Tested: DTSwiss XM1501 Spline One 25 MTB wheelset
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 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.
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 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