Zipp has just announced its re-entry into the mountain bike wheel market with the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset – a high end set of hoops that feature US-manufactured carbon fibre rims and an eyebrow-raising single-wall profile…
Hot on the heels of the announcement of the hotly anticipated wireless AXS Eagle groupset, the new G2 disc brakes, and the 2020 RockShox suspension range, the SRAM family is ready to unload another new product bomb on us.
This time however, it comes from its wheelset specialist brand, Zipp.
Some of our wiser readers will know that Zipp has actually offered mountain bike wheels in the past. However, the Indianapolis-based brand chose early on to shelve that project in favour of focussing on road components instead. Fast-forward a few decades and a company acquisition by SRAM, and Zipp is ready to dive back into the dirt with its all-new 3ZERO MOTO wheelset.
Tested by the likes of Jérôme Clementz and Adrien Dailly, the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset is targeted at aggressive trail riders and enduro racers. Available in both 27.5in and 29in flavours, the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset features a hookless and tubeless rim profile, a 30mm internal width, and asymmetric spoke drilling to facilitate more even spoke lengths and tensions.
Seems relatively normal, until you get to the rims.
Single Wall Carbon Rims
Manufactured at Zipp’s Indianapolis factory in the US, the 3ZERO MOTO rims vary from almost every other carbon fibre wheel on the market by utilising a single wall profile. Instead of a hollow box-section design, the 3ZERO MOTO rims are solid carbon fibre.
Eh? Why single wall?
Well for a start, it allows the carbon fibre to be compacted with significantly higher pressure, without need for any bladders or sacrificial moulds. In theory, this should lead to fewer voids being present between the carbon layers, which will increase fatigue and impact strength.
Because they’re not hollow, they’re also likely to be a lot quieter on the trail.
However, the main advantage that Zipp is touting comes down to compliance. Zipp says the 3ZERO MOTO rim provides more radial compliance than a conventional box-section carbon rim, along with an ability to flex locally at the impact point. Zipp is calling this ‘ankle compliance’, which is a reference to how a trail runner’s ankles naturally flex and tilt when contacting rough terrain.
According to Zipp, this added twisting compliance acts like in-built suspension to reduce deflection for a smoother and more comfortable ride. Compared to a stiffer rim, Zipp claims that impact energy is spread over a larger surface area with the 3ZERO MOTO rim, which should reduce the chance of pinch-flats while improving durability. Because of this, Zipp reckons you should be able to run lower pressures compared to a regular box-section rim.
Haven’t We Seen This Before?
The only other wheels on the market to feature this design (that we’re aware of ) are the Australian-manufactured Tammar V4.8 wheels from Bouwmeester Composites. As you’ll see in the photo below, the shallow and rectangular profile isn’t dissimilar to what Zipp is using for its new 3ZERO MOTO rim.
Since we reviewed the Tammar V4.8 wheels a few years ago, things have gone quiet on the Bouwmeester front. That’s because the owner, Mello Bouwmeester, had been head-hunted by Selle Royal’s SR56 group back in 2017, where he was brought on to help Crank Brothers develop the new Synthesis carbon wheels.
While Bouwmeester Composites still exists as a company, it’s otherwise been laying idle since Mello’s departure.
The Other Details
Zipp will be offering the 3ZERO MOTO in a single complete wheelset, in both 27.5in and 29in diameters. With weights just under the 2kg mark and an internal rim width of 30mm, this wheelset is clearly targeted towards the hard-hitting world of enduro racing.
Because of the single wall design, the rims have a pronounced drop to the spoke bed. This is to keep the heads of the spoke nipples nice and low in the rim well. A layer of protective nylon tape is used to cover up the spoke nipples, and then standard tubeless tape is layered over the top of that.
The complete wheels will be handbuilt in either the US or Portugal (depending on the market), using Zipp’s own alloy ZM1 hubs. These feature SRAM technologies including the 4-pawl DoubleTime freehub mechanism, and the ability to run Torque Caps for use with RockShox forks.
Complete wheels get 32 spokes per end, laced in a nice ‘n’ normal 3x pattern with J-bend spokes. Zipp uses Sapim double-butted spokes, alloy Secure Lock nipples and nipple washers for the build.
Although Zipp reckons the complete wheel is the bee’s knees, it will be offering the 3ZERO MOTO as a rim only for those who want to go custom. However, it’s worth noting that the rims will only be available aftermarket in a 32h drilling, and because of the angle that the spoke holes are drilled at, they’re also only meant to be built with either Boost or Super Boost hub spacing.
Zipp says it is so confident in the durability of the 3ZERO MOTO design, that each wheelset and rim comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner. This covers against manufacturing defects, but it also covers you for damage inflicted by normal wear and tear. Here’s the official word from Zipp;
“We are that confident in the durability that MOTO Technology provides. Each 3ZERO MOTO wheelset or rim includes a lifetime warranty for product issues that happen during your gnarliest Trail or Enduro use. Product registration required. Original owner only, non-transferable. Proof of purchase required. Covers defects in materials or workmanship. Rim damage is covered in indented use situations (Trail/Enduro). Neglect and misuse are not covered. ‘Life Happens’ Pricing Structure for situations where warranty does not cover the damage.”
Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Carbon Wheel Specifications
- Designed for aggressive trail riding and enduro racing
- Single-wall carbon fibre rim
- Hookless rim bead & tubeless compatible profile
- Internal rim width: 30mm
- External rim width: 37.5mm
- 2.5mm offset spoke drilling
- Zipp ZM1 hubs w/stainless steel cartridge bearings
- DoubleTime freehub mechanism for 52 points of engagement
- Available only with Boost hub spacing (110x15mm front & 148x12mm rear)
- Built with 32x Sapim D-Light J-bend spokes & Alloy Secure Lock nipples per wheel
- Carbon rims manufactured in Indianpolis, USA
- Max rider weight limit: 120kg (bike + rider + gear)
- Lifetime warranty to original owner (excluding neglect and misuse)
- Rim only weight: 535g (27.5in), 565g (29in)
- Complete wheel weight: 1825g (27.5in), 1910g (29in)
- Rim only RRP: £670 each
- Complete wheelset RRP: £1875
And there you have it – the new carbon mountain bike wheels from Zipp, which are due to be available as of right now.
What do you folks think of this off-road re-entry from Zipp? Are you into the single-wall rim design? Or are these wheels unlikely to make your Xmas wish list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!