Ed explains why it’s worth coughing up the cash for a high tension DT Swiss XM 1550 Tricon wheelset…
From Dirt Issue 115 – September 2011Words & Photos: Ed Haythornthwaite
Any wheelset that costs two pennies shy of nine hundred quid had better be something special, but that’s exactly what I reckon these DT wheels are. As I’ve said in the past, as a wheel builder myself I pretty much always go for a ‘standard’ set of wheels, but I really think you’d struggle to ever lace up some separate rims, hubs and spokes into something that could rival these. The reason being that these have been designed from the ground up as a system, and as such DT have been able to do some clever things that I believe offer a genuine advantage.
The key to these wheels really lies in the amount of tension in the spokes. It’s well known that the vast majority of a wheels strength comes down to the way it is built up, and the more tension you can get into it the better. Normally there’s a limit into how much you can wind up the spokes before you start running into problems, but with these wheels DT have addressed those issues in a number of ways and the result is that these are as tight as I have ever come across.
Starting at the middle and working outwards, we first have the hubs which are built to the usual high DT standards and the rear one contains their well proven ‘star ratchet’ freehub system. The difference between these hubs and their previous offerings though is that they’re designed for straight–pull spokes (which can take more tension than a regular spoke due to the lack of a bend), and the main bodies are made up of three parts. Each of the spoke flanges is a separate piece that’s then bonded to a central shell. The reason for this is that DT discovered that if you really wind up the tension on a one piece hub the spokes actually exert so much force on the hub that the bearing seat can deform, which in turn leads to premature bearing failure. Doing it this way means that the forces are isolated.
Next up is those straight pull spokes. Nothing too revolutionary in them themselves (apart from being the finest that DT make), but they are laced in a pretty unique ‘open crowfoot’ pattern that combines both radial and crossed spokes, giving the best of both worlds. In case you’re wondering what they are, radial are the best at dealing with side loads, and crossed are best at dealing with acceleration and braking.
Finally we’re left with the rim which features a concave profile in order to once again cope with the high spoke tension. DT have also cleverly solved two problems in one with their unique eyelet design. The ‘boat’ spoke mounts slip into the rim and on the one hand they mean that the inner surface of the rim doesn’t need any holes (and can therefore be run tubeless), and on the other they can withstand a higher spoke tension than a conventional eyelet. It’s also worth noting that the rims seem to be made from a considerably harder grade of aluminium than previous DT rims.
So, what does it all add up to? The stiffest pair of wheels that I have ever run, and also some of the strongest, especially when you take the 1550g weight into account. They are blindingly fast and despite running them on my hardtail most of the time they have not moved one bit. That’s saying something too because rear wheels tend not to last long on my hardtail, and I’ve been running the tubeless tyres pretty low. I’m actually in two minds though about whether to keep them on hardtail, simply because they are so stiff, there’s no give in them whatsoever. If it was a stiff aluminium hardtail I reckon they’d be unbearable on a long ride. They’d probably make a great set of 4X wheels though, and of course they rule on any full susser.
Would I buy them? If I had the money yes, simply because as I have hopefully made clear I think these do offer something special, and they still cost a lot less than any carbon offerings, which I am not sure offer anything more than these. Now I just can’t wait to try out a set of the new ‘freeride’ Tricon’s on my DH bike…Front: £399.99 (15mm or 10mm Bolt-Thru) Rear: £499.99 (135x10mm or 12x142mm Bolt-Thru)