We got on the plane to Zürich, Switzerland to get a glance of their latest product and to experience it ourselves. The closer we got to Switzerland, the more I realized how much I like to look at mountains. It’s very liberating.
DT Swiss has many factories in Poland, France, Spain and Asia but still has a production facility for the alloy rims at their headquarters in Biel. We were given a tour of the rim and spoke production as well as their BPM (Biel Performance Manufacturing) which is where their master wheel builders take care of all the prototyping and professionals.
Everything was very nice and tidy and the atmosphere felt professional. The people working at DT Swiss had the charisma of craftsmen and their passion shined through every step of the process. Everything is made with finesse and strong attention to detail. It’s easy to see their Swiss heritage and perfectionism shine through everything they do.
The product we came for is called the ERC 1100 Dicut. And for those who doesn’t know the DT Swiss lingo, it’s an “Endurance Race Carbon with Diamond-Cut hubs”. And if you think it’s exciting to see an endurance-purpose wheel set from this experienced brand, this is merely the start of it.
One of the most interesting things about this product, is DT Swiss’ new partnership. Together with Swiss Side, a company with 50 years experience of Formula 1 development and aerodynamics, the two brands have formed a strong friendship that has both the ambition and ability to make really interesting products.
The ERC 1100 Dicut is built on a completely new system; the Aero+. This incorporates three main pillars; drag, handling and efficiency and all three played equal roles in the process of creating the new wheel set.
Swiss Side identified some key points that built the foundation of their new product. First of all, aerodynamics. Yes – we’ve all heard the story. At 30km/h, aerodynamics is x4 more important than weight. And like many other products, the aero properties are polished through CFD and wind tunnel testing. But Swiss Side and DT Swiss went further and used some Swiss Side technology to make sure their findings in CFD and the wind tunnels were equal to the real world testing. And they was.
The rim is 47mm wide, is made with a 19mm inner diameter (created for 25mm and 28mm tires) and build with new spokes that are both butted and bladed. The first third from the hub and out is butted for strength (because the low rotational weight doesn’t require a typical aerodynamic shape) but to thirds of the spoke, towards the rim, are bladed for aerodynamics where it matters. A nice concept.
Swiss Side and DT Swiss also focused on handling with a new insight that one of the most disastrous things of cycling aerodynamics is the inability to stay aero in real world conditions (aka cross winds). When a rider is hit by strong gusts from the side, they could see on their real world testing that the human reaction is to straighten up to stay balanced and in control – which result in a much less aerodynamic position. But their testing also showed that riders that are fighting wind is coming off the power (with usually about 100 watts). This insight made them develop the wheel with a new factor in mind – steering input. And as far as we know, they are the first ones to ever come to this insight.
With a new and optimized rim profile, The ERC 1100 Dicut is significantly more predictable than most other aero wheel sets, giving the rider less worries in wind – and therefore making the whole rider-bike-system faster.
Riding the ERC 1100 Dicut
Our days riding the wheels featured little wind, and didn’t give us the possibility to test the handling stability. But the first thing we noticed was how smooth they roll and keep speed. The new hubs have 2.5% less drag than their previous ones due to a smaller cylinder diameter and sinc ceramic bearings. Rode like butter.
We rode the first half of the 80k test ride on 25mm tires, and then switched to 28mm tires when the roads got worse.
With both tire sizes, they feel lively – and that’s probably the most important thing. Wheels make such a great difference in overall bike feel, and there are endurance-type wheels that feel sluggish and slow – these didn’t.
Wheel set weight is 1517g, which is good for a clincher wheel. It’s also disc-only with a centerlock system (apparently more aero than 6bolt-systems).
The wheels are also incredibly stiff which they proved over and over again when accelerating hard, sprinting and putting them to the test downhill. They hold the line through fast corners with perfect predictability and ease. And having a 28mm tire doesn’t make it worse, either.