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DT Swiss ARC 1100 DiCut 48 wheelset review

7 Nov 2017
Verdict:

The DT Swiss ARC 48 wheels prove that the Swiss brand deserves a place among the top echelons of performance wheelsets

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2069.98 UK RRP
For 
Acceleration and stability, build quality
Against 
Braking not quite as sharp as competitors with textured brake track

The last year has seen DT Swiss gradually roll out its ‘Road Revolution’ concept. The brand has taken the opportunity to overhaul, streamline and homogenise the look, denomination and technology of its performance wheelsets into five distinct families: Endurance, Performance, Aero, Track and Cross.

The DT Swiss ARC 1100 DiCut 48 wheelset is the shallowest offering in the Aero family - which is all about aerodynamic efficiency and stability - and the family’s development was done in collaboration with aerodynamicists Swiss Side.

The rim profiles of the ARCs are based on Swiss Side’s existing Hadron wheels - to minimise frontal area, they possess 17mm internal rim widths, which are said to perform best when paired with 23c or 25c tyres.

Tweaks to the DiCut hubshells, spoke profiles and nipple placement provoke claims from DT Swiss that the ARC line sets ‘a new industry benchmark’ in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and stability, comparing favourably to market leaders in wind-tunnel testing.

Having got to know DT Swiss’s previous generation of aero wheelset - the RRC65 model - very well over a few months of testing I was interested to see how this latest design compared.

All new wheelset

The RRC65 wheelset has pretty much been carried over with a few improvements into this latest generation and renamed as part of the ‘PRC’ performance family, but the ARC line is all new and considered by DT Swiss to be its pinnacle of research and engineering.

All depths in the ARC line are available in rim or disc brake but I was keen to directly assess the progression in performance between the RRC65s and ARC48s, so I opted for the rim brake version.

The incoming ARC48s plugged the gap in the same bike as the outgoing RRC65s so I was very well positioned to notice any differences in performance.

Discrepancies became immediately apparent - the ARC48’s are nearly 200g lighter so the effect on acceleration was stark.

They seemed eager to get going in comparison to the deeper RRC65 wheels, and just as stiff.

As heavier wheels would, the RRC65s gave me more of a sense of momentum but they were comparatively laborious to change speed.

The DT Swiss ARC 48 wheels felt more reactive in this regard, rewarding my punchy efforts up the steep Dorset lanes I ride on with sharp response.

Understandably the RRC65s should perform better aerodynamically purely because they have a deeper rim, yet DT Swiss and Swiss Side claim their studious time in the wind tunnel has narrowed the gap, achieving similar aerodynamic performance despite the shallower rim.

Therefore I expected the difference in aerodynamic performance to be imperceptible, and it duly was, but crucially the ARC48s did not feel slower at a given speed.

So with the advantage of quicker acceleration I would argue I was faster despite moving to the shallower rim.

Build quality

Although I am yet to put in as much time on the wheels as I did with their (indirect) predecessors, their build quality looks to remain beyond reproach.

I said it in my last review but I’ll reiterate that I think it is in this area is where DT Swiss wheelsets present the clearest advantage over their competition.

As DT Swiss has the luxury of producing every wheel component it can ensure that they work specifically together, which has allowed it to to blend competitive performance with reliability and serviceability.

That isn’t something that can be said across the market.

Weight is competitive with the more widely-recognised industry leaders and the ARC48s (while undeniably expensive) compared favourably in price too.

The only area where the wheels lose some ground is in the braking - while the ARC48 brake track provides consistent stopping power it physically just can’t offer the same initial bite as textured brake surfaces.

That being said, braking performance remains accomplished and dependable for a carbon rim and is comparatively less aggressive on pads - textured surfaces have been known to chew through brake pads.

DT Swiss doesn’t yet hold quite the status or desirability that Zipp or Enve enjoy but to my mind their performances are difficult to separate, so if you are in the market for the best wheels money can buy, the DT Swiss ARC 1100 DiCut 48 should be well worth your consideration.

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