DT Swiss XRC 1501 Review | A bulletproof carbon wheelset for more than just XC racing

The not-so-minor details


DT Swiss XRC 1501 Spline One


$2,349 AUD




- Light, taut and responsive
- Wide rim profile works a treat with 2.4in tyres
- Excellent all-round durability
- Easily serviceable freehub
- Warranty & crash replacement backup


- There are lighter options out there
- Round straight-pull spokes can be trickier to tension

Wil reviews the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheels

If you’ve been on the lookout for a lightweight set of hoops for your XC bike, there’s a strong chance you’ll have had your eye on the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset. Previously built with skinny alloy rims, the latest model upgrades to carbon with a contemporary 30mm inner width, making it ideally suited to the new wave of 2.3-2.4in XC tyres hitting the market. Along with 240 hubs and a sub-1,600g claimed weight, the XRC 1501 is a premium wheelset that’s purpose-built for modern XC bikes.

Given those favourable specs and DT Swiss’ enviable reputation, these wheels have been everywhere this year. In fact, we’ve actually ridden them already on both the Orbea Oiz M-Team and the Merida Ninety-Six RC 9000. To go a little more in-depth however, we decided to get our hands on a standalone wheelset to put through the wringer and see just how upgrade-worthy these really are.

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
The DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset uses the same carbon rims as the top-end XRC 1200 model, but comes in $750 cheaper.
dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
We’ve been testing the XRC 1501 wheelset across a variety of bikes, including the Scott Spark.

Where do these sit in the range?

The DT Swiss XRC 1501 is one of four complete wheel options in the Swiss brand’s XC lineup. It sits above two cheaper alloy wheelsets, and just below the top-end XRC 1200 wheelset we’ve tested previously. Here’s a quick rundown of the key differences between them;

DT Swiss also uses a similar naming system for its burlier wheels, with the same tiered pricing and spec structure. So if you’re after something a little tougher, look to the XM wheelset range (XMC 1200, XMC 1501, XM 1700 & X 1900). If it’s enduro racing you’re into, there’s the EX range (EXC 1200, EXC 1501, EX 1800 & E 1900).

It’s the lightweight XC wheels we’re testing here though, so let’s get stuck into the review.

DT Swiss XRC 1501 price & specs

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
The XRC 1501 wheelset is built with 28 x DT Swiss Competition Race straight-pull spokes front and rear.


As a modern XC wheelset, the DT Swiss XRC 1501 is only available in a 29in diameter with Boost axle spacing.

The hubs utilise a Centerlock rotor mount, with low-profile lockrings included. You also get 6-bolt adapters in the box, along with two freehub bodies; SRAM XD and Shimano Micro Spline. DT Swiss also produces a freehub body for the older HG standard, but you’ll have to purchase that one separately.

If you’ve got a RockShox fork with oversized Torque Cap dropouts, you can also get the matching end caps for the front hub. I went with the standard end caps, as I’ve been testing this wheelset on bikes with Fox forks as well.

The rims are pre-taped and tubeless valves are also included. We’ve used these tubeless valves many times before, and have learned not to over-tighten the plastic collars that hold them in place.

Tyre setup

With a 30mm inner rim width, the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset is best paired with 2.3-2.4in wide tyres. We’ve seen more XC bikes and forks starting to offer clearance for 2.4in tyres, and I’ve found it to be a terrific option thanks to the improved damping and traction the wider tyres provide. They tend to be a little heavier, but on rough terrain the high volume casings actually roll faster, with less bouncing around.

I’ve mostly tested the XRC 1501 wheels with Maxxis 2.4in Wide Trail tyres, pairing a Rekon Race on the front to an Aspen on the rear. I’ve also fitted a 2.35in Schwalbe Racing Ralph/Ray combo, and 2.4in Wicked Wills. All have setup tubeless without issue, and with only a floor pump required.

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels maxxis rekon race 2.4in wide trail
The 30mm inner width has been a perfect match for the 2.4in Wide Trail tyres from Maxxis, and 2.35in XC tyres from Schwalbe.
dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels cushcore xc insert tire
CushCore XC tubeless insert inside the rear wheel improves damping further, while protecting both the tyre and rim.

It’s worth noting that the wider rims won’t work as well with skinnier tyres. Personally I wouldn’t recommend anything under 2.3in wide, as the tyre profile ends up being too square with the bare sidewalls bulging out beyond the tread. As well as deadening the ride, it can also lead to an unexpected loss of traction during cornering, which is not ideal.

