DT Swiss has been on a roll lately (sorry), turning out some excellent wheelsets across the price range. We were impressed with both the RR21 Dicut road wheels and the R24 Spline db when we tested them recently. The R32 Spline db is the big brother of the R24, gaining both a deeper rim and a lower overall weight, with the expected trade-off being a higher price. It's designed as an all-rounder, combining toughness and a reasonable weight, and can be used with a raft of different axle options.
The R32 Spline follows the trend for an increase in rim width, measuring 18mm internally and 22mm externally. As befits a disc brake-specific wheelset, there is no brake track. DT Swiss's documentation suggests that it's suitable for tyres between 23mm and 60mm wide. The rim is designed to be suitable for tubeless tyres and is supplied with tape installed, but can also be used with an inner tube. You also get a spare roll of tape and the tubeless valves in the box, so you just need to bung in some air and some sealant and you're ready to go.
My previous experience with road tubeless was a bit of a faff, so to begin with I stuck on some 25mm tyres with tubes. Installation and subsequent removal was pretty straightforward – sometimes with tubeless rims things can be rather tight. Later, with the help of fellow tester Iwein's compressor, I took the plunge and fitted some 40mm tubeless Schwalbe G-One tyres. It was startlingly straightforward – the easiest road tubeless setup that either of us had experienced. Repeating the process with just a track pump, it was a similar story. Since then they've held pressure admirably too.
Using wider tyres probably helps, but DT Swiss appears to have done a bang-up job of getting the rim shape just right. My first impression, when unboxing these wheels, was that the sidewalls of the rim were particularly thin. I've heard wheel manufacturers explaining that making the bead hook section as thin as possible helps improve the aerodynamics of the wheel, though I suspect that this is rather less significant when running 40mm tyres. As a disc brake wheelset, there's no material needed for braking, obviously, but it's still startling that these can apparently cope with 130psi in a 23mm tyre. Maximum pressure reduces as tyre width rises, so with my 40mm tyres the maximum is 80psi. In practice I generally ran them at between 35 and 60psi depending on what kind of terrain I was riding.
Tubeless and disc-brake compatibility means two on-trend boxes ticked, and further future-proofing is assured with thru-axle compatibility. DT Swiss has helpfully included push-fit adaptors to suit 15mm and 12mm thru-axles, as well as a conventional quick-release. The adaptors are nicely turned from aluminium and secured in the hub by means of an o-ring.
There is flexibility in terms of brake rotors too. The excellent Centerlock system is standard, with the rotors locked in place using a Shimano external-BB wrench. If you want to fit six-bolt rotors then that's no problem, as there are adaptors included for that too.
The rim is welded aluminium with a smart matt black finish, which contrasts nicely with the very shiny silver hubs. Straight-pull bladed DT Swiss aero spokes are used, 24 front and rear, with a two-cross lacing pattern. Straight-pull spokes are considered stronger than J-bend ones as the bend is a weak point.
The aero spokes used here are double-butted and thread into aluminium nipples fitted with Pro Lock compound (a patented threadlock liquid that is – wince – injected into the nipple) designed to prevent them loosening. In the longer term, I wonder if threadlock and aluminium nipples are happy bedfellows – I imagine the former could increase the chances of the latter rounding off when truing – but during the test period the wheels remained admirably true, so I had no need to wield the spoke wrench.
DT Swiss claims a weight of 1720g per set; we weighed ours at 1735g excluding skewers. It's a reasonable weight given that they're tough enough for some off-roading, but there are lighter options at this price or even a bit less.
I fitted the R32s to my On-One Bish Bash Bosh all-road commuter bike and they are a good match for how and where I ride it. Thanks in part to the thru-axles, no doubt, lateral stiffness is good, giving a confidence that the bike will go where you point it. The bearings spin very freely and it's also worth noting that the freehub is particularly low drag – DT Swiss knows a thing or two about making good hubs. Removing the cassette after a few hundred miles showed only the tiniest amount of biting into the (aluminium) freehub.
