XM 481 vs EX 511 vs FR 541 | DT Swiss Rim Comparison

dt swiss 541 dt swiss ex 511 and dt swiss xm 481 mountain bike rim sitting on a table between two ferns


As mountain bikes develop, so do the components we strap to them, and rim widths have steadily grown throughout the years to match the wider tires that are so common today. There are countless rim widths on the market, but the standard seems to have settled on 30mm inner width for everything from all-mountain to downhill. The inner width is the distance between the inside of the rim flanges, and dictates the shape and volume of your tire.

Every rim manufacturer out there has their 30mm offerings for us mountain bikers, and today we’ll be analyzing DT Swiss’s lineup of high end 30mm rims and what their best applications are. Those are the XM 481, EX 511, and FR 541.

DT Swiss Rims At A Glance

XM 481

  • 30mm inner width
  • 29” 32 hole - 574g
  • Tubeless Ready
  • Nipples and washers included
  • XC, All mountain, Enduro

EX 511

  • 30mm inner width
  • 29” 32 hole - 590g
  • Tubeless Ready
  • Nipples and washers included
  • All Mountain, Enduro, Freeride/DH

FR 541

  • 30mm inner width
  • 29” 32 hole - 606g
  • Tubeless Ready
  • Nipples and washers included
  • Enduro, Freeride/DH
  • Bonus decals included

XM 481 vs EX 511 vs FR 541

Each of these welded, aluminum, tubeless ready rims offer that same 30mm width, and all come with washers and nipples in the box. They even have the exact same outer widths (35mm) and heights (21mm), but are all made for very different kinds of riding!

The XM 481 is optimized for XC, All Mountain, and Enduro.

The EX 511 is made for All Mountain, Enduro, and Freeride/DH.
The FR 541 is the Freeride/DH specialist.

Let's dive into the specifics of each!

XM 481

The XM 481 is the lightest of the three, weighing 550 grams in the 29” 32 hole version. This rim is best suited for all trail bikes where hucking every drop to flat is not the goal and has a slightly lighter weight construction than the other two. Trail bikes are what this rim is designed for, but that doesn’t mean it can’t handle bigger bikes than that.

dt swiss xm 481 mountain bike rim standing on a table

DT Swiss XM 481 Rim

Lots of riders spec this slightly lighter duty rim on the front end of their bike where those big impacts are a little less common, and use a heavier duty rim on the back like the EX 511.

EX 511

One of the most popular rims of all time, the EX 511, sports quite the reputation.

dt swiss ex 511 mountain bike rim standing on a table

DT Swiss EX 511 Rim

This is the undeniable benchmark of enduro rims, and is all too common to see on all mountain and enduro bikes with 150-180mm of travel. At 590 grams in the 29” 32 hole version, the EX 511 finds a sweet spot of reliability and weight that has made this rim a favorite among Lost Co employees and customers. This rim is happy in either the front or the rear no matter what kind of riding you’re doing. From all mountain to downhill, this rim is going to have your back.

FR 541

Brand new on the scene is the FR 541, which is built to be the last rim you put on your bike.

dt swiss fr 541 mountain bike rim standing on a table

DT Swiss FR 541 Rim

Weighing in at 606 grams for the 29” 32 hole version, this is the beefiest option of the three, with pretty large claims from DT Swiss about its strength. By slightly flaring out the rim flanges at the tips, the FR 541 has increased impact resistance and pinch flat protection to keep you rolling on the roughest trails. Built for enduro, freeride, and downhill, it’s going to be tough to put a dent in this rim or knock it out of true.

Recommendations and Summary

So what do we recommend?

As a rule of thumb, you generally want your rear rim to be AT LEAST as strong as your front rim, and with the weights of these rims being so similar, getting a beefed up rim in the rear is never a bad idea.

dt swiss 541 dt swiss ex 511 and dt swiss xm 481 mountain bike rim sitting on a table between

Here at The Lost Co, our favorite combination is the XM 481 in the front and the EX 511 in the rear for hard trail riding. That’s why we build our “Lost Co Wheelset” with exactly these rims, and lots of us ride this exact combo. I was running EX 511 front and rear for about a year but after putting a number of dents in the rear rim I just switched over to the FR 541 rim in the rear and so far couldn’t be happier with the increased support.

We’ve got all of these rims for sale on our website in different widths and hole counts, so if this helped you decide which rim belongs on your bike, we’ve got you covered!

Shop DT Swiss Rims

Got questions? Feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call!

(360) 306-8827




Tor Weiland



Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: Transition Spire Custom Build

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Oriental Express, Galbraith

About Me: Hailing from the sunny landscape of California, Tor headed north and landed here in the cloudy town of Bellingham, WA. His riding style is "PINNED" and he loves to scope out those seemingly impossible triples. He loves riding and also loves sharing his experiences with others. You can catch Tor in front of the camera or behind the keyboard, but best of luck catching him on the trail!