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The new 303 S may be the most affordable carbon wheelset that Zipp makes, but the lower pricing doesn’t mean they’re in any way lacking when it comes to design and innovation. Zipp adopts a new-school approach with the 303 S that not only makes them exceptionally fast, they’re also said to be more comfortable and versatile.
Road tyres are trending wider and the new rim profile is designed to maximise the benefits that come with a broader tyre. Measuring 27mm externally and 23mm between the beads, they’re designed with 28mm tyres in mind but can accommodate gravel tyres up to 50mm wide.
They also feature a hookless design; now common in the MTB world, hookless rims are said to create a seamless transition between the tyre and rim for better aerodynamics. The more simplistic profile also allows for better orientation of the fibres and makes them more robust than a traditional hook-bead arrangement.
Combining the wider rim with a wider 28mm tyre allows the use of lower tyre pressures without compromising rolling resistance. In fact the wider contact patch also results in a shorter footprint which reduces the ‘moment of inertia’ for more responsive acceleration.
Zipp suggests a maximum pressure of 72psi, which may seem like an oversight but there’s no need to run higher pressures with these wheels. SRAM offers a handy on-line guide that’s based on rider weight and an 80kg rider (for example) only needs to run 58psi in the front and 62psi on the rear.
Going wider means you can run lower pressures without compromising speed or encountering tyre squirm in the corners. As you would expect, lower pressures also lead to enhanced comfort and better traction. It also makes the tyre less susceptible to penetration-type punctures.
While you can fit the 303 S wheels with inner tubes if needed, they’re really built for tubeless applications. In fact they’re only compatible with tubeless or tubeless-ready tyres, and you need to ensure that the tyres aren’t deemed unsuitable for hookless rims.
This may sound limiting but Continental, Goodyear, Michelin, Panaracer, Pirelli, Schwalbe, Rene Herse, Specialized and Zipp all make tyres that will work with these new-generation rims.
With a 45mm deep profile, the rim remains relatively unaffected by crosswinds and the complete wheelset tips the scales at 1,530g. In their standard format, the hubs fit a 12x100m front axle and 142x12mm on the rear.
By swapping the end-caps, the same wheelset will also work with a variety of standards including 135x12mm and traditional quick-release.
Best of all, you’ll be able to retail all of this new-school technology for $1,999. That makes them competitively priced for any disc-compatible carbon road wheelset, let alone one from a top-tier brand like Zipp, especially when they’re packing so much technology.
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