DT Swiss PRC 1400 Spline 35 carbon clincher wheelset – review - Road Cycling UK

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DT Swiss PRC 1400 Spline 35 carbon clincher wheelset – review

Redesigned PRC 1400 Spline wheelset proves to be a true high-performance all-rounder

A few weeks ago, we gave you a first look at the DT Swiss PRC 1400 Spline 35 wheelset, and suffice to say we were intrigued to see how the Swiss firm’s £1,674.99 carbon clincher hoops stood up to some end-of-summer treatment. The result? These are seriously impressive mid-depth carbon wheels ready to light up any ride.

If you’re not in the mood for a full re-read of that story, let us briefly regale you with the most important details. First up, the PRC line-up sits in the middle of the DT Swiss’ aero-endurance continuum, either side of the ARC and ERC ranges respectively, which means it takes cues from each.

Remember the lightweight vs aero wheels discussion we had? Well, the PRC 1400s in this 35mm depth (there’s also a 65mm option) are a perfect example of the type of mid-section rim likely to provide reliable all-round performance for the majority of riders, on the vast majority of their rides. At 35mm, that rim is deep enough to provide an aero advantage, while remaining relatively light at 1,476g for the wheelset.

We’ve been extremely impressed with the DT Swiss PRC 1400 Spline 35 wheels

DT Swiss’ official blurb says as much: “Unsure what will happen on your group ride? Mountains, hills of flat sections? Water from below, water from above? You needn’t worry, the PRC 1400 Spline 35 has it covered.”

  • Specification

  • Price: £1,674.99 (£974.99 front; £699.99 rear)
  • Weight: 1,476g (653g front; 823g rear)  
  • Rim depth: 35mm
  • Rim width: 25mm external; 18mm internal
  • Website: DT Swiss

Quite a claim, that; they’re intended to excel at climbing, handle punchy accelerations spikes in power and offer flat-out aero performance, in the dry or wet. And with a wide 25mm external rim width (18mm internally) capable of fitting wider tyres – up to 28c, realistically, although DT Swiss says it’s perfect for 25c tyres – they should be well up to the task of dealing with the odd bits of gravel and cobbles like their ERC siblings (which, with an internal rim width of 19mm, are better optimised for 28mm tyres, according to DT Swiss).

Throw in the fact that they’re tubeless-ready (our test wheels came pre-installed with Schwalbe Pro One 25c tyres) and these are some seriously well-rounded hoops on paper. That’s notwithstanding the high quality hubs, updated spoke flange design and all-round quality of the build itself.

Light and rapid tubeless-ready all-rounders

I’ll come onto those details later, because there’s no doubt about it: these are right up there with the Roval Rapide CLX50 carbon clinchers we reviewed earlier this year in terms of rip-roaring fun. 

Those Rovals may be wider (3.7mm internally), deeper (15mm) and lighter (38g) than the PRCs, but DT Swiss’ wheels offer an all-round ride quality which is extremely impressive.

The extra weight of the PRC wheels has been applied well, with the front wheel 17g lighter and the rear a considerable 55g meatier. As a result, the weight distribution leads to a super-responsive ride that is stiff and planted at the rear, and quick under hand at the front, simply begging to be ridden hard. Show the wheelset steep rises or longer ascents where you’re best served sat in the saddle, and the sense of immediacy from the hoops beneath you is remarkable. Every iota of effort is directed through the wheels and into the road, with a level of responsiveness that is frankly outstanding.

What’s also impressive is how composed and controllable the wheels are. While lightweight, shallower rims can be super-responsive, that can occasionally come at a cost of ride quality, but there’s not a hint of that here. Instead, DT Swiss has managed to produce a rim, 25mm width and all, that stays true and predictable even when really putting the hammer down.

The PRCs are available in two depths: the 35mm tested and 65mm

Here, the installed tubeless rubber plays an important role, given the lower pressures you can run them at. It’s indicative that DT Swiss’ UK distributor, Madison, chose to supply the test wheels with this setup (you’ll need to buy your own, unfortunately); the secret’s out on what the brand thinks works best with its products.

