DT240 hubs with Ratchet EXP freehub system; 50mm rim depth; 20mm inner rim width; tubeless-ready
Excellent hubs; stable in most crosswinds
Expensive compared to wheels that perform just as well; valve nut doesn’t sit flush on rim
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Judging a wheelset’s worth without independent lab data is a tough one. There’s something to be gleaned off of ride feel, and performance in crosswinds is something you can certainly ascertain while out on the road. But to judge whether one wheelset is faster than another requires some hard data from a wind tunnel. That’s why it’s hard to find much fault with DT Swiss’ ARC 1400 Dicut DB wheels.
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- Tech Podcast: What is a sinusoidal rim shape and why does it matter?
- Princeton CarbonWorks Grit 4540 wheel review
The data dilemma is hardly exclusive to the ARC 1400 wheels. In fact, I can fairly say that many of the wheels I tested in 2020 felt quite wonderful out on the road, and I can also fairly state that I have no idea which set is truly milliseconds faster than another. So we’ll leave the notion of ‘milliseconds faster’ out of the equation when it comes to the ARC 1400 wheels and judge them based on the factors I could actually feel and understand.
For starters, I find that stability in crosswinds matters a lot to me. The idea of pinning it down a 50mph descent (like the one I do often on the backside of Lookout Mountain in Golden, CO) on wheels that dance in the slightest breezes isn’t so appealing to me. The ARC 1400 performed pretty well here, resisting crosswinds for the most part, except for the biggest blasts. They’re not quite on par with Princeton CarbonWorks’ Grit 4540 wheels, which I count among the best performers in crosswinds. But The Arc 1400 wheels hold their own and buffetted very little in gusty conditions.
They’re certainly not the most affordable wheels out there, and that’s perhaps the Arc 1400’s biggest drawback: These wheels are excellent, but they don’t do enough to differentiate from wheels that are far less expensive. Such differences may come down to lab data, but again, we’re stuck trusting a brand’s data without an independent lab test.
That said, the 50mm depth is enough to provide aero benefits we can count on based on our own research. It’s safe to say, for example, that the 50mm rim depth allows the sail effect to provide benefits — in other words, the rim can act as a sail, allowing the wind to push them to maintain or increase speed.
And as Lennard Zinn has written about many times, a deeper rim profile may be a detriment to the moment of inertia — the amount of force it takes to get the wheels up to speed — but once the wheels are up to speed, they’ll maintain that speed better than a lower profile rim.
The DT 240 hubs with Ratchet EXP freehub is the star of the show here. The hubs roll super smoothly, but more importantly, the Ratchet EXP system on the ARC 1400 wheels allows for near instant engagement. DT Swiss has a reputation for making excellent hubs, and the 240s on these wheels is no exception.
I spent most of my season on tubeless setups this year, and it was no different with the ARC 1400 wheels. The Pirelli P Zero tires I mounted to the rims rarely lost much air between rides, and even after sitting for extended periods of time, the tires held air remarkably well.
I do have one small quibble with the tubeless setup here. The valve nut on the Arc 1400 wheels is a little plastic affair with an odd shape. Once you tighten it all the way down to the rim, it seems to run out over the threads and loosen again. In other words, it doesn’t seem like a very solid nut intended to hold the valve in place. Still, I suppose I can’t complain too much, as the ARC 1400 wheels rarely lost more than a few PSI between rides. For peace of mind, I would certainly love to see this fit a bit more snugly though.
The 20mm inner rim width also allowed me to take full advantage of my tire’s width profile. This happened to be a pretty good mating; I liked the tires a lot, and they mated well with the ARC 1400 wheels. Is it an aerodynamically optimized setup? I have no idea. But the wheels provided plenty of stability and the tires felt perfectly sticky while cornering at high speeds.
Be sure to check out the video at the top of the page to hear more about what I like about the DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut DB 50 wheels.