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Review: Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35″

Schwalbe's Sticky Meats

Words by Jason Fuller. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
September 3rd, 2013

I was attracted to Hans from the moment he ‘came out’. I was ready to come to grips with a lot of things, and Hans was exactly what I was looking for to follow the path I felt was right for me. What? I meant that I wanted a tire that would grip roots, rocks, loose and hardpack dirt, and help me hold a line through everything the North Shore would try to throw at me. Hans Dampf sounded like the perfect fit as it is labelled a jack-of-all-trades grip monster.

Schwalbe, Hans Dampf, tire, review, 2.35, Trailstar, Pacestar, Vertstar, Evo, Snakeskin

Hans is a sexy beast with a firm grip well suited to North Shore winters.

I may have got a little carried away: both my trail bike and downhill bike received a full complement of Hans, 2.35” in size, which is (unfortunately) the only size Hans comes in for 26” and 29” sizes. In both cases, it was Trailstar front and Pacestar rear compounds. The 26×2.35″ Evo Snakeskin seen here weighs in at a svelte 765 grams – very light for its class. Since those words may quite likely mean nothing to you, this would be a good time to discuss Schwalbe’s compound naming convention along with the other specifications separating one tire from another.

Schwalbe, Hans Dampf, tire, review, 2.35, Trailstar, Pacestar, Vertstar, Evo, Snakeskin

Hans’ knobs are super sticky, especially in the Trailstar compound seen here – the tradeoff is in rolling resistance.

On the tire there are four squares, each of which states one variable. One is for whether it is the entry-level ‘Performance Line’ or the higher end ‘Evolution Line’. One is for tire compound and the choices are Vertstar, Trailstar, and Pacestar (from softest to hardest) for the ‘Evolution’ line. Another is for the casing construction – Snakeskin for lighter duty with some level of protection, Super Gravity is their lighter weight DH casing, ideal for Enduro or light DH. The final square states that the tire is ‘TL Ready’, meaning it can be run tubeless provided you use the sealing goo. This is a very comprehensive specification that will typically confuse and annoy the average rider, while satisfying an engineer such as myself greatly.

Schwalbe, Hans Dampf, tire, review, 2.35, Trailstar, Pacestar, Vertstar, Evo, Snakeskin

Schwalbe’s model designation is confusing to say the least. Each square represents a different option on weight, sidewall, thickness, and compound respectively. This particular model is the lightweight Evo line, tubeless ready sidewall, Snakeskin reinforced sidewall, and Trailstar medium grip compound.

On to the ride itself: I’ve been quite satisfied with these tires but I have found their limitations. For one, the Snakeskin is most certainly not sufficient for Whistler Bike Park use. I suffered 4 flats in 2 rides, even at 30 psi. One of them was a front flat. The Super Gravity casing sounds perfect for the weight-weenie park rider such as myself, though I have yet to try them.

The side knobs are a weak point of the tire for me as well; they are not well supported and the transition knobs prevent the side knobs from being able to get positive bite in some situations. Also, the side knobs are the first to go as the tire wears due to the massive flexing they experience in cornering. One last small quibble: the 2.35” size is big – bigger than a 2.5” Maxxis – and it’s overkill for a lot of riding that the Hans Dampf excels in. I ran the 29” version on my previous bike and it felt clownishly large for my small frame, but it was the only Trailstar compound option from Schwalbe. A lighter 2.25” version would make much more sense for the 29” size and I’m sure would appeal to those who enjoy a 2.35” Minion.

Schwalbe, Hans Dampf, tire, review, 2.35, Trailstar, Pacestar, Vertstar, Evo, Snakeskin

Hans runs large: as the 2.35″ size is the only option for 26″ and 29″ wheels, you’d best be prepared for a lot of meat (oddly enough, you can get a 2.25 in 650B).

On the bright side though, I have been extremely happy with the Trailstar / Pacestar compound combo for giving plenty of grip and predictability in all conditions, from soggy winter riding to loose and punched out late summer laps. The upside of the extremely flexible outer knobs is that when the tire loses traction, it does so predictably. In the two years I have had a Hans up front, not once have I lost the front end so quickly I couldn’t react. It is easy for me to recommend these tires as I plan to continue to use them for everything but DH use.


Moving towards winter is Hans in the category of tires you’ll be riding, or do you like to slip and slide in the wet?

  • tundra

    Have 2 versions of the Hans:

    29er Pace Star… agree with the clown shoes comment. It’s HUGE. But I use it for training and appreciate the width and protection for the rim. Plows through everything… but yes, it plows!

    26er Vert Star… amazing all around tire. AM use on the shore this tire is the one. Great traction on the rocky corners.

  • Bryce

    also one of the very few tires available in 650b

  • awesterner

    26″
    I’ve had a few sets in 26″. Trailstar front, Pacestar rear. If you ride hard, they don’t last too long, even the Pacestar. They are a good Shore tire though, where slow speed traction on wet rocks and roots is needed. I’ve trimmed the transition knobs on an old one and it improves high speed cornering, but the outer knobs completely finished themselves in about three rides (they were starting to tear already though) I agree about the size as well, friggen huge.

    29″
    I also tried them on my 29er Satori. Way to big, but wow insane grip, too much actually as a rear tire. Wear was terrible again though. 2 NSMBA toonies plus 4 pre ride days. The rear outer knobs are undercutting already and heavy braking started to tear apart the centre knobs.
    .
    27.5
    I picked up a takeoff 27.5 2.25 Trailstar. Perfect size, still fairly big. Knobs are closer together, makes a great rear tire as it drifts a bit more. I can’t wait for this size to come out in Pacestar

  • LostBoyScout

    Furthermore to article: I ripped my rear Hans between knobs on Top of the World yesterday. That trail really is a tire-killer. I think it was a fluke, so I’m not going to hold it against the tire. Unfortunately, it was my very first ride on that one.

    I actually found that a Nobby Nic out back died much faster than the Hans Dampf (Pacestar for Pacestar). I am looking forward to trying a pair of Magic Mary’s, since their side knobs look very sturdy.

  • boomforeal

    odd that they were named after a german folktale figure who was “jack of all trades” – awesterner pretty much nailed narrow niche in which (the i’ve found) the dampf excels: “they are a good Shore tire though, where slow speed traction on wet rocks and roots is needed.”

  • mattthemuppet

    I’ve had a 26in pacestar on the front for a while and love it, but I haven’t been so happy with the same tire on the back (replaced a much loved 2.4 Trail King). It’s really hard to find the right pressure where it grips but doesn’t bottom out on the rim over rocks (it’s exceptionally rocky here) – most of the time it feels really skatey. Back one’s wearing like crazy, but the trails here eat tires, especially rear ones on a hardtail :) It does roll better than the TK though, but gives up more grip than I’m happy with to do so.

    Also both leak sealant from multiple spots around the casing, to the point where I have to replace the sealant a lot more frequently than with the TKs (even a non-tubeless one that the HD replaced up front). Last ride I was losing 10psi every couple of miles.

    I’d definitely buy another one for the front, probably not for the rear.