DT Swiss introduces three new gravel wheelsets and expands its product portfolio with an exciting new category for all gravel fans. Is the usual way of doing things really the best way, and what else did the Swiss manufacturers consider when designing their new gravel wheels? Read on to find out.

After raving about the DT Swiss CR 1600 SPLINE 23 cyclocross wheelset that was recently introduced, we were interested to find out what the new gravel-specific wheels are able to do better. As we discovered in our gravel bike group test, this segment of the bike market is as diverse as its riders. You’ve got it all: from the gravel racer trying to find a slipstream for more than 200 miles on the finest gravel highways of the Dirty Kanza in Kansas to the bike packer carrying everything they need for a multi-day adventure in search of freedom from their day-to-day cares. DT Swiss address both poles of this spectrum with their new gravel wheels, presenting us with three different wheelsets from an aerodynamically optimised carbon option to more affordable and easy-to-maintain aluminium.

GRC 1400 SPLINE 42 | 1,562 g in 650b | 1,634 g in 700C | € 1,958
GR 1600 SPLINE 25 | 1,728 g in 650b | 1,811 g in 700C | €558
G 1800 SPLINE 25 | 1,806 g in 650b | 1,895 g in 700C | €388

Is it possible to reinvent the gravel wheel?

Whether or not you can reinvent the gravel wheel, one thing we can say for sure is that the designers and product managers at DT Swiss seem to have clear expectations of their gravel wheel range. For example, the flagship model, the GRC 1400 SPLINE 42, focuses on aerodynamic optimisation. Wind tunnel testing in cooperation with the aero specialists from Swiss Side promises to offer maximum performance for all gravel racers. The 24 mm internal width is a feature across the range and is designed to reduce rolling resistance with identical air pressure and tires – compared to their previous off-road wheelset, the CRC 1400 SPLINE 24. The wider internal width also has a positive effect on the handling of gravel tires wider than 35 mm. The sidewalls of the tires are better supported and the contact surface of the tire is increased, meaning you’ll have more grip and confidence in the corners and on rough terrain. Wider tires also offer an advantage when it comes to ride comfort: wider tires have more volume, so you can ride them with less air pressure. Thanks to the lower air pressure, the tire can more easily conform to any the irregularities on the ground and thus absorb more impacts. In addition, DT Swiss have reinforced the construction of their new gravel wheels to allow for a permissible gross weight (rider and bike) of 130 kg – even on their top-of-range carbon GRC 1400 SPLINE 42 model.

The new DT Swiss Gravel wheels in detail


DT Swiss GRC 1400 SPLINE 42

The GRC 1400 SPLINE 42 Gravel wheelset is the flagship model of the new range and has been specifically optimised for aerodynamics and race performance. Both the 42 mm deep carbon rims and the internal spoke nipples distinguish it from the GR 1600 and G 1800.

Hubs: SPLINE db 240s with 36T SL Ratchet System
Axle: standard 12×100 and 12×142 Thru-Axle
Brake rotors: Centerlock rotor interface incl. adapter for 6-bolt
Freewheel: Shimano 11-speed, convertible to SRAM XDR and Campagnolo
Rim: Gravel db Carbon Clincher, UD Finish, Tubeless Ready
Rim dimensions: 650b – 584 x 24 mm | 700c – 622 x 24mm
Spokes: Straightpull spokes, DT Aerolite & DT Aero Comp, black
Weight: 650b – 727 g front, 835 g rear | 700c – 763 g front, 871 g rear
Perm. gross weight: 130 kg
Price: € 1,958 | $ 2,436


DT Swiss GR 1600 SPLINE 25 – our review model

All-singing, all-dancing! The GR 1600 SPLINE 25 gravel wheelset is the all-rounder of the new line-up: it promises to be fast enough for your after work group ride and robust enough for far off adventures in Kyrgyzstan. The ratchet system of the freehub and the sturdy aluminium rims are designed to provide long lasting riding pleasure.

Hubs: SPLINE db 350 with 18T Ratchet system
Axle: standard 12×100 and 12×142 Thru-Axle
Brake rotors: Centerlock rotor interface incl. adapter for 6-bolt
Freewheel: Shimano 11-speed, convertible to SRAM XDR and Campagnolo
Rims: welded aluminium rim, Tubeless Ready
Rim dimensions: 650b – 584 x 24 mm | 700c – 622 x 24mm
Spokes: Straightpull spokes, DT Aerolite & DT Aero Comp, black
Weight: 650b – 795 g front, 928 g rear | 700c – 841 g front, 970 g rear
Perm. gross weight: 130 kg
Price: € 558 | $ 694


DT Swiss G 1800 SPLINE 25

Power to the people! The G 1800 SPLINE 25 wheelset is the entry-level model in the DT Swiss gravel family. If you’re not chasing after every gram, this promises to be a reliable and solid wheelset, ideal for modern gravel bikes with clearance for wider tires to match the internal rim width of 24 mm.

