Amongst a day of tongue-in-cheek news on the first of April comes some proper product news as well. After showing off new carbon cross country wheels and wider rims for lacing your own wheels back at Eurobike, DT Swiss has just released a full overhaul of their mountain bike wheels with the new Spline One lineup. Calling it a single complete wheel series, the Spline One’s get broken down into three groups for appeal to everyone from cross country racers to the gravity-fueled enduro crowd. Based around updated versions of their benchmark 240s hubs the wheels all get plenty of spacing, axle, and cassette interchangeability options, plus the new widened rims from 22.5-40mm internal. We have the opportunity to test ride wheels from each of the XR, XM, and EX lines, so follow us past the jump for a detailed look, some actual widths, pricing, and summer 2016 availability…
In the end the new Spline One wheels all get the 1501 designation calling out this new series. They are broken down into cross country race (XR), cross country/all mountain trail (XM), and enduro (EX). Then in a welcome bit of transparency, the wheels get a width designation based on the rim’s actual internal width. Lastly they get labeled with wheel size as most of them are available in both 29er and 27.5, except for a couple of the wider wheels that are exclusive to the smaller diameter.
DT has been working for a while on their move to wider rim profiles, with the general trend toward wider tires. These larger mountain tires need the extra support of wider rims, and that was a driving force in the move. DT also sees much better performance when keeping the same width tires as rim width increases, with the larger tire volumes offering a smoother ride and better grip with out needing heavier tires.
With rims ranging from 22.5mm for the XR up to 40mm for the XM, DT recommends pairing the wheels with tires from 1.9-4.0” wide.
In the end the new Spline One line up gets built around 8 different rim profiles. XR wheels are available only with a 22.5mm internal width. The XM wheels use a slightly more burly extrusion, but also start out with a 22.5mm rim, but then add 25, 30, 35 & 40mm widths. The EX line is built around two rims – 25 & 30mm in width – that again use a stronger aluminium extrusion to stand up to the abuses of gravity riding. (As an aside, each of the DT rims with a two letter designation – like XR, XM & EX – indicate that the wheels get a welded joint.)
The new Spline One line of wheels offers Boost or standard spacing across the range, and all manner of QR and thru-axle fitments. The rims use a bead blasted and hard anodised finish that lends increased strength and a long-lasting, dural finish. They use DT’s reinforced spoke hole and shaped ProHead Squorx nipples and washers with their ball-and-socket style interface with the rims to prevent twisting at the rim bed.
A special Spline One-only set of hubs built on time tested 240s internals (bearings and 36-tooth Star Ratchet freehub) gets slimmed down shells with smaller straight-pull flanges for 28 3x spokes front and rear. They are the lightest alloy hubs that DT has every made, coming in at just 98g for a disc brake thru-axle front. Like all of DT Swiss’ wheels the Spline One wheels are all tubeless ready and come prepped from the factory. All wheels also include the appropriate tubeless valves, although most OEM specs will still come with tubes installed due to the logistics of assembly and delivery.
The XR cross country wheels grow just 2.5mm over DT’s previous version but claim a noticeable increase in air volume with wheelset weights staying the same. The XR is the only wheel group in the range that uses an asymmetric rim profile that allows DT to keep the rim weight low, while building durable race-ready wheels with more even spoke tension. The XR 1501 Spline One 22.5 wheel comes in 27.5 & 29” variants; XR wheels will retail 940€ and weigh in at 1475g for 27.5 and 1535g for 29ers, and have a rider plus gear weight limitation of 100kg (220lb).
We spent just a little time on the 29er XR wheels mounted to a light carbon hardtail. While not exceptionally light or overly wide, the 22.5mm internal/26mm external asymmetric rims provided a stable base for some quick fire road climbing and twisty singletrack. They descended well, and were predictible to pilot through tight rock and root strewn trails.
The all mountain XM wheels carry over last year’s 22.5mm width, but with the widest range of the series offers everything from heavy-duty cross country capabilities up to aggressive plus sized trail riding in five rim widths. These are the wheels that DT expects to see being ridden most, as they target most mountain trail riders. With slightly beefier rims but otherwise the same build, the wheels bump their max rider+gear weight up to 110kg (240lb), mostly to accommodate trail riders with a bit heavier pack.
The narrower XM rims out of the group are available for both 27.5 and 29ers, while the 35 & 40 widths are just for 27.5” wheels. The 22.5mm internal width XM wheels keep the 940€ pricing and claim 1550/1635g for 27.5/29″, making their rims just 40-50g heavier each than the asymmetric race versions. As the wheels get wider they add 20€ per size increase and a bit of weight, topping out at 1020€ and 1880g per set for the 40mm wide 27.5+ wheels.
Like the race wheels, our time testing the trail riding XM wheels was rather short. I rode the ~1760g XM 30, this time on a 130mm full-suspension 29er on a mix of gravely climbs, tight twisty singletrack, and technical rocky descending. The wider rim did open up the same sized 2.25″ tire a little, which measured about 5mm wider than the similar tire on the more narrow wheelset. Combined with more suspension, I was able to comfortably run a bit less pressure, which gave some more trail grip that was noticeable descending.
Without more time it is hard to make much of a judgement of their performance and durability other than to say that both wheelsets disappeared under me, and allowed me to sit back and focus on trail riding.
The enduro EX wheels are the hardest hitting in the bunch, bumping recommended user weights up to 130kg (285lb) to accommodate a bit heavier and more padded riders. Available as 27.5 or 29” in 25mm wide for 960€, or 980€ for the 27.5-only 30mm rim, they are designed to withstand seasons of proper enduro riding unlike more disposable wheels found on the EWS circuit.
I had more time to ride the 27.5 EX 25 wheels, and on some much more technical trails aboard a 160mm enduro bike. They didn’t seem to stand out for the first bit of steep access road climbing and relatively smooth descending. But when the trail got rough and led us through boulders, repeated rocky steps, and fall-away jumps into loose, washed out trails the wheels started to shine. Riding on the wheel of locals showing us around, I slammed the bike over and through some rough trail. The wheels kept their lines through the rough stuff, making it easy to ride at the limit on unfamiliar trails, and at the end of the day looked as good as new, even after hearing them bounce through the rocks.
We had a chance to measure a few of the wheels to check on them a bit, and it looks like they all were coming in right at the actual internal widths on which their names are based. The rims all use a fairly small bead hook to both lock tubeless beads in place, but also to make the rims a bit more durable against impacts. DT were showing a set of wheels that their EWS pro team of Jared Graves and Richie Rude had flatted in a race and rode trough to the finish, on the way to winning a second EWS championship. While quite beaten up, the rim was clearly durable enough to survive a lot of rock impacts.
In the end the Spline One line includes 13 different wheel sets, each able to be built with either Boost or standard spaced hubs. US pricing wasn’t immediately available, but DT Swiss did tell us that the wheels would be making their way to distributors around Sea Otter, and available to buy by the start of the summer.
The new wider Spline One wheels update DT’s trail wheels along the ideas of improved traction, increased comfort, and maintaining the efficiency. While they don’t aim to create the lightest wheels, DT Swiss builds the Spline One series to be the most reliable possible at a reasonable weight.