DT Swiss has long been at the forefront of quality hubs and spokes, more recently their rims have become a staple among weekend warriors, privateers, professional racers and world champions. The EX 1700 Spline is based around two of the best wheel products going around, the DT Swiss 350 hub and the EX511 rim. Lace those together with another favourite, the double butted Competition spoke and you have yourself the EX 1700 Spline.

READ: What's the best rim width for mountain biking?

A closer look

The updated EX 1700 Spline is aimed directly at the Enduro market, big hitters and lovers of reliable simplicity comprising of three industry staples. The DT Swiss 350 hub has the 36 point Star Ratchet SL system and tool free serviceability. The welded EX511 rim uses Prolock nipples and PHR stainless steel washers. The low profile rim is laced together using Double butted Competition spokes.

The wheel sets is offered in both 27.5 inch and 29 inch, Boost hub spacing and a choice of Centrelock (CL) and 6 bolt (IS) with SRAM XD, Shimano HG and Shimano MicroSpline freehubs. These can be easily changed out without the need for tools via the neat new tool free endcaps which are even easier than their predecessors to remove and reinstall.

WORKSHOP: How to service a DT Swiss Star Ratchet hub

The EX511 is a high quality aluminum, tubeless specific rim with a 30mm internal width and low profile weighing in at 570g for the 29 inch rim making it the choice for many EWS riders. Thanks to this it has scored plenty of stage and overall wins. Rather than a conventional eyelet or drilled rim, the EX511 is drilled and then utilizes a stainless steel washer underneath the head of the nipple which DT call PHR or Pro Head Reinforcement. This acts as a ball joint for the Squorx Pro Head ball headed nipples. This reduces the size of the hole through the rim and ensures the spoke and nipple is aligned reducing the risk of spoke failure or a cracked rim.

Looking a little closer at the DT Swiss 350 hub, what many will appreciate is the updated engagement of the Ratchet SL. Points of engagement is a hotly discussed topic in the world of mountain biking. How much is enough? Is more better on the never ending quest for the buzz?

There is no denying more engagement can be a plus on climbs, especially when “ratcheting” and pedaling up over an obstacle. The backlash is the amount of idle movement the crank makes until the hub engages and drive arrives at the wheel, the less the backlash the more instantaneous the drive and often success of making the obstacle.


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The next thing that is often overlooked or not discussed is pedal kickback on dual suspension bikes and how the more engagement points you have the more pedal kickback you will encounter as the suspension compresses. A dual suspension bike with high pedal kickback and a hub with high engagement when hitting a bump will create tension on the chain and pull the cranks; the bigger the bump and more the wheel compresses the more the cranks are yanked. Increase the engagement, vary the pedal kickback value by brand or suspension design, add flat pedals into the mix and you can easily see that a rider can easily be bounced off the pedals. There are some fantastic products on the market like the Australian WRP CentreHub or the O-Chain which reduce the amount of pedal kickback and free up the wheel's ability to move but more simply a rider could use a hub with less engagement. In most cases this also reduces drag and transforms your suspension's ability to flatten out terrain.

In a world that always wants more, DT Swiss is taking the educational route and showing that more is not always more, reliability and serviceability is often key. You can still upgrade to the 54t kit if needed!

Setup

Our Pirelli Scoprion Enduro tyres mounted up easily on the pre-taped EX511s and minimal effort was required seating them with a track pump and holding pressure from the get go. Spoke tension was spot on, the wheels were perfectly true and had a certain quality feel about them.

I opted for the Pirelli Scorpion Enduro casing tyres with no inserts in order to get the feel of the wheels rather than a deadened ride. The Enduro casing tyres offer a sure footed feel at a slightly lower 26-27psi than a trail tyre and I looked forward to seeing how the EX 1700s would perform on the trail.

On the Trail

The DT Swiss EX 1700s are very quiet and the rolling resistance is very low when you hit the dirt. The 36 point engagement of the Ratchet SL freehub is almost silent when compared to the 690 points I normally run. Coasting along undulating terrain the silence is welcomed and the lower engagement is noticeable but a non issue. Pointing the bike up some more technical and tight terrain and the 10 degree angle between engagement points is noticeable, timing is a little off but there is no real loss in forward momentum that I noted. The most noticeable attributes are the silence and smooth rolling characteristics.

There is no pinging or groaning sounds from the wheels during out of the saddle efforts, which is a great sign that the wheels have been built with patience and care. They do not feel as stiff as a carbon 29 inch wheel on the same hub but are very responsive and nearly one third of the price.

The wide bracing angle of the spokes and low profile of the rim give a familiar lateral stiffness and slight vertical compliance that some newer school carbon wheels offer, albeit with slightly less precision and snappiness but impressively so from a wheel that you could own two sets of with tyres, rotors and a pair of cassettes for, when comparing the pricing.

Wanting to put the EX 1700s through the worst of our local trails, I self-shuttled the steepest and rockiest trails we have, over and over and have had no issues what so ever on trails where I have broken many a test wheel, tyre and frame on. The DT Swiss EX 1700 Spline wheels really should be seen as an industry standard for quality and reliability.

Our Take

It is hard to look past the EX 1700 Spline wheel set, it out performs and will certainly outlast many other alloy and carbon offerings available, with all the precision attributes of a high end wheel with the quality to match.

I think this wheel set will become a crowd favorite with racers and bike brands alike. The 350 gang might be onto something, you really cant fault a DT 350, especially when it is matched to such a good rim and spoke combination.

RRP: $1249

From: apollobikes.com

Hits:

- Easy setup

- Strong and extremely reliable

- Fast rolling with tool free serviceability

- Stiff yet compliant for a solid alloy wheel

- It’s a 350 hub on an EX511

Misses:

- 30mm internal only – may not suit some riders and tyres

- Straight pull spokes can be more difficult to true

- Low engagement may not be enough for riders who like the technical climbs

Photos and video: Nick Waygood