Hubs: SPLINE db 370 with pawl system
Axle: standard 12×100 and 12×142 Thru-Axle
Brake rotors: Centerlock rotor interface incl. adapter for 6-bolt
Freewheel: Shimano 11-speed, convertible to SRAM XDR and Campagnolo
Rims: aluminium rim, Tubeless Ready
Rim dimensions: 650b – 584 x 24 mm | 700c – 622 x 24mm
Spokes: Straightpull spokes, DT Aerolite & DT Aero Comp, black
Weight: 650b – 835 g front, 971 g rear | 700c – 880g front, 1,015g rear
Perm. gross weight: 130 kg
Price: € 388 | $ 483


The new DT Swiss gravel wheels in detail

As promising as the hard facts may be, we wanted to know if the new wheels would deliver on the road. For the first outing, we planned a two-day test ride from Basel via the Swiss Jura to Biel. From the OPEN headquarters to the DT Swiss mothership. We installed a set 650b GR 1600 SPLINE 25 wheels on our test bike, the brand new OPEN WI.DE., fitted with 57 mm wide Schwalbe G-One Allround TLE tires. They look impressive – despite the moderate rim depth of 25 mm. Thanks to the 24 mm inner rim width, the tires seat nice and secure – although it doesn’t make a perfect U-shape, it doesn’t balloon up like an “O” either, and that’s absolutely fine on a tire of this width. We ran 2.7 bar at the back and 2.4 bar at the front, which seemed perfect for the terrain ahead: forest service roads, easy trails and 4,2 km of paved roads. We carried spare tubes for safety’s sake, but thanks to the tubeless set-up, we stowed them far away in the bottom of our panniers.

On the first few meters, we couldn’t help but be surprised by how spritely the wheels feel despite how bulky they look. The bike sprints forward willingly when you get on the pedals – granted, at 1,723 g it’s not the lightest wheelset we tested, but it’s not usually weight fetishists that ride their gravel bike in a lumberjack shirt. If you’re looking for the absolute best in gravel performance and for you that includes counting grams, the flagship GRC 1400 SPLINE 42 wheelset will shave 160 g from your set-up. The cornering behaviour of the large-volume Schwalbe tires takes some getting used to on compact surfaces. The directional stability makes you feel comfortable enough to take your hands off the handlebars at speeds as slow as 12 km/h, but in tight corners and at higher cornering speeds you’ll have to correct now and then to hold your line. In the finest Belgian style, we wound our way towards the edge of the forest and can attest to the efficiency of the GR 1600 wheelset.

After riding along some muddy trails and forest highways, we tackled the first steep descents, littered with loose, fist-sized boulders. With a lot of weight on the front wheel and hard braking manoeuvres, we hit the rims through the Schwalbe tires several times – good to test wheels, though not necessarily gentle on the rims. Once we were at the bottom, we examined the side wall and found … nothing. There were no dents to testify to the rough treatment we gave them and the wheels ran true. The tubeless sealant simply closed up the holes in the tires and kept rolling. When it comes to lateral stiffness, the GR 1600 SPLINE 25 is as unimpressed by the extra load of the panniers as it was from the previous blows. Neither rough terrain nor high-speed descents on washed out gravel roads worry the sidewalls or the finish. Incidentally, at 1° C and continuous rain, the previously mentioned stability turned out to be a life-saver – after all, it makes it that much easier to keep the bike straight for the last few meters when you’re completely drained. Waiting for us at the end was some Vin Chaud (a kind of mulled wine) and a look back on a great ride.

Conclusion

DT Swiss close an important gap in their product line-up with their new gravel wheelset range. Although the existing CR series wheels are also suitable for gravel use, the 24 mm inner-width GRC, GR and G wheels presented here are better suited to the current trends in the gravel market – bigger is better. Increased comfort through large-volume tires and more control thanks to improved sidewall support are features that will benefit any gravel rider. From the sponsored gravel racer to the adventurer on a limited budget, everyone will find what they’re looking for. Further, long-term testing will show how the wheelset fares in direct comparison to the competition. We’re curious to find out and will keep you updated – let’s keep on rollin’.

To find out more about the brand new OPEN WI.DE., you can read our first ride review here.

For more information visit dtswiss.com

Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Marc Gasch, DT Swiss