Wheel-maker DT Swiss and their tyre partner Schwalbe have just unveiled their 2013 ranges. BikeRadar got hands-on with all the new models, including the brand new Spline wheel and Ultremo ZX tubular and clincher tyres, at their base in Biel, Switzerland.
The DT Swiss road wheel families mirror the mountain bike lines, with Dicut, Tricon, Spline and Classic being the principal ‘Family’ names for each – of these, Spline is the one that’s completely new for the 2013 model year. The pattern of Application Range letters denotes usage category, with three letter acronyms being the highest quality, and one the entry level – the road range includes RRC, RC, RR and R. The Main Feature number that follows relates to the rim depth for road wheels, which will be 21, 32, 46 or 66mm, and the sub features remain the same, with Tubular, Clincher, TubeLess and Hybrid rims.
As a company, DT Swiss recognise they aren’t as well known in road circles as they are in the MTB world. There are road wheels on the market that include DT Swiss technology, such as Lightweight and Roval, but sponsorship of the Aqua & Sapone road team is the first step to giving DT Swiss’ own brand wheels increased exposure.
Newest additions to the top line Dicut range are the RR21 aluminium wheels, which are marketing manager Daniel Berger’s favourite all rounders, and at 1,460g with their double butted and bladed spokes, they compete directly with Mavic’s Ksyrium Elite SL.
RRC46 H wheel
Also new is the RRC46 H hybrid wheelset, which features a structural carbon rim – not a fairing – with an aluminium rim bonded to it for guaranteed consistent braking in all conditions. With 20 front and 24 rear spokes and only weighing 1,605g per pair, they should interest riders who want an aero advantage, fine ride characteristics and still be able to stop on demand.
We rode a pair up the local Mon Chasseral mountain climb, that tops out at 1,607m, and found them to climb far better than expected, superbly stiff for great drive, no noticeable wheel deflection, and light enough that they certainly weren’t a hindrance. Then on the descent, where speeds can touch 50mph we could brake later and harder than most of the riders on full carbon rims, and always have the security of knowing they were unlikely to grab a rear brake when unweighted on steep sections.
The Dicut range is topped by four wheels, each sold for tubulars or clinchers. All are carbon and come in 32, 46 or 66mm depths, or as a lightweight disc wheel.
The standard Dicut hub is the 240S with stainless internals, and a new hub shape to take the new nail head spokes. Resembling a chamfered nail head, the hub’s specific slots allow the bladed spokes to seat in one position only, so resisting twisting forces when building or truing, and always staying aligned. The hub flanges are narrow and widely spaced for overall wheel strength, proving an advantage for Shimano’s new 11-speed drivetrain.
A 240S Classic hub and 240S straight pull hub each have stainless steel bearings, but the lofty 180 Carbon Ceramic hubs raise the bar
All ratchet hubs across the wheel ranges are now 11-speed compatible, a challenge DT Swiss overcame by simply increasing the axle width from 130mm to 131mm, as frames can easily cope with that tolerance. The hubs will come supplied with a spacer for those running 10-speed transmissions.
As we await the next developments in road disc brakes, companies such as DT Swiss try to predict if disc road hub spacing will increase to the MTB standard of 135mm, as early prototypes have, which could simplify designs by allowing cross over from the MTB ranges. Until then we wait.
The carbon rims on offer now use higher quality carbon layers and resins for improved braking performance and heat dissipation, and also the new Waterslide decals that are much thinner than stickers and when baked on to the rim during manufacture will not peel or scratch off.
The Tricon wheel range features a sealed rim bed making all of the wheels tubeless ready. Their two-piece hub with bonded flanges reduces spoke tension acting on the bearing seat, making a free-running stiff and light wheel.
Spline wheels are all new, and include more reasonably priced carbon wheels than the Dicut range, in fact they’ll be around half the price, and the RC38 Spline T tubular wheelset is claimed to be 1,305g. There will be a wider range of carbon Spline wheels for the 2014 model year, rather than the single tubular option at the moment. Two aluminium wheelsets complete the Spline range, the R23 at 1,520g is available in black or white with contrasting spokes, and the R28 which comes in at 1,890g.
