Editor’s Note: This sponsored post is courtesy of DT Swiss.
Once upon a time, navigating the road wheels realm was a fairly simple process with limited choices. But in recent years, the concept of what defines a modern road bike (and the appropriate wheels for that bike) has morphed from a single discipline to a wide variety of niches, all with specific performance requirements. Aero, race, endurance, gravel, cyclocross, and track are all part of the ever widening drop bar landscape.
Count DT Swiss among the wheel manufacturers who have recognized this trend, and more importantly, devised and implemented an appropriate response. The famed Swiss cycling company launched what it calls its ROAD R:EVOLUTION, a clever play on words combining the swift fundamental changes of a revolution and the gradual and progressive movement of evolution. The end result is a well-conceived wheel line-up that includes five distinct families (aero, performance, endurance, crossroad, and track). Within each of these categories is an array of options, meaning no matter your budget, riding style, or bike set-up, DT Swiss has a wheel for you and your needs.
“It might sound cliché, but we really do aim to make something for everyone,” explained Chip Barbieri, CEO and general manager of DT Swiss USA in Grand Junction, Colorado. “And because we have highly vertical control of the entire manufacturing process, we can deliver quality at all the various price levels. We probably don’t market that enough. But the product really does speak for itself.”
During a recent visit to the Grand Junction facility, RoadBikeReview received a full detailing on all the various families, and had a chance to sample some of these wheels, and the sublime road riding that surrounds this mid-sized city on Colorado’s scenic Western Slope. (If you have never ridden through Colorado National Monument you are really missing out.)
Here’s a top line rundown of what you need to know about each DT Swiss wheel family, starting with beta on ride characteristics and naming conventions.
DT Swiss Aero Wheels
Whether your aim is to get max speed out of your road bike, or set a new PR on the triathlon or time trial course, the DT Swiss Aero wheels line can help you cheat the wind and shave precious seconds. Bolstered by its collaborative relationship with the aerodynamics experts at Swiss Side, these wheels are among the most efficient and complete system on the market, lacking compromise in weight, stiffness, or braking performance.
These achievements were the results of extensive use of computational fluid dynamics simulation, as well as wind tunnel tests to confirm their empirical findings. That led to a top tier line-up of tubeless-ready carbon wheels with three different rim depths (48mm, 62mm, and 80mm), and 17mm internal rim widths, which are ideal for 23 and 25mm tires. (There’s also a full disc option for the true speed seekers.) All the DT Swiss Aero wheels come in rim and disc brake versions, and each has a premium aero Dicut hub, aero bladed spokes, and SINC ceramic bearings for maximum efficiency.
“These wheels aren’t just fast going directly into the wind,” explained Barbieri. “We were able to design them to perform at a high level in all wind scenarios, and make them incredibly stable, which means you’ll expend less energy over the course of your ride — and be faster on your bike.”
DT Swiss Performance Wheels
Alongside the DT Swiss Aero wheels resides their Performance line, which aims to be fast and light. The development of these wheels can be traced to both the company’s vast experience in manufacturing every part of the wheel, and its 5-year sponsorship of Swiss Tour de France-level team IAM Cycling, whose riders provided invaluable feedback on various carbon lay-ups, as well as the need for exceptional braking performance, especially on long descents. Focus was also given to dialing in ideal spoke combinations for stiffness, and producing hubs capable of handling thousands of miles of use while maintaining low friction and high efficiency.
DT Swiss was able to do all this, and maintain low weight while increasing inner rim width by 20% to a more contemporary 18mm wide, making these wheels ideal for 25mm tires. They also engineered in a critical 20% increase in heat resistance through carbon lay-up optimization, thus improving braking performance of their composite rim brake wheels. Of course disc brake models are also available.
