To reduce the cost, DT has used a modified version of its Ratchet freehub engagement system (rather than spring and pawl freehubs used on its older E 1900 wheels and other hubs) – dubbed Ratchet LN that’s a variation of the system used in the range-topping 240 hubs. It has laced the 370 hubs to sleeve-jointed rather than welded rims.
When BikeRadar previously tested the E 1900 wheels (when they were called the E 1900 Spine 30), we awarded them five out of five stars thanks to their unbeatable price versus weight and performance ratio and unfaltering sturdiness.
During 2020’s updates to DT Swiss’ MTB wheel range, the E 1900 was conspicuously absent. That’s now changed, and I’ve been putting a pair of 29in E 1900 wheels through their paces to find out if they can maintain their perfect score.
DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheelset specifications and details
The headline change to the E 1900 Spline wheels is the inclusion of 370 Ratchet-based hub that uses the Ratchet LN system.
Functionally, Ratchet LN hubs are identical to the Ratchet EXP and SL hubs used on the 240 and 350 hubs respectively. This latest model has different seal locations – where they’re fixed to the freehub body rather than hub body – so pawl freehubs can be upgraded to the LN system.
Ratchet LN hubs have 18 points of engagement, rather than 36 on the 240 and 350, meaning the freehub can rotate by 20 degrees before it engages. This has been increased over the previous E 1900 wheels that had 24 points of engagement.
The ratchet hub system is claimed to improve reliability over a pawl hub because of a higher engagement surface area increasing maintenance intervals.
That 370 hub is laced using 28 (both front and rear) of DT’s 2mm-diameter Champion spokes to an E532 rim with a 30mm-wide internal section and 35mm external width.
Its shape is identical to the E511 rims used on the EX 1700 wheels, and internally it’s the same width as the rims used on the EXC 1501 wheels.
However, the E532 is sleeve-jointed rather than welded. This method of joining the rim’s ends together to form a hoop uses an aluminium insert within the rim’s cavity to align both ends. This insert is then bonded, according to DT Swiss, using “structural glue”, and is claimed to be just as strong as welded rims without a significant weight penalty.
The rims come pre-taped and are supplied with tubeless valves, so should be ready for tubeless tyres from the factory.
They’re available in 27.5in or 29in versions and have options for SRAM’s XD Driver or Shimano’s Micro Spline or HG freehub bodies. The front wheel is only available in 15x110mm Boost spacing, while the rear can be specced in either 12x142mm or 12x148mm Boost widths. Center Lock or six-bolt disc rotor options are also available.
I tested the 29in 12x148mm Boost Center Lock E 1900 Spline wheels. The test wheels weighed 2,170g (1,028g front, 1,142g rear) on my scales.
DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheelset performance
I tested the DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheels on my well-trodden home trails around Scotland’s Tweed Valley, home to the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series. I fitted them to my Marin Alpine Trail XR, which is the same bike I used to test the EX 1700 and EXC 1501.
DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheelset setup and tubeless inflation
The factory-fitted tubeless rim tape provided an airtight, tubeless seal and required no patching or repairs. The supplied tubeless valves did need a significant amount of pressure to position them correctly onto the rim’s bed. If they weren’t installed correctly, air seeped into the rim’s cavity and leaked out of the rim’s nipple eyelets.
A wide range of tyres were relatively easy to install, and only the toughest DH casing versions needing tyre levers.
Tubeless inflation was a similarly easy affair, where a high-volume track pump was sufficient to seat most tyres. Only one tyre – a brand new WTB Verdict Light Casing High Grip – required significant airflow and manipulation to seat against the rim’s hook.
Given the isolation of this issue, I don’t feel it indicates a problem with the rim, and was caused more by the tyre.
DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheelset on-trail feel
Over rough terrain, whether that was chundery rock gardens or dense, square-edged, root-infested off-cambers, the E 1900s did an impressive job of insulating vibrations and harshness from being transmitted into my hands and the bike’s chassis.
