Pacific Northwest Spring 2016 Enduro Tire Test: Hans Dampf/Nobby Nic, DHF/DHR, Butcher/ Purgatory REVIEWED

Dirt Merchant Bikes

Spring 2016 Enduro Tire Comparison Test


About Dirt Merchant Bikes:

Dirt Merchant Bike conducts testing to help us determine which products will work best for our customers and their riding style. We are the exclusive Seattle/Tacoma area dealer for Turner Bikes and have the new Turner RFX available for demo at Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, WA



Testing Overview:


Our Winter tire comparison test sessions conducted last November & January established the Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.25 and Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25 (2015 version) as our front and rear tire benchmarks for Pacific Northwest wet winter conditions.  The links to these reports are located at:


        Winter 2015 Comparison Test 1:

        Winter 2015 Comparison Test 2:


In this latest tire comparison test, we tested wider tires in the following tire combinations:


1. Maxxis Minion DH-F 2.3 3C MaxxTerra (f) / Maxxis Minion 2.3 MaxxTerra DH-R (r)

2. Specialized Butcher 2.3 GRID 2Bliss Ready (f) / Specialized Purgatory 2.3 GRID 2Bliss Ready (r)

3. Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35 Evo Trailstar (f) /Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35 Evo Pacestar (r)


Before testing, we expected all of the tires chosen for this comparison to be strong contenders:


Schwalbe Hans Dampf/Nobby Nic: The Hans Dampf and Nobby Nic tires are wider versions of the tires that have tested well in our prior comparisons. The Hans Dampf in this test is also in the Trailstar compound which should yield better cornering traction than the Pacestar compound on our previously tested Hans Dampf front tires.


Maxxis DHF/DHR: The Minion DHF has been a long time favorite of many riders both in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere so we expected the DHF to be a strong contender in this comparison. The DHR has also built a strong reputation both as a rear tire and as a front tire when good braking is a desired quality.


Specialized Butcher/Purgatory: Finally, the Butcher was of interest due to its similar tread design to the well-regarded DH-F and because it has also attracted a loyal following of riders. Paired with the Butcher is the Specialized Purgatory as Specialized’s rear tire offering for all mountain riding.


Product testers included 2 riders recruited from the Seattle area via a Facebook posting and myself.  Each of the test riders rode either a Turner RFX (160mm of travel) for the duration of the comparison test.  Each rider rode the three tires combinations both uphill and downhill.    Tires/wheels were switched to the next rider after an uphill/downhill loop so that test riders rode each of the tire combinations once.


Tires Combinations Tested:


Maxxis Minion DH-F (front) & DH-R II (rear)


Maxxis Minion DH-F 3C MaxxTerra, EXO,  27.5” x 2.3,

        Claimed Weight: 870 g

        Actual Weight: 870 g

        Tire Height: 52 mm

        Casing Width: 58 mm

        Knob Width: 56 mm


Maxxis Minion DH-R II 3C MaxxTerra, EXO,  27.5” x 2.3

        Claimed Weight: 805 g

        Actual Weight: 820 g

        Tire Height: 54  mm

        Casing Width: 56 mm

        Knob Width: 57 mm


Specialized Butcher (front) & Purgatory (rear)


 Specialized Butcher GRID 2Bliss Ready,  27.5” x 2.3

        Claimed Weight: 930 g

        Actual Weight: 930 g

        Tire Height: 57 mm

        Casing Width: 58 mm

        Knob Width: 57 mm


 Specialized Purgatory GRID 2Bliss Ready,  27.5” x 2.3

        Claimed Weight: 755 g

        Actual Weight: 720 g

        Tire Height: 56 mm

        Casing Width: 58mm

        Knob Width: 57 mm


Schwalbe Hans Dampf (front) & Nobby Nic (rear)


Schwalbe Hans Dampf, Trailstar/Evo/Snakeskin 27.5” x 2.35

        Claimed Weight: 795 g

        Actual Weight: 860 g

        Tire Height: 57 mm

        Casing Width: 60 mm

        Knob Width: 62 mm


Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Pacestar/Evo/Snakeskin 27.5” x 2.35

