The DT Swiss brand needs no introduction to cycling enthusiasts in Singapore, as it has become synonymous in the market for a wide range of high quality and affordable wheel spokes for years. However, the company?s expertise and experience in the other components that comprise a wheel, arguably has yet to permeate Singapore as widely as its famous spokes. This refers to the spoke nipple, rim as well as the hub. All are integral to the make-up of a good wheel, and are well within the domain of DT Swiss? heritage, know-how and capability for some time already.
DT Swiss has long claimed to be the only manufacturer in the world currently to produce every part of the wheel in-house, including their new line of rims. This compares favourably with competitors that have out-sourced production to third parties for the sake of cost-cutting, but at the peril of potentially losing control of quality-assurance.
Togoparts has been fortunate enough to put DT Swiss? XR 4.1 mountain bike v-brake rims and the all too familiar 240s disc brake hubs to the test, with the items kindly provided by Soon Watt, the local authorised distributor for DT Swiss products.
In addition, the company has come up with a rather useful ?tool? which comes in really handy, but we wondered why other rim manufacturers failed to think of it sooner. This is what DT Swiss refers to as sidewall wear indicators. Everybody should know that with constant stress being exerted by v-brake pads on the rim sidewalls, wear and tear should be expected. However, many cyclists fail to properly monitor the extent of such wear and tear, and thus not knowing when it is time to change the rims. With the indicators, riders can now easily tell how much wear goes into the rims before it is time to consider a new pair.
The DT Swiss line of rims ranges from the XR 4.1 and XR 4.1d for mountain bike v-brake and disc-brake compatible rims, to rims for road, touring and free-riding disciplines. There is even a ceramic version of the XR 4.1 for use in conjunction with ceramic brake pads.
The XR4.1 was chosen for testing primarily because it was identical to the XR 4.1d, save for the fact that the rim wall was also set up to be used with v-brakes. Although v-brake use has been waning through the popularity of disc brakes in recent times, we thought that it would be good that the option to revert to v-brakes be retained, as there is no perceived weight difference between the XR 4.1 and the XR 4.1d. By choosing the XR 4.1d instead, it would not be possible to swap over from disc brakes to v-brakes.
Weighing in at 425g per rim, the XR 4.1 is definitely one of the lightest rims available on the market. And yet, DT Swiss claims that strength and durability has not been comprised in order to satisfy the weight-weenie in all of us. Do bear in mind of course, that the XR4.1 is intended for XC use rather than anything else.
Available in black only, with 28, 32 and 36 hole options, the main rival to this fabulous rim would seem to be the ever-popular Mavic XC717.
DT Swiss employs a special welding process called SWBT (or Strength Boost Welding Technology) to weld the rim joints into a solid hoop. Admittedly, this method seems to produce a rim with seamless rim, and the joint cannot be perceived by the naked eye.
What would definitely appeal to such experienced riders may be the fact that these hubs do not emit such a loud buzzing noise like what is found from a certain prominent American manufacturer of premium hubs and headsets. Some seem to enjoy the buzz, but others simply detest it. In fact, a few riders claim not to notice anything emanating from hubs unless special attention was paid to detect it.
The smooth feeling also come through when free-wheeling, and the distance gained when compared to a hubs sold by the aforementioned competitors is not insignificant.
The seals and pawls found in the hubs seem to have held out well in wet riding conditions. When caked with mud and after hosing it down with water, taking care not to direct the jet squarely at the seals, no noticeable build-up of gunk was found. This only means that the seals held up well against muddy conditions, something which is common in this part of the world. But thankfully servicing can be best left to Soon Watt, instead of having to contact DT Swiss directly.
As for the XR 4.1 rims, they could surprisingly withstand very high tension builds, something which was not possible with various other manufacturers. A stiff wheel is very important when there is a need to accelerate fast, and hold true and firm in rough and undulating conditions.
There are riders out there claiming that light rims would be more prone to the wheels going out of true more easily, especially if the bumps get bigger, speeds get higher and the braking force exerted on the rims (for v-brake users only) increases. But if well built, like our wheelset, the XR 4.1 rims held up against all of the above, without going out of true even once. Needless to say, the same would apply with even less worry when the rider uses disc-brakes. In fact, the expert wheel builder responsible for our wheelset had specifically highlighted the fact that the tensions used would not have been possible for an equivalent rim from the ?M? company.
However, we do have a slight complaint, and that relates to the sticker used on the rims. Within about 3 rides, it seemed to have peeled off slightly at the edges, giving a less than neat look to the otherwise beautifully colour coordinated wheelset. Being such a great rim, we felt that the least DT Swiss could do was use better adhesive on the stickers. This marred our sweet experience somewhat, although admittedly it is minor.
Build-quality wise, the 240s hubs are arguably good value for money, offering performance for a price level normally reserved for hubs that are priced at about S$100 more. It can withstand most forms of cross-country riding, and drops (when laced to appropriate rims) but the target user is the XC rider and the normal road commute. When confined to such use, they easily outshine the competition. We certainly have no complaints against the hubs in the past 6 months of riding.
The same can be said of the excellent XR 4.1 rims. These rims are definitely one of the best options for XC riders, at an affordable price level. The fact that they are not more commonly used would appeal to those searching for more exclusivity in the set-up of their steed.
All in all, the performance of the hubs and rims has been admirable to say the least. They inspired a lot of confidence over the past 6 months, and we expect the same for the foreseeable future without any problems.