Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DT Swiss EX1750 Wheelset Review - Aka The Most Expensive Wheelset I Will Ever Own

MSRP for these suckers is a jaw-dropping $1650. That's a lot of money. For anything. I'm honestly sitting here looking at that number thinking about how silly it is that these wheels are actually on my bike. It's crazy.

At the time I bought them, I didn't have too many other wheel options so I forked over (a lot less than full retail, mind you) and prayed that they lived up to their ridiculous, ridiculous price. Yes, I know. Wheels are pricey, and you could pretty easily spend this much on putting together your own custom set. But light enough to be called all-mountain and strong enough for Sam Hill to race downhill on them? Sounds good to me.

Selection and First Impressions

As I said above, I didn't have too many wholesale options when I was putting together my bike. It was either Mavic's on an XT/Formula hub or these suckers. So I ponied up and jumped in.

When they arrived I was very impressed with the initial..ummm...impression. The white sparkled. The black spokes sucked light from the air. They came with their own carrying bags for christ sakes! I was impressed.

The wheels themselves are more or less a pretty version of a 340 hub (I think) laced to an EX5.1d rim. However...handbuilt to perfect specs by DT. 32-bladed black anodized spokes. 10mm thru-axle rear hub with a DT ratchet axle. Don't fool yourself. These wheels are nicer than the sum of their parts.

Colour me extremely impressed out of the box.

Installation and Set-up

However...this didn't last long. First up I threw some new rubber onto these wheels and discovered that they're presta only. It took me a while to figure out that this is most likely for running tubeless (kit sold separately). I'm never running tubeless and presta-only rims suck so I drilled them out. I felt badly about this and it seems like a stupid thing to have to do to wheels that cost this much. I also discovered (when I was driving the wheels over my friends place to use his drill) that the bags the wheels come with barely fit wheels with tires on them. I know, they're probably made for a 700c wheel and they never thought about having to squeeze big rubber in, but they should have.

Once the tires and cassette were on it was time to go on the bike. Problem number two. The ratcheting rear axle is a beautiful item. But it's not long enough to fit in my steel dropouts. These aren't pinner little old school dropouts either. They're easily as fat as some aluminum drops out there. But I had to space it on either side with a pair of stainless washers. Not a huge deal, but once again, why is the thread length of this thing so borderline. It's sloppy and I'm not impressed.

Other than that, they're wheels. They fit on my bike and I was ready to ride.

Riding Impressions

I've been riding some heavy, heavy wheels the last few years and it's crazy what a difference a nice light set of wheels makes on a bike. Yes, I know. Light is a relative term. But I haven't run something this light in years and my bike loved me for it. I felt like I was pushing an extra gear or two up Fromme. Wonderful.

Other than that, I noticed nothing. Perhaps this is a good thing. They're plenty stiff and they do their thing. The lockring on the front hub backed off once and drove me crazy for a week as I tried to figure out why my wheel turned so slowly, but other than that, they've been relatively bombproof. I've got a season-and-a-half on them and they still spin absolutely true. Honestly, the tension in them is still perfect and I haven't touched them. And the hubs still spin like new.

However, I have to admit, I'm scared of wrecking these wheels and that results in me babying them a bit. The cost of them is just too crazy to subject them to abuse. Where am I going to find flat bladed spokes? Where am I going to find a replacement white rim? I don't steer around anything when they're on my bike and I've taken them down some pretty nasty stuff. But they come off whenever I go dirt jumping. And I wouldn't dream of shuttling them or doing anything lift-accessed. So factor another 500 bucks into your purchase price for the cheaper wheels you're going to have to buy for all the times you're afraid of wrecking these things.


Light enough to not be an excuse for anybody. Strong enough to get Sam Hill down to the bottom of a DH race run. Expensive enough that you could buy a decent bike for the same price. Beautiful. Strong. Light. Expensive. A wonderful product, but I can't imagine recommending these to anybody that would have to pay full retail.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I finished up my re-build of the road bike. In the end, I had to do a bit more than I wanted. Turns out the guy had thrown a 27" wheel on the front, so when I went to swap tires the old 700c's wouldn't fit. So I bought a nice new front wheel with a Mavic Open Pro on an XT hub. So in the end, it was:

New cables - brake and shifter
New housing
New bar tape
New brake pads
New tires
New tubes
New pedals
New seat

It's pretty damn fun to ride around on. And I'm finally learning how to handle the thing. Still, it's much more unwieldy than a mountain bike. I know from experience that 700c wheels on their own make a bike act kind of crazy. Throw in the drop bar though...I honestly can't think that the aero or hand position advantages outweigh the handling advantage you get with a flat bar. But I guess I haven't ridden the thing for more than half an hour.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My new ride

I have an illness when it comes to bikes. It's never "good enough". I always seem to just slowly creep up until I've created something ridiculous.

For example. I've been trying to build a city bike for some time. I built this guy up a while back. But it was too nice to lock up. I wanted drops. And it got geared out rather quickly. So I stripped it down and sold the frame to a friend.

I decided to build a cyclocross frame. So, I started with a SOMA frame. Which became a Salsa, because they're close in price and the Salsa is so much nicer. And that needed discs.... and on and on. Pretty soon, I'd only spent $1500, but I had something that I absolutely, positively, could not lock up anywhere.

So I re-set and started searching Craigslist for old road bikes. There's a lot of crap out there. And the hipsters are creaming the city out. So I finally found this guy, and I had to have it. Yes, it's not super pretty yet. I probably could stand to have a size larger. But with some minor modifications (new pedals, tires, tubes, cables, housing, brake pads, handlebar tape, seat...that's about it) I'm going to have an almost bone stock, classic Bianchi. Call these the before pictures.

Oh. I'm going to have to completely re-learn how to ride a bike. I just rode it up the street. My quad kills (I did about 10 pedal strokes) and braking is absolutely crazy. But it should be fun.