Zipp Wheels


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Zipp Wheels

Zipp has probably done more than any other company to bring deep-dish aero wheels to everyday use. The Indianapolis-based company was born out of auto racing, with their first product being a disc wheel. 


They quickly followed with a three-spoke front wheel and a radical aero bike frame. The first deep-rim spoked wheel they made was the 400, introduced in 1991.  That basic design slowly, then quickly, took over the racing world, notching victories nearly everywhere and helping increase peloton speeds. Their revolution was complete in 2010 when Fabian Cancellara rode full-carbon Zipp 303’s to solo victories in two of the most prestigious cobblestone classics, Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, showing carbon rims can survive brutal abuse.


Zipp Wheels


Zipp started in carbon rims, branched out into aluminum, and is back to 100% carbon wheels.  They were early to the wide-rim revolution, which, when paired with the right tire pressure, make for faster rolling. They build in several depths, from super-shallow Zipp MTB wheels to disc-wheels for time trials and track, like the Super-9. Zipp builds both tubular and tubeless clinchers. More recently, they got into MTB, specifically trail and enduro riding with their 3ZERO MOTO


Zipp 303


Zipp uses a numeric code for their road wheels: 101, 202, 303, 404, 808, with some variations on those themes. 101’s were made of aluminum, 202s are designed for climbing, 303s are the all-rounder, 404s lean towards flatter roads, and 808s for time trials.  


The Zipp 303s are on the shallower side of mid-depth, currently 45mm, making it light enough for lots of climbing while deep enough to make a noticeable difference on the flats. They’re also tough enough for pavé and cyclocross. The Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelset is the basic, with the 303 NSW (Nest Speed Weaponry) an upgrade, and 353 NSW adding a wavy hyperfoil shape, which is faster and more stable than the 303.


Zipp 404


The Zipp 404 Firecrest wheelset is the fastest line of everyday wheels in Zipp’s quiver. The depth, currently 58mm, is shallow enough to ride safely in all conditions, but deep enough to be really fast. As with the 303, the Zipp 404 has both a premium NSW version and a 454 NSW hyperfoil iteration.  


Zipp Components


Zipp, after being acquired by SRAM, decided to branch out into components, mainly bars, stems, and seatposts. Zipp’s three main lines are Service Course (standard aluminum), Service Course SL (light aluminum), and SL Carbon (carbon-fiber). Their Service Course SL stem is a winner for every road bike; light, stiff, good-looking. They took a particular interest in bars, as they saw a gap in terms of how others designed curves, reach, and drop, and strove to make well-designed bars for everyone, including those who want an aero drop bar. For triathlons and time trials, they have Vuka Aluminum and Vuka Carbon bars and extensions. Zipp also designs tires to mate with their rims; these are known as Tangente. In the past, they had both tubular tires and tubed clinchers. Now they’re tubeless-only.


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