The latest carbon wheels from DT Swiss feature their lighter and stiffer hubs.
Time and again you will hear that the right set of wheels can really make a huge improvement to a bike. And while that certainly doesn't need to be a carbon wheel set like the DT Swiss XRC 1200 Spline 25 that we have on test, any wheel set that combines high quality parts like this wheel set is going to make a difference - as long as it is suited to you and your riding.
The DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheels are an update to the Swiss company's top XC wheels, using their Ratchet System hubs. The Ratchet System hubs sit above the DT Swiss 240, with a hub design that reduces the amount of parts, and is pared back to be lighter, but also stiffer. A set of Boost hubs with a Shimano Microspline freehub weighs 96g for the front and 196g for the rear. If you're a weight weenie you will understand that this is a serious weight saving, without foregoing DT Swiss quality!
The wheels themselves use DT Swiss Aerolite straight pull spokes in the front wheel, and DT Swiss Aerocomp in the rear, 28 at each end with Prolock alloy nipples and laced in a 3x pattern. The internal rim width is 25mm, although there is a model with 30mm rim width as well, that is only about 70g heavier for the whole wheel set. Which width is right for you? We tested that out a little while ago. So 30mm is the sweet spot for trail and all-mountain riding, but for XC and general trail 25mm is actually really good, depending on the tyre width you run and pressures you need.
To explain that a little more I'll put examples to you. I mostly use Maxxis 2.25" tyres on my XC bike, and have a pair of wheels with a 25mm internal, and one with a 29mm internal. On the 25mm rims the edge knobs are out just further than the sidewall, exactly where I want them. On the 29mm rims they're just about right on the shoulder. It's ok, but it does leave the sidewall much more exposed to rock slices.
Now with pressures, sure I can run slightly lower with the wider rims. But the sweet spot between a tyre that floats really nicely and one that pings off things feeling too hard is narrow. I would say about 1.5psi. Get it too low and cornering at speed causes a clench and near stain moment. Too high and you're not getting any of the performance benefits you want. Fit a 2.35 or 2.4 tyre on and it's a completely different story. And use those 2.25" tyres on a 25mm internal rim and it's a way better match. So, it's ideal that DT Swiss essentially have the same wheel in two widths - also becuase some tyres do work better on wider rims.
On the weight side, with tape and valves this 29er Boost set with a Shimano Microspline freehub weighed in at 772g for the rear and 647g for the front. That's about 8g above claimed, and heavier than some top wheels but considering this is with tape and valves - it's seriously light.
Setting up tyres
I fitted a Maxxis Rekon in 2.25" on the front and an Aspen in the same size on the back. This is a bit of a go to tyre combination for fast XC/Marathon/light trail, with lots of grip up front without terrible rolling resistance, and a fast rolling tyre in the back.
Thanks to the deep rim well in the rim, inflation with a track pump was super easy. The beads sit together over the valve and when you start pumping they push out to the rim edge, with only a few vigorous pumps required to get them to seat.
On the trail
Ok here's the thing - I'm not a full weight weenie but having a wheel set at this weight isn't new for me. I have a set at 25mm and 29mm that are about 1380 and 1440g respectively. They have DT Swiss 350 hubs, and DT Swiss Revolution spokes. So knowing the hubs are lighter, it means there is more weight in the rims - right? Sure, but it's not much. And the ride quality so far is incredible, with a stiffer feeling than my own wheel sets using carbon rims direct from China.
How the hubs roll is also noticeable, thanks to a higher quality bearing than in the DT Swiss 350 hubs.
So far I have only used the wheels on trails I'm riding blind, actually in their home country while travelling. So it's rocks, roots, dust, gravel, square edged rocks used for water control, steps, wooden features... you whole lot. And I'm not thinking about the wheels when it gets steep. Tyres yes, wheels no.
I have a whole lot more riding to do before I can put a review together, but as is they are delivering what you would expect from a premium wheel set.