Launched three years ago, the inaugural SPLINE ONE generation stands as the benchmark for aluminium wheels. From XC to enduro, DT SWISS’s original three models have now become eight. We’ve been out testing the new SPLINE ONE wheels for 2017 and here’s the lowdown on the revised collection.
“State of the Art” is emblazoned on the first slide of the presentation during the launch of the new SPLINE ONE wheels. A bold statement, we’re sure you’ll agree, but if you’re familiar with this Swiss brand’s history then you know that they’re never happy resting on their laurels. Arguably the world’s most influential wheel builders, DT SWISS have a reputation for high quality and durability. But while aluminium rims never quite met the high expectations of quality in the past, their approach to this material has seen it make the leap to exceed expectations in recent years. The SPLINE ONE series is the pinnacle of aluminium wheels and represents the core values of DT SWISS like no other product.
The SPLINE ONE series has had a complete overhaul for the 2017 season, but just like the previous generations, it’s the entire package that DT Swiss focuses on. With a healthy balance of stability, weight, and price, these are targeted at ambitious riders who recognize the value of high quality and a long lifespan over shedding a few precious grams. When it comes to DT SWISS, a decent wheel purchase is the promise of many consecutive years of satisfaction.
Before we go through the nitty-gritty of the individual models, let’s look at the similarities: all of the SPLINE ONE wheels feature the same hub – the latest incarnation of the legendary 240s with the 36T ratchet system. The straight pull hub exclusively comes with centre lock brake mounts, with the exception of the EX 1501 front wheel with a 20 mm axle that features the classic 6-bolt mount. All of the front wheels are available in either 15/100 mm or 15/110 mm Boost standard. The rear wheels come in 12/142 mm or 12/148 mm Boost. Similarly, all of the SPLINE ONE wheel builds are based on 28 DT competition spokes (3 cross laced) and the DT Pro Lock Squorx nipples.
The rims are where the differences can be found – and instead of three models, there are now eight models in the range. All the rims are welded and meet DT SWISS’s high quality standards. Stylish waterslide decals have been applied by hand to the rims, giving a sophisticated look. All the rims are tubeless ready and sold with tubeless tape and valves.
SPLINE ONE Lineup 2017 Overview
DT Swiss XR 1501 SPLINE ONE
The XR 1501 wheels are the lightest models in the new SPLINE ONE series, featuring the XR acronym for ‘Cross Race.’ The internal width has been increased from 20 mm to 22.5 mm, which shows that wider rims are making themselves known in endurance disciplines too. The XR rims are the only model to feature an asymmetrical profile, which shaves off around 100 g compared to the XM model with the same rim inner measurement. The XR 1501 tip the scales at just 1535 g in 29″ version (1475 g for 27.5″), and they’re ideal for XC and marathon racers looking for a high-end aluminium wheelset. Not only does the wheel come with the most commonly used axle standard, there’s also a ‘Predictive Steering’ version compatible with RockShox RS-1 forks.
XR 1501 SPLINE ONE 22.5
Price: € 939 | Weight: 1,475 g (27.5″), 1,535 g (29″)
DT Swiss XM 1501 SPLINE ONE
The biggest changes can be seen in the XM 1501 family, with the new ‘Cross Mountain’ line comprised of 5 models, ranging from the lightweight 1550 g model with 22.5 mm rim widths, right through to the 40 mm model for plus-size tyres. Given the blatant overlap with the XR and EX lines in terms of rim widths, the boundaries between disciplines and purposes are now blurred and rim interiors can now no longer be seen as a defining point. We questioned Andreas Tschanz, the developer of these wheels, on this shift in mindset:
“In my opinion those days of defining how and where you ride based on the rim’s inner measurement are over. If a friend asked me for tips on what wheels to ride out of XMEX then I’d ask them to rate their riding level. If they said it was more mellow, not too difficult, gentle on the kit and that weight was important, then I’d say they’d be wise to go for the XM. But if they’ve already had multiple issues with dented rims, maybe they ride a bit more rustically, head to a bike park every so often or carry a bit of extra weight, then I’d recommend EX, as there’s more material used in the rims to increase their impact resistance. With the same rim width, the extra roughly 100 g for EX wheelsets over XM ones is not really an issue for most riders and you’ll get much more in reserve and way more durability.”
