DT Swiss launches new crosswind-friendly ARC 1100 and 1400 wheels

DT Swiss’s latest, the ARC 1100 Dicut and 1400 Dicut, are shaped without the constraints of a rim brake track. They’re wider, for decreased drag with wider tires, 25 mm and up. They come in three depths. They’re more stable. They’re tubeless-ready. They’re lighter, too, with fancy new aero spokes…

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

DT Swiss’s latest, the ARC 1100 Dicut and 1400 Dicut, are shaped without the constraints of a rim brake track. They’re wider, for decreased drag with wider tires, 25 mm and up. They come in three depths. They’re more stable. They’re tubeless-ready. They’re lighter, too, with fancy new aero spokes and aero figures to match the best in the industry.

The updated ARC line of wheels checks all the boxes, at least on paper.

But do they deliver?

The new ARC (Aero Road Carbon)

The ARC line is separated into two broad categories, the 1100 and the 1400, differentiated primarily by the hubs they’re built around. The 1100 series is built around a slightly modified DT 180 hub and the 1400 is built around 240 hub internals. Both the 1100 and 1400 come in three rim depths: 50 mm, 62 mm, and 80 mm.

Functionally, the two ranges have very few differences. The gap lies in the details.

Weight is the biggest differentiator, and most of that comes from the hub and spoke upgrade in the 1100 series. The 1100s get lighter and more aerodynamic spokes as well (these are new; more on them below), and thus are a tiny bit more aero as a package. Both the 1100 and 1400 series use the same rims.

Like any decent modern carbon wheelset, the entire ARC line is designed around wider tires. In DT’s view, this means 25 mm and up. The rim shape was designed specifically with a 25 mm Continental GP5000 in mind. A tube-type 25 mm GP5000 stretches to just a bit under 26 mm (I checked) on the ARC 1100 50s, which means that any tire in the 25-26 mm range, measured, is going to play well with the ARC’s shape.

The engineers went with hooked-type rims, rather than hookless. When I asked why, the answer was pretty clear: you can run higher pressures, and your tires aren’t going to fall off. The ARC rims are rated to 102 psi, 30 psi higher than the new hookless Zipp 303 S for example.

This is important. DT Swiss isn’t trying to jump on the aero gravel train or anything here. The ARC lineup is intended for road racing, triathlons, and time trials. Efficiency across all the parameters a wheel affects – aerodynamics, weight, rolling resistance – were all taken into account.

DT Swiss claims that 25 mm tires are the fastest, on the front wheel anyway. For the rear, they recommend upping the size to 28 mm, as that decreases rolling resistance without harming aerodynamics in a meaningful way. The higher max tire pressure is intended to have the same effect – if you’re on a good surface and you want to run 80 psi or 90 psi in your 25 mm race tires, you can do so.

The rim shape works well with tires up to 32 mm, which is about a wide as anybody interested in aerodynamics is going to go, anyway. You can run up to a 64 mm tire, if you really want to, but that’s a 2.4” mountain bike tire, so why would you want to?

New rim shape

The most obvious change from the old ARC rims to the new ones is in width. The inner width is now 20 mm. The wider cross-section helps control the airflow of a wider tire, reducing drag.

Old school carbon rims came in a V shape, which is usually quite aerodynamic at low yaw angles but tends to catch crosswinds, making for poor handling and bad aerodynamics. The industry largely switched to U shape rims for the better part of a decade, led by shapes from the likes of Zipp, Enve, and Bontrager. Lately, the trend seems to be to combine these two shapes, using the wide U shape to help minimize crosswind steering inputs and a bit of a V to improve drag figures. We’ve seen this sort of shape from Bontrager and the latest Zipp offerings, including the 303s.

DT Swiss follows the same trend. Using the aero experts at Swiss Side, DT developed a rim shape that goes from the U of the old ARC rims to more of a U/V combo, with bulging sides and a slightly more pointed spoke bed.

Rim shapes through the ages. #1 is an old V, #3 is the new ARC, and #2 is a traditional U shaped rim.

The shape is designed to allow air to follow the shape of the rim for as long as possible, delaying stalling, which causes drag.

DT and Swiss Side put quite a bit of effort into crosswind handling, too. The wind tunnel used incorporates a fixture for measuring steering moment – simplified, the steering inputs caused by crosswind gusts that apply varying forces to different sections of a wheel. Evening out those forces around the rim decreases the steering moment, which improves handling in crosswinds.

Using a combination of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and wind tunnel testing, Swiss Side worked to create a shape that evened out the side force distribution across the ARC rims.

Aero claims

DT Swiss makes a couple of important aero claims. First is that their wheels are fast – the ARC 1100 50 mm, they say, is faster than a Zipp 303 and Enve 5.6. The second relates to stability. DT worked with Swiss Side, a well-known aerodynamics firm with experience in F1 and its hand in lots of fast products in cycling, to decrease the steering moment of the wheels. In short, to make the wheels more stable.

DT Swiss claims the ARC 1100 80, the deepest of the set, can generate negative drag (it can sail) at certain yaw angles, around -15º and 15º.

The aero claims are, for now, impossible to verify. Here’s the graph DT sent us; take from it what you will:

It’s worth noting that the ARC 1100 is going to be a bit more aero than the ARC 1400, despite identical rim profiles. That comes down to the aero bladed spokes used in the 1100, DT’s own new Aerolite II. The ARC 1400, in contrast, uses DT’s Aero Comp spokes.