        Claimed Weight: 720 g

        Actual Weight: 715 g (avg of 2 tires weighed with a range of 710-720 g)

        Tire Height: 57 mm

        Casing Width: 60 mm

        Knob Width: 58 mm


Testing Methodology:

Location: Grand Ridge Trail in Issaquah, WA going southbound after the boardwalk. The climb/descent has a 200 foot vertical gain.  Grade on the incline ranges from 6-16 percent.  One-way distance is 0.75 miles (1.5 miles for the round trip).


Trail Conditions: The weather was clear.  The trail had not had significant precipitation for a week providing high traction conditions.  The test riders experienced no problems with rear tire traction overall, but front tire traction was more important with a good number of higher-speed turns as the trail traverses across the fall line. 


Product Testers: Test riders were myself & 2 other riders that had signed on to be product testers with Dirt Merchant Bikes.  All test riders were competent climbers & descenders with some faster on the uphills and some faster on the downhills.  The number of climbs completed during the course of the comparison test were well within the stamina limits of the recruited testers.


Test Bikes: The testers rode a Turner RFX (160mm travel).   Each rider rode the same bike for all 3 tire combinations tested. (Tires/wheels were switched between bikes)

Wheel setup: Stans Flow EX rims (25 mm internal width) on DT350 hubs.  Tires were run tubeless with 30 psi. 30 psi was the lowest pressure that I was comfortable running with rider weights varying within an 80 lb range.

Testing Procedure:  Each rider rode each of the 3 tire combinations up the course and then back down.  Wheels/Tires were changed after each uphill/downhill round trip.

Evaluation Methodology: The tire combinations were evaluated on the basis of three separate measures:



        Quantitative Rating: Tire combinations were rated on multiple quantitative factors on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the best score, 3 being an average score and 1 being far below expectations. The average quantitative rating was calculated as an average of the 5 individual rider scores on each attribute.

        5 stars - Absolutely outstanding

        4 stars

        3 stars - Solid performance, meets expectations

        2 stars

        1 star - Misses expectations by a wide margin


        Subjective Evaluation: Test riders added subjective comments to the Quantitative Ratings to provide deeper insight into the quant ratings.


        1st & 2nd most Preferred Tires: Each test rider indicated which tire would be their 1st and 2nd pick for front and for rear usage.


        Timed Laps: Due to the data collection methodology introducing unintentional variability into the data, we will run further testing to get lap times for the tire combinations that performed better on the three evaluations mentioned above. The lap times that we will collect are as follows:

        Uphill split

        Downhill split

        Total Time (aggregating Uphill & Downhill lap times)



Notes on Interpretation of Results: 


I suggest reviewing the subjective comments in conjunction with the quantitative data for a general understanding of each tire’s strength/weaknesses.  Please note the following caveats when interpreting the results from this comparison test.


        This is not intended to be a scientific test:  Though this test includes quantitative data, the numerical data is intended only to help interpret rider feedback.


        Differences between tires in the quantitative results are not statistically significant: With only small sample of three riders rating each tire, differences in quantitative ratings should be interpreted as directional and not as statistically significant differences.


        Projectability of results to other Trail conditions: This comparison test was conducted in the Seattle area in April 2016.  Precipitation about 4 days before testing provided firm, high traction trail conditions.  Perceptions of tire performance generated from this test are generally not projectable to dissimilar trail conditions in other geographic areas.



Performance Ratings – Front Tire:  

Subjective Comments – Front Tire


Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35, Trailstar compound, Snakeskin casing (as a front tire):

Summary:  Coming into this test, we expected high cornering traction from the Hans Dampf based on prior experience with the narrower, harder Pacestar compound version. Perhaps given the exceptional performance of the other tires tested, the Hans Dampf failed to provide as much confidence in cornering as we might have expected. The Hans Dampf communicated steering feel well but felt less solid at cornering limits than the other tires tested.



