DT Swiss gave its 1501 Spline line a full overhaul and upgrade recently. Formerly DT’s top range of aluminum wheelsets, the 1501 range is now built around a carbon fibre rim, much like the top-end 1200 series. We tested the speediest, and lightest of the new hoops, the XRC 1501.
So, does DT Swiss’ redesign of the 1501 work out on the trail to deliver a race-worthy cross country wheel? Is the move to carbon fibre worth it? Let’s find out.
1501 Spline: what’s new?
The change in the 1501 line is more than just a new rim material. It’s a complete re-design of the wheel system. From hub to rim, DT Swiss touches up each element involved with a mind to how the wheels will feel working together.
Carbon fibre rims
DT Swiss upgrading the 1501 line to full carbon fibre rims is the most obvious change, and has a big impact on the wheelset’s weight (and price). In contrast to some of the more angular or offset rim shapes out there now, DT’s new carbon hoops stick to a clean, symmetrical design. While simple in appearance there are changes below the surface tailoring the different 1501 rims to their intended use, from XC to enduro racing.
DT Swiss says the move to carbon drops 180 grams from the new 1501 wheelset, though without specifying if that is for the XRC, XMC or ECX model. Whatever the specific difference in weight between generations, the current 29″ XRC wheels we tested tipped the scales at a solid 1,544 grams, with tubeless tape and valves. DT Swiss does not offer the XRC 1501 in the 27.5″ diameter.
Wide rims are in
The XRC rims are now wider, at 30-mm internal width, even while dropping weight from the wheel as a whole. The carbon fibre rims use a hookless sidewall design. Using wider rims allows riders to safely run lower tire pressures (and higher volume tires, like Maxxis’ new 2.4″ WT cross country race tires, pioneered by Nino Schurter) and therefore lower rolling resistance on the rough surfaces that XC races take place on. Less rolling resistance means wider is faster. Wider also means better cornering and more traction, as you have a larger contact patch and more support.
240 EXP hubs
The XRC 1501 are built around DT Swiss’ revamped 240 Ratchet EXP hub, also released last year. The new hub drops grams, adds stiffness, and uses a simplified Ratchet system. The latter makes the 240 more durable, and easier to service. You’re also less likely to lose any of the hub internals while cleaning, or switching cassettes.
Stock, the XRC 1501’s come with a 36-tooth freehub, though there’s always the option to upgrade to the 54-tooth version of the EXP freehub later on.
The 240 EXP hubs are laced to the 1501 rims by DT’s own Competition Race double butted straight-pull spokes. The ultra lightweight spokes work, DT Swiss says, with the added stiffness of a more rigid rim material to help tune the wheel’s ride feel.
Fair-Share Policy crash replacement
To reassure riders about the move to carbon fibre, DT Swiss is backing the XRC 1501’s with a 10-year Fair-Share extended warranty. In addition to a materials and manufacturers defect policy, which DT Swiss assumes responsibility, the new hoops come with a crash replacement program. Now, any wheels damaged during regular riding will be replaced for USD $250, for up to 10 years.
The Fair-Share Policy applies for the original verifiable owner with an original sales receipt where the product description is identifiable.
Review: DT Swiss XRC 1501 Spline One on the trail
First, getting tires mounted on the rims is dead easy. Tires inflated with a floor pump and a few scoops of Orange Seal tubeless sealant. That done, I headed out to the local cross country trails to see how the new XRC wheels’ upgrades pay off on dirt.
For me, the wider rim profile is much appreciated. On the West Coast I’ve always tended to run slightly wider tires, but I think the benefits apply anywhere. With Maxxis and Schurter backing wider tires, I’m confident that it’s not just me that sees the benefits. Anyone clinging to the era of 2.0-2.1″ tires might not love the 30-mm internal width, but for 2.3″ or 2.4″ cross country tires, the added girth works great. It works with modern tire profiles to give consistent traction as you roll from center knobs to the side lugs, and a well-supported tire profile.
The added volume – and lower tire pressures – can also help tune the XRC 1501’s to your personal preference. Which could be necessary as DT Swiss sticks to a more traditional feel. The 1501’s are quite stiff, which has its advantages and disadvantages. It does feel like every single watt you put into the pedals is converted to forward momentum. The lateral strength also allows for precise line choice, with no vagueness or twisting from the 1501’s, and the tires carve clean lines to rail fast corners.
The other side is that you also feel every bump and root coming up from the trail. Depending what bike you’re riding, that could mean you feel every bump up through the bars too.
Depending on your preferences, the efficiency and light weight of the XRC’s will outweigh any discomfort from riding the stiff rims. They are race wheels, after all. Forward momentum and efficient climbing tends to be the primary concern. The 1501’s will compliment a less rigid full suspension bike, or make a hardtail an absolute rocket off the line and in sprints.
Cross country wheels with sights set on speed
DT Swiss’ new 1501 line also comes in XMC (trail) and EXC (enduro) models. All three are the same price but, but with slightly higher weights to add strength for the different uses. The XRC’s are designed to serve the cross country set, whether that’s racing or just riding your local trail faster. With stiff carbon fibre rims, the 1501’s are definitely focused squarely on speed, though. They’re not the most comfortable wheel out there, but the pay off comes in efficiency and precision steering.
At $2,600, the XRC 1501’s aren’t a small investment. They do come with a 10-year crash replacement program, though, so you can count it as a long term investment if you plan on holding onto them for a while. The 1501’s area also substantially easier on the wallet – about $1,000 less – compared to DT Swiss’ line-topping XRC 1200, and only around 100 grams heavier, depending which options you choose on the 1200. Compared to that, the 1501’s let you get darn close to World Cup level performance and leave you some cash left over for to pay for your race entries.
DT Swiss XRC 1501 Spline One
Weight: 1,544 grams per wheelset
Rim Material: carbon fibre
Hub: DT Swiss 240 Ratchet EXP
Spokes: DT Competition Race straight pull
Standards: Boost axle spacing (110x15mm front, 12x148mm rear), centerlock hubs (w/6-bolt adapter)
Wheel diameter: 29″ only
Max system weight: 110 kg
Freehub system: SRAM XD or Shimano Microspline