While DT Swiss is widely-known for their rock-solid hubs, their wheelsets are also solid and reliable. It’s highly likely that you have several bikes with DT Swiss hubs, wheels or internals hanging in the garage. This spring, I’ve had the all-new DT Swiss GRC 1400 650b wheelset locked-and-loaded on the 3T Exploro RaceMax and the system reliability has matched that of DT’s fabled hubs.
DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline 650b Wheelset Features:
- Built with DT Swiss 240 hubs
- Ratchet System freehub
- DT aero comp® straightpull spokes
- Tubeless-ready hookless bead design
- 286 lb max rider weight
- External Width: 32mm (actual)
- Internal Width: 24.3mm (actual)
- Depth: 43.4mm (actual)
- Weight: 1565 grams (actual)
- MSRP: $2479
Go small, but go big
While most people think that we go bigger to get better. For DT Swiss, the GRC 1400 Spline 650b wheelset goes smaller (diameter), but goes bigger (inner width) to provide just the right platform for the most versatile gravel bikes on the market. Going 650b is my personal favorite on gravel bikes, but not all gravel bikes are built for smaller wheels. So, if your gravel bike is a willing partner, these are a versatile and fast wheelset for even the widest gravel tires.
DT Swiss is renowned for their bombproof freehub internals that are easily-serviced and just plain work. Many other manufacturers use their internals because they want worry-free performance. The full DT Swiss gravel wheel line uses their existing Ratchet System and the GRC 1400 650b uses their 240 hubs. Uniquely, DT’s hubs don’t have adjustable pre-load. The bearings, end caps and eventually the tightened thru-axle are all accounted for and deliver super-smooth performance without the hassle of adjustable pre-load. What that means is you have one less thing to fuss with when installing or maintaining your wheels.
The 240’s on this wheelset are the previous-generation models, so you need a little more gumption to remove the endcaps. Some grease on the o-rings makes that easier. Honestly, you shouldn’t need to remove them for a long time, but keep that in mind when it comes time to service them or to install a different freehub (like I did to install the XDR freehub with SRAM Force AXS Wide). For reference, these wheels are also now available with the Campagnolo N3W 13-speed freehub body.
Breezy tubeless setup
Tubeless has a reputation for being a mixed bag. Some wheels and tires are easily-seated while others are a lesson in frustration. I exclusively tested the GRC 1400’s with Schwalbe G-One Allround 2.25″ tires, which measure out to 55mm. I was able to do a tool-free install and seat them up with the Blackburn Chamber Tubeless Pump. To test the tire/rim combo, I inflated them to about 60 psi without sealant and let them sit overnight. No air was lost. I then let them hang like that in the garage for a couple of weeks and the air leakage was minimal. I knew this tire/rim combo would be a tubeless winner.
I did squeeze 3 oz of Bontrager TLR sealant before use and haven’t even thought about them since then. My running pressures have been 26-28 psi. and I only have to add a pound or two of air between rides (2-3 days).
Again, these rims are just over 24mm wide and feature a hookless bead. You can run tubes in a pinch, but with hookless beads, it’s best to use tubeless tires still. They are among the widest gravel wheels on the market and that width makes for a fuller tire with straighter sidewalls for added comfort, traction and handling.
Roll on, gravel friends
When running 55mm of rubber on any wheel, you’re not going to push the limits of my standard roll-to-stop tests. I coast down the driveway and see how long it takes for the wheels to come to a stop. This combo ends up the middle-of-the-pack in that test. On the road, that also becomes apparent. I’m not ripping PR’s on local road climbs, but who cares about that when you have such a comfortable and grippy set of tires where it counts?
Where it does count, on high-speed gravel, these wheels have been outstanding. The combination of low pressures and fast, real-world rolling efficiency has allowed me to show just what the 3T Exploro RaceMax can do. Those wide tires allow me to rip through rough terrain without batting an eye. I do have to pick my lines, but I can fudge those lines way more and smoother is unquestionably faster. Just this past week, I obliterated, my previous PR and nailed the #4 spot on a local gravel segment. I subsequently did the same on another, longer one.
The moral of the story is that big tires and small wheels may roll a little slower on the road, but on rough gravel, they simply fly. You can run lower pressures and enjoy the smoothness. And, my aging lower back approves.
Keep in mind that not all bikes are optimized for 650b wheels. You may think you want to give them a whirl, but check with your manufacturer to ensure their compatibility. The BMC URS, Argon 18 Dark Matter and GT Grade are examples where 650b wheels are not explicitly recommended. Others, like the 3T Exploro, 3T Exploro RaceMax, Open UPPER, Open WIDE and Ventum GS1 (in for testing) are stated to be compatible and work beautifully. I did try 650’s on the BMC URS and it just didn’t feel right. So, listen to your manufacturer’s recommendations before going with small wheels.
Now, when it comes to maintenance on these wheels, you may have occasion to true them up. I didn’t need to do that, but if you do, they will require tire and tubeless tape removal to do so — yuck. I’m going to bank on the reliability so far and hope to not ever have to do that until my tires have served their useful lifespan. Hiding the spoke nipples is an aerodynamics move, but it’s a hard pill to swallow when huge tires basically blow up any aerodynamics the rims may have.
- Wide internal width makes fuller tires
- Solid and reliable — even after tons of abuse
- Fast rolling on gravel
- Quick engagement
- Laterally stiff and responsive
- Easy tubeless setup
- Great for aggressive gravel riding
- There’s a lot of cross-section to get pushed around in strong crosswinds
- I hope I don’t need to true them up
- On the pricey side
The Bottom Line: DT Swiss GRC 1400 650b Wheelset
These are the premiere gravel wheelset DT Swiss offers and I’ve found them to be unflappable on gravel roads. Real-world gravel performance is fantastic with a foundation that supports even the widest tires. That 24mm internal width is among the widest rims on the market and allows for a fuller tire, more control, lower pressures and ultimately, better traction. And, tubeless performance has been outstanding.
Buy Now: Visit DT Swiss & Find a Retailer
When it comes to gravel wheelsets, I'm still a fan of going 650b -- if your bike is optimized for them. Going that route allows you to install wide tires and run low air pressures for the ultimate in speed and comfort on gravel. With the DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline 650b wheels, you can expect a reliable, fast-rolling wheelset that can tackle the roughest gravel tracks around. These are a hefty investment, but should have a long service life.