Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Product Experience: DT Swiss 1450 Mon Chasseral Wheels

A couple of guys on the team have been using the DT Swiss 1450 Mon Chasseral wheelset for training and racing this year. Our newest guy, Chris Laflamme gives his take on these wheels:

Last season I was on the hunt for a pair of solid climbing wheels that would not only aid in my weekend adventures at the hillier New England races but also survive multiple seasons of hard racing: a low budget, high performance wheelset, if you will. I had fairly limited options due to a self-imposed spending cap which is between $500-$800. (With infinite money I probably would have gone for some nifty 404 tubulars for their weight and all around performance, but alas, infinite money is rarely the case.) So, looking down at my wallet that was bereft of substantial biking equipment funds, I narrowed things down to the DT Swiss 1450 Mon Chasserals and a pair of Reynolds. Being partial to unconventional colors I gave the 1450’s stellar looking white rim the nod and looked forward to adding its hue to my bike.

First impressions were moderately good. At a claimed weight of 1450 grams (hence the name) my bike is noticeably lighter and more nimble than when running Mavic Cosmic Elites but also noticeably less stiff. At 1450 grams I was less inclined to be filled with the crippling panic that accompanies descending at 50 mph through potholes on a 1100 gram wheelset and with the Mon Chasserals I found a very good confidence-to-weight ratio that I have not since regretted even though during sprints and on flats I often times long for something more aero and stiffer.

After a season and a half of fairly hard racing over many roads with less than ideal surfaces they have hit the truing stand 2 times and are probably due for another minor tweak soon. The bearings roll as smoothly, or more smoothly, than when they were new, and the braking surface - somewhat unexpectantly - is showing little signs of wear. I keep them well protected by always travelling with them inside the very pro looking wheelbags that were a surprise bonus and included in the package.

The major problem with these wheels is thankfully an easily ameliorated one. It would not be an overstatement to say that the rim strips that come stock with these wheels need to be immediately removed and set on fire. I read a warning that these strips would be garbage from the beginning on roadbikereview.com. But, idiotically, I paid it little heed. The first of three flats caused by these free floating, non-adhesive, chinsy plastic strips was descending down from the start finish of last year’s Sturbridge, MA road race. The subsequent 2 were JRAs while commuting to work trying to determine what was wrong with the wheels. After I took them out and replaced them with the tried and true adhesive Fond de Jante strips I have been flat free.

Overall, I would refer to this wheel as more of an all-around wheel and not a climbing specific one as it’s namesake suggests (Mon Chasseral being a mountain in Switzerland). At 1450 grams it is not light enough to float with the hyper specialized climbing wheelsets out there but is light enough to not be any real liability on the hills. The added weight gives added confidence when glancing over unseen potholes and other undesirable road obstacles and should add longevity. At a retail price of between $700-$800 (depending on where you get them) this wheelset leaves you moderately light, feeling solid and confident in your equipment, but not feeling like you are riding budget wheels.

I don’t think I would buy them again, simply because of the vast array of wheels out there. I would probably spend a little more to try something that is stiffer, more aero, and just as light. But, that being said, I will be racing the 1450’s for the remainder of the season and will not have any qualms about it.



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