In addition to their fully built wheel ranges, DT Swiss sell a range of rims and hubs for those who like to go their own way. King amongst these is the 180 Carbon Ceramic hub. Too expensive to offer in a wheelset, the lightened version of the 240S hub has a carbon body and ceramic bearings and retails for around €1,000 a pair. Or if you fancy, a ceramic conversion kit is available for your existing hubs.
Schwalbe’s new tubulars and clinchers
Schwalbe Ultremo HT tubulars
The German company’s 4000-strong Indonesian workforce have been busy producing Schwalbe’s expanding tyre range, and although not new, the Schwalbe guys were keen to showcase the completely hand made Ultremo HT tubular tyres, as ridden by Radioshack Nissan Trek. After unsuccessful joint ventures with some specialist tubular manufacturers, Schwalbe decided the only way to fulfil their requirements was to make their own from scratch.
From creating the carcass, through the application of latex, joining of carcass layers, puncture protection belt, tread, decals, latex inner tube, and various stages of sewing, every action is highly labour intensive. Every single tubular produced is checked for straightness and roundness, followed by a 24-hour air resistance test to ensure a perfect product.
2013 sees a new version of the Ultremo ZX clincher tyre, with V-Guard puncture protection, new graphics and decreased rolling resistance. Vectran synthetic fibres are expensive but extremely cut resistant, giving a claimed 35% improvement, and Schwalbe discovered that by placing the protection belt under the tread instead of between carcass layers, it decreased rolling resistance. Mated with a new rubber compound, it is said to save 25% compared to the current tyre.
The Ultremo is already one of the best tyres for colour coordinating your bike due to the range of colours produced, but now there’s a completely white high performing tyre to complete the line-up.
Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tubeless - they can take a direct hit and still keep going
Another new introduction was the Ultremo ZX Tubeless tyre, with a new carbon bead to withstand the high pressures and make it easy to mount. The aim was to create a light tyre that could be inflated with a track pump, and the result is an Ultremo tyre with the lowest rolling resistance of any in the range, and no sudden air loss, even from punctures, when using 30ml of sealant. Snakebite protection increases by 100% over a clincher, and all round cut resistance is improved. One tubeless tyre weighs 295g, which is about the same as a clincher plus inner tube, and Schwalbe recommend a pressure approximately 0.5-1 Bar lower than a clincher tyre for a better ride, with a maximum permitted pressure of 9 Bar.
The best platform for a tubeless tyre is of course a tubeless-ready rim, but you can convert many rims using Stan’s conversion kit that includes a suitable valve. Although tyre sealant will get you home safe most of the time, it’s advisable to carry a spare tube just in case.
After researching tyre sealants, Schwalbe found Stan’s sealant to be ideal, and hard to better, so sell it as Doc Blue along with an easy-fit liquid to assist first-time tyre sealing. In an impressive demonstration, a Tubeless tyre inflated to 7 Bar and containing tyre sealant was pierced through the tread, and when the spike was removed, an instant spurt of sealant shot out and then the hole was sealed within a second, resulting in minimal loss of air. Even more impressively, the spike was pushed through both sidewalls together, and when withdrawn, the sealant again plugged the holes very quickly. It took around twice as long to plug, but the tyre was still very rideable, and wouldn’t be dangerous even mid-descent.
The demands of maintaining a seal with low pressures under 2 Bar will prevent production of a cyclo cross tubeless tyre for now. The only tyre size will initially be 23mm, only in black, and retail prices should be close to €65, which is considerably cheaper than the few competitors on the market.
We hear that Fabian Cancellara is interested in the rolling resistance savings on offer, and will be racing the Ultremo ZX Tubeless tyres in the Bayern Rundfahrt time trial stage this Saturday, 26 May.. Still coming back from his broken collar bone, he may not be on the pace, but it’ll be interesting to see whether this starts a trend.