Ask any mountain biker who makes the best wheels and you’ll probably get the answer ‘DT Swiss’. At the pinnacle of wheel building for years, this high-tech brand are now bringing their expertise to E-MTBs. Over the past few months we’ve enjoyed the exclusive opportunity to test the all-new DT Swiss HX 1501 SPLINE ONE wheelset.
‘What motor does the bike have?’ ‘Is that the new SRAM EX1 drivetrain system?’ ‘The new FOX 36 are sick, you should definitely get them…’ Put a group of E-MTBers in the same room or on the same trail and this is the sort of chat you’ll hear. But wheels – arguably a key component – are often overlooked in the midst of all the seemingly more high-tech details. Yet these deceptively simple hoops have more of an impact on the ride and resilience of a bike than just a top-of-the-range drivetrain or expensive carbon bars. So why not give them due attention?
It’s time to bring wheels out from under the radar and take a closer look at the world’s very first performance-focused E-MTB-specific wheels from DT Swiss, which form part of their HYBRID line. We presented the collection in all their details a while ago so get up to speed on the DT Swiss HYBRID range here before reading on to see how the wheels fared over the past few months.
Fitting the DT Swiss HX 1501 SPLINE ONE
The top-of-the-line aluminium HYBRID wheels respond to the name DT Swiss HX 1501 SPLINE ONE, coming with either 25 mm , 30 mm, or 35 mm interior rim widths. We’ve had the widest model on test, which are intended for tires ranging from 2.35″ to 3.0″, thereby with the broadest appeal to E-MTBers. Our test wheelset tipped the scales at a total of 2,111 g, which falls just slightly short of the manufacturer’s stats. These top-end hoops retail at € 1,118 but there are more affordable versions available from DT Swiss.
We fitted the wheels onto the FOCUS JAM² FACTORY with MAXXIS Rekon 2.8″ tires. Going tubeless was easy, and fitting the wheels was the usual fare. All of the HYBRID wheels are delivered with Shimano and XD freehub bodies, which can be exchanged straightforwardly without the need for any tools. DT Swiss’s decision to opt for 6-bolt brake mounts was met with all-round nods of approval – after all, Shimano’s CENTER LOCK system has always been a little temperamental.
While fitting these wheels, it’s hard to overlook their high-end production. Impeccably manufactured (look elsewhere for cheap stickers), these high performance wheels even feature complex, hand-positioned Waterslide decals. The spokes have been hand-laced, which DT Swiss claim is a further bid to increase their resilience and durability, arguing that expert hand-lacing is just as crucial as the state-of-the-art individual parts.
The DT Swiss HX 1501 SPLINE ONE on test
But enough theory; let’s hit the trails and dirty these precious hoops. Our test bike had originally been kitted out with classic XM 1501 wheels with a 40 mm interior rim width as stock. Once we’d fitted these new wheels we didn’t notice the marginally narrower rims, which is why DT Swiss didn’t go for 40 mm or even wider rims on their new HYBRID line. The 2.8″ MAXXIS tires channeled a superb nimbleness on the lightweight FOCUS, delivering tons of traction and grip while cornering.
The HX 1501 has a 24T ratchet system, which puts it somewhere in the middle of the well-known models with 18T or 36T. On the trails, the larger engage angle when compared to a 36T freehub is not significantly noticeable as the fact that the motor kicks in later is much more notable. The new ratchets are reputed to be more durable over the long-term. Servicing these wheels is fairly simple, and it’s pleasing to note there’s no special tools or skills required.
Over the past three months of heavy testing, the DT Swiss HX 1501 SPLINE ONE have given no reason for complaint, discretely going about their business like pros. Having ridden a wild variety of trails this spring, both wheels have stayed true, spoke tension has remained unaltered, and the rims are still dent-free. Of course, three months isn’t a true test of longevity, but we have seen other wheels stumble and falter in much shorter test periods. E-MTBs put their wheels through a serious amount of work, and damaged wheels won’t just bring your ride to a premature end, it could also end badly for the rider. Knowing that your wheels are capable of enduring serious riding is key, and that’s why DT Swiss’s all-new HYBRID line has come along at exactly the right moment to satisfy the gap in the market.
Overwhelmingly positive so far, the DT Swiss HX 1501 SPLINE ONE have come out unscathed from a short period of three months. The question of how many years they will last is still unanswered but there are huge positives to draw from these early days. For many the price may be a decisive factor, but given the promising start, it seems like these resilient wheels may be a worthwhile investment for long-term fun.
PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away prizes worth more than €20,000 among all participants of our reader's survey! Win E-MTBs from Focus, Moustache and Thömus and more! Click here to take part now!
Words: Moritz Dittmar Photos: Valentin Rühl