        Steering Feel was good: “Most steering feedback of the tires tested”



        Traction limits were lower than other tires tested: “Loose in corners.”

        Cornering felt less solid than on other tires tested: “Not as solid feeling as the DH-F when cornering hard.”



Specialized Butcher 2.3, GRID 2Bliss Ready (as a front tire):

Summary: The Butcher had decent cornering traction, but did not feel as sharp on turn-in as the DH-F or the Hans Dampf. The Butcher’s cornering traction was also somewhat difficult to access as the tire was limited in the amount of feedback that it provided on available cornering grip.



        Good cornering grip: “Grip felt more solid than the Hans Dampf”



        Turn-in was less sharp than the other tires tested: “Did not feel sharp on turn in”

        Less predictable at cornering limits: “Couldn’t get a good sense of when the tire might lose traction.”

        Felt less responsive than the other tires: “Didn’t provide much feedback about what was going on at the tread level”


Maxxis Minion DH-F, 27.5” x 2.3, 3C MaxxTerra Compound, EXO Casing (as a front tire):

Summary: The DH-F was clearly a notch above the other two tires tested in terms of both cornering grip as well as predictability at the limit. Good feedback about available traction made the DH-F easy to ride hard and confidence inspiring.



        High Cornering Traction: “Felt locked in" “Very solid feeling when on the cornering knobs.”

        Very predictable at the limit: “Feels very solid at the limit”, “Stable, predictable and Most confidence inspiring”


Performance Ratings – Rear Tire:  

Subjective Comments – Rear Tire


Specialized Purgatory 2.3, GRID 2Bliss Ready (as a rear tire):

Summary: The Purgatory was a decent tire overall, but failed to excel in either rolling resistance or traction among this group of high-achieving tires.



        Higher Rolling Resistance: “Felt slower than the other tires tested”

        Cornering grip felt less secure: “A bit skittish on tight loose corners under braking.” “Grip felt tenuous””

        Lacked feedback:  “Couldn't get a good feel for when the tire was close to its cornering limits”


Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35, Trailstar compound, Snakeskin casing (as a rear tire):

Summary: The Nobby Nic had reasonable levels of climbing and cornering traction, but felt like the fastest rolling tire in the test.



        Rolling Resistance: “Seemed Fast” “Rolled Fastest”

        Good handling feel: “Better cornering feel than the DH-R”

        Good ride feel: “Lively, fast rolling feel”



        Climbing Traction: “Not as secure as the DH-R” “Good at least in the dry conditions of the test”

        Cornering Grip was not exceptional: “Did tend to wash out in faster corners” “A bit skittish in tight loose corners under braking”



Maxxis Minion DH-R, 27.5” x 2.3, 3C MaxxTerra Compound, Exo Casing(as a rear tire):

Summary: Though its performance was not dominant to the same degree that the DH-F was for the front tire comparison, the DH-R was the best in the test at balancing the traction with reasonable rolling resistance.



        Good Climbing Traction: “No loss of traction at all”

        Surprisingly good rolling resistance: “Rolled surprisingly well for an aggressively treaded tire”



        Cornering Grip was good, but not head: “Lost rear tire grip once or twice”



Test Summary:

Front Tire Preference:

Rear Tire Preference:

All of the tires chosen for this test were known to be strong performers and this was supported by our testing experience on these tires. What this test is looking to convey is the relative strengths and weaknesses of the tested tires. Overall, the testers seemed to prefer tires that were able to best balance multiple performance characteristics. The fundamental performance attributes common to all of the more preferred tires were good cornering traction and predictable steering/handling for front tires and a balance of rolling resistance with good climbing traction for rear tires. 


Front Tire Summary:


In our Summer 2015 XC tire test (, we had introduced the idea of Usable Rolling Resistance. The idea was that the fastest XC/Race tires are those that combine low rolling resistance with sufficient climbing traction to not lose efficiency from tires spinning out on climbs. For front tires, there is perhaps a similar paradigm in which Usable Cornering Grip in which the perceived cornering ability of a tire is the result of both its absolute cornering traction limits and the level of feedback on traction limits that tire provides to help riders access more of its available traction.


