The PR 1400 Dicut OXiC wheels are a brand new high-performance road wheelset from DT Swiss and feature a ceramic coated rim surface that provides reassuring braking performance in a range of conditions, making them ideal for year-round cycling in the UK.
The application of a hardwearing ceramic coating on the rim is nothing new: Mavic used to produce a highly regarded ceramic back in the day. DT Swiss, though, reckons its new OXiC treatment is able to deform with the rim, which means the coating can't become detached from the aluminium, a problem that plagued Mavic ceramic rims. DT is confident the ceramic coating won't wear our over the normal lifespan of the rim, and it won't fade in the sun.
The environmentally friendly OXiC coating is electromechanically applied to the rim surface. It's a similar process to anodising (the rim is submerged in an electrolyte solution with an electrical tension between the rim and container), but DT Swiss says the key difference is that its process involves a high plasma discharge, high temperature and pressure, which creates a more durable and resistant coating than traditional ceramic coatings.
The chief benefit of the OXiC coating is the promise of improved and consistent braking performance in a range of conditions. Well, I've been testing them for several months through which they've seen everything from glorious sunshine to waterlogged roads and everything in between, ridden on the commute, daily training rides and weekend outings, and they've been excellent regardless of the weather.
Braking performance using the supplied brake blocks is very good in dry conditions and is similar to any good aluminium rim. They took a little while to bed in, the braking improving after a decent number of miles had been logged, after which they feel very consistent. They excel in all situations, from light speed scrubbing to heavy braking on steep descents that terminate in a T-junction.
Where the rims really start to make a case for themselves is their continued performance in sub-optimal conditions. In the rain and mud and grit-coated surfaces of my local roads, the OXiC coating becomes a real benefit. Braking performance is powerful and predictable, and very consistent.
As well as greatly improved braking in the wet, the other big benefit of a ceramic coating is a rim that is much more durable, better able to withstand the abuse a bike is subjected to when riding in grim weather. Regular aluminium rims will eventually wear away from the abrasion of water and grit, and replacing rims can be an expensive business – as well as dangerous if left unchecked. Ceramic-coated rims should last for years.
The rims are laced with straight-pull DT aero comp spokes to DT's own hubs with star ratchet internals. They weigh just 1,500g – a little over the claimed 1,472g – and they do come with a caveat: there's a recommended rider max weight of 110kg to be aware of. Measuring 18mm internally and 22mm externally, they're not as wide as the widest rims currently available, but wider than traditional rims.
The rims are also tubeless-ready, and DT supplies everything you need, sealant and valves, to ditch the inner tubes. I fitted a pair of Michelin's new tubeless tyres and they popped up just fine with a track pump at the first attempt. There's a little air loss – if I leave the bike for a week I need to top up the tyres a bit – but that's no big deal. Regular clincher tyres with inner tubes also work just fine with the rims.
They also have the same Dicut hubs as found on the DT Swiss RR21 Dicut wheels that Stu tested earlier this year. These feature very wide flanges, intended to increase wheel stiffness, and spin on 240 internals. They are well proven and popular in many aftermarket hubs, and rolled with silky smoothness throughout the test period.
The 36-tooth ratchet system in the rear hubs provides very swift engagement when you stamp on the pedals. I'm a fan of DT's unique RWS (Ratchet Wheel-mounting System) quick releases, being easy to secure the wheel into the bicycle.
The OXiC process creates a matt black finish and DT Swiss has finished the spokes and hubs in a similar colour, producing what can only be considered a smart and sleek wheelset.
The performance is highly impressive. They're stiff and responsive, with no give or flex when putting the power down in a sprint or steep climb. The low weight puts many carbon wheels to shame and while they are pricey for an aluminium wheelset, they are a snip compared with most carbon wheels of comparable weight and performance.
For year-round racing, training and just riding, these are excellent wheels with highly impressive braking in all conditions. The appearance, build quality and attention to detail is first class. And so far, durability has been impressive – though I'll be holding on to them for longer and reporting back in another six months or so on how that OXiC coating is holding up.
Excellent lightweight and responsive aluminium wheels with reliable all-weather braking
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road.cc test report
Make and model: DT Swiss PR 1400 Dicut OXiC Performance road wheel
Size tested: n/a
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: "The pinnacle of aluminum road wheels. The ceramic OXIC surface coating brings brake performance to rim brakes like it has never be seen before. The rims are wide, asymmetric, and lightweight, making for an outstanding stiffness to weight ratio. If set up tubeless, supreme comfort and grip are added to the athletic character. Finally, at just 1385 g, this wheelset is both extremely practical and competitive, very much in tune with its stealthy appearance."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
From DT Swiss:
The rims measure 18mm internally and 21.5mm externally, with a 21mm depth. They're laced to DT Swiss Dicut hubs with 240s internals and a 36t ratchet system in the freehub, for quick engagement. DT aero comp spokes are used in each wheel, 20 radially laced in the front and 24 in a 2-cross pattern in the rear wheel.
The ceramic layer is achieved similarly to anodizing, by submerging the rim in an electrolyte solution while applying an electrical tension between the rim as one electrode and the container as the other. The decisive difference between anodizing and OXiC lies in the millions of plasma discharges that occur between the electrolyte and the rim, applying high temperature and pressure on the developing oxide layer. Due to that, the developing oxide layer melts, flows and solidifies again. During this process the amorphous (not aligned) structure of the oxide converts to a crystalline (aligned) one. This is why OXiC is so hard and wear resistant
Solid and dependable build quality.
Highly impressive performance, a very stiff and responsive wheel that is very light on the climbs, backed up by dependable braking in all weathers.
Durability, both of the wheels and the special rim coating, has been just fine.
As light as any good aluminium wheelset and as light, if not lighter, than many carbon wheels.
They're pricey for an aluminium rim but if the durability claims are to be believed, they're going to outlast regular aluminium rims, especially if you ride a lot in winter.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
They stayed true throughout the test period.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Both tubeless and regular clincher tyres were a snip to fit without needing any tyre levers.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
I really like the DT Swiss skewers and the inclusion of the full tubeless kit is appreciated; going tubeless is really easy.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For an all-season training and racing wheelset they are highly impressive, and still cheaper and better braking than any carbon wheelset.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Impressive braking performance in all weathers.
My testing of these new DT Swiss wheels happened to coincide with my testing of Zipp's 202 NSW wheels, and it was an interesting comparison. Braking on the Zipp wheels in the dry is a noisy affair but they do slow you down, but not with the same punch as the DT wheels. In the wet, the difference is startling. While the DTs continue to provide confident braking ability when the heavens open, the same can't be said of the Zipps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Apart from the high price, there's nothing to fault.
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
Pricey for an aluminium wheelset, but if you want a long-lasting set with really good all-weather braking performance, these are definitely worth considering.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.