|Weight 27.5″||1,550 g||1,570 g||1,670 g||1,780 g||1,880 g|
|Weight 29″||1,635 g||1,645 g||1,760 g||–||–|
|Price||€ 939||€ 959||€ 979||€ 999||€ 1,019|
DT Swiss EX 1501 SPLINE ONE
Two EX 1501 wheelsets with 25 mm and 30 mm inner width complete the portfolio and promise ultimate durability for hardcore enduro use. The 25 mm version comes in both a 27.5″ and 29″ version, the 30 mm only comes for the smaller wheel size. For the 2017 line-up, the EX 1501 SPLINE ONE 25 is the only model to feature a 20 mm front wheel axle and 6-bolt disc brake mounts. The narrower 25 mm rimmed wheel retains the tried and tested from the former EX 1501 wheelset, and the 30 mm version is brand new.
EX 1501 SPLINE ONE 25
Price: € 959 | Weight: 1,690 g (27.5″), 1,760 g (29″)
EX 1501 SPLINE ONE 30
Price: € 979 | Weight: 1,770 g (27.5″)
The SPLINE ONE wheels on the trail
We had the opportunity to test out the new wheels with DT SWISS on the trails around their French HQ near Grasse on the Côte d’Azur. The southern side of the Maritime Alps dished up the ideal conditions to assess the new products on a range of trails.
Taking to 29er hardtails, first up were the XR 1501 SPLINE ONE wheels on a bumpy XC circuit. Perhaps generous for XC, the 22.5 mm rim inner measurement allows a higher tyre volume than the common 19 mm rims and this is satisfying evident on technical rocky sections and when taking corners. Even more important, you can also ride with lower tyre pressure. Weighing in just over 1,500 g, the XR 1501 aren’t that dissimilar in weight to more expensive carbon wheels, which are frequently two-to-three times the price. For ambitious amateur racers, these are worth considering.
Without a doubt, the XM 1501 SPLINE ONE offer the widest operating range of the new lineup. We tested the 25 mm version as well as the 30 mm model with plus-size tyres. Much like the leap to the XR 1501, the extra width definitely makes itself known. While the former XM 1501 wheels had 22.5 mm rim interiors (i.e. on the small side of the spectrum), these models have managed to unite the advantages of wider rims while still keeping a relatively low weight. The XM 1501 are properly keeping up with the trend and designed expertly to meet the demands of modern trail bikes.
Our final test day highlight was shredding along a 12 km enduro stage using the EX 1501 SPLINE ONE alongside the Cube Action Team pro riders. Going for the 30 mm rims on the front wheel with the proven 25 mm version at the rear, EWS racer Nico Lau was stoked: “With the 30 mm rims and Schwalbe’s PROCORE system, I can ride with 1.1 bar at the front and still get more grip – sick!” Naturally, one day of riding is no proof of durability, but Cube pro rider Gusti Wildhaber got longer to try them out: “With those rims on my bike I’ve already finished three stages with flat tires.”
And the DT Swiss developer Andreas Tschanz has been totally won over by the 30 mm rim inside measurement: “Once you know where and how you’re going to be riding, then it’s time to look at rim interior widths. And I’d recommend anyone riding regular tyres (2.3″-2.5″) to look at 30 mm. So there’s an extra roughly 100 g per wheelset compared to 25 mm, but the sweet spot and performance gains massively make up for this added weight. Right after we’d introduced 30 mm rims, I updated all of my bikes to take this size. I’d recommend that everyone tries it if they get the chance.”
Whenever a new iPhone is presented, critics complain that the new model doesn’t offer any revolutionary changes. And to be honest, we got a pretty similar impression when the 2017 models of the SPLINE ONE line were first presented. But then we took a closer look, and our experience on the trails confirmed that DT Swiss have managed to make an already well-engineered product even better and expanded the portfolio with sensible and worthy new models. Instead of forcing change for change’s sake, the new SPLINE ONE wheels are the next level in a great overall package that combines stiffness, a low weight, long durability and an appropriate price, rendering them a sure-fire hit with virtually any rider.
Words: Moritz Dittmar Photos: Moritz Dittmar/Tom Malecha