DT Swiss Tricon XM1550 29er wheelset review£975.00

Tricon tubeless design comes to big wheel market

BikeRadar score3.5/5

DT Swiss's Tricon wheels are in their third season of production for the 26in size, but 2012 marks the first year for the Tricon 29in. The Tricon design is highlighted by un-punctured rims with a unique nipple-to-rim ‘boat’ carrier design, ‘open crow’s foot’ spoke lacing and three-piece hubs.

Our test set was both lighter and felt seemingly stiffer than the standard 3-cross conventionally built wheelset it replaced for testing, however, at 1,828g plus 50g for the included Center Loc rotor adaptors they can by no means be considered super light.

Though the wheels proved both lighter and stiffer, the coolest advantage was it’s wider 19.5mm (inner width) rim and the profile, which made mounting tires extremely easy with both tubeless and standard tires.

Another look at the 29in rim:

We really like the profile of the Tricon rim; the silver ‘boat’ inserts are separate from the rim and carry the hex headed nipples

We were able to mount both types of tires tubeless with a floor pump, albeit a high-volume model, which was truly impressive. Their ease of tubeless set up made it easier to overlook the fact the DT supplied tubeless valve stems did not offer a removable core.

Ride and handling: stiff and durable

The Tricon rim profile is the star of this wheelset. It makes it very easy to set up the wheelset tubeless, but it also seems to help out on the trail. The rim is slightly wider than average, for a cross-country wheelset, and gives the tire a nice profile and slightly more sidewall support.

The shape of the rim also seemed to produce a really solid connection with the tire’s bead; we rode non-tubeless tires without tubes at relatively low pressures without burping any air over the course of our testing. The flatter nature and profile of the wheels gives a fairly smooth ride, too, although with tire pressure in the mid-20psi range, it was hard to determine where their seeming smoothness comes from — tire or rim.

Two separate testers (in medium and extra large sizes) put roughly 500miles on the wheels during the first month of testing — we’ll remind you that the model is for 2012 and literally hot off the rim extrusion machine/ wheel stand — and they’ve stayed straight and dent free.

Not super light but still ripe for racing:

The XM1550 29er wheels are not super light, but still ripe for racing

In cross-country terms our test riders found the wheels plenty stiff under both drive and cornering loads. Our larger tester, was able to get some flex out of the rear wheel when cornering and both testers found it to feel like it was ‘bedding in’ during very steep, granny gear climbing, when ratcheting the pedals to hump up and over a trail feature. We could not find the cause; there wasn’t undue damage to the alloy cassette body or any issues with the internal Star Ratchet freehub system.

Both riders, however, took issue with the RWS 10mm thru-bolt used for the rear wheel; simply put it’s harder and slower to use than a traditional quick-release and we found its compatibility suspect with some frames due to interference between the lever and some frames’ dropouts.

DT was quick to remind us that the RWS thru-bolt should be considered more of a through-axle than a quick release. "The purpose is to put the wheel on the bike and forget about it," said Paul Guebara, DT Swiss' US marketing manager told BikeRadar. "We aren't looking for this to be quicker than a quick-release. We aren't looking for this to permanently replace quick-releases. We want to put the wheel on the bike [as securely as possible]. We get criticized about it and I think once you get used to getting them on and off, you will see [conventional] quick-releases as being more difficult to work with. Shops we have talked with love the design because most of the customers they are selling bikes to don't race and aren't interested in much except riding their bike — not continually changing tires or removing wheels."

DT's rws thru-bolt lever bottomed out on some frames:

DT's RWS thru-bolt lever bottomed out on some frames

We also noticed that the bearings of the Tricon —240 level — hubs were noticeably sluggish when compared to other DT Swiss 240 hubs we’ve used. They weren’t rough, but run slow like there is too much pre-load, which is an issue since their pre-load isn’t adjustable. Initially we expected them to break in, but after 500miles we can safely say they haven’t.

After our time on the wheels, we were happy with them overall. They’re high quality and worthy of a race rig, yet seemingly burly and durable enough for everyday riding — a very solid combination and one mostly backed by our experience.

Components: unique hub and rim designs

The Tricon system is made up of a unique rim and hub design, which works in tandem towards the goal of building a stiffer wheel. The rims have large holes in which slotted alloy, spoke nipple-carrying ‘boats’ plug into externally so that the rim’s inner wall can be left un-punctured.

From the unique nipple carriers, DT strings 30 bladed straight pull 2.3mm wide Aerolite spokes (front and non-drive rear), and 2.9mm New Aero for the drive side that terminate at DT’s proprietary three-piece hubs.

DT uses larger gauge new aero spokes with a 2.9mm profile on the drive side: dt uses larger gauge new aero spokes with a 2.9mm profile on the drive side

DT uses larger gauge New Aero spokes with a 2.9mm profile on the drive side

The hubs’ have shells with separate ‘floating’ flanges that are bonded and bolted to the hub shells and are said to allow higher spoke tensions without the chance of any shell deformation, thus allowing the bearings to run smoother and without the chance of premature wear.

Our test wheelset came with a 15mm through-axle compatible front axle and DT’s RWS through-bolt. While the hubs can be retrofit via end caps to standard quick-release, the additional caps are not included with the wheelset.

Our set came with a 15mm through axle front hub: our set came with a 15mm through axle front hub

Our set came with a 15mm through axle compatible front hub

DT Swiss will offer a front wheel that’s compatible with Cannondale’s Lefty forks and three repair kits for made for replacing a few spokes all the way up to completely rebuilding the front or rear wheels.

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