Review: Schwalbe Hans Dampf

Schwalbe launched the Hans Dampf, which roughly translates to "handyman" or a "Jack of all trades", in 2011 to much fanfare and anticipation. It was said to deliver all mountain (enduro was not invented yet) grip at trail weight and speed. Schwalbe had also promised to have solved their quick-wearing reputation.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.jpg

 

It took me a few years for me to get to try the Hans Dampf, but when I did I was ready for the hype. Tyres, whether for a bicycle, car or motorbike, will always be a big topic of discussion as riders and manufacturers search for the holy grail as every feature comes with a trade-off.

 

What makes a tyre grip is a combination of tread design and compound. A softer compound makes for sticky rubber, but also leads to faster wear. Using a harder compound will prolong the wear, but cut into its outright grip. A light tyre comes at the expense of thicker, sturdier sidewalls and puncture protection. It is not an easy job to design and manufacture the perfect tyre for the different terrains, trails and bikes we ride.

 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 8.jpg

 

The Tech


To blend as many must-haves into an all mountain tyre, Schwalbe crammed the Hans Dampf with the latest technology. The rubber used incorporates a micro-fine carbon filler that toughens the compound without sacrificing its flexibility.

 

To reduce rolling resistance Schwalbe used their TrailStar rubber, which combines two sticky, traction compounds for tread, molded over a resilient, springy rubber base layer designed to retain energy. Increased durability is taken care off by using a softer rubber for the cornering blocks and medium / soft blocks for the centre blocks. The tread blocks have a small cut lengthwise to give the upper part of the blocks more flexibility and in doing so extract more traction, and with it speed, on hard-pack surfaces.

 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 1.jpg

 

Schwalbe builds the Hans Dampf tyre 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. To reduce sidewall cuts 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 armour is reported to add only 40 grams to the overall weight, which is a good trade off between ultimate rolling performance and rock-garden durability.

 

I tried the 2.35 inch tyre as a front tyre on two different rims to see what difference a wider rim would make to it's overall profile. Mounted to a trail rim with a 21mm inner width the casing measures 2.25 inches and 2.35 at the cornering blocks. Mounted to my Derby rims that measure a healthy 35mm internal and 40mm external, the casing measures 2.35 inches with the width of the cornering blocks measuring 2.37 inches.

 

The tread design is a staggered-block formation with 3mm centre blocks, 4mm transition blocks, and 6mm outer, cornering blocks in a rounded tread profile that plays well with wider rims. The staggered spacing spreads out acceleration and cornering forces over a number of tread blocks at any given lean angle to maximize grip and traction.

 

Specifications


Schwalbe Hans Dampf specification sheet.png

 

I tested a 2.35 inch tyre in front and a 2.25 inch on the rear both being Snakeskin, TL Easy Trailstar casings. Claimed weight for the 2.35 inch is 795g and 680g for the 2.25 inch. I measured them to be 820g and 720g respectively.

 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 3.jpg

 

Model and specification is denoted on the sidewall of each tyre in squares. The first is to show whether it is the entry-level Performance Line or the higher end Evolution Line. The second square shows that the casing is Tubeless Ready. Then there's one for the specific casing construction. Snakeskin for extra sidewall protection and Super Gravity their lighter weight DH casing, ideal for Enduro or DH on tracks that are not littered with rocks. The last one is to show the tyre's compound and the choices are Vertstar, Trailstar, and Pacestar (from softest to hardest) for the ‘Evolution’ line.

 

Depending on the size and model, a Hans Dampf tyre retails for between R650 to R700. Unfortunately, the weakening of the Rand may see these prices increase in the future.

 

On the Trail


Thanks to their rounded profile and a casing that's on the stiff side, the Hans Dampf are a little sensitive to over-inflation. I've run them as low as 15 psi in front (very much trail dependent), but have settled on 18 - 20 psi in front and 23 - 25 psi on the rear using my Lezyne Shock Digital Drive with the tyres mounted to Derby Rims.

 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 4.jpg

 

The soft rubber, sticky TrailStar compound and big tread blocks makes for a tyre that's not the fastest climber - something you do notice when pedaling along. Ultimate pedaling speed is not what they were designed for so that's not a real bother to me. Traction is excellent in wet and dry conditions on just about any surface with thick sand being its only real weak point.

