Tested: DTSwiss XM1501 Spline One 25 MTB wheelset

By Justin Walker 17 January 2020
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This alloy wheelset offers plenty of performance in a lightweight package.

Upgrading your mountain bike’s wheelset is one of the most effective ways to improve performance and drop some weight off your bike. Carbon-fibre wheels are often viewed as the best option owing to that material’s weight to strength ratio, but they are expensive – and still carry a certain stigma in terms of impact resistance. So, does that mean you have to sacrifice performance and/or weight-saving if you wish to stick with alloy wheels? Well, no, and the DTSwiss XM1501 Spline One wheel is proof.

The DTSwiss Spline One wheels are available in different widths – 25mm, 30mm, 35mm and 40mm – with a retail price of $1499. You might be wondering why I opted for the Spline One in a 25mm internal width when 30mm seems the go-to for wheel width these days, but my reasoning was simple: I was keen to drop as much weight from the Rocky Mountain Instinct A70 (‘A’ for alloy) 29er without sacrificing durability or tractive performance on the types of trails I generally ride, which are a mix of singletrack interspersed with technical rock/tree root sections. I am no XC whippet but do look for any performance aid I can when it comes to lugging myself and the 13.7kg Instinct around the trails.

The XM1501 wheel comes set up to run tubeless, with rim tape already installed.

The stock wheelset on the Instinct weighs in at just under 2000g; the DTSwiss Spline One 25mm wheelset a far more appealing 1658g. With the XM1501 wheelset fitted, shod with Maxxis rubber (Minion DHR II 29×2.35 up front; Forekaster 29×2.35 out back), and running them tubeless, the Instinct has dropped to 12.9kg. Not bad.

Equally impressive is the fact these hoops run well-proved DTSwiss 240s hubs with a 36-spline ratchet, and DT Competition straight-pull spokes (28 of them) with external DT ProLock Squorx ProHead nipples. The overall package is a no-nonsense build that is light in weight and very well finished.

The wheels are very well finished and are well suited to tyre widths from 2.1-inch to burlier 2.35-inch, as used during the test period.

You’d think this light weight would make the wheels feel a little noodly on the trail, but this is not the case. With a rider weight of 105kg (rider/system weight limit is 120kg), the DTSwiss XM1501 wheels feel solid and well connected to the trail. It may be the placebo effect of less wheel-weight, but I have also found them far more direct and quicker to steer than the OE hoops – plus the bike is faster.

The hub offers a fast 10-degree engagement thanks to the clutch’s 36 points, ideal for when negotiating slow and technical parts of a trail.

The DT240s hub’s Star Ratchet clutch, with 36 points and a 10-degree engagement, offers a quick reaction to any pedal input. Plus, with only the internal Star Wheels (two) and the two springs, the ratchet system is a doddle to work on when servicing. That simplicity of design has been the big takeaway impression of these wheels: they’ve just got on with the job. Even the spokes have stayed true; always a wonder when I mess up my lines on the trail and tackle some unplanned drop-offs.

There’s no doubt $1499 for an alloy wheelset is up there – close to or exceeding some lower-priced carbon-fibre offerings – but alloy’s inherent burliness, those sweet hubs and the overall tightness of the build makes a compelling argument for the DTSwiss XM1501 Spline One. Nup, alloy ain’t anywhere near finished yet.
RRP $1499 www.apollobikes.com or www.dtswiss.com