Schwalbe Hans Dampf

First Ride

Schwalbe’s New Hans Dampf

Words by Drew Rohde

We recently had the opportunity to mount some new Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires on our trusty Commencal Meta AM. It’s our third set of tires on the bike so we’ve got a pretty good base on what the bike is capable of. With dirt conditions looking good, we took the fresh meats out on some local trails for a proper introduction.

We’ve had many good rides on the last generation of Hans Dampf tires over the years, but durability issues and some edge knob folding on hard-pack corners kept it from being the truly awesome tire Schwalbe believed it could be. They went back to the drawing board and began designing the new Hans Dampf.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf

New Knobs

While the similarities are visible, the differences are notable and they certainly seem to be the improvements riders had been hoping for. The new Hans Dampf is a notably more aggressive tire than its predecessor. Knob height is a bit taller and the alternating double-block center design features a semi-open arrangement down the center. Schwalbe claims the design helps the tire shed mud in nasty conditions, which we’ve yet to verify.

Moving out to the transitional blocks, the elliptical arrangement gives the tire a constant contact patch with the ground. Unlike some tires that feature a float/drift channel with aggressive shoulder knobs, Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf features predictable and constant grip in every part of your cornering lean. If you’re a rider that doesn’t like that floaty zone between center knobs and the shoulder, then you’ll like the predictability of the Hans Dampf.

When you’ve got to really lean ‘er over beyond the transition blocks, alternating large and small shoulder knobs are designed to keep you on track. One of the complaints outside of durability was with the shoulder knobs and how they would squirm or fold. Schwalbe has reinforced the new, larger blocks to hold shape better and have a more predictable break away point.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf

Thanks to Schwalbe’s very impressive Addix compound released last year, the Germans knew that durability and wear would no longer be an issue. It was time to make the Jack-of-all-trades tire Schwalbe wanted all along. Our time on the new Hans Dampfs is still too short to comment on wear but we have definitely spent more than enough time on Addix-built Magic Mary and Nobby Nic tires and have been very impressed. To learn more about Addix compounds visit our story from the Schwalbe media camp here.

Schwalbe will offer the tires in a variety of sizes from 24- to 29-inch, including a 2.8” wide version. Addix compounds offered on this tire will be Speed Grip and Soft. There will be two casing options available, Super Gravity and Apex.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf

The Dirt

Our loop was a mixed condition ride that we’ve built that offers quick, repeatable laps that quickly gets us acquainted to new products. The climb goes from steep logging road to dry, pine needle singletrack to damp switchbacks. We felt the rolling efficiency was good for the category. It was a major upgrade to the E.13 tires we replaced. Traction was also better when it came time to stand up and climb the steep stuff. The double blocks offer good penetration on the way up and also offer great braking performance on the way down.

We did two laps on two different test trails and while we’ll reserve comments for our full review to come, it definitely did better on firm terrain compared to the steep, loamer we rode on the first run. When entering loamy, soft turns with ruts the tire lacked the penetration and traction of something like a Magic Mary. Braking performance was still good on the soft stuff despite the floaty feeling on fluffy loam.

When it came time to drop into the second descent, the tire came into its own. The trail hasn’t seen much traffic this winter so it was covered with pine needles and debris. Despite the conditions, the Hans Dampfs stuck to the ground well and the full-profile of knobs meant we had tread blocks searching for traction no matter the angle of the tire.

When we reached sections of trail that we had recently raked, the tires did even better. The firmer dirt was a perfect compliment to the tires and speed met traction as we zoomed through the trees. We plowed into downed trees, charged rock gardens at low pressure and drifted into berms to see if we could get the tires to give.

Two laps is far from enough to win us over, but we are definitely excited to put more time on the new Hans Dampfs, especially on the terrain they’re design to handle best. After our first ride aboard these tires it seems their name seems to be true. Hans Dampf is German for Jack-of-all-trades and while it was handy in all conditions we rode it, it certainly wasn’t a master of all. We’ll reserve final judgment for our long-term review but it seems the tire certainly excels on firmer to semi-soft conditions, which is where we’re going to be spending more time with them. We’ll save our Magic Mary’s for the deep stuff.

To learn more, vist

Schwalbe Hans Dampf
Schwalbe Hans Dampf
Schwalbe Hans Dampf

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