Schwalbe claims the Hans Dampf is a jack of all trades for the perfect trail ride and offers amazing grip and incredible control. Sounds like what we all want from a tire, but does it deliver? I tested the Hans Dampf 2.35 in Schwalbe’s grippy TrailStar compound, both in the 650b / 27.5“ and 29 wheel sizes to find out.
Setup was easy, and I’ve run the tires with and without tubes without any issues. The tire’s 60-584 (650b) and 60-622 (29) ETRTO classification suggests a tire that runs true to size (2.35), and if anything, it runs a little large, which I’d prefer to the opposite. Like many Schwalbe tires, the Hans Dampf is a high-volume tire that looks big. And indeed, its profile promises a jack of all trades – relatively sturdy side knobs are linked to wide center braking knobs by a few diagonally arranged knobs in-between. The tire was mounted on 25mm and 29mm internal diameter rims and tested both front and rear, with pressure ranging from 23/26 to 28/32 PSI (front/rear), depending on terrain and conditions.
The Hans Dampf’s profile is full of midsize knobs, so, unsurprisingly, it provides great straight-line grip. Directional stability is good, even though the center could benefit from a more defined channel. This affects both the tire’s overall feel and its self-cleaning, on which I’ll comment below.
Like most Schwalbe tires, the Hans Dampf is a good-natured, wide comfort zone tire that lets you know its limits well in advance. Because of the diagonal knobs, the transition when leaning the bike is smooth, and the cornering is noticeably less well-defined than on a tire with more pronounced cornering knobs. While this is a drawback for riders who prefer a more defined edge, it can be a welcome trait for general trail riding.
Sporting a row of square center knobs for every three center block knobs, the Hans Dampf’s braking must be considered fairly good. It significantly outperforms tires with a less protruding profile, such as the old Nobby Nic. But for an all mountain tire, the knob spacing is rather close, and it shows, especially on soft ground.
The Hans Dampf’s SnakeSkin casing is fairly sturdy, and offers good puncture resistance for a soft-casing tire. Initially, when running the tires with tubes, I experienced a few flats, but I attribute those to the rim. Tubeless, I had one puncture on rocky ground. In general, I feel the Schwalbe compound’s edge wears off a little faster. Otherwise, performance has been flawless, and the tire provides a very comfortable ride.
Keeping in mind its size and the grip it provides, the Hans Dampf’s rolling resistance is excellent. I would not hesitate to mount the Hans Dampf as a rear tire for a multi-day backcountry epic – think Singletrack 6 or a big mountain range crossing – unless you’re racing for the standings, its puncture resistance is well worth it over a faster tire, and it still rolls really well.
At 795g, the 650b TrailStar is not a light-weight tire, but well below average in the all mountain category, especially for its volume. Even more so in the 850g 29er version, the weight is respectable.
Terrain & Conditions
Schwalbe recommends the Hans Dampf for Enduro use in mixed conditions ranging from hardpack to soft ground. While Schwalbe don’t claim it is a dedicated soft ground or had pack tire, they put it squarely in the middle of their three column terrain classification – only their Magic Mary and Dirty Dan tires range further into the soft ground column. My experience differs somewhat, though, and I feel the tire performs really well on loose over hardpack and dry forest ground, but it is not at home on soft ground, unless soft means rain on rocky terrain.
I’d also classify the Hans Dampf more as a trail to all mountain tire than an Enduro tire. If this sounds a little hairsplitting to you, let me put it differently: I’d hesitate to use the Hans Dampf for aggressive riding in anything but dry conditions. Its close knob spacing means it clogs relatively fast, so on soft ground it tends to suddenly slide. In loamy or muddy conditions, the tire breaks away rather swiftly, so you might be in for an unpleasant surprise if you’re coming hot into a loamy corner – it is here the well-natured jack of all trades transforms into a capricious joker who wants to play tricks on you.
Tim’s Take: Yes, the Hans Dampf is a jack of all trades, but I have to say it cannot escape the proverbial conclusion in that it also is a master of none. It tries to please everyone, and its well-mannered nature and gentle limits are appealing for general trail riding, but more aggressive riders will miss the edge. Between the Hans Dampf and the Magic Mary, I see little use for the Hans Dampf, except on the rear. To me, this is a tire I’d take on an epic backcountry ride because it combines a sturdy casing with good rolling resistance. But for my everyday riding, its drawbacks point me elsewhere. If you are looking for a well-rounded trail bike tire, this could be a good choice that will not fail you unless you encounter loamy mud.
Model: Hans Dampf
Wheel sizes: 26×2.35 – 27.5×2.25 – 27.5×2.35 (tested) – 29×2.35 (tested)
Test conditions: 25mm ID and 29mm ID rims, tire pressure ranging from 23/26 to 28/32 (front/rear) depending on terrain & conditions
Weight: 795g (27.5×2.35), 850g (29×2.35), SnakeSkin, TrailStar compound (weights according to manufacturer), also available in SuperGravity casing.
Price (MSRP): 57,90 € – $92-93