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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…