 

Grip on wet, slippery roots are good and gives you a lot of confidence to push hard in even the worst conditions. Thanks again to the big blocks and grippy compound they have good stopping power and it takes quite a bit to get them to slide when jumping on the brakes.

 

Cornering is another strong suit of the Hans Dampf. The transition blocks do an excellent job when leaning the bike over as there's almost no breakaway when leaning the bike over onto the cornering blocks. Slides are controlled and predictable and come very late and only at high speeds.

 

It would probably be best to combine a TrailStar front tyre with the less draggy PaceStar rear. This will help on trails where there's a lot of climbing involved (for instance every single trail in Cape Town) to cut back on rolling resistance. I have yet to sample a PaceStar so can't comment on what the trade off would be. I'm hoping to answer that question as soon as new stock arrives early this year.

 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf 5.jpg

 

Verdict


With the Hans Dampf it looks as though Schwalbe have mastered the All Mountain trail tyre. With the new Nobby Nic snatching at its heels it would be interesting to see what the next version of the Hans Dampf will bring.

 

With the only real kink in it's armour being it's performance in lose sand when mounted to a standard width rim, one can hardly fault the Hans Dampf for its intended purpose. Yes, we are always looking for more grip from a faster tyre, but as things stand the Hans Dampf's performance is a near-perfect balancing act between grip, traction, speed, confidence inspiring performance and durability.

 

The Hans Dampf is a worthy option as an all year, all weather tyre.

 






24 Comments

Captain Fatbastard Mayhem, Jan 19 2016 07:13

Performance on the narrow rim?

hayleyearth, Jan 19 2016 08:27

Yip, I agree. I will go back to the Hans Dampf Evo Snake Skin TrailStar TL-Ready folding as soon as my current tyres are done

IKMagine, Jan 19 2016 09:23

Great tire.
WTB Vigilante very similar in look and same trail characteristics, but better longevity. Schwalbe definitely still needs to work on getting their tires to last longer.

Odinson, Jan 19 2016 09:31

No comments made on longevity/durability.

Rock Guy, Jan 19 2016 09:42

So, now, the million dollar question.... Where can you buy these? I basically went round to every single bicycle shop in Cape Town last year to try and find these. Only managed to source a single pace star tyre (no trail star). Oh and mine cost a cool 900 bucks.

 

I believe you also tested the Onza Ibex. For a Western Cape trail / enduro setup, which do you prefer?

Captain Fatbastard Mayhem, Jan 19 2016 09:42

So, now, the million dollar question.... Where can you buy these? I basically went round to every single bicycle shop in Cape Town last year to try and find these. Only managed to source a single pace star tyre (no trail star). Oh and mine cost a cool 900 bucks.

EVOBikes most likely to stock. 

hayleyearth, Jan 19 2016 09:47

I did about 3600km on mine (according to Strava).

May 2013 till December 2014.

 

Te only place that I have bought from and seen that sell the right compound etc is bike-discount...

 

http://www.bike-disc.../brand-schwalbe

Rock Guy, Jan 19 2016 09:49

I did about 3600km on mine (according to Strava).

May 2013 till December 2014.

 

Te only place that I have bought from and seen that sell the right compound etc is bike-discount...

 

http://www.bike-disc.../brand-schwalbe

What do the import duties and courier costs typically work out at for purchase from these guys?

Captain Fatbastard Mayhem, Jan 19 2016 09:53

What do the import duties and courier costs typically work out at for purchase from these guys?

Courier costs in the region EUR30 or so, and there's no duty on tyres. Only VAT charged at 15.4% (cost of item plus 10% to determine vatable amount) so it pays to import a few at a time to offset the shipping costs. 

 

Bike-components.de is also an option, and they have slightly cheaper shipping at approx EUR 20 depending on what you ship. 

 

EDIT: Difference is that Bike-discount ship with UPS, whereas Bike-components ships with German Post, which comes via SAPO when it reaches here... 

Baracuda, Jan 19 2016 11:01

I have the 2.35 29ers on my bike and they are absolutely wonderful. They give one so much grip and confidence on downhills, I really don't care if they weigh a bit more or have a bit more rolling resistance on the ups.

s14phoenix, Jan 19 2016 11:06

Side knobbies tear or tear off. once they even just have a small tear they tend to wash out. if they made the same tyre with more support on the side knobs - maybe. Initially and while they new they are great and then they turn to crap.

