We test the new beefier version of the Schwalbe Hans Dampf to find out how the extra size feels out on the trails!
Words: Ryan Walsch Photos: Nick Waygood
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf has been a quality staple offering from the German manufacturer for some time now and the times sure have been a changing.
When the Hans Dampf came out, it was an aggressive and very wide 2.35” tyre offering a large bag that we would then fit on some very narrow rims. This did provide a grippy and comfortable ride but with some squirm when pushing hard. As the knob profile was tall, and the tyre quite round, the knobs did tend to fold and tear.
The new Hans Dampf is designed for wider rims and has an extremely heavily reinforced bead which follows up the sidewall for about 20mm, providing an excellent base of support. So tough is this area that it is more rigid than the downhill tyres on my trail bike, yet having the ride feel of a supple casing with knobs that don’t fold over.
For testing I paired the relatively light weight Schwalbe Hans Dampf 29x2.6” trail tyre (1000g) with Cushcore Pro tyre inserts. At 260g per insert the combined total weight per end was a neat 1260 which is a bit ligher than a hard hitting downhill 29er tyre with the majority of its weight closer to the rim than the tread. The idea here is that you can have the supple trail feel of a larger, thinner casing trail tyre, with a the rim protection and sidewall support that you would get from a downhill tyre.
On the Trail
We had the SpeedGrip Addix compound Hans Dampfs in the premium Snakeskin Apex casing which is a good balance of low weight and highly reinforced bead and sidewall. The SpeedGrip does exactly what Schwalbe states, with low rolling resistance and a good amount of grip in a durable package. By adding underlying support to the knob structure and mixing high quality blends in house, the Hans Dampf is a pleasant tyre to ride, even with the additional weight of the Cushcore rim protection.
My bike rolled with less resistance using the Schwalbe Hans Dampf and Cushcore than when using downhill tyre that is about the same as this combination. I found getting up to speed was just fine and the Hans Dampf's supple casing ironed out most rocks under the size of a snooker ball. Normally, tyres over 2.5” in width feel buoyant which on technical climbs offers huge amounts of grip and float on all surfaces even when poor lines are taken. And that's exactly what I experienced with this combination.
There can be a downside with wider trail tyres, and it usually comes with stability when pushed hard. Getting the setup right for pressure and stability can take some fine tuning depending on your weight, rim width, riding style and trails.
This super vague feeling when pushing into berms, features and choppy terrain is where pairing the Hans Dampf with Cushcore was the most noticeable. That feeling just isn't there on this setup, as the Cushcore does extend up the side of the tyre and assists with extra sidewall stabtility, which means more traction, confidence and then speed. The additional speed gained by the SpeedGrip compound is noticeable but I think going to a Soft Addix compound on the front would be even better and lessen the amount of understeer that I experienced.
The understeer isn't massive, and it could also be put down to the round tyre profile and smooth transition from centre knobs to side knobs, which is unlike what I normally ride. Given most of my trail time is on the dry and loose dirt around Canberra, a tyre profile where the sideknob gets stuck in earlier in the turn (i.e. having a slightly squarer profile or more pronounced side knob) helps provide that grip and security but of course it will vary with tyre widths, rim widths, terrain and tyre pressures.
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf is a tyre with unparalleled quality and surprising amount of grip that shows little signs of wear after some solid punishment on local parks and downhill trails. I would recommend either going a compound softer on the front for truly balanced traction in all terrain. Alternatively you could bump up to a Magic Mary on the front or down to a Rock Razer on rear to get the similar levels of traction for what the front and rear of your bike needs.
– Great tread and casing design for wide rims
– Strong and durable
– Casing and compound options
– Maybe some bigger transition knobs?