New spokes

Two new DT Swiss spokes make their debut on the ARC 1100 wheelsets.

The first is the Aerolite II, an update on the venerable Aerolite that’s been in DT’s range for years. The new spoke is 35% wider and 23% thinner than an old Aerolite, which means it’s more aerodynamic. These spokes are used in the front ARC 1100 wheels, and on the non-drive side of the rear wheel.

The second is the new Aero Comp II. These are designed for high lateral stiffness and feature a wider, thinner aero cross-section compared to the old Aero Comp. These are found on the drive side of ARC 1100 rear wheels.

DT Swiss claims that the Aerolite II spokes used on the ARC 1100 wheels cut drag by 1.1 grams compared to the previously-available Aero Comp spokes used on the ARC 1400 wheels.

Old Aerolite (left) vs new Aerolite II (right).

ARC 1100 specs

Rim width: 20 mm
Rim heights: 50 mm, 62 mm, 80 mm
Rim diameters: 700c or 650b (50 mm only)
Tubeless: Yes
Brakes: Disc only
Hub: 180 Dicut
Hub internals: 36T Ratchet EXP
Bearings: CINC Ceramic
Rotor mount: Centerlock
Spokes: DT Aerolite II front and rear non-drive side, DT Aero Comp II rear drive side, 2x pattern
Nipples: Internal DT Pro Lock Aluminum
Weight: 1,472 g (50 mm), 1,676 g (62 mm), 1,762 g (80 mm)

ARC 1400 Specs

Rim width: 20 mm
Rim heights: 50 mm, 62 mm, 80 mm
Rim diameters: 700c or 650b (50 mm only)
Tubeless: Yes
Brakes: Disc only
Hub: 240 Dicut
Hub internals: 36T Ratchet EXP
Bearings: Stainless Steel
Rotor mount: Centerlock
Spokes: DT Aero Comp, T-head
Nipples: Internal DT Pro Lock Aluminum
Weight: 1,552 g (50 mm), 1,753g (62 mm), 1,837g (80 mm)


ARC 1100, all depths: € 2388 / USD $3025 / 2653 CHF
ARC 1400, all depths: € 1957 / USD $2479 / 2175 CHF

That’s expensive. A set of Zipp 303 Firecrest NSWs, for example, is going to be a few hundred dollars cheaper than an ARC1400 50, and lighter.

First ride review of the DT Swiss ARC 1100 Dicut 50

Mention DT Swiss and I tend to think of hubs. There are few hubs I’d rather build a set of wheels with than a set of DT 240s, with their near-indestructible freehub design, modular adaptability for various standards, and general reliability. There’s a reason brands like Bontrager and Roval all license DT internals for their own hubs.

I don’t, generally, think of complete wheels when I think of DT. But maybe I should. The new 50 mm-deep ARC 1100 is a fun, stable, and seemingly fast option to rival the best wheels from titans like Zipp and Enve.

The pinch point for wheel durability is generally the hubs. The pair I have here is built around a version of DT’s 180 hub, which is excellent bordering on perfect. The ARC 1400, built around a DT 240, is only going to be as (if not more) reliable. So durability doesn’t look like it will be a problem.

I do have one complaint about the build. Internal nipples look great and are a bit more aero, but DT to me has always been a beacon of serviceability, and they are a pain in the arse on that front. I’m going to channel our Nerd Alert pro mechanic Zach Edwards here, as he’s complained about this to me numerous times: The problem is that tubeless tire beads put a lot of pressure on a rim, so when you inflate them they often change the spoke tension. You need to correct for this when building or truing a wheel. With internal nipples, you have to guess how much to correct for this issue, and at which points on the rim. Then you mount the tubeless tire, inflate it, only to find out you’ve guessed wrong. You have to pull the tire and the rim strip and start the process all over again, but this time covered in sealant.

External nipples are great. Just as I wish more wheel brands stopped using their garbage hubs and just built around DT hubs, I wish DT would stick with external nipples.

That’s a small issue, though. The big question: How do these wheels ride?

I can’t tell you how fast these wheels are, or whether DT’s aero claims hold up. I don’t have a wind tunnel. I can tell you they feel very similar to the Enve 5.6s I ride on my bike most days.

The claims made around crosswind stability are easy to verify with real-world riding. There’s a stretch of downhill around here that almost always gets hits with a westerly crosswind. Speeds are usually around 40 mph (65 km/h). This is my crosswind testing ground.

DT Swiss has itself a winner on this front. My favorite wheels through this section are a pair of Enve 3.4s, which are quite shallow and also exceptionally stable. The 50 mm ARC 1100s felt similarly confident. You can feel the wind hit them, but there’s something to all DT’s chatter about steering moment – the wind’s impact feels controlled, like it’s pushing evenly on the whole rim. The bike is pushed sideways a hair, but it feels more like riding in a crosswind with a shallow rim, where the wind pushes your whole body and bike sideways but doesn’t really affect steering itself.

It’s impressive, honestly. If the 62 and 80 mm versions offer the same feeling, they’d be a great option for time-trialists or triathletes looking for an aero-but-stable wheelset in windy conditions.


[ct_gallery_start id=’ct_gallery1′]

DT doesn’t come out with new spokes very often, so the addition of the Aerolite II is big news.


An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.