Project 1.1: DT Swiss 350 x Stan’s Crest wheelset

Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here!

Besides a frame that was just too small, the real driver for this fall’s single speed build project was the theft from my workshop of my single speed wheels.  Having the chance to start from scratch, I decided to try DT Swiss’ 350 hubset with Stan’s Notubes Crest 29er rims.  A tubeless convert, Stan’s rims were a given:  the 21mm inside/24mm outside, ready tubeless-izing, and 380g claimed weight seemed hard to beat.  Hubs were a bit harder.  I wanted a proven freehub design without too much weight- or cost.  A cassette hub with the ability to run gears if needed/desired was also a criteria.  Eventually, I remembered Tyler’s piece from Interbike a couple of years back:

For the more budget conscious, DT [Swiss]’s all-new 350 family of hubs comes with all the same internals as 240 line, but has a beefier Taiwan made hubshell versus the machined out Swiss made 240′s. So you get a lower cost hub with the same high quality internals as their premium hubs.

Sold.  Hit the jump for weights, prices, and riding impressions…

Because I like the system and had a couple of XTR rotors not getting any love, I decided to go with DT Swiss’ Centerlock hubs.  At 136g and 272g, the pair are only 10g and 51g heavier than the Swiss-made 240 model mentioned above.  The 350s use DT Swiss’ proven Star Ratchet mechanism, which looks like a pair of interlocking spiral staircases- one of the strongest designs going.  Taiwanese manufacture means that the hubs are considerably cheaper- at $77 and $295, they’re not cheap per se, but the set comes in more than $400 less than 240s.  For 60g, that’s a savings too big to ignore

After picking up a pair of 15mm hub truing adapters on eBay, I set to lacing the wheels using DT Swiss Revolution spokes.  At $1.75 apiece ($125 for a box of 72), the Revolutions (with their alloy nipples) can save a good deal of rotating weight over heavier-gauge DT Competition spokes (which come with brass nipples).  Rolling the spokes’ threads in linseed oil beforehand to prevent loosening, the Notubes rims built up fairly round and true.  I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed in the way in which the $88 rims built at first.  I may be rusty but have built quite a few wheels over the years and seemed to fight with the Crests more than I should have had to.  Admitting that these wheels would never see rim brakes and that a perfect wheel was unlikely in any case, I resigned myself to even tension and a few mm worth of hop on each wheel.

When complete, the 15mm front and 135mm rear 29er wheels came to 685 and 820g- just over 1,600g for the pair.  Without accounting for my build labor (which will cost $100-200 at experienced shops), the DT 350 x Stan’s Notubes Crest 29er wheelset came to $693- not bad for the quality and weight.  Time to ride!

Actually, not so fast.  Though I should have realized that this would be the case, it turns out that standard Centerlock lockrings (the kind that are tightened using a cassette lockring tool) don’t play well with 15mm thru axles.  So, it was back to the bike shop.  Though DT’s external Centerlock lockring is, in theory, available without the 6-bolt adapter, no one has had the standalone lockring in stock since at least last summer only BTI seems to stock them- and they were out of stock for the past several months.  What this meant was that, in order to use my $77 hub, I needed to special order a $40 6-bolt adapter set (and put half of it on the wall).  This necessary lockring is something that should absolutely be included with 15mm Centerlock hubs.

That’ll be a $733 for the wheelset, then.  You’ll need a rear QR too, if you don’t have an extra lying around.  And $16 for a pair of valve stems.

Because Stan’s rims don’t adhere to the UST standard, there are a number of very good tubeless tires that just won’t mount.  I fought with Geax’s AKA TNT tires for 10 minutes before giving up and returning them- Vredestein’s Spotted Cat and Black Panther Xtreme put up a good fight but sure inflated easily.  Really, it’s a good idea to ask a knowledgeable shop about your favorite tires before committing to the Crests.

Mounted to a Tomac Flint frame and RockShox SID XX 29er fork (which Tyler has reviewed here), the 350s and Crests have gone a long way toward making me forget the minor hassles in getting them built and reduced tire options.  Despite the wire-thin spokes and superlight rim, the wheelset has proved itself to be surprisingly solid for what I would consider to be a race-weight 29er wheelset.  Some credit, no doubt, should go to the Rock Shox’s thru-axle and the Tomac’s stiff frame, but these wheels aren’t flexy for their intended purpose.  Unlike their popping predecessors, the DT 350 hubs have so far done their job without complaint.  Just like with bike builds, one can buy an off-the-shelf wheelset that comes in a bit cheaper and/or lighter, but there really is something special about choosing a group of components and assembling them with your own hands that makes them that much more special.  More after a winter’s worth of single speed use…

marc

www.dtswiss.com

www.notubes.com

Comments

David - 11/24/11 - 10:43am

Marc,
I’m sure you know this but on non-eyeletted such as the ZTR series, brass is the way to go because it will not bind like alu nipples on the edge of the spoke hole.
Also, Revolutions are prone to wind-up during building but they are nevertheless recommended over a bladed spoke for the Crest due to the low spec tension of the rims (100 kgF) not being suitable for use with bladed spokes. This may have been why you felt like you were fighting with the rims during your build.
My favorite nipples for use with the ZTR series rims are the DT ProLock brass. I don’t believe on a (relatively) low-tension build such as this, that linseed oil is enough.

