Schwalbe Hans Dampf is a Surprisingly Tough Tire [Review]

The Schwalbe Hans Dampf is one of the brand's top selling tires thanks to its performance in a variety of challenging conditions for trail and enduro bikes.
Photos Jeff Barber unless otherwise noted.

Who is Hans Dampf? As best I can tell the mountain bike tire predates the movie of the same name, where the film’s titular character goes on a road trip to find love and trades his VW bus for a three wheeler along the way. Schwalbe tire names usually take a common name like Hans — or Mary, Ralph, or Nic — and pair it with an adjective, in this case Dampf, which is the German word for steam (or vapor). I’ve been testing Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires front and rear, from my local trails to shuttle-served bike park laps, and I’ve found they corner well and deliver solid-surface traction without feeling overly heavy or packing with mud.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf key specs

  reader rating (2 votes)
  • Width: Officially 2.35″; 63mm (2.48″) on 35mm internal width rim
  • Weight (as tested): 970g for 29×2.35″, 840g for 27.5×2.35″
  • Price: $66-98
  • Buy from Worldwide Cyclery

Schwalbe says the Hans Dampf is one of the brand’s top selling tires with about 20 different sizes and configurations available, from 24″ diameters to 29″. The Hans Dampf is positioned as an enduro/trail tire designed to excel in a variety of conditions.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf tread

I tested two different sizes of the Schwalbe Hans Dampf with Addix soft compound, Super Trail casing and bronze sidewalls on a Mullet Cycles Peacemaker all-mountain, mixed-wheel bike with a 29×2.35″ tire up front and a 27.5×2.35″ tire in the rear. The Peacemaker was set up with 35mm internal width rims which is a bit wider than I would normally choose for a 2.35″ tire. This gives the tires a wider profile than they might have on a more standard 30mm rim. On 35s the Hans Dampf tires measure nearly 2.5″ wide.

The Hans Dampf is not a directional tire; in fact the tread is symmetrical side to side and front to back so it’s the same no matter how you mount it. All of the knobs are siped and there’s generous spacing between them. Buttressed side knobs have small cutouts, presumably to save a little weight. The 29er tire I tested weighs a hair under 1,000g which isn’t too bad for an enduro tire, and the 27.5″ tire weighs 130g less than that.

I found the Hans Dampf tires mounted easily with a simple floor pump. Following my tests I found that the sealant in the front tire was completely dry, leaving virtually zero trace, yet the tire still held air well throughout testing.

Photo: Leah Barber

On the trail with Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires

My English ears always assumed the dampf in the name Hans Dampf referred to vibration damping. With the Addix soft rubber compound these tires truly do damp trail chatter and lend the bike a satisfying thunk when you drop it on the ground. On hardpack and rocky trails the soft compound is noticeably grippy, and I found I could lean these into turns a little harder and with a bit more speed than with comparable tires.

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Tried it? Tell us what you think about it.

Schwalbe indicates their 2.35″ tires should work with a wide range of inner rim widths, and the 35mm rims I used for my testing sit near the upper limit for this tire. I worried the wide rims might push the side knobs away from the edges and diminish cornering performance, and maybe they did, but the Hans Dampfs still corner like a dream. I ran slightly higher pressures than usual — around 20psi front and rear — and found the Super Trail sidewalls remained stiff in the turns while the knobs provided good bite. Transitions into corners and back again were always predictable.

A lot of tires I’ve tested in the trail/enduro category over the past few years feel heavy and draggy, but not the Hans Dampfs. I honestly misjudged the tire based on its looks; it just doesn’t scream big and beefy like some of the others. Yet, on the trail it proved to be tough and grippy, slicing through loose soil and handling square-edge rocks and roots with aplomb.

Under braking forces the Hans Dampfs deliver good, but not mind-blowing traction. I suspect this has to do with the flip flop, symmetrical tread pattern that offers roughly half the braking-oriented knobs as a directional tire that’s meant to roll one way.

I tested the Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires in a variety of conditions, including some dirty, and at times sticky, bike park riding. The tires do a good job clearing dirt and mud and remain grippy throughout the ride. I didn’t experience any punctures or any appreciable loss of air during my testing.

There’s very little visible wear to the soft tread compound after 100+ miles of riding.

I find that most tires perform better as either a front or rear tire — even if ever so slightly — and I usually prefer to run non-matching tires. I would say the Hans Dampfs get pretty close to a tire that’s equally at home on the front and the rear. However I’d probably give this one a front-tire edge given its braking traction performance and its solid corner handling. That being said, running matching tires (aside from the diameters) felt great.

Pros and cons of Schwalbe Hans Dampf


  • Soft compound damps trail chatter well
  • Good cornering performance
  • Sheds mud well and works in a variety of conditions
  • Not too heavy


  • Limited braking traction

Bottom line

The Schwalbe Hans Dampf is a surprisingly grippy tire that works well in a variety of conditions, offering a damped ride without a bulky, overbuilt feel.