Ride Impressions: DT Swiss, Schwalbe, Stockli- byc_g

Yesterday we have shown you the 2013 products by SCHWALBE (here), and before that, the news by DT-SWISS (here), now today we conclude our visit in Biel (Switzerland) with the impressions of the demo ride.

In the demo we had the opportunity to try out a few new DT-SWISS and SCHWALBE products on a 2 ½-hour tour of the Swiss Jura. The only test bikes in the 29″er format were hardtails by THÖMUS and STÖCKLI. We chose the STÖCKLI Beryll Carbon RS 29, which was equipped with the new DT-SWISS XR 1450 SPLINE 29″er wheels, an XMM 100 29 (Twin Shot) fork and the new SCHWALBE Rocket Ron tires.

First of all a comment: It is very difficult to give a sound judgement if everything is new – the bike, the wheels, tires, and last but not least the trails, and therefore it is important to take my the following remarks with a grain of salt and merely as first impressions .

First, on the STÖCKLI 29″er bike:

The STÖCKLI Beryll Carbon RS 29 ( here on the homepage of STÖCKLI) is the winning bike of the 2011 Transalp Challenge, ridden by Urs Huber (Swiss Champion’11) and Konny Looser ( Europe champion ’11 U23). With a given frame weight of 960 g, it is one of the lightest production frames on the market today. The look of the frame is very understated in matte carbon – with only the “Stockli” decal on the down tube and a few other small stickers.

The Beryll is designed to be a performance Endurance-/Marathon bike and I believe it meets the proposed intent spot on. It is directionally stable, confidence inspiring, light and fast. With the special Flexstay seat stays and the 27.2 mm seat post this bike receives the highest comfort factor of any 29″er hard tail we have ever ridden – ever. However, my demo bike had some front end flex that was noticeable primarily when hammering out of the saddle and in technical terrain.

Coming from the super-agile BERGAMONT Revox, I initially felt the Beryll RS 29 to be a bit too stable, but after only a short while I had adjusted and found it to be very balanced for the intended use.

The climbing ability of the bike was astonishing – even in the steepest climbs, there was no sign of a lofty front and that, despite the moderate chain stay length of 438 mm and seat angle of 73 °.

As is usual today, the Beryll has a tapered head tube (with integrated headset), a press-fit bottom bracket (that it is executed to be compatible with all crank combos!) and the above mentioned Flexstay seat stays. In addition, the down tube has a Kevlar layer, which protects the frame from rocks springing up. The frame alone sells for CHF 1990.- (approximately EUR 1650.- or $ 2070.-), or as a very high quality bike for CHF 5990.- (approximately EUR 5000.- or $ 6250.-).

For more information see http://de.stoeckli.ch/main/bike/ (sorry, no info about the bikes on the English site).

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Now for the DT-Swiss wheels:

The mounted XR 1450 SPLINE 29 are the lightest big wheels DT-SWISS has produced to date (apart from the Tubulars). At approximately 1550 g total weight and a inner rim width of 18 mm, they are clearly designed for XC racing.

Quite often such lightweight alloy wheel sets suffer from mild stiffness weaknesses, at least in the back – but that’s what was not the case with the Spline wheels … at all. Though not quite as stiff as their big brother, the TRICON 29″ers (the stiffest 29″er aluminum wheels we know and which we have had for test some months now – see here), the SPLINE 1450 29″er wheels are very precise and stiff.

Given the “only” 28 spokes I can only account the high spoke tension, and special hub design with straight spokes for the very direct riding experience. The tested wheels had a 15 mm front axle and 9 mm quick release rear, so the stiffness promoting technology may indeed have benefited the front, however on the rear I could clearly feel how precisely the wheels are … even without a through axle.

Quick acceleration and a lively cornering feel are attributes the XR 1450 SPLINE 29″ers do have, no doubt about that.

Although this has merely been a first impression with this wheel set – it was quite promising.

(I will not say anything on the XMM 100 29″er fork, because we have the exact same fork on test already for months. More information about this can be found here (Intro) here (first impression) and here (Update))

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Now for the first impression of the SCHWALBE Rocket Ron (Generation II):

The first stage of the demo tour was on asphalt – this is where the Rocket Ron shined with its silky smooth roll-ability and great speed – no trace of flexible knobs anywhere and with a speed worthy of a XC race tire. The later stages were on forest roads and trails and here they also proved mostly good natured, potent and fast. Where the trails had dried up from the rain of the previous days or where the ground was only damp, there I had absolutely no complaints and even the steepest climbs and descents could not bring the Rocket Ron to its limits.

In the wet woodland sections with very slippery limestone and soft clay, however, the Rocket Ron (II) was facing other challenges. It took more conservative riding style and some caution on the brake levers to stay on the trails. I may add, under these conditions, probably most XC tires would have their struggles and as such the Rocke Ron has done rather well even there. The other bikes equipped with Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf tires – had less trouble, but even they sometimes had to fight with the slippery surface. Later on on regular forest soils, the tire again proved to be stable and confident, be it under aggressive braking or quick changes in direction.

Even though this has only been my first impression of The SCHWALBE Rocket Ron it again continues to fulfill the claim of a very fast XC tire for changing conditions. The weaknesses on the slippery clay I don´t really hold against them … further tests on our home trails are likely to follow.

This closes the coverage of our visit to the Headquarters of DT-SWISS and product news by DT-SWISS & SCHWALBE. With this last impression from Lake Biel (taken during the demo ride) we would like to thank DT-SWISS and SCHWALBE for inviting and hosting us.

RIDE ON
c_g