Obviously you were going for light weight, as was I with nearly the same build (AmClassic hubs instead of the 350s), so brass nipples are understandably out at three times the weight of an alloy nipple. Alloy spoke nipples must each get a dab of grease in order to avoid binding when being used with a non-eyeletted rim.

Regards,
David

MsC - 11/24/11 - 1:29pm

I’m looking to build a new wheelset myself. I checked the NoTubes forum regarding the nipples. One of the Stan’s guys responds that they build 99% of their wheels with aluminum nipples without issue.

Here’s an interesting tip regarding aluminium nipples to prevent failure : http://wheelfanatyk.blogspot.com/2010/07/wheel-building-tip-no-9-succeed-with.html

Myself, I’ll be going for Sapim Polyax nipples, as they have a rounded head for optimum spoke – nipple alignment. As spokes, my choice is Sapim D-Light, should have the same characteristics as the DT Super Competition.

Tristan - 11/24/11 - 1:43pm

David – can you expand on this? “the low spec tension of the rims (100 kgF) not being suitable for use with bladed spokes. ”

In comparing two (steel) spokes of the same weight (and therefore stiffness) like the Aerolite and Revolution, the shape of the spoke makes zero difference on tension or suitability to use on a certain rim.

Brandon - 11/24/11 - 2:13pm

I’ve probably built 20-30 sets of wheels on Crest rims and always fight a little with them. They seem to take more work to get even spoke tension and what I consider acceptable levels of lateral and vertical true. But their low weight and tubeless compatibility are hard to argue with, which is why I will continue to use them.

But as David said, I always use brass, and I couldn’t agree more with his recommendation of ProLock nipples. I love light stuff, but durability and strength are heavy influences on my decisions as well. I’ve never once (knock on wood) had an issue with a ProLock nipple once installed. And I state it that way because I once got a box that had a couple nipples in it that were solid, no spoke threads at all! But for the few thousand of those nipples I’ve used, 2 faulty ones is no big deal to me.

Good write up though, the 350 hubs seem like a great alternative to save some cash.

Brandon - 11/24/11 - 2:15pm

I should add that I built a road wheelset on Stan’s Alpha rims yesterday, which was only my 5th or 6th wheelset on that rim. I’ve been very impressed with how those build, even and true. Though, still not has nice to build as a something like an RR465, they built quite nicely.

Mike - 11/24/11 - 4:19pm

I find a dab of oil on the rim eyelet hole helps to ensure the wheels build better. I’ve never had a problem building with Stan’s rims, just a bit of patience and plenty of oil really helps.

Mark - 11/24/11 - 8:35pm

Anodized alloy nipples work fine on anodized rims. Bare alloy nipples on bare alloy rims do bind. That’s the difference.

Tom - 11/25/11 - 1:14pm

^this. I found a bit of oil does wonders. I usually just dip into my bottle of Phil’s tenacious oil for my wheel builds. A little on the end of a q-tip for the eyelets, and a little on your thumb and index finger and roll the nipples around in a light coating. I have 2 sets of crests. One laced with revolutions and alloy nipples for my race bike, and another laced with DT comps and brass. Both wheelsets have held up fantastic thus far. I typically prefer brass nipples, but decided to give alloy another go and after 2 seasons I’ve yet to have one break or crumble on me. Knock on wood. Love the Crest29!

Marc - 11/29/11 - 10:18pm

All,

I’ll keep an eye on the nipples and report on the linseed oil in a final review. I wish that I’d thought to oil the rim’s spoke holes- Stan’s low tension specs meant that it didn’t even cross my mind. I can’t see splashing out on a sub-400g 29er rim only to run brass nipples, though…

marc

AlexK. - 11/30/11 - 11:03am

@ David – I had a set of Crests built up with Sapim CX-Rays and at 185, I’m not easy on wheels. You simply have to match a low tension spoke for the low tension rims.

Joel - 03/31/14 - 11:42am

I have a set of DT350s I was thinking about converting and came across this article. I am interested in the weight, are the individual weights correct or the total? 685+820=1505.

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