DT-SWISS Tricon 29″er Wheels: Final Review- by c_g
Once again we have spent over half a year on a product, putting it through all kinds of riding. Especially with wheels this should give you (and me) a very good picture of what the product is all about. How about the bearing performance? Any hints of weakness or even failure on the rims? Such things don´t usually show after only a few weeks of riding. Luckily DT-SWISS (and others) give us the chance to perform such to long term tests. If you want to refresh on the technologies involved in the wheels, have a look here. For the first ride impressions, go here.
During my mid term report (here) I have been torn between what I felt a great performing set of wheels and the hard facts that indicate some shortcomings. To name them there were the narrowish rims (19.5 mm inner width), the average weight of 1800 g for the set (in 15 mm front and 142/12 rear) and the hefty price tag of € 1159.- (or USD 1590.-) the 29″er Tricons come with. Now with lots more riding time on them, I have come to the conclusion that – for me – the performance outweighs the numbers.
These are the three prime reasons:
1. The extraordinary lateral stiffness and steering precision.
2. The great durability and reliability of the product
3. The overall great riding performance
To 1, Some may remember that I have called the XM 1550 Tricons to be one of the stiffest and most direct set of alloy wheels I have ridden. Well it gets even better, as I learned in the latest testing phase: While trying to get more tire clearance out of my ROCKY MOUNTAIN Element 970 rig by mounting a SRAM XX front derailleur (which really brings massive room there), I probed the newly gained clearance by mounting the SCHWALBE Hans Dampf 2.35, only to find out that FD clearance now was ample, but I was left with only 1.5 mm space to the seat stays. 1.5 mm – UNRIDEABLE!! Had been my first thought, but being me I at least took the bike for an easy spin around the block. Hmmm … no tire rub!!. So I did some uphill sprinting … still nothing. Only to prove this could not be possible long term, I took the bike on a real ride … four full weeks of riding this configuration (including an alpine two day trip) followed and I yet have to experience the tire rubbing against the seat stays more than jut ever so slightly in extreme situations. Yes the DT_SWISS Tricons are this stiff laterally!! Believe me or try for yourself (because honestly I would not have it were not me riding this configuration).
It seems the TRICON concept with the „Open Crowfoot“ lacing, the high spoke tension and the robust rims do indeed create not one of the stiffest, but THE stiffest wheelset I have ridden. Interestingly this does not translate into an unforgiving, „zingy“ ride, but more on that further down.
To 2, For me coming through more than 6 months of riding on all kinds of conditions, the Tricon 29″er have clearly proven their reliability and durability. I have not done any servicing – in fact I have not done anything to the wheels but ride and occasionally clean them, yet the bearings and freewheels still spin as smoothly as on day one (in fact even a bit better ). These wheels have seen a very good share of rainy rides, creek crossings and hosing down, yet when I took them apart just now, I couldn’t find any dirt or dust that have entered. I had not expected anything different from the hubs but think it is worth noting, still.
The rims also show no sign of any out of true or wobble – everything is as round and even as in the beginning. Basically the only sign of use you can find on the wheels is some (inevitable) scratches from flying rocks and a few pieces of the sticker that have come off (the ´13 generation will have even more durable water transferred stickers). What is more, due to the fully closed rim bed, there is no peeling off or bruised rim tape either.
DT_SWISS is known for their precision manufacturing and reliability and the XM 1550 Tricon 29″er wheels are no exception to this rule. As far as we can tell, these wheels should survive a lot longer than the 6 months of testing we have subjected them to.
To 3, When starting into this test I had been slightly skeptical about the 1800 g the wheels weighed, but to be honest, I would not have known from the way they ride. Acceleration had never been an issue at all – I think a part of this is the very direct power transfer that make them spin up quicker and with more ease than I would have anticipated.
We don´t do much lab testing (I know I am German and we are infamous for testing everything to death ;)) and so I don’t have numbers to prove it, but the simple riding impression to me is a very good indication of how much I liked them. The DT_SWISS Tricons to me bring a very favorable combination of responsiveness, compliance, weight and stiffness to the table, that is hard to deny. Also really good had been the tubeless characteristics of the rims. By being close to UST specifications, even the tightest fitting tires were possible to mount by hand and only the more loosely fitting ones reuired a burst fomr the compressor to inflate and seal. For those running particularly loose (usually non tubeless ready) tires, DT still provides the rubber rim strip, that can be installed on the Tricons as well.
While still on my list of „please change“, the XC width rims never gave me any trouble, but I should add that the wider tires I have been running on these wheels tubeless (SCHWALBE Hans Dampf and GEAX Gato TNT) all had well supported sidewalls, so some super wide, super soft tire, may do differently.
I had immediately been taken by the great looks and sheer number of interesting technologies incorporated in the DT-SWISS XM 1550 Tricon 29″er wheels, but the earlier mentioned specifications left me curious. But he truth is on the trail and that is where the numbers suddenly didn’t count anymore, but performance did. And this is where the Tricons really shone. I have continuously been impressed, by how precise the wheels rode, but the latest testing phase with very limited space for flex has shown me just how stiff they really are.
Usually I am more for a classic built wheel with easy to find replacement parts, but if all the proprietary parts of the Tricons lead to such a set of ride characteristics, then I have a hard time counting it against the wheels. The same applies for the weight and seemingly narrow rims, that both never bothered me at all. So if I were to look for a Do-It-All set of wheels (all apart for XC-racing) with some very special technology and great looks, then the DT-SWISS XM 1550 Tricon would be on one of the top spots of my list. I liked them a lot.
Additional Note: We have been confirmed by DT-SWISS that the Tricon (like many other DT wheels) can be retrofitted with the (soon to be released) XD-cassette body that will fit SRAM´s all new XX1 cassette. All three axle standards 135/10, 135/12 and 142/12 can be converted via different end caps. While doubtlessly other companies will follow, for now this adds yet another future proofing point to the DT-SWISS lineup.