DT Swiss Spline One Wheelset Review

by Brian Mullin on November 27, 2013

I first saw the DT Swiss Spline One (or Spline 1) at Sea Otter this year, and I was amazed at the highly innovative technology that was encased within this seemingly simple wheelset. The company has always displayed their amazing Swiss craftsmanship throughout its wheel and suspension product suite, and the new Spline series is a brilliant combination of engineering and features at a reasonable  price.

The Spline One
wheel follows in the design footsteps of their upscale Tricon brethren,
and offers high performance and technology in a value-added package.
The tubeless ready aluminum rims use 28 straight pull Competition spokes
in 3 cross pattern, come in 26″, 27.5″ and 29″ sizes and are offered in
three models. The cross country XR 1501 has a 20mm inner width, the
general-purpose XM 1501 has a 22.5mm (tested here), and the enduro EX
1501 has a 25mm. Currently, the EX 1501 doesn’t come in a 29″ model, but
that may change. They come with 15mm TA front and 12x142mm TA rear, and
include 5mm QR end caps and a set of RWSs, and are priced from
$1070-$1140.

Specs:
XR – 24mm outer/20mm inner width, 26″ 1410g, 27.5″ 1470g, 29″ 1520g
XM – 27mm outer/22.5mm inner width, 26″ 1545g, 27.5″ 1595g, 29″ 1680g
EX – 30mm outer/25mm inner width, 26″ 1660g, 27.5″ 1730g

Features
The new rim extrusion has a lower sidewall height, which saves weight,
locks the tire in place, quickens installs and decreases burping and air
loss. The welded rim is shot peened and anodized for strength and
durability, and the rim joint is nearly seamless. The waterslide decals
are baked in an oven for increased durability and to prevent peeling,
and the decals include the spoke’s length for the wheel if replacement
is ever required. The rims come with thick and durable tubeless tape, to
prevent tearing during tire installation.

Photo courtesy of  DT Swiss

They developed the Squorx nipple (Square-Torx) for the Spline, and the
funky Torx head allows for greater control of the tension and evenness
being applied to the spoke during the build, which facilitate a better
overall quality wheel.The shoulder of the
head is rounded, and it sits in a concave steel washer, which then
floats in the bottom of the rim. This synergistic design is called the
Pro Head Reinforcement System (PHR), and it acts like a ball and socket,
and gives a better ride, more even spoke tension, increased durability,
and spreads out the load and decreases stress riser issues at the
threads. The bottom of the Squorx nipple still has the normal spoke
wrench interface, so adjustments can be made without having to remove
the tubeless tape. The PHR and the Squorx are both pretty interesting
and thought-provoking designs, and should make for a better, stronger
and more durable wheel.

The optimized two piece forged hub design, uses a more robust build on
the brake side and a thinner and lighter one on the other, and the
sections are then bonded together for a solid and strong entity. The hub
surfaces are scored prior to bonding, press fit together, and then
bonded with high-strength adhesive. The hubs use
their excellent 240 internals, and the rear uses their 36-tooth star
ratchet system with 10 degrees of engagement, and has options for XD or
normal body (swappable). The hub’s modular design allows easy changes to
different axle standards by using tool-free end cap swaps, and quick
maintenance of the internals using little to no tools.

Impressions
I
have been using the XM 1501’s on my Ibis Ripely 29er for around six
months now, and I have been very happy with their performance. The main
compliment I can give them is that I hardly noticed that I was using
them, meaning they just plain did their job no matter what terrain I
tossed them into. They seemingly blended into the background of the bike
during usage, allowing the Ripley to perform its magic. Some highlights
when you break down the wheel’s characteristics are a great rear hub
that is smooth and has a nice high point-of-engagement, and wheels that
are stiff and strong yet are still light. All the technology, which is
pretty innovative, needs to work in the real world, else its pure
marketing mumbo-jumbo, and fortunately, everything works in great
synergy to create an amazing wheelset.

They were easy to set up
tubeless, and didn’t give me any burping issue or premature leaking. The
tire popped up into the bead with ease, giving that reassuring snap as
they go into place. I do wish they had the 29er in the 30mm EX version
since I think the more All Mountain width would be ideal for the longer
travel 29er’s on the market, giving a larger footprint at a lower
pressure for a tire.
They have stayed true the entire test period,
which is pretty amazing with the abuse they have been tossed into. I
like that you can get replacement spokes (straight pull Competition) at
most bike stores, so you wouldn’t have to search around for some odd
spoke type.

I have bashed them into rock gardens, off jumps and
generally abused them in everything just short of full-on Freeride, and I
have never felt any discernible amount of flex. Their stiffness and
strength offered great stability, quickness and precision when steering
and cornering, and cranking down gnarly terrain. I haven’t had any
issues with the rims getting dented or overly scratched up, so they have
been very durable for all the rock gardens, and gravelly and rocky
trails that I have ridden them on.

The hubs use their
excellent 240 internals, and they felt smooth and free flowing on the
trail. The rear freehub is an amazingly product, that is easy to
service, low in drag and smooth rolling, with a useful 36-toothed star
ratchet system with 10 degrees of engagement. The POE of the rear worked
well in any conditions, from rolling cross country terrain to full-on
technical situations, and although it’s not highest on the market, their
low drag gave them better quickness and snappiness.

Measured Weights (29er XM 1501): front 807g and rear 912 grams = total 1719 grams

Bottom Line
The
DT Swiss Spline 1 is an excellent set of wheels, that are stiff, strong
and light, and utilize their superb 240 hub internals. The synergy of
the highly engineered and innovative rims, straight pull modular hubs,
and Pro Head Reinforcement System with the Squorx nipple, combine to
make a highly functional and usable wheel. Toss in a decent pricepoint
for Swiss craftsmanship, three widths for different riding types, and
their 36-toothed star ratchet system, and you have a great package, that
is durable and well-made.

As I have stated earlier, the biggest
compliment I can give them is you forget they’re there. They just do
their job with ease, smoothness, reliability, and precision.

Pros

  • Durable and reliable
  • 240 internals – easy to service, durable and great POE
  • Stiff and strong
  • Smooth rolling
  • PHR and the Squorx technologies
  • Easy to find straight pull Competition spokes

Cons

  • Need 30mm EX model in 29er size
  • Expensive – though cheap for Swiss manufacturing

MSRP: $1070-$1140

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers 

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