SCHWALBE Hans Dampf 29” x 2,35 Final Review: by c_g & Banks
Prelude by c_g: It has been some time since we reported on the SCHWALBE Hans Dampf – a tire that was introduced at Eurobike´11 and designed specifically with the US-market in mind. What is more, it immediately was made available as 26” and 29”. I have had the chance to ride the Hans Dampf quite a bit in late winter and early spring conditions on the TRANSITION TranAm two9 – see the Test Introduction of the tire (here) and my First Impressions Post (here). After that I have not had a bike that would suit the HD either by purpose or by tire clearance – but my co-tester Banks had one with his KONA Satori long travel 29″er an I have had it since on several rides including the CUBE Stereo 140 29er (where it was a perfect match).
Here our final thoughts: The SCHWALBE Hans Dampf 29″er is a big burly tire that performs just like that. It does what it looks like it does, nothing more, and nothing less. It doesn’t need any gimmicks and the design already shows it. How many tires do you know nowadays that are symmetrical? Whatever direction you mount the Hans Dampf it will always be right.
We have ridden the SCHWALBE Hans Dampfs extensively both on my forest home trails in southern Germany and in Northern Italy´s Lago di Garda and on many other places in the Alps. Basically the Hans Dampf has seen every kind of terrain one could imagine and all under all possible conditions. Therefore my ride experiences are varied which leads me to a rather well rounded short verdict on the tire.
On soft grounds of my home trails the Hans Dampf had been simply good all around. Dry or wet, there was no tendency for any unexpected behavior – whenever I would push the tire too far, the Hans Dampf would announce his limits in a very well mannered fashion. That too me is the most outstanding feature of the Hans Dampf. – it simply has no negative surprises, not even on loose over hard pack. The good volume and tough design allowed me to run fairly low pressures which in return gave me superior traction and great comfort on anything. No, the Hans Dampf is not a XC-fast tire– but it is surprisingly fast for what it offers in terms of traction and control.
When ridden in the Lago region or on rocky alpine terrain our experiences were similar, but on a much more advanced level. On the dry rocks the Hans Dampf did claw like crazy and never ever left me wanting. On the wet limestone of “The Lago” the going has been much more cautious but the SCHWALBE Hans Dampf still kept control to a remarkably high level – even in the faster PaceStar Compound front and back. Later on when we rode the TrailStar Compound on the Cube Stereo on some really challenging terrain I could really see how they had a grippy edge over the faster compound. Good stuff to have both versions available to choose from, though I´d guess the PaceStar may be the better Allrounder and rear tire where the TrailStar may be best suited for super aggressive riding and for a front tire use.
A very positive surprise: In those loose gravely parts, where most tires would start wandering and giving vaguely steering feel, the Hans Dampf did an amazing job of making the ride predictable and precise.
On my rides I heard multiple “twangs” and “thuds” announcing how the sidewalls had just scraped along some rock surface, but due to the sturdy sidewalls and tough snakeskin protection I never experienced any issues in that department either.
The earlier post deal with the Hans Dampf´s tubeless characteristic in more depth, so only this much: We ran the tubes over the multiple test bikes often tubeless and sometimes with tubes and never encountered any problems getting them converted, nor with burping or other tubeless issues. Only secure running and flawless performance.
VERDICT: Overall the SCHWALBE Hans Dampf is one of those tires, that have no hidden secrets and unpleasant surprises. It is a big burly tire and makes no attempt to be something different, but that is the nature of the beast: It is dead honest. You can look at it, and then imagining what it will ride like, and if you have high expectations you will already have an pretty accurate picture of what you would get if you actually did ride it.
It is not the most aggressive tire I have ridden (though one of the more aggressive ones, for sure), but the best mannered and universal ones, announcing its limits well in advance and letting go in a super controlled manner and riding well in almost any condition. It is decently fast for that purpose and has a acceptable weight, but it is no fast or light tire by any means. If ever you were looking for a burly tire, that It is tough and durable for a very wide range of conditions, the Hans Dampf may be the ticket for you.
We would recommend the SCHWALBE Hans Dampf to anyone who wants to raise the bar in control, traction and comfort. It is not outstanding in either of them, but finds a quality compromise in the combination, that is really hard to beat.
c_g & Banks