DT Swiss made an unconventional move when they launched their Spline ONE range of wheelsets. They don't scale the wallet-scaring heights of the innovative Tricon and carbon wheels. Instead, DT Swiss have chosen to launch a relatively obtainable wheelset as their flagship offering for 2014 - the Spline ONE - and it introduces updates to virtually every aspect of DT Swiss' previous wheel designs. Spline ONE wheels are available in three models: XR, XM and EX 1501, which cover everything from XC through to enduro racing. We tested a set of the EX1501 wheels - their strongest offering and one which is ridden on the Enduro World Series by riders like Nico Lau, Adam Craig and Manuel Ducci. The XR and XM models are available in all three wheel diameters, while the EX version is only made for 26" and 27.5" wheels, although we hear rumors that a 29" version is in the works right now. Axle adapters are offered to fit 15mm and QR forks at the front and QR and 12mm x 135mm, or 142mm rear axles. Freehub bodies are available for both a standard fitting and the XD driver body for XX1. The pair of EX1501 test wheels tipped the scales at 1730g (claimed) and come with an MSRP of $1035 USD.
| Our test setup: 27.5" EX1501 wheels, mounted with Schwalbe's Super Gravity tires - since October, we have put hundreds of kilometers in on them.|
• Purpose: All-mountain/trail/enduro
• Sizes available: 26" and 27.5"
• Rim: Aluminum,reinforced spoke eylets, 25mm internal width
• Updated 36-tooth-engagement freehub mechanism
• Tubeless ready
• QR/15mm front axle compatibility
• 12x142mm and QR/135mm rear axle compatibility (12x135mm optional)
• Available with standard and XD Driver freehubs
• Weight: 1730g (pair, claimed)
• MSRP: $1035 USD
At the heart of the Spline ONE wheels is an all-new hub design. This is a big deal for DT Swiss as they are an update for their classic 240 hubs. Quite simply, the 240s were flawless, they were light, strong and lasted forever, more than holding their own as one of the premium hubs available for longer than we can remember. That was a tough act to follow, but DT are confident that they have surpassed them. The hub shell itself is now a two-piece design they claim has allowed them to create a more complex shape that reduces the overall weight without compromising the strength of the body. Either end of the hub is now a modular design to allow riders to switch between differing axle standards and brake disc mounting system without the need for tools. Internally their ratchet system has been upgraded to a 36 tooth system DT says offers 10 degree engagement and more efficient power transfer.
| Nearly every part of these wheels is new - from the modular hubs with the improved freehub, through to the unique ball and socket type eyelets in the rims. They are wide, strong and tubeless ready.|
The innovation for these wheels doesn't stop at the hub though, the rim has been completely re-designed too. The most obvious change is the internal diameter, which DT Swiss have widened on all the models, with our EX1501 test wheels sporting a healthy 25mm internal width. While the new rim is wider, DT have used a new profile to reduce the weight at the same time. Another change for the rim profile was to improve the shape for tubeless setups, putting less force into the sidewalls. This was coupled with a new rim strip designed especially for the EX1501 wheels. Welding processes to join the rim have been improved too, to the point where it is almost impossible to find the weld joint. While it may look like the wheels are eyelet-less, they feature the Pro Head reinforcement system, where the spoke head and eyelet are inside the rim and work together as a ball and socket, allowing the spoke to move freely and find the more natural trajectory to the hub. They claim that this improves manufacturing consistency, makes truing easier and reduces spoke breakages. The system-specific Squorx nipples can be tensioned in two ways: from inside with a special inverted torx key tool that provides a larger, more consistent contact area; or from the outside with a regular spoke key.
We have only run these wheels with Schwalbe Super Gravity tires, which are nice to work with for this kind of setup. The wheels were nothing short of a joy to mount tubeless, and they were close to being sealed by just putting the tire on the rim - adding the air seemed like a formality. We even managed to mount a set of tires with a little hand pump. That said, we could push these wheels hard enough to lose air under really hard cornering and some sharp-edged hits, so you will need to check your air pressures periodically.
In terms of feel on the bike, there isn't much we can write about the Spline ONE EX1501s. They were stiff enough for hard riding, and we never encountered an issue with wheel flex, no matter how hard we pushed things. Yet they are aluminum rims, so they don't compete in the ultra-stiff carbon territory - which may even be a positive point for some people. Weight is good - 1730 grams is a respectable, if not a superlight weight figure for a 27.5" wheel, which helps keep the bike feeling lively when you don't have gravity to assist you. What makes their weight most impressive, is how strong the wheels are. We first fitted the wheels to our test bike in October and since then, they have followed us through two other bikes. In that time, we haven't had so much as a loose spoke, even on the fast, rocky terrain around Sospel in Southern France. To put that into perspective, we have used some of their direct competitors and some and downhill-rated wheels on this terrain and found dents and loose spokes within a matter of weeks. Talking to one of DT's sponsored racers, at the EWS in Val D'Allos last year, he flatted at the top of a 15-minute descent and rode it out to the bottom. All he needed to do was tighten a couple of spokes and he raced for the rest of the weekend on the same rim. DT probably won't thank us for suggesting this, but we wouldn't be surprised to see weight-conscious downhillers give these rims a try.
| Putting the EX1501s through their paces aboard the Yeti SB75.|
We are big fans of the wider rim profile on the EX5101 wheels. DT are a fairly conservative company and in many ways, they don't tend to leap into fashions or trends, yet they have positioned themselves near the forefront, as other manufacturers catch on to the benefits of wider rim profiles. The improvements to the hub are incremental. You shouldn't rush to throw away your 240 hubs, but you will notice the slightly faster engagement out on the trail, and so far it looks like their reliability is in no way compromised. In our time with the Spline ONE wheels, our only issue was busting a spoke when a rear mech' got punched into the wheel. Although that does lead us onto what may put some people off - the rim and spoke technology is proprietary. You cannot use any old spoke, nipple or eyelet with these wheels. However, DT have one advantage over any other wheel manufacturer: they are the main spoke supplier for most high-end and aftermarket wheels. That means that wheelbuilders worth their salt will have accounts with a distributor to buy DT parts. They may not have them to hand, but they should be able to get hold of replacement parts easily enough.Pinkbike's Take:
| DT have simply got these wheels right. Weight is on the money, especially considering how stiff and strong they are. On the rim, the wider profile is something we're big fans of here at Pinkbike and the tubeless performance is good. At the hub, they are a worthy update from the classic 240 hubs. They are a hundred dollars or so more expensive than some of their competitors, but we would say they are worth the extra cash. These are, without a doubt, one of the best factory wheelsets money can buy right now. - Matt Wragg|
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