Now that the countryside is drying out after winter, my commute ventures further off the tarmac, and I found the R32s to be willing accomplices in this. They shrugged off forays onto bumpy canal paths and more technical rocky sections of bridleway. In these conditions, having confidence in the strength of your wheels is a must, enabling you to push harder downhill and keep momentum uphill. Needless to say, good tyres are just as important – we'll have a review up on the G-Ones in the near future, but here's a sneak preview: they're good.
What about cyclo-cross racing? The semi-deep rims and tubeless compatibility would make a good case for these, although you might favour something a bit lighter, depending on budget and terrain. I haven't done any cross races this year, but I'd have no concerns about their ability to cope with the knocks and bumps, and being able to run low tyre pressure without risk of a pinch flat is usually a big advantage in CX.
The market for all-road wheels is growing fast and there's more choice than ever. While the R32s are neither the lightest, the deepest nor the cheapest, they're great-quality wheels at a reasonable price. They tick a lot of boxes, and the inclusion of adaptors to suit different axle standards is a nice piece of future-proofing even if you're running standard QRs now.
My experience of fitting tubeless tyres to them was serenity itself. To ride, they reminded me a bit of the brilliant American Classic Argent Disc wheels that I was so impressed with on last year's bike of the year, albeit carrying a bit of extra weight.
Good tubeless-ready all-road wheelset built from quality parts at a fair price, with added future-proofing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: DT Swiss R 32 Spline DB
Size tested: 18mm wide, tubeless compatible rim
Tell us what the wheel is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
DT Swiss says: "Perfect disc brake control allows even faster descents. With its stiff semi-aero rim and the extremely stable new aero® spokes, the R 32 SPLINE® db is the perfect wheel for this purpose. The width, stability and stiffness of the rim as well as DT Swiss' reliable hub technology make it the ideal partner for any powerful rider who occasionally chooses the gravel roads or cyclo-cross sections for the after-work ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Weight per set: 1720g (we measured 1735g excluding skewers)
Rim type: clincher tubeless compatible
Rim dimensions: 622x18; inner width 18mm, outer width 22mm, depth 32mm
Rim material: aluminium
Disc mount: Centrelock (supplied with adaptors for 6 bolt rotors)
Spokes: DT new aero / DT aero comp; 24 spokes front and rear
Lacing: 2-cross, front and rear
Nipples: DT Pro Lock, aluminium
Recommended maximum weight (rider+bike): 130kg
Quality parts used throughout, built straight and true with very even spoke tension.
They're not superlight but they spin really well. DT Swiss describes the rim as "semi aero" but I suspect the aero advantage is slender (and probably tyre dependent too). With larger tyres (40mm) fitted, I found they caught the wind a bit more. Stiffness is good.
DT Swiss reckons that the use of Pro Lock nipples (which have a thread locking compound inside them) increases the durability of the wheels by up to 20 times. That's a pretty serious claim and one which I couldn't really verify in the test period. They've coped with enthusiastic use on and off road without any issues, so I would expect that durability should be good.
I've thrashed the hell out of other DT Swiss wheels over the years and always been impressed by their toughness.
It's not a heavy wheelset, by any means, but for the money, some of the competition is 100-200g lighter.
DT Swiss builds quality wheels out of quality parts - the price is certainly a fair one, I think, but I wouldn't call these a bargain.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yes they did. No issues.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Very easy - this was a standout, in fact – 25mm road tyres and tubes went on just fine, and 40mm Schwalbe G-One tubeless tyres went on like a dream. About the easiest road tubeless setup I've yet seen, in fact.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The rims come ready taped for tubeless, and, as above, this worked a treat. There weren't QR skewers included as these are compatible with multiple axle configurations, so I used my existing thru-axles.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well - they roll well on the road and they've stood up to some off-road abuse very well too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
So easy to fit tubeless tyres, I'm almost a convert. Super shiny hubs. Inclusion of all you need to suit various axle standards.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Not a great deal.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
There's really a lot to like here and I was generally impressed with the R32s. If weight is a primary consideration, there are other lighter options in this price range, but that aside there's not really much to fault.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.