The recent downpours created perfect conditions for me to test a new set of Schwalbe Dirty Dans.
For those unfamiliar with Schwalbe’s range of tires, Dirty Dans were the tire of choice for Danny Hart when he made this incredible run down the Champery, Switzerland course in the 2011 Downhill World Championship.
Incidentally, I was there watching the race ‘live’ in the freezing rain and got to walk the track before and after the race. While it doesn’t look like much in the video, some sections are almost vertical, the mud slippery and the fog, something to behold.
Dirty Dan features tall blocks and super-soft VertStar Compound to bite through the gravy and into the meat on deep, sloppy terrain just like that. Dan also has ” Curve Claws” for Wolverine-like grip when the ground suddenly goes vertical.
A fan of Schwalbe tires ever since my first pair of Racing Ralphs, I was eager to see how Dirty Dan would perform in our tropical rain conditions.
Since all I had on hand were 2.4in Dans, I could only run one on the front wheel as my Yeti could only accommodate up to 2.35 in the back. (hrm… that didn’t sound right). No matter because I figured running Ralph at the rear would make up for any sluggishness up front. I actually didn’t have to worry because for a mud tyre, Dan rolls surprisingly fast. The Evo version I used weighed 920g. Not the lightest nor easiest to get rolling, but it felt good and instilled confidence for foolhardy rainy-day shenanigans.
The first thing I tried was high-speed cornering on some flat section of ‘loose-over-hard’ earth. I could feel the difference right away as the tall and supple side knobs dug in to save me from a face plant. The VertStar compound was so sticky it literally shot bits of sand and gravel into my face. Lucky for me I always wear a full face helmet with googles when I attempt potentially maiming maneuvers.
On to wet rock and roots in the rain! Brilliant! I could feel myself channeling Danny Hart right in the middle of Kent Ridge. The ridiculous amount of grip from the tire meant that I had no problems carrying speed in corners, even with muddy, greasy-roots, damp-rocks and a river running through them. Having such aggressive treads lead the way also provided very good braking traction when I had to grab a fistful of Shimano.
Poor Ralph with his teeny-tiny knobs slipped all over the place, but as long as Dan was up-front keeping traction, all was good. It was an incredible run – nothing as amazing as Danny’s Champery run, but just as awesome!
It was only at the end of it when I had to ride back up to the car park did I find a bone of contention with Dirty Dan. The soft, super-slow-motion rebound of the Vertstar triple compound rubber seemed to slow down time as I pedaled up the tarmac. It could’ve also been because I nearly busted a lung having so much fun slipping and sliding in the mud. I was very mindful too that soft compounds mean faster wear, so I was pedaling very gingerly in an effort to make the tires last longer.
At the top, I was very pleased to find that Dan was self-cleaning thanks to widely-spaced knobs. Ralph had some mud on the sidewalls, but was otherwise quite clean too.
My tire combination might not be logical, but my choice of tire can’t be faulted. It is my very, extremely biased opinion that Schwalbe produces some of mountain biking’s best tires. I can’t wait to meet and abuse the rest of the family: Nobby Nic, Wicked Will and Muddy Mary!