This concept of Usable Cornering Grip was reflected in the test riders’ tire preferences that favored tires that provided both high levels of cornering grip with the steering feel/handling to be able access more of this available grip. Steering feel and good feedback on how much traction is available was almost as important as absolute cornering grip.


The DH-F was clearly the best front tire in the test providing high cornering grip with good steering feel and predictable handling at the limit. Unlike some other front tires with high levels of cornering traction that we’ve previously tested, the DH-F also provides a high degree of steering feel providing clear indications of when the tire is about to slide. Some other tires that we’ve previously tested have had high cornering traction, but were less communicative about the limits of that traction.


It was surprising that the Butcher was the least preferred of the three front tires tested, as it was rated higher than the Hans Dampf on all four front tire rating factors. The best explanation that I can give for this result is that compared to the Butcher, the Hans Dampf has a more communicative steering feel which riders appreciated. The Butcher tended to have a softer initial turn-in feel and was a bit more disconnected feeling when approaching cornering limits. This hampered test riders’ ability to maximize the Butcher’s reasonably high cornering traction.


The Hans Dampf provided a lively ride and cornering feel, but was let down by having lower overall cornering traction than the Butcher or the DH-F. The Hans Dampf certainly is an entertaining tire to ride when compared in isolation, but the DH-F provides only slightly less steering response with a more solid cornering feel.



Rear Tire Summary:


The performance of the rear tires compared in this test was closer than the results for the front tire comparison. Of the three tires tested, the Purgatory was perhaps the weakest with the highest perceived rolling resistance, lower cornering traction limits, and less communication from the tread about available traction. The Nobby Nic provided reasonable levels of climbing and cornering traction, but excelled in rolling resistance and handling feel. Having a Nobby Nic as rear tire provides an enjoyably lively and fast rolling feel that seems to be characteristic of Schwalbe tires (with the exception of the Magic Mary and other more DH-oriented tires). The DH-R had the best balance of traction and rolling resistance. Even with an aggressive tread design, the DH-R rolled surprisingly well. On balance, the testers all picked the DH-R as their number one choice for rear tire.


In deciding between the DH-R and the Nobby Nic, the DH-R is the best all-around choice when a higher level of rear tire cornering and climbing traction is desired. Note though that all three of these tires provide a high level of climbing traction so choice is really between a high level of climbing traction and the best climbing traction available. The Nobby Nic is potentially a good choice for riders that are seeking to have their bikes feel and be faster. More front tire cornering traction is generally always beneficial, but for rear tires, rolling resistance is as important of a consideration as cornering traction


Additional Considerations:


Ease of Tubeless Setup by Brand:

[Caveat: This is on Stans Flow EX rims so certain brands may happen to match better with the rim diameter and profile of these rims.  In particular, WTB TCS beads are known to be a tighter fit, though my experience has been that I’ve had no issues mounting a WTB Vigilante and a WTB Trail Boss on Arch EX rims. Your experience will likely vary with different rim brands/models.]

Schwalbe: Consistently, Schwalbe tires used in our tests have been the easiest to set up tubeless on the Stans Arch EX rims with 15 of the 17 Schwalbe tires we have mounted in our three comparison tests seating with only a floor pump and no additional manipulation beyond just mounting the tire and airing it up.  About 2/3 of the Schwalbe tires held air even without sealant and all tires held air after doing a shake and distribution of sealant.


Continental: Of the 6 Continental tires that we have mounted, only 1 of the 6 seated easily with a floor pump, 4 required additional manipulation to seat and I gave up on seating one by hand (and went to the gas station to use their air compressor). All of the Continental tires lost air pressure over time until I did a second shake and distribution of sealant to seal the bead interface.


