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Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

From Cycle EXIF’s technical editor, Richard Gearing. Disc brake clincher wheels on the road scene are still evolving. Rims no longer need to be built to manage brake forces, although they still have to be strong enough to hold the tyre on its bead at high pressures. Regardless, the options available are growing at pace.

The giants of the wheel market are leading the charge; and DT Swiss sent us a PRC1400 Spline 35 wheelset via their Australian distributor, Apollo Bikes, to see what their latest offerings are all about.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

Sitting in the DT line-up’s ‘Performance’ category, the PRC1400 is a carbon clincher which is also tubeless compatible. As the name suggests, the rims on this Spline 35 set are 35mm deep and are laced to a set of hubs based around the revered 240 hub in DT’s Spline concept format, which refers to the use of straight pull spokes and their strategic placement in the hub flanges.

As is becoming the norm for road disc, the hubs use a centerlock interface with the brake rotor; although DT do supply their own 6-bolt disc adapter for those running SRAM or other 6-bolt rotors.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

Supplied with rim tape pre-installed and with all of the necessary valves and paraphernalia for tubeless use, all you are left to do is mount your tyre of choice, fill with sealant or install a tube, and get riding.

Anyone who has read my past wheel reviews will know that mid-depth rims of around 35mm are my preference. Not deep enough to carry unnecessary weight or to be problematic in crosswinds but not shallow enough to eschew aero benefits, 35mm presents the best of both worlds; and all whilst maintaining most of the good looks of a 40-50mm rim. Slotting in at that level, I immediately felt at home on the Spline 35s.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

As is now typical of most road wheels, the rims on the PRC1400s are of a U-shaped design, meaning crosswinds should never be a concern. Their 25mm width also allows you to run lower pressures in your tyres over narrower rims, as long as your frame has the clearance for them (we briefly ran a set of 27c Challenge Paris-Roubaix measured at 30.5mm wide on these rims).

On a setup like this, the wider rims yield a surprising increase in comfort; and you’d be surprised how much you can reduce the tyre pressure without increasing the risk of pinch flats or feeling any loss of speed — not to mention leaving you feeling fresher for longer, due to smoothing road vibrations.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

The weight of these wheels is very competitive, coming in a 1434g (published weight). Being a clincher, the rim still needs a decent amount of material at the rim edge to resist tyre pressure forces; and the hub weight is slightly increased due to the disc brake centerlock mechanism.

Despite this, and according to the DT website, the disc version of the Spline 35 is reportedly 52g lighter than the rim brake version. I believe you would struggle to match this weight in such a trustworthy, dependable disc wheel without reverting to ridiculously expensive light weight components or tubular rims.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

At an RRP of AUD$2649 (at the time of writing), I don’t feel like there’s any reason to doubt how these perform over more expensive equivalents. Taking the ENVE 3.4 disc clinchers as a comparison, the DTs lose out by 13g in weight and are ‘only’ 25mm wide VS the ENVE’s 29mm width, but they save a whopping AUD$1000 in the process.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

The PRC1400s are also available in a 65mm depth which adds 235g to the weight, coming in at 1669g (published); but which also brings a more aerodynamic profile over the 35mm version we tested.

Sitting right in the middle in terms of rim depth, DT also offer the ERC1100 wheels. Those are 47mm deep and are even wider at 27mm. Again, they are also slightly heavier than the Spline 35s at a still-very-respectable 1513g; but these were also designed in collaboration with SwissSide to offer the very best in aerodynamics – which is why the price of those jumps up to $3149 (RRP and AUD).

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

And then there’s the looks. Despite DT insisting on screen printed graphics, they have done so in a very tasteful manner – they won’t let you hide the fact that you’re riding DT Swiss wheels, but they don’t shout it from the rooftops in the process.

I’m ok with that; and lately I’ve been preferring the look of subtle wheel logos over completely bare rims anyway.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

One thing I’m still getting used to with disc road bikes is that the thru-axles are not supplied with the wheels in the same way that quick releases usually are. Despite the industry settling on 12mm x 100mm and 12mm x 142mm for road disc thru-axles, they still can’t seem to agree on what the width and thread pitch of the thru-axles should be so there is still a lot of variation in this area.

For this reason, thru-axles are supplied with the frame and fork rather than with the wheels. Whilst these were supplied for thru-axle use, adaptors are supplied for other axle formats.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

I’ve found in the past that DT wheels seem to spin up and roll in a manner that belies their weight and spec; and the Spline 35s are no exception. On the flats they roll beautifully and I think you would struggle to feel any genuine perceivable difference over a wheel that is 10mm deeper (I’m sure such a difference could be measured with fancy equipment).

Although far from being heavy, these spin up like boutique wheels weighing 300g less; and they feel like they would roll for days despite not using ceramic bearings.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

With the solid mount of a thru-axle and the DT Swiss build quality, they never budged; and the rim depth and shape meant crosswinds were never an issue. I struggled up some climbs whilst riding these wheels, but I could never claim it was the wheels themselves holding me back – even when they were shod with much wider and heavier rubber.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

It can still feel unnerving to lower the pressure of tyres to make use of that extra width, but using tyres that I have mounted across a number of different wheels of different widths made the change all the more obvious – and pleasurable – when I did.

Throw on a good quality wider tyre at a lower pressure and you’re damn close to the feel of a tubular setup too. That said, the quality of these wheels is such that even a gravel ride on 26c road tyres didn’t feel jarring.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

Perhaps my only criticism of the wheels is the internal nipples in the event of needing to quickly fine-tune the tension of a spoke; but at least they are clinchers on which the tyre can be easily popped off if such a need did arise.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review

I had a blast riding these wheels. The time of year I had them resulted in an extra couple of weeks testing them over the festive period. The return from the festive break saw the Australian bike industry heading straight into the Tour Down Under, which was then almost immediately followed by a long weekend for Australia Day.

This lucky combination meant that by the time our Apollo rep had got back to normality I’d had them for long enough to almost forget they weren’t mine – which was about the same time that I realised I would quite happily own a set myself.

It’s not often I say that about clinchers; and especially not about clinchers at a price point where I would usually only consider tubs.

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Our most sincere thanks to Torben Finn Laursen of cykelportalen.dk for the pictures used in this article.

Deal Clincher: DT Swiss PRC1400 Disc Wheel Review