Throughout most of the test period I’ve used a CushCore XC tyre insert in the rear wheel. It does add 152g of extra weight, but I’m happy to report that I’ve not punctured once while using that insert either on this wheelset, or on numerous others. Of course it also adds some rim protection, and it allows you to run slightly lower tyre pressures. I’ve typically run 20-21psi in the front, and 22-24psi in the rear to support my 68kg riding weight.

DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset weight

Confirmed weight for our DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset is 1,583g. That’s with the SRAM XD freehub body, tubeless tape and valves installed.

It’s a decent weight for a carbon wheelset, and barely 60g heavier than the XRC 1200. Worth noting is that both wheels use exactly the same carbon rims, with the main difference being the 180 hubs and bladed spokes used on the XRC 1200.

Oh and for the weight weenies out there, I was able to compare the weight of using a 180mm Shimano XT Centerlock rotor and lockring (152g), vs the same size 6-bolt rotor with the supplied adapter (174g). A 22g difference per wheel isn’t exactly earth shattering, but grams do make kilograms after all right?

2021 merida ninety-six rc 9000
Testing the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset on the Merida Ninety-Six RC 9000.

Testing the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheels

In addition to riding the stock DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelsets on the Orbea Oiz and Merida Ninety-Six, I’ve also been testing this third wheelset on a Scott Spark and Cannondale Scalpel HT.

Being a hardtail, the Scalpel HT has been especially useful for testing feedback. And changing from the stock wheelset (Shimano Deore hubs laced to Stan’s NoTubes Crest MK4 alloy rims), the XRC 1501 has proven to be a particularly inspiring upgrade.

Dropping close to 400g of weight makes an enormous difference. The whole bike accelerates faster up the climbs, and it’s whippier through snakey singletrack while responding quickly to powerful out-of-the-saddle bursts. At cruising speeds the low weight is less crucial, but on the race track where you’re constantly accelerating and decelerating, it offers a significant advantage.

2021 orbea oiz m team wil
The taut build and Ratchet EXP freehub system offers a solid feel on the trail with responsive acceleration on the climbs.

Also noticeable is the change from a 25mm to a 30mm wide rim. The wider rim provides a perfect platform for the 2.4in tyres, offering up plenty of volume without sacrificing sidewall stability. There’s good damping and comfort on rough trails, but there’s no hint of wobble through banked turns.

Pickup at the pedals is sufficiently speedy with the 36T freehub ratchet. It’s possible to upgrade to a 54T ratchet if you wanted quicker engagement, but personally I’m not fussed.

There’s basically no lag when you step on the gas, with the XRC 1501 wheelset offering a responsive feel underfoot. Handling is accurate and direct thanks to the stiff carbon rims and taut build, providing a direct line of communication between your contact points and the tyre contact patches. They’re reassuringly solid and twist-free, even when thumping down technical descents at speed.

They’re quieter on the trail compared to the XRC 1200 wheels, which tend to exhibit some spoke-pinging noises when being ridden hard. This is likely due to the difference between the bladed and round spokes. Since these use the same rims though, the overall ride quality is pretty similar. On the trail they’re totally unobtrusive, being neither harsh or pingy.

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
The stiff carbon rims and taut build give the XRC 1501 wheels a direct connection to the trail, allowing you to turn in quicker and hold your line.

For a more tangible comparison, I decided to conduct some back-to-back testing with the stock alloy wheelset on the Scalpel HT.

This might seem like an unfair comparison, but there are actually a load of mid-tier XC bikes on the market that come standard with alloy wheels, and many of those riders may be wondering whether a carbon wheel upgrade is worth the cash. I was also curious to see how much of a difference there would be in ride quality between the alloy and carbon rims when setup with identical tyres.

Aside from the difference in weight and acceleration, it turns out the XRC 1501 offers noticeably better high frequency vibration damping too. This surprised me somewhat, as the carbon wheels are considerably stiffer and more responsive in most scenarios. Even still, descending at speed along crumbly fireroads highlighted a slightly muted ride quality compared to the alloy Crest rims. It felt a bit like how a high quality carbon handlebar can help filter out more trail noise than an alloy equivalent. I wouldn’t call it a night and day difference, but the improved fine-tune compliance certainly becomes more apparent the longer you ride.

stans crest mk4
Testing the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset back-to-back with the alloy Crest MK4 wheelset yielded some significant differences in performance.

Any durability issues?

Nope, none whatsoever. There have been zero problems over thousands of kilometres, on three wheelsets, across four bikes. No broken rims, busted spokes or cracked nipples, and none of the wheels have so much as seen a spoke key. Which is good, because the round straight-pull spokes can be a little trickier to tension compared to a standard J-bend spoke.

