Review: Schwalbe Hans Dampf II Tire
Son of Hans Dampf German designers don't give up easily. Schwalbe's team responded by developing "Addix," a series of tougher, longer-wearing and grippier rubber compounds, and then revised both the Hans Dampf's casing and its tread pattern. The result was a much more robust design that could thrive in the brutal landscape that sprung forth from today's super-capable long-travel all-mountain bikes. Fittingly, the new tire is called by the same name, but I'll refer to it here as "Hans Dampf II" for clarity. At first glance it may appear to be the same as its predecessor, but it is far from it.
New Tread: Hans Damp II departs from the original's design with a taller tread made up of sturdy rectangular blocks. Its stiff, reinforced edging tread is arranged in rows, like Schwalbe's Magic Mary, which should make the tire corner with authority. By contrast, the original Hans Dampf featured an array of small, radially-placed tread blocks, many of which were triangular, and its staggered edging blocks were quite flexible. It was designed to be a fast-rolling tire that that would break traction gently in a more controllable manner. Finally, the original's crown tread was arranged in semi-circular patterns, while Hans Dampf II's tread is lined up more conventionally. The circular theme is repeated, but the tread lies predominantly in bands across the carcass.
Addix Speedgrip rubber: I have no idea what magic is going on inside of Schwalbe's Addix rubber, but the Speedgrip compound has to be one of the longest wearing substances ever used in a performance tire. I seldom lock up a wheel, so I get a lot more wear from a tire than your typical bike park skidder, but the Hans Dampf II set a new benchmark - on par with the indomitable Maxxis Minion DHF. Addix Speedgrip is a medium-durometer compound and is designated with a blue line on the tread. An orange stripe designates the soft compound, which was developed for DH and enduro, according to the official literature. Schwalbe's more affordable Performance range of tires feature a harder compound that is designated with a gray stripe.
Apex casing: EVO versions of the Hans Dampf II offer three casing options: Supergravity is a heavy duty DH casing with four-layer (dual-ply) sidewalls and a more flexible two-layer crown area. Snakeskin is a conventional two-layer casing with an additional layer of nylon cloth to prevent tears and punctures. Their Apex option (reviewed here) uses the Snakeskin casing, reinforced with a double thickness of tough rubber laminated to the sidewalls.
Lots of options: Customers can order the Hans Dampf II in either a 2.35 or 2.6" size for 29" wheels. If you ride 27.5" wheels, you can choose between 2.35, 2.6, or 2.8" widths, and Schwalbe offers 26" riders a single, 2.35" option. Based upon a 30mm inside-width rim, Schwalbe's casings measure within a half millimeter of their claimed sizes. My 27.5 x 2.6" samples measured 2.55" at 22 psi.
Riding ImpressionsEarlier this year, I reviewed the 27.5"-wheeled Diamondback Release 2, which was fitted with the original Hans Dampf design in the slightly harder Addix Performance rubber compound. I used the same bike to review the new Hans Dampf, which provided me an opportunity to make direct comparisons on the trail. Well, nearly direct; the originals were 2.35" wide, while the tires in this review are wider, 2.6" models. Without spoiling it, the new tread design retains most of the original's smooth, fast-rolling characteristics, and puts an end to the "waiting for disaster" cornering anxiety that those first Hans Dampfs instilled upon their owners at speed.
|Rounded tread profiles, like the Hans Dampf II has, transition more smoothly into turns, but the price paid for that gentle entry is that it takes a little longer for the edging blocks to bite in.|
|'Jack of all trades. Master of none.' The old adage applies to Schwalbe's new Hans Dampf, but this time it's in the best sense. This Hans Dampf lives up to its name, with a fast roll and the ability to find trustworthy grip across the gamut of terrain and trail conditions that most mountain bike riders will encounter. It's not going to win races, but if it's adventure you seek, it will get you there and back. Addix rubber, a tougher casing, and a new tread pattern have made Hans Dampf an honest man.—RC|