Capricorn, Jan 19 2016 11:08

What do the import duties and courier costs typically work out at for purchase from these guys?

its going into winter up north, so if you hang on for a bit, they'll throw out some prices that will make buying from the germans seriously good value for money, despite the exchange rate.

FYI: sale seasons in euroland are in Jan/Feb and July/Aug, but they often throw out specials every so often.

Capricorn, Jan 19 2016 11:10

Side knobbies tear or tear off. once they even just have a small tear they tend to wash out. if they made the same tyre with more support on the side knobs - maybe. Initially and while they new they are great and then they turn to crap.

 

maxxis side knobs also tear off. Now what?

FYI, there was a bad run of rubber for schwalbe A LONG WHILE BACK. Some of that stuff may still be in circulation,but the new stuff lasts pretty damn long in comparison.

s14phoenix, Jan 19 2016 11:34

maxxis side knobs also tear off. Now what?

FYI, there was a bad run of rubber for schwalbe A LONG WHILE BACK. Some of that stuff may still be in circulation,but the new stuff lasts pretty damn long in comparison.

 

2x 2015 Nobby Nics - both leaking between the blocks - so bad I had to plug - stans didn't seal and no not punctures... started as "sweating".

2x 2014 Hans Dampf - tearing - no leaks - trailstar tearing blocks - pacestar still ok.

 

2x 2015 26" Racing Ralph - leaking although much less.

 

maxxis side knobs also tear off. Now what? - WTB that's what... well lets see how they last... they still new. 

 

The issues I had was not just me and not just 1 time. Known issue world wide particularly on the Trailstar compound HD.

Baracuda, Jan 19 2016 11:42

2x 2015 Nobby Nics - both leaking between the blocks - so bad I had to plug - stans didn't seal and no not punctures... started as "sweating".

2x 2014 Hans Dampf - tearing - no leaks - trailstar tearing blocks - pacestar still ok.

 

2x 2015 26" Racing Ralph - leaking although much less.

 

maxxis side knobs also tear off. Now what? - WTB that's what... well lets see how they last... they still new. 

 

The issues I had was not just me and not just 1 time. Known issue world wide particularly on the Trailstar compound HD.

 

Not sure what you doing to your tires. Heaps of guys based out of CT and Stellies ride the Schwalbe's - Hans, Rocket Rons, Racing Ralphs - and no one I know has these tear and leak issues. I have found the WTB to be great too.

Capricorn, Jan 19 2016 11:43

2x 2015 Nobby Nics - both leaking between the blocks - so bad I had to plug - stans didn't seal and no not punctures... started as "sweating".

2x 2014 Hans Dampf - tearing - no leaks - trailstar tearing blocks - pacestar still ok.

 

2x 2015 26" Racing Ralph - leaking although much less.

 

maxxis side knobs also tear off. Now what? - WTB that's what... well lets see how they last... they still new. 

 

The issues I had was not just me and not just 1 time. Known issue world wide particularly on the Trailstar compound HD.

 

In general, i dont use flimsy (XC or similar) tyres, so fair enough, our experiences could be polarised on the type of application. I've been using every generation of schwalbe tires, but predominantly from the gravity range of schwalbe tyres, and i know first hand how their gravity range of tyres have improved especially wrt sideknobs tearing off.

Loudpedal, Jan 19 2016 01:04

Courier costs in the region EUR30 or so, and there's no duty on tyres. Only VAT charged at 15.4% (cost of item plus 10% to determine vatable amount) so it pays to import a few at a time to offset the shipping costs. 

 

Bike-components.de is also an option, and they have slightly cheaper shipping at approx EUR 20 depending on what you ship. 

 

EDIT: Difference is that Bike-discount ship with UPS, whereas Bike-components ships with German Post, which comes via SAPO when it reaches here... 

I would also look at this option which works out brilliantly for ordering from overseas: 

 

https://www.aramexglobalshopper.com/

 

If you use this coupon (which I did, you'll get free lifetime membership): AGS1002014

 

They basically give you a local address to ship it to (Germany, London, New York etc) so you usually don't land up paying for local delivery and then they charge you a flat fee plus and duties.

