Super Gravity: Revolutionary carcass technology for MTBs

Light as a freeride tire, rugged as a downhill tire: this combination of properties marks out the Super Gravity version of Hans Dampf, which is the first tire to be brought onto the market with the new carcass technology. Schwalbe engineers took methods used in the motorcycle tire industry and developed them further to build a completely new type of carcass. Its construction is so revolutionary that Schwalbe have applied it for a patent.

The Super Gravity version of Hans Dampf defies the threat of punctures – and still offers extremely responsive handling. Weighing just 995 grams, it copes effortlessly even with uphill sections. As a Tubeless Ready tire it can be fitted without a tube, thereby saving another 200 grams or so. “Lively and sensitive” is World Champion Danny Harts verdict on the new Super Gravity technology – and he is already riding it regularly in Downhill World Cup events.

Freeride, enduro, downhill – the worlds of MTB sport are not as clearly defined as those of tire technology, where, up until now, riders have had a choice between a downhill and a freeride version. Both types are in demand for the new enduro races, which are becoming ever more popular in Europe and the US, and freeriders also appreciate a high level of puncture protection. “The new version is ideal for enduro races,” explains Markus Hachmeyer, Schwalbes Senior Product Manager. “The Super Gravity technology combines the best of both worlds. We are absolutely convinced that this technology has a great future and we will continue to build on it."

Patent taken out on tire construction

The new tire was to be rugged. But at the same time it was to remain light and agile. Schwalbe constructed a completely new carcass to make sure of delivering on both fronts. As a rule Schwalbe uses dual casing, i.e. a double carcass construction, for a downhill tire. This consists of four layers that overlap under the tread to form a total of six layers. For the Super Gravity version, Schwalbe based the carcass design on a method similar to the construction of motorcycle tires. Again a dual casing is used, but this time the individual layers only overlap at the sidewall rather than having the conventional overlap under the tread. The result is still four rugged layers at the side, but only two under the tread, which means four layers fewer than with a tire made purely for downhill! To make this casing cut-resistant as well, Schwalbe’s engineers coated the entire carcass with a layer of SnakeSkin. This flexible and tough mesh is extremely cut-resistant. Because the Super Gravity technology is so extraordinary, Schwalbe have applied it for a patent.

“Solid at the sides, but flexible in the middle. That allows the tire to adapt itself dynamically to the terrain,” is how Markus Hachmeyer summarizes the properties of the Super Gravity carcass.

The wire bead was another example of how the tire was tweaked to make it lighter. “Some riders wrongly believe that wire beads are more rugged than folding beads. Our reinforced aramid beads are as strong as wire beads and in addition they are light and foldable,” Hachmeyer explains. So the wire bead gave way to the aramid one.

Because the tire, weighing 995 grams, can be used without a tube, this represents a total saving of 800 grams per bike compared to using downhill tires with tubes. The 60 milliliters of sealant are already included. The weight reduction is particularly effective at the periphery, on the rotating mass: “There is no better place for reducing weight on a bike than on the outermost parts, the rotating mass. After all, this mass has to be accelerated or braked every time there is a change in speed,” comments Hachmeyer.

The developers also took a close look at the apex, a sidewall reinforcement above the bead. This small wedge, which is also used to strengthen all automobile and motorcycle tires, plays a key role as regards the tires sturdiness in the bead area. This is because the forces that puncture a tire are most powerful just above the bead. The new apex, with its harder rubber mix and modified shape, counteracts these forces. “Thus, the tire is extremely resistant to snakebites,” says Hachmeyer reassuringly.

By borrowing know-how from motorcycle tire technology, Schwalbe has managed to synthesize the downhill and freeride specifications to create a new tire category. Super Gravity embodies the desired properties to such an extent that the tire is the best choice not only for downhill and enduro races, but also for freeriding. Hans Dampf Super Gravity is available in the VertStar, TrailStar and PaceStar rubber compounds in the sizes 26 x 2.35 and 27.5 x 2.35 (650B).

The downhill commitment of a world champion

With this tire, Schwalbe wants to continue its successes of the past three years in the Downhill World Cup. Last year Danny Harts crowning achievement and reward for his dedication to downhill biking, was to become World Champion on Dirty Dan. Schwalbe sponsors various teams, including MS Mondraker, Scott11, Giant and Devinci, and as part of its “First Ride Development Program”, the company works together closely with riders to test rubber compounds, carcasses and technologies. The teams certainly appreciate it.

Lukas Haider, manager of the MS Mondraker team, comments: “With Schwalbe what you get is performance, motivation to innovate and personal support. Riding Schwalbe tires gives us a measurable advantage that money cant buy.”

Hans Dampf Super Gravity will be available in the specialized trade 2013.