They felt forgiving and supple enough to not get deflected off-line, helping the bike track its designated course, but weren’t so flexible or under-tensioned that steering accuracy was even remotely compromised. I was genuinely impressed with the balance of stiffness and smoothness they offered.
That balance will make them well-suited to a broad range of riders. Hard chargers won’t struggle with vagueness or unwanted flex at high speeds or loads, and lighter or more gentle riders shouldn’t get beaten up by bump or vibration transfer that stiffer, less forgiving wheels are known for.
Their build was impressively quiet too. The spokes didn’t twang or bind together over rough terrain, and neither did the rims dong or bang when faced with harder impacts, further suggesting they’re built solidly but with just enough give.
The 30mm internal width provided plenty of support for tyre carcasses to reduce air burping and squirming in high-load turns, without being too wide and squaring off the tyre’s profile.
The rims have remained ding- and buckle-free during the test period, and if DT Swiss’ historical record is anything to go by, they should remain straight for years to come. The same level of robustness is true for the hubs and their bearings, despite being tested in some of the wettest conditions I’ve ever experienced.
The 18-point or 20-degree engagement of the Ratchet LN hub could be snappier, but I didn’t feel the free movement made quick half cranks less effective.
Arguably, the 20 degrees of free movement could be an advantage on some bikes, potentially reducing pedal kickback. That’s because the cassette is allowed to rotate more between its engagement points compared to hubs with fewer degrees of free play, acting similarly to an Ochain chainring.
On technical climbs, a quicker-engaging hub could be beneficial to get the power down sooner, but once I’d got used to the 20 degrees of movement, I didn’t notice it negatively impacting performance.
How does the DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheelset compare?
Compared to DT’s pricier enduro offerings, the EX 1700 and EXC1501, there are only subtle differences in terms of feel that differentiate them from the cheaper E 1900.
Arguably, the E 1900 wheels are marginally more forgiving, while the other models in DT’s range better suit heavier riders and hard chargers. The E 1900s manage to blend stiffness and a lower-tension build to make them suitable for a wider gambit of riders, from beginners to enduro racers.
Weight-wise in like-for-like comparisons, the E 1900 (2,170g) is only marginally heavier than the EX 1700 (2,023g), but quite a bit heftier than the EXC 1501 (1,752g).
Is the £664.98 price tag of the EX 1700 worth an upgrade to a 350 hub and a 147g weight reduction? Arguably, no, because of E 1900’s softer feel edges them ahead of the next wheels up in DT’s range.
If weight is your driving factor, and money is no object, I can see why spending £1,499 on the EXC 1501 wheels will be worth the 418g weight saving, and the upgrade to a 240 hub is a good deal sweetener.
Where would I spend my cash? The price tag, weight and on-trail feel of the E 1900 is hard to ignore.
DT Swiss E 1900 Spline wheelset bottom line
The low asking price, Ratchet hub technology and forgiving ride quality make the E 1900 a seriously appetising prospect.
If you’re focused on reducing your bike’s weight, these wheels won’t be for you. However, they do offer a cash-conscious top-level performance that, in my experience, exceeds their pricier stablemates.
Like the previous E 1900 Spline 30 iteration, DT’s cracked the performance-versus-price code, and improved on it with the Ratchet LN hubs to produce a virtually faultless product well deserving of its 5-star score.
|Price||GBP £399.98USD $609.00|
|Weight||2,170g (29in diameter, 30mm internal width) – 29in 12x148mm Boost Center Lock, MicroSpline (1,028g (f), 1,142g (r))|
|What we tested||DT Swiss E 1900 Spline 29in 12x148mm Boost Center Lock, MicroSpline|
|Hubs||DT Swiss 370|
|Rim internal width||30mm|
|Spoke count||28 front, 28 rear|
|Spokes||DT Swiss Champion|
|Tubeless compatibility||Tubeless ready|