 

I was quoted R170 to ship from the US for first 500g, it then goes up but not exactly sure of the rates.

 

I think it's an epic system.

Captain Fatbastard Mayhem, Jan 19 2016 01:10

I would also look at this option which works out brilliantly for ordering from overseas: 

 

https://www.aramexglobalshopper.com/

 

If you use this coupon (which I did, you'll get free lifetime membership): AGS1002014

 

They basically give you a local address to ship it to (Germany, London, New York etc) so you usually don't land up paying for local delivery and then they charge you a flat fee plus and duties.

 

I was quoted R170 to ship from the US for first 500g, it then goes up but not exactly sure of the rates.

 

I think it's an epic system.

That's BRILLIANT. Do they also handle the taxation issues, given that if you provide a local address you'll be paying local tax? Unless they presume that local (EU) delivery will be less than international, and ask you to ship it to an EU but not in country address, thereby avoiding German etc tax... 

 

Ah. No EU version yet. Just UK Italy Spain & France in the EU

Loudpedal, Jan 19 2016 01:26

That's BRILLIANT. Do they also handle the taxation issues, given that if you provide a local address you'll be paying local tax? Unless they presume that local (EU) delivery will be less than international, and ask you to ship it to an EU but not in country address, thereby avoiding German etc tax... 

 

Ah. No EU version yet. Just UK Italy Spain & France in the EU

I'm not sure... I would suggest you chat to Lunga Nkosi at their local office: with any queries Lunga.Nkosi@aramex.com / +27 11 457 3197 - very helpful.

Simonpurdon, Jan 19 2016 10:53

I got the 2.35 Magic Mary's for my front tyre as a present and haven't stopped smiling since Christmas day. I was previously running the old Nobby Nic's and did a few thousand km's on that and its still got a bit to go but the difference is HUGE. Not sure how they compare to Hans Dampf's but i've also heard the new version of the Nobby Nic's is great too. 

DubbelBuys, Jan 20 2016 08:55

Good & informative review (as always)  Iwan.

 

I have a set of HD's on my Shova ST

TailStar - F 

PaceStar - R

 

At first it felt draggy, but the more it wears (esp the rear) & starts to look like the Rock Razor the easier it rolls.

Maybe it's studpid question, but has anyone considered to cut a little 'ramp' into the center knobs to increase rollability?

Iwan Kemp, Jan 20 2016 09:05

Performance on the narrow rim?

 

Hmmm, definitely not as good as on a wider rim. Thick sand was a bit of a disaster before. Upper Tokai and Upper Jonkers weren't fun in summer! 

 

But to be fair, I have found wider rims to transform just about all tires I've tried on them. Some Maxxis models do not work as well, but generally grip is GREATLY improved with the use of wider rims.

 

No comments made on longevity/durability.

Hmm, even reading your comment I was sure I did, but I obviously missed that one. Longevity is much improved and on par with other tires I've tried. Certainly not the Schwalbe of old.

 

I would also look at this option which works out brilliantly for ordering from overseas: 

 

https://www.aramexglobalshopper.com/

 

I think it's an epic system.

I'm not sure... I would suggest you chat to Lunga Nkosi at their local office: with any queries Lunga.Nkosi@aramex.com / +27 11 457 3197 - very helpful.

I've used them recently - bit of a review coming up soon.  Dealt with Lunga and can vouch for her. GREAT customer service.

 

Good & informative review (as always)  Iwan.

 

...

 

Maybe it's studpid question, but has anyone considered to cut a little 'ramp' into the center knobs to increase rollability?

 

:thumbup:

 

I've seen this done and have read their feedback, but no first hand experience.

Iwan Kemp, Jan 20 2016 09:10

I believe you also tested the Onza Ibex. For a Western Cape trail / enduro setup, which do you prefer?

 

I did, but those were 29" and these are 27.5"

Rock Guy, Jan 20 2016 09:27

I did, but those were 29" and these are 27.5"

Aah, that wasn't immediately apparent from the article, but I guess If I compared your tyre weights to the table I could've figured that out. Still, I would have thought some characteristics could be directly compared despite difference in wheel size.