
Big, square-edged crown blocks molded in a soft rubber compound are great for climbing and braking - but that is also a recipe for a slow-rolling tire. While the Hans Dampf rolls at least as fast as its popular rivals, we couldn't help wondering that if we shaved a millimeter or so off the top tread blocks and angled the leading edges (ALA Kenda Nevegal), if the Hans Dampf would become the "Rocket Hans." What Pinkbike Thinks About Hans Dampf
We like riding Schwalbe's big-volume all-mountain tires, but have complained about the short life span and the small tread blocks of the lighter weight models we've tested. The Hans Dampf has silenced our criticisms about durability and set a high bar for how much traction one should expect from a 2.35-inch all-mountain/trail bike tire. Discover more about Schwalbe's tubeless ready tire lineup and if you have any thoughts, we'd love to hear what you think about Schwalbe's new Hans Dampf tire design.