What started out 22-years ago, manufacturing state-of-the-art spokes for the bicycle wheel market, has now transformed into a globally recognised and respected brand that also produces nipples, hubs, rims, complete wheels as well as suspension forks and shocks. But it's their wheels that many of us will now associate with this iconic Swiss brand, extensively supplying them to some of the biggest names in racing, not to mention a growing list of bike manufacturers from around the world. And in a world where standards come and go as quickly as the seasons, it is the wheel and indeed the tyre manufactures who have had to adapt - and quickly - to recent changes. Most notably the demise of long established wheel sizes, the rise of newer sizes and widths, not to mention an ever increasing array of hub widths to contend with as well. What this has ultimately created, is an attitude of innovation within the leading brands, eager to deliver the right products to the right riders with as little confusion as possible.
On the not so grassy slopes of Grasse
After launching their original Spline One range in 2014 and watching the wheel market continue to diversify and expand, DT Swiss decided that a concise range of complete wheels under one banner was the way to go. Covering everything from cross country to enduro, while utilising the growing trend for wider rims to increase traction, the Spline One 1501 series offers rim widths ranging from a 22.5mm all the way to a whopping 40mm with hubs to suit all frames and forks.
With a grand total of five different rim widths available - all of which manufactured using the same technique and sharing a near identical look - and utilising DT's proven 240S hub series, their Competition spokes and new Squorx nipples, the Spline One 1501 Series has a wheel set suited to the riding that most of us do - the tricky part perhaps will be choosing the right rim width for your individual needs.
• Purposes: XC / Trail / Enduro
• Sizes: 27.5". 27.5 Plus and 29"
• Rim: Welded aluminium
• Rim widths: 22.5, 25, 30, 35 and 40mm
• New 240S Spline One hub, 6 Bolt IS or Centrelock
• 36-tooth-engagement ratchet system
• Available with standard and XD Driver free hubs
• Nipples: Pro Lock Squorx
• Spokes: 28 x Straight Pull Competition
• Build: 3 Cross
• Tubeless ready, including valves
• Front hub sizes: 15x100mm and 15x110mm
• Rear hub sizes: 12x142mm 12x148mm
• XR1501 and XM1501 22.5mm: $1211
• XM1501 and EX1501 25mm: $1236
• XM1501 and EX1501 30mm: $1261
• XM1501 40mm: $1313
The small French town of Grasse in the stunning Maritime Alps would serve as the testing ground for a solid day of hammering on DT’s latest hoops; the Spline One 1501 series. Slightly off the radar compared to some of its more iconic neighbours, Grasse’s trails didn’t disappoint with a good selection of rough and ready trails, all of which varying in severity and a good location to punish some new wheels.
Starting the day off on the unique looking Swiss made Bold Linkin Trail 29er with the trail ready XM rims in the 22.5mm width option and running some 2.25” Onza tyres, we were ready to shred. Jumping on a bike you don’t know while simultaneously hitting a series of trails you really don’t know either can be a tad distracting, but flailing about as you do in such situations, the Spline One 1501's did little to give me any concerns handling everything with ease.
After the last steep and technical descent on the Bold and looking around at the other faces in the group, everyone seemed happy with the wheels and with zero mechanicals all around and only one puncture sustained. It was then time to head back to base camp to swap bikes. The next vessel was the Cube Stereo 160 laced with the marginally wider 25mm EX rims and a pair of proportional 2.4” Onza tyres. The next trails on the agenda had previously been graced by some of the best enduro racers in France, having been used in a national level event - that pretty much means the best riders in the world as the French are
in a league of their own when it comes to this enduro malarkey. And these really weren’t for the faint hearted either - technically demanding and physically challenging from the start. At nearly twice as long as some national level UK DH race tracks and packed with everything from steep wooded sections to flat-out open piste littered with yet more boulders, separated by short, punchy and annoyingly technical climbs, these trails were as tough as they were utterly exhausting to ride.
After a few hours, we were all done for the day and the wheels? Still round, still true and the tyres still full of air. This was of course not a concise and conclusive test, after all, what could I ascertain in only a single day on two relatively unknown bikes? I do however know that DT’s rims have come a long way in the last 10 years. There was a time in the early 00's when DT's rims were often referred to as being soft and ‘cheese’ like. They had a habit of dinging rather easily and certainly more than their competitions, but there really was method to their madness, even then. A rim with several small dings – remember tubeless was less of thing back then – would have more chance of getting you down the hill and finishing your race run with air in your tyres than a stiffer rim which could fail catastrophically rather than marginally deform and quite possibly cause a flat tyre. The racers loved them, but the press gave them a hard time.
Remember Aaron Gwin’s World Cup run from Leogang in 2014? The one where he did nearly a full run sans tyre? Well, lets just say DT has ultimately delivered an alloy rim that has reached legendary status! And thanks to years of meticulously altering the ingredients used in the production of the alloy used in their rims - a closely guarded secret no less - DT’s position as a world leader in alloy rim production is well rooted in the industry these days and for a good reason. Coupled with their renowned and highly reliable hubs and some sensible price points throughout, I think it’s fair to say DT Swiss have a lot to offer with their new Spline One 1501 series. I would however recommend doing your homework and choosing the right rim width that will not only work with the tyres you like to use, but also on the trails you ride.
Visit the feature gallery for high resolution and additional images