DT Swiss EXC1550 mountain bike wheelset review£1,800.00

Premium carbon wheels

BikeRadar score3.5/5

While road riders seem to be more than happy to shell out £2000 on a set of carbon wheels that will put them in a ditch the first day it gets a little bit draughty, mountain bikers still seem very cynical about attacking big rocks on composite rims. However, if any set of wheels is likely to convince you to lever your wallet open it is these.

The biggest worry about investing the price of a very good complete bike into a set of wheels is undoubtedly their durability. All we can say is that these DT Swiss wheels have been holding up over 16kg (36lb) of long travel Nicolai long termer since February without encountering a single issue. They have seen a whole lot of black run boulder blasts at Stainburn, downhill (DH) sessions at Cwmcarn and Hamsterley and well over a thousand miles of other trail centre and rocky off-piste trail abuse.

We’re not just talking timid trail riders on top of them either, as these wheels have spent a fair amount of time under some of the country’s top Enduro downhill mentalists. We have certainly thumped tyres right through to the rim on rocks and landings loads of times (with some pictures to prove it after Hamsterley) but there’s still no sign of any scuffs or chips when we come to clean all the mud off. The conventional 32-bladed spoke build is still running perfectly true and tight without ever having seen a spoke key either.

The 240 hubs have been a byword for easily serviced, fast reacting reliability for years and are available in 15 or 20mm front and 135x10mm or 142x12mm rear axle standards. The triple-butted Alpine 3 spokes (apart from being white) are standard J bend too, so you’ll have no trouble getting them replaced if you accidentally put a stick or rear mech through them. The handmade unidirectional carbon fibre rims aren’t tubeless (and DT Swiss doesn’t advise using conversion kits) but at 29mm they will handle a 2.4in tyre fine and noticeably fatten up and stabilise anything smaller.

At 1560g they are around just less than half a kilo lighter than most comparably tough wheels. As that weight loss is all at the rim, the acceleration and agility boost they provide is phenomenal. They are incredibly stiff too, adding a real carving edge that you can feel through feet and hands, but they don’t sting like a heavy-duty alloy rim.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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