All told there are 16 models within the Performance family, ranging from top-tier carbon wheels with DT Swiss 240 Ratchet System hubs, to high end aluminum options with the same coveted 240 hubs, to more budget friendly alloy wheels with 370 pawl hubs. You can also choose from rims as deep as 65mm or as shallow as 21mm, once again meaning there is always going to be a right tool for the job.
DT Swiss Endurance Wheels
Arguably the wheel category that will suit the widest cross section of riders, the DT Swiss Endurance family aims to unite efficient aerodynamics with comfort, reliability, and stable handling. DT Swiss calls this its Aero+ approach, which means reducing drag, improving handling, and optimizing efficiency are all held in an equal balance of importance. Take for example the ERC 1100 DICUT wheel, which has exceptionally low drag numbers at all relevant yaw angles (meaning its incredibly fast). But this wheel is also among the company’s best handling no matter the wind angle.
In another reflection of the changing times, all DT Swiss Endurance wheels are disc brake only and have inner rim widths of 19mm-20mm, making them perfectly suited for 25mm and increasingly popular 28mm tires, whose larger contact patch means more comfort and lower rolling resistance. All told there are six wheels in the Endurance line, including two 47mm deep carbon options, and aluminum offerings in 21mm, 23mm, and 32mm rim depths.
Bottom line, whether you’re gunning for the win in a local road race, or simply headed out for an all-day, high mountain epic, the DT Swiss Endurance wheels can get the job done.
DT Swiss Crossroad Wheels
As the name implies, the Crossroad family is geared primarily at the cyclocross crowd, meaning they are disc brake only, include a tubular option, and have an inner rim width of 22.5mm, making them perfectly suited for tires up to 47mm wide. In turn, those wider turns net the ability to run lower air pressure, meaning better traction and a better overall rider — or race.
This is also where DT Swiss steers the ever-increasing gravel cycling crowd, whose devotees place similar value on wider rims, disc brake-compatibility, durability, and tubeless readiness. All told there are four wheels in this line, with both carbon and aluminum versions.
Among the key features are thicker rim hooks that do a better job of preventing ride-wrecking pinch flats — and make initial tubeless set-up easy and reliable. These wheels are also incredibly simple to service and maintain, thanks to the hub’s no tool architecture and external spoke nipples.
So whether you are cutting through mud on the local ’cross circuit or exploring the road less traveled (and unpaved), the DT Swiss Crossroad wheels will keep you spinning in the right direction.
DT Swiss Track Wheels
Whether heading to the local velodrome or darting through big city traffic on the fixie, DT Swiss believes you deserve a top notch wheel. That’s why they continue to funnel technology into this relatively small category.
Here simplicity is key, these wheels featuring minimalistic graphics and classic wheel builds. The 65mm deep TRC 1400 Dicut, for example, is optimized for aero efficiency and comes in clincher and tubular options. Meanwhile, the 32mm deep T 1800 is clincher only, making it a great option for the privateer track racer or bike messenger on a mission.
Inner rim width is 18mm, making these wheels suitable for 23mm tires, enhancing their aerodynamic efficiency and reducing rolling resistance when run at the higher pressures necessary for track racing. And if your proverbial track is littered with potholes and angry Uber drivers, 25mm tires at lower pressure will help smooth that crosstown ride.
Total Quality Control
Finally it’s important to know that whether you’re shopping for new aero road wheels or looking to put this final touches on a dream gravel bike build, every DT wheel built in the North American facility goes through a strict QC process.
That means DT Swiss can track all these wheels thanks to a unique digital record keeping system that knows among other things the actual spoke tension of each wheel when it left the facility.
“This allows us to track where the wheel was built and what tensions it had when it left the facility,” explained Taylor Bushong, who’s part of the DT Swiss marketing team here in Colorado. “It’s a really important part of our quality control process and one that is unique to DT Swiss.”
No wonder then that this company long famous for its industry leading hubs also makes some of the best wheels in the world.
To learn more about the DT Swiss ROAD R:EVOLUTION head to www.blog.dtswiss.com.