Zipp are famous for their carbon loveliness but they’ve added a new alloy-rimmed clincher to the line-up in the shape of the 101, which becomes their most affordable wheel. Don’t start reaching for your wallet just yet, though, the 101 is hardly cheap – you’re looking at £1,100 for the pair.
Zipp are calling the 101, “the world’s most aerodynamically advanced aluminium wheelset.” (Well, they say “aluminum” because the Americans struggle with proper spelling). The key feature is the rim which is fully toroidal, meaning that the surfaces are curved rather than straight-edged – a little bit (but not much, admittedly) like a ring doughnut. Zipp reckon that this wind tunnel-developed profile allows the 30mm-deep 101 to outperform V-shaped rims that are much deeper, and they’re claiming an advantage of up to 42secs over 40km compared to a benchmark aluminium wheelset.
The 101 is broader than most of its rivals with a maximum width of 24.5mm. That’s not at the hook bead, it’s in the middle of the rim – it bulges outwards. This allows the 101 to smooth airflow over even wide tyres; Zipp say the maximum tyre width you can use is 35mm. The narrowest tyre you can fit is 21mm, and you’re going to want to be closer to that end of the spectrum for the best aero performance.
The extra width of the 101 also reduces the likelihood of pinch flats, improves lateral stiffness and, Zipp say, provides stable handling without tyre squirm on rough road surfaces.
The 101s feature Zipp’s 88/188 hubs – the same ones they use on their high-end wheels – made from proprietary Z310.9 alloy and with adjustable bearing preload. They roll on Swiss steel bearings and oversized 17mm axles while the spokes are Sapim CX-Rays – 18 up front and 20 at the rear. The 101s are available in 700c clincher only and Zipp are claiming a weight of 1,523g per wheelset.
When we spoke to Zipp’s Andy Paskins about these wheels recently we wanted to know why Zipp don’t fit ceramic bearings as standard. The answer is, Zipp consider the roundness of the bearings to be way more important than whether they’re ceramic or not, so they prefer to go with high quality steel bearings.
And can you re-true the wheels yourself? In theory you can, but for most people… nah! Get your bike shop to do it because you really need the spoke tension to be absolutely even throughout.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.