Indeed the overall strength and reliability of the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset has been bloody impressive. While there have been reports of manufacturing tolerance issues with the new generation Ratchet EXP freehub, I’ve not encountered any problems with either this wheelset, or the other nine DT Swiss wheelsets we’ve tested that use the new freehub design. There’s been no skipping or popping, with only smooth rock-solid engagement throughout testing.

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
We’ve had flawless experience with the 10 different Ratchet EXP hubs we’ve tested over the past two years.

Contamination has also been kept to a minimum thanks to the top-notch sealing, which has kept the bearings rumble-free so far. The cartridge bearings are a common size and easily replaceable, and no special tools are required to pull the hubs apart for cleaning and re-greasing the freehub mechanism. If you’d like to take a deep dive into the hub internals, check out our separate tech feature on the Ratchet EXP system.

DT Swiss clearly has faith in its product too. The XRC 1501 wheelset comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, and it also offers an impressive 10-year crash replacement scheme. If your line choice goes awry and you end up smashing a rim, you can get the wheel rebuilt with a brand new rim for a flat-fee of $400 AUD. This price includes the rim, build labour, replacement nipples, tubeless tape, and shipping to get the wheel back to your local dealer. Not bad value at all, and a nice service to have available when you’re spending over two grand on a set of wheels.

2021 merida ninety-six rc 9000
The XRC 1501 is indeed a terrific match for modern XC bikes.

The Competition

So there’s plenty to like about the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset, but how do they compare to the competition?

The most compelling option we’ve tested recently is the Roval Control Carbon wheelset. These are cheaper at $2,000 AUD and are built with DT Swiss 350 hubs, but thanks to their very light and uniquely profiled carbon rims, they’re actually lighter at just 1,440g. Mick has been really impressed with their performance too. However, they’re not rated for use with tyre inserts, which will make them a no-go for some.

roval control carbon
The Roval Control Carbon is a hot competitor to the XRC 1501 wheelset. It’s lighter and cheaper, but it isn’t compatible with tyre inserts – an important consideration for many riders.

The new Giant XCR 1 wheelset found on the 2022 Giant Anthem we’ve been testing is a bit of a sleeper. The rim design has been updated with a 30mm inner width so they play well with big XC rubber, and the blunt profile gives them a quiet and nicely damped ride quality. They’re very light at 1,531g, and they’re plenty responsive with a quick-engaging 54T Star Ratchet freehub mechanism. Unfortunately they’re not yet available in the aftermarket, but they’ll likely be a solid option when they are.

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
We also back-to-back tested the DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelset with the new Giant XCR 1 wheelset that comes stock on the latest Anthem.

For $2,000 AUD there’s the Bontrager Kovee Pro wheelset, which is claimed to weigh 1,500g. Presumably that’s without the valves and TLR rim strips though, which tend to be heavier than standard rim tape. We’ve not tested the Kovee Pro wheels (only the Kovee XXX wheels on the Trek Supercaliber), so I can’t comment on how they perform on the trail. They do come with an excellent 2-year crash replacement guarantee though.

At almost half the price, the DT Swiss XR 1700 wheelset is also worth considering. These use 350 hubs and high quality alloy rims, and have an impressive claimed weight of 1,672g. They’re only offered with a 25mm inner width though. If you want an alloy wheelset from DT Swiss with a 30mm wide rim, you’ll have to go for the heavier XM 1700 wheelset that comes in at 1,840g. That’s quite a bit heavier than the XRC 1501, and highlights the advantage of using carbon to produce a rim that is both wide and lightweight.

Flow’s Verdict

Having tested three DT Swiss XRC 1501 wheelsets across four different bikes, we have nothing but good things to say. Each wheelset has proven to be impressively durable despite their sub-1,600g weight, with a solid and responsive feel that has meant we’ve largely forgot about them while on the trail.

While they’re not quite the lightest option in this price bracket, they ride exceptionally well and the build quality is top-notch. The fact that every component is manufactured by DT Swiss is appealing, and so too is the crash replacement scheme. Not that we’ve had to make use of it, mind you.

Indeed the overall toughness of these wheels means we’d happily recommend them for regular trail riding too. Labelling them as XC-specific is no doubt selling them short.

For those who own an XC or short travel trail bike that comes stock with narrow alloy rims, the XRC 1501 wheelset is an excellent option if you’re looking to level-up its performance, and not just on the climbs either. The wide carbon rims provide an excellent foundation for modern 2.3-2.4in tyres, delivering improved cornering grip and damping over skinnier setups. Providing your bike can accommodate such plump rubber, we reckon it’s one of the top 8 upgrades for your XC bike.

dt swiss xrc 1501 carbon wheels
Calling the DT Swiss XRC 1501 an XC-specific wheelset is selling it a bit short. These have been absolutely bulletproof in our experience.

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