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Zipp targets versatility with new 303 S tubeless wheelset

US brand shifts focus away from aerodynamics with disc brake option for multiple road surfaces – priced under £1,000

Zipp has unveiled a new 303 S tubeless disc-brake wheelset that's designed for multiple types of road surfaces, including both asphalt and gravel. With a wide rim profile, it's priced well below any of the brand's existing carbon-fibre wheels.

Zipp 303 S - 1 (1)

Read our Zipp 303 S wheelset review

This launch marks a significant shift for Zipp in that it's not aimed at improving aerodynamic efficiency, although there's still a focus on speed.

Zipp 303S wheels - rim.jpg

"Expanding greatly on its heritage of conquering the Spring Classics, this 303 wheelset maintains its ideal-for-every-terrain 45mm rim depth but adds a significantly wider internal width to provide greater performance and ride quality in almost every measurable way," says Zipp.

The carbon-fibre 303 S is Zipp's response to the growing popularity of all-round road bikes designed to tackle various different types surface – bikes like the GT Grade, for example, models from Mason, and loads more. 

Is a gravel bike the best option if you want speed, comfort and loads of versatility?

"The 303 S offers an entirely new rim profile and design to optimise rider performance on this new breed of bike," says Zipp. "This wheelset is tubeless for disc-brake bikes, allowing the ability to run wide tyres at lower pressures for race-ready speed on or off the pavement."

Zipp being a US brand , that's 'pavement' in the American sense, meaning hard-surfaced road. 

Zipp 303S wheels - rim bed.jpg

The hookless 700c rim of the 303 S is 27mm wide – 2mm wider than that of its predecessor, the 302 Disc Brake – with an internal width that has increased by a whopping 7mm to 23mm. 

The new wheel is said to be fastest with a 28mm-wide tyre fitted, but the extra width means that it is cable of supporting gravel tyres up to 50mm wide.

Check out Zipp's new Tangente Course G40 gravel tyre

"The wide rim optimises tyre profile to allow lower tyre pressure, especially with tubeless tyres," says Zipp. "That helps to reduce rolling resistance and provides a more compliant ride with fewer vibrations."

Of course, Zipp couldn't ignore aerodynamics entirely. It says that the rims create a smooth transition to the tyre, reducing drag.

"The result of all this is a 10 watt savings versus a top peer wheel in total power required to ride 40km/h (25mph) on a flat road with a 28mm tyre."

Zipp doesn't give details of that rival wheel. We're just reporting those claims rather than endorsing them.

Zipp 303S wheels - spoke nipples 2.jpg

The 303 S wheelset is built around Zipp's 76 and 176 DB hubs and uses 12mm thru axles. You can choose either a SRAM/Shimano Road or SRAM XRD freehub. The wheels come with 24 Sapim CX-Sprint spokes, laced two-cross, front and rear.

Take a look at 21 of the best disc brake road wheelsets

Zipp claims a wheelset weight of 1,540g. We weighed our review wheels at 718g (f) and 832g (r), so a total of 1,550g.

Zipp 303S wheels - rear hub.jpg

The new wheelset comes with Zipp's revised graphics and is priced well below any of the existing carbon-fibre wheels in the range: £470 (front) and £515 (rear).

A new lifetime warranty is included. The lifetime warranty also applies to any handlebars, stems, and seatposts identified by Zipp's new logo and artwork​, and to future launches. We've heard that Zipp will announce another new product towards the end of the month, although details are currently unavailable.

Check out our reviews section to find out how the Zipp 303 S wheelset performs, and get more info over at Zipp's website

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 technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. 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.

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Linkan | 4 years ago

It probably does not matter from a quality standpoint but it does feel kind of sneaky that they are not more up front on producing these overseas (only noticed it in the advertorial video over att gcn). Made in Indianapolis did instill some confidence while trying to set new speed records on the downhill.

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