Where the wheels really come alive is is under speedy cornering and descending – when the true handling characteristics of a wheelset make themselves known. That combination of tubeless tech (and Schwalbe’s Pro One tyres are a superb match) and the 25mm-wide carbon rim results in a ride that ranks among the most informative and stable I’ve tested.

Because I could feel the texture of the road and the grip of the tyre compound through my Canyon Ultimate test rig like never before, I was able to attack bends with renewed vigour. As such, instead of being afraid to approach the ragged edge of grip, never quite sure when even the best rim and rubber combo will let go and slide, the PRC rims are perfectly designed to work with tubeless tech to allow you to stride right up to the limit of your bravery levels, and then go one step further. Safely, and in control.

Control, incidentally, that’s impressive even under heavy braking. These rim brake versions of the PRC 1400s feel solid and dependable under load, and are very impressive in the way they shed heat under prolonged pressure. DT Swiss brought a new resin to the brake track, which is said to be 20 per cent more heat resistant. Where before I’ve made the same brake pads fade or chatter when the heat really ramps up on carbon rims, it’s far harder to achieve this on the PRC 1400s.

Performance has been impressive across the board, whether riding hills, pushing the pace on the flat or negotiating tricky crosswinds

For ultimate power and tactile response in the dry (with performance in the wet that’s relatively impressive too), Mavic’s iTgMax laser treatment still sets a tough benchmark, in my opinion, but DT Swiss’s new resin is certainly up with the better performers – reliable, and plenty powerful enough.

Show the wheels flat roads and you at least get a sense of the aero efficiency despite the shallower rim width of these 35mm test wheels.

We haven’t done our own wind tunnel testing on these wheels, but the PRCs get a blunt, NACA-style ‘Aero+’ design that helps the wheels hold on to speed. If aero performance is the most major of concerns for you, the equivalent 65mm-deep set will probably suit you more or, indeed, the entire ARC range launched earlier this year, but be under no illusion, the 35mm PRC hoops are no slouches.

The 35mm depth is therefore perfectly suited in allowing you to ride through cross-winds with serenity, and given the characteristics I’ve already described, it’s hardly surprising that sure-footedness is again a central pillar of the experience when riding the PRC wheelset.

High-spec construction

While DT Swiss manufactures a full range of wheels, it’s arguably equally as well-known for its hub designs as anything else. In the centre of the PRC 1400 Spline hoops sit the excellent 240S hubs – a worthy companion for any high-end wheelset – complete with a super-smooth and deep-resonating freehub sound.

There’s a real air of quality from these hubs, which only serves to feed into the smoothness of the overall ride quality. The freehub also features widened flanges on the driveside, with a two-degree increase in angle of the spokes on that side over the existing model. The effect of this, DT Swiss claims, is to increase rear wheel lateral stiffness by 15 per cent, and given our experiences with the PRC 1400s, it stacks up.

The workmanship in the silver ‘DiCut’ cutaways is also plain to see, while instead of machining normal guides for the cassette body to slide onto, DT Swiss also use a cutaway – splined – design to help with shedding unnecessary weight. The noticeably smooth interface when fitting the cassette also hints at the small tolerances and attention to detail that helps make this a high-performance wheelset.

You’d expect nothing less though, for the £1,674.99 setback, and at the same time there’s no shortfall in quality with the straight-pull spokes, which incidentally are double-butted and feature DT Swiss’ ‘Pro Lock’ technology within the thread to reportedly boost reliability (we’ve encountered no problems during this test period).

DT Swiss PRC 1400 Spline 35 carbon wheels (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Conclusion

DT Swiss’ PRC 1400 Spline 35 is a truly excellent example of the mid-depth aero wheelset. You may not get the all-out aerodynamic performance of DT’s new ARC wheels, or the extra width of the endurance-focussed ERC hoops, but the PRCs occupy an enticing middleground.

If you’re after a wheelset that errs on the shallower side for guaranteed good manners in windy conditions while being equally adept at taking on hilly, flat, super-smooth, or less-than-perfect roads, the PRC 1400s are up to the job.

Pros

  • Super-responsive
  • Very stable
  • High quality all-round build
  • Fast in a range of conditions
  • Good braking performance

Cons

  • Expensive (but with performance to match)

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