DT Swiss E 1700 Spline Two 30 Wheelset Review
Cons: 20 degree free hub engagement, expensive for alloy, heavy
Manufacturer: DT Swiss
Our Analysis and Test Results
DT Swiss has been an industry leader in wheel and wheel component manufacturing for a long time. Many other brands, including some in this review, use their spokes, nipples, and hubs in the construction of their complete wheelsets. They have earned a reputation for making quality wheels and parts that offer consistent and reliable performance. The E 1700 Spline wheels fall squarely in the middle of their range of three enduro focused alloy wheelsets. Overall, testers found them to have reasonably good ride quality and durability, but they quickly became one of the least favorite models in the test due to their 20-degree freehub engagement which just could not be overlooked. Of course, you can upgrade the freehub's star ratchet to improve the engagement, but that adds an additional expense on top of an already expensive alloy model. This is not to say this isn't a quality wheelset, but we feel there are less expensive models that offer better performance.
The E 1700 Spline 30 wheels are made with 100% DT Swiss parts. The rims are aluminum with a 35mm external and 30mm internal width. The rim profile is symmetrical with a depth of 20mm. The rim bead is hooked and they come with tubeless rim tape and valve stems. There are 28 straight-pull DT Competition spokes per wheel with DT ProLock Squorx ProHead aluminum nipples. They are laced in a 3 cross pattern to DT 350 aluminum hubs with a Ratchet System 18 freehub. This freehub system has 2 opposing 18 tooth drive rings resulting in a 20-degree engagement. They come with 6 bolt center lock adapters for your brake rotors. They are available in boost and non-boost hub spacing for 27.5" and 29" wheels with Shimano HG or SRAM XD freehub bodies. They also come with a 2-year limited warranty.
The ride quality of the E 1700 Spline 30 wheels is relatively good but their performance is hampered by their weight and poor freehub engagement. The wheels roll fast and smooth and they feel stable and comfortable in rough terrain. They aren't quite as stiff as any of the carbon models we tested, instead, they have the give that alloy wheels are known for which helps dampen and smooth out the ride.
The weight of the wheels is quite noticeable, especially when compared to the carbon models, and they feel portly on the climbs and noticeably sluggish during accelerations. This doesn't really come as a surprise, as they are the heaviest wheels in our test selection, almost 200g heavier than the Stans Flow MK3 and over 300g heavier than our carbon competitors.
Our testers all agreed that the 20-degree freehub engagement was truly terrible and completely ruined the otherwise reasonable performance of these wheels. This slow engagement is the worst in the test resulting in a massive lag and dead spot in the pedal stroke. This lag causes more chain slap, awkward pedal strokes, and really makes the wheels and your entire bike feel low performance. On one of the first test rides with these wheels, our tester found himself stopping repeatedly to check the clutch on his derailleur and other parts on his bike, only to realize it was the 20-degree engagement that was the issue. For comparison, the Spank Oozy Trail 345 wheels are the closest with 12-degree engagement, while the Stan's Flow MK3 wheels have a respectable 10-degree engagement. All of the carbon models in this review have 10-degree engagement or better, with the Race Face Next R31 taking the cake with a lightning quick 3-degrees.
The E 1700 Spline 30 wheels are built with strength and durability to handle enduro style riding and that is reflected in their weight. At 2,136g for the pair including their center lock adapters, these are the heaviest wheels in the test, 170g heavier than the Spank Oozy Trail and a whopping 240g more than the Stans Flow MK3, the other alloy wheelsets in this review. In the case of the E 1700 wheels, it feels like a lot of that weight is in the rim, putting more weight further out from the hub and making them feel even heavier than they already are.
We have no complaints about the durability of the E 1700 Spline 30 wheels. DT Swiss has a long history of making reliable products and these wheels live up to that reputation. They stayed true and round throughout our testing, despite repeated attempts to make them show weakness. While experimenting with tire pressures we did rim out in a rock garden, or several, and we didn't manage to dent or crack the rims. We trust that these will hold up well for several years of normal use.
With a retail price of $912 for the pair, we have a hard time saying these represent the best value. This is not to say they aren't a quality wheelset, they were just outperformed by the other alloy wheels in this review which are lighter weight with far better freehub engagement and cost approximately $250 less. Of course, there is the option of upgrading the freehub to a ratchet system with more teeth, but this adds roughly $100 to the price of these wheels, bumping the total price up to around $1,000, which we think is absurd for a pair of heavy alloy wheels. At that point, you're better off throwing down for carbon and our Best Buy Carbon Wheelset, the Roval Traverse Carbon for only $200 more.
If you're looking for the best value, we recommend the Stans Flow MK3 which offer similar durability and livelier ride quality, but with 10-degree freehub engagement and a significantly lighter weight.
Considering the fact that DT Swiss makes them, we had relatively high expectations for the E 1700 Spline Two 30 wheels, especially considering the price. While we were impressed with their durability we were underwhelmed by their on trail performance due to their weight and poor freehub engagement. We found the other alloy wheels in this test to have similar durability, lighter weight, and significantly better freehub engagement.
Other Versions and Accessories
DT Swiss makes a full line of wheels and hubs for all types of mountain biking. Their E series of wheels is enduro focused and includes 3 different models including the E 1700 Spline 30 reviewed here. The DT Swiss E 1700 Spine Two 30 wheelset comes in boost (tested) and non-boost hub spacing in 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes.
DT Swiss also makes the E 1700 Spline wheelset in a 25mm internal rim width in either boost and non-boost hubs in 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes. The E 1700 Spline 25 wheelsets start at $828.
The EX 1501 Spline One is their top of the line enduro wheelset and it comes in both 25mm and 30mm internal rim widths in 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes. The EX 1501 wheels have DT 240 hubs with their Ratched 36 SL freehub with 10-degree engagement. The EX 1501 Spline One 25 wheelsets start at $1,276, and the EX 1501 Spline One 30 wheelsets start at $1,328.
The E 1900 Spline 30 is the least expensive model in the lineup with prices starting at $484 for a set. They are available in 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes with a 30mm internal rim width built around a DT 370 hub with a 3 pawl freehub. They are offered in both boost and non-boost spacing.
As mentioned in the body of the review, DT Swiss makes ratchet upgrade kits that can speed up the engagement of the freehub. The 36 tooth ($103) ratchet cuts the degrees of engagement in half down to 10 degrees. The 54 tooth ($115) ratchet brings the engagement down to a respectable 6.6 degrees.
— Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens