Swiss wheel behemoth DT Swiss categorises all of its wheels by intended usage in order to help customers find the perfect wheels for their type of cycling. The Cross Road category offers five wheelsets apparently inspired by cyclocross, and they aim to excel on rides where there may not be any roads.
There are three with aluminium tubeless rims, one with carbon tubeless rims and this carbon wheelset for tubular tyres only.
If that sounds a little too specific and involved for you, hold on, because tubular tyres don’t have to mean days in the garage sticking them on, one layer of glue at a time.
Thanks to Effetto Mariposa’s Carogna double-sided, gel-like tape, I fitted a pair of Challenge cyclocross tubs in an hour and a half. If you follow the instructions and don’t rush it’s very effective – tyres I fitted with it three years ago are still going strong.
Why tubular? Tubeless tyres are very effective and, with the right tyre and rim combination, they can be raced at typical sub-20 psi cyclocross pressures, but even the best are still heavier and less supple than good tubs.
In a sport with dozens of repeated accelerations, sprints and off-cambers aplenty, where low rotational weight and every scrap of grip matters, it makes a difference.
So it is with this wheelset. Their 38mm tall carbon rims are deep enough to be laterally stiff and slice through mud, without being affected by blustery winds. They’re 26mm wide and have a rounded rim bed with a 5mm wide flat central band, together offering excellent support to a 33mm wide tubular tyre.
They come with wheel bags, stick-on valve guards, six-bolt rotor adaptors and 15mm end caps for the front wheel.
With 12mm thru-axle end caps installed, my pair weighed just 1,329g. That’s an impressive mass for a top-flight road wheelset, and even more so for one designed to resist the rigours of ’cross.
DT Swiss 240s hubs with SINC ceramic bearings keep things silky smooth and have 24 straight-pull aerolite or aero comp spokes per wheel.
After a couple of seasons racing exclusively on tubeless tyres, returning to light rims with tubs was a revelation. Accelerations feel more urgent and the CRC 1100s are extremely agile, changing direction at will.
They’ve been subjected to steep ups and downs, ruts, holes, sand, gravel and countless mid-corner positional dices and come through with flying colours. Even after plenty of pressure washing, the hubs spin perfectly smoothly, the rims are true, and the tubs still solidly stuck on.
If you’re still unwilling to take the tubular plunge, the tubeless CRC 1400 Spline wheelset only weighs a claimed 71g more.
DT Swiss CRC 1100 Spline 38 T details
Why tubular? Tubeless tyres are very effective, but even the best are still heavier and less supple than good tubs.
- DT Pro Lock Squorx Pro Head aluminium nipples are designed not to loosen, but if adjustments are required, they’re easy to reach
- The recommended maximum system weight that these wheels are designed for is 120kg for the bike, plus rider
- Tubular rims mean that you need to glue or stick tyres on. Low-pressure cyclocross tyres need far better adhesion than road tubulars