Maxxis: 5 of the 6 Maxxis tires that we have tested seated easily with a floor pump and 1 required some additional manipulation to seat with a floor pump. 3 of the 4 tires held air after doing a shake and distribution of sealant and the remaining tire also held air after a second shake and distribution of sealant.


Specialized: 2 of the 2 Specialized tires that we have tested seated easily with a floor pump. Both of the tires held air after doing a shake and distribution of sealant. Also, kudos to Specialized for the bead design on their 2Bliss tubeless ready tires. The two Specialized tires tested with the 2Bliss design have butyl rubber coated tire beads which promotes a more airtight seal between tire and rim after tires are mounted onto a rim but before seating of the tire beads. Seating a tubeless tire with a hand pump requires the tires to have a sufficiently airtight seal with a rim to be able to use air pressure to seat the tire bead. The butyl rubber coating the 2Bliss tire beads helps create this level of seal between tire and rim.

Previous Editions of our Tire Testing Reports:

If you’re interested in reading previous editions of our tire testing reports, they are located at:

Winter 2015 – Enduro/Trail Tire Comparison Test 1:

Winter 2015 – Enduro/Trail Tire Comparison Test 2:


Summer 2015 – XC Tire Comparison Test:


Tires slated for testing in Summer 2016 & Winter 2017:

Our tire testing plan for the rest of 2016 is as follows:


June 2016:


Dry Conditions XC or Race Tire testing – TBD based on reader interest

Benchmark: Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25 (front & rear)

Other tires considered for inclusion: Schwalbe Racing Ralph, Maxxis Ardent Race, Vredestein Black Panther XTRAC, Continental Race King

-- or –

Dry Conditions Semi-Slick Rear Tire testing – TBD based on reader interest

Benchmark: Maxxis DH-F (front)

Rear tires considered for inclusion: Maxxis Minion SS, Specialized Slaughter, Maxxis Tomahawk, Schwalbe Rock Razor, WTB Riddler




November 2016: Wet Conditions Enduro/Trail Tire testing –

Benchmark: Maxxis DH-F (front) / Maxxis DH-R or Schwalble Nobby Nic (rear)

Other tires considered for inclusion: the new e*thirteen TRS Race (, Bontrager SE5, Michelin Wild Rock’R/Wild Grip’R, Schwalbe Fat Albert Front & Fat Albert Rear, Schwalbe Magic Mary, Maxxis Aggressor


Please feel free to reach out to Dirt Merchant Bikes by e-mail at with your preferences for tires to test.


Tires that we carry

Based on the results of our two recent tire comparison tests, Dirt Merchant Bikes will be carrying the Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires in addition to the Nobby Nic, Hans Dampf and Magic Mary in all wheel sizes and widths for the summer riding season. We will also carry Maxxis DH-F/DH-R, High Roller II, and Ardent tires as a value priced option.


The Schwalbe tires that we carry & our pricing is:

Schwalbe Nobby Nic (new HS 463 version) Evolution Line –26”, 27.5” & 29” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99, 

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution Line –26”, 27.5” & 29” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99, 

Schwalbe Magic Mary Evolution Line –26” & 27.5” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99, 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf Evolution Line – 26”, 27.5” & 29” tire sizes: Regularly $67.99,

Typically, we will have the Pacestar (normal) and Trailstar (soft) compounds with Snakeskin/TL-Easy casing in stock with VertStar (softest compound) available to ship in 2 days.


The Maxxis tires that we carry & our pricing is:

Maxxis Minion DH-F 3C MaxxTerra EXO/TR

·       27.5 x 2.3: $62.99

·       27.5 x 2.5 Wide Trail: $63.99

Maxxis Minion DH-R 3C MaxxTerra EXO/TR

·       27.5 x 2.3: $62.99

·       27.5 x 2.4 Wide Trail: $63.99


Ordering Tires:

Tires can be ordered from Dirt Merchant Bikes at:


We also welcome any other requests/suggestions for our tire testing program. If you have any questions/comments about this tire comparison test or questions about tires, please e-mail Dirt Merchant Bikes at