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ROAD TESTED: The DT Swiss A1800 Wheelset

Aero wheelsets aren’t typically associated with great value for money. But there are exceptions, as Peter Maniaty recently discovered.

Its origins may date way back to the 17th Century. But the brand we today know as ‘DT Swiss’ officially came into existence in 1994, initially creating wire spokes before quickly adding the high-end wheel hubs for which it has since become synonymous. 2003 saw DT Swiss make its first foray into rim production.

Two decades on, the Swiss components juggernaut has welcomed a series of entry-level aero wheelsets—including the A1800 SPLINE 30 which I’ve been reviewing for the past couple of months. Positioned by DT Swiss as ‘Aero for All’, and priced at under $900 for the pair, the value alone calls for serious consideration.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The ‘A’ in the name stands for aero. But out of the box these tubeless-ready wheels don’t look (or feel) particularly aero. My initial reaction is ‘solid not spectacular’ – which, of course, is exactly what they’re intended to be. The A1800 SPLINE 30 isn’t about bells and whistles.

An affordable and impressive aero alloy wheelset, that’s how Pete Maniaty found the DT Swiss A1800’s.

Rather, it’s about creating a conventionally-styled hooked aluminium wheel for the masses that’s big on versatility and low on pretence. Given the rims are quite shallow at just 30mm, they’re reasonably weighty to pick up, registering 1,756 grams for the pair on my home scales (pre-taped).

Whilst 30mm isn’t a depth typically associated with high aero performance, closer inspection reveals a few streamlining touches, headlined by bladed spokes and hidden alloy nipples to help optimise airflow and reduce drag.

TECH & SPEC

With a reasonably narrow internal width of 20mm (24mm external), the A1800 SPLINE 30 rims are disc brake only and built around DT’s entry level hubs – the super durable DT 370 with industrial stainless-steel bearings. In its latest iteration, the DT 370 freehub uses 18T Ratchet LN internals which replace the previous three-pawl system. 24, 36 and 54 tooth upgrades are also available.

Internal nipples and flat spokes help both the aero abilities and appearance.

Whilst the seals and axles are a little more rudimentary (and, yes, a little heavier), the Ratchet LN system itself features the same inner parts as the ever-reliable DT Swiss 350 hubs. Front and back, the aluminium rims are laced with 24 Aero Comp Wide bladed straight-pull spokes, each held reliably in position by hidden DT Pro Lock alloy spoke nipples. ‘Pro Lock’ is a patented DT process that injects a 2-part adhesive fluid directly into the nipple thread.

When the nipple is turned on each spoke, the glue activates and begins to harden, holding the spoke more firmly in place. According to DT Swiss, this process extends wheel durability by maintaining optimal spoke tension for up to 20 times longer than wheels without Pro Lock nipples. From an aero performance perspective, specifying internal nipples with aero spokes also reduces air vortices in and around the wheels which equates to lower drag, especially at higher speeds.

As for the relatively modest 30mm rim height? DT explains it offers improvements in both aerodynamics and stiffness due to the shorter spokes compared with ultra-shallow rims, whilst balancing the optimal weight-to-aero properties for an aluminium construction.

The wheelset features straight pull spokes and the DT Swiss 370 hub.

TYRES

The A1800 SPLINE 30 is a hooked tubeless-ready wheelset, allowing you to run with or without tubes. Whichever you prefer, DT Swiss recommends a maximum tyre width of 28mm to ensure optimal aero performance. Seating new tubeless tyres for the first time (I used Schwalbe Pro One 25mm for the review) was straight forward, however, I found both rims immediately started leaking air along the join seam located at 6 o’clock to the valves.

While not entirely uncommon with new wheels before the sealant is given a chance to coat the inner surfaces, the initial ‘hiss’ is nonetheless a little disconcerting and something to be aware of. Within a few hours all was fine, however, so persevere.

There are no such leaking issues with tubes of course, which is how I ran these wheels for about half the review period using lightweight TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) tubes.

ON THE ROAD

The DT Swiss website waxes on about a ‘signature freewheeling sound’ – but for the life of me, I can’t hear a thing! Unlike its more expensive DT Swiss siblings, I found the DT 370 freehub to be whisper quiet, almost eerily so. Acoustics aside, the wheels roll along very smoothly, delivering a solid road feel with pleasingly assured handling.

A quality aero wheelset from a respected wheel maker for less than $900 – that’s the DT Swiss A1800 that Pete’s been recently riding.

For an entry level freehub, engagement is also reasonably direct (but still far from immediate) providing just enough encouragement to keep you interested when you need to lay down the power. That said, there are definitely times when you notice the added weight. Acceleration from low speeds, for example, they’re a little laboured to get going at first, which suggests they’re far more suited to training than the stop-start of criterium racing.

Once you do bring them up to speed and find a wheel to sit on, they have a sweet spot upwards of 30kmh – a characteristic typical of many aero-optimised wheelsets. Climbing performance is okay, but again there’s a clear weight penalty.

SUMMING UP

Compact, versatile and refreshingly affordable. The DT Swiss A1800 SPLINE 30 is a bombproof aero-optimised wheelset that should last you a very long time with minimal fuss. DT Swiss also offer a higher spec option of the same rims with DT 350 hubs. 

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