TESTED: Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Wheelset | The Wonderful Feeling of Controlling the Chaos

Based in Indianapolis, the heartland of Moto, Zipp has used motorsports as an inspiration to develop many carbon cycling innovations.

For around 30 years we have seen a lot of cool technology from ZIPP. However, this single-wall rim design is in my opinion, their most innovative yet. In essence, this Moto inspired technology allows the rim to ‘pivot’ around the spoke bed on rough trails. This pivoting movement or ‘ankle compliance’ of each edge of the rim is very slight but creates the feeling of having a little extra suspension and control, especially when speeds are high and the trails are gnarly.

Myles Kelsey and Bike Network testing the new ZIPP 3ZERO MOTO wheels on Signal Hill in Cape Town on 20 October 2019.
Using Moto inspired technology the ZIPP 3ZERO MOTO wheels are designed to be laterally stiff and radially compliant to bring more control, durability and speed to hardcharging trail riders.


THE DETAILS

  • 27.5″ or 29″ (tested) options
  • Single wall, handmade carbon rim with hookless rim bead, 30mm inner and 37.5mm external width designed for aggressive trail and enduro racing
  • Available as a rim only or complete wheelset (tested)
  • 32 Spoke in a 3 cross lace pattern
  • Sapim D-Lite, J-Bend Stainless steel DBL butted spokes 2.0 / 1.65 / 2.0
  • Integrated tyre pressure monitoring system – TyreWiz™
  • Tubeless valve & tubeless rim tape – factory installed
  • ZM1 Zipp hubs | 52 points of engagement
  • XD Driver & 6 Bolt rotor
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in Indianapolis, USA
  • Complete weight: 29″ 1910g | 27.5″ 1825g
  • Rim weight: 29″ 567g | 27.5″ 536g
  • Wheelset RRP: R31 874
  • Rim only RRP: R11 388 (each)
  • SHOP


THE TECH

The dynamic ride quality of the wheelset is due to the technology and innovation sitting within each component of the system – rims, hubs, spokes and valves.

THE SINGLE-WALL RIM: The single-wall approach (below and left) is low in profile with a thicker carbon wall. This design yields a stronger, more robust rim, without it being overbuilt and becoming excessively stiff.


ANKLE COMPLIANCE: Like the natural flex in a runner’s ankle when leaning through a sharp turn, the 3ZERO MOTO rim flexes under load to stay parallel to the ground when cornering which improves traction. This compliance also prevents you from getting bounced off of your line during single bead impacts when charging on rough terrain.


ZIPP’s WIDE HUB FLANGES: The ZM1 hubs have wider hub flanges for better spoke-bracing angles to improve lateral stiffness. The result is a more direct and planted feel when cornering.


SPOKES: They are 32 hole wheelsets and the stainless steel Sapim D-Lite, J-Bend spokes are a little longer than on box-section wheels. Zipp supply the ideal tension numbers in order to prevent torsional windup and energy loss when under power. It’s a double-butted spoke measuring 2.0 / 1.65 / 2.0.


RADIAL COMPLIANCE: The radial compliance built into the system kind of acts like a bit of additional suspension when you hit a rock. The rim actually flexes and absorbs the impact energy whilst spreading it away from the impact zone to reduce the likelihood of failure. Essentially, some of the load or force of the impact is driven away from the point of contact. This also reduces the chances of pinch flats.

Myles Kelsey and Bike Network testing the new ZIPP 3ZERO MOTO wheels on Signal Hill in Cape Town on 20 October 2019.

APP-BASED TYRE PRESSURE MONITORING: The TyreWiz valve system is included with the wheelset and is an app-based, real-time tyre-pressure monitoring system. Through your smart-phone or Garmin it gives you the current tyre pressure on the trail. Additionally, through sensors, it records riding activity and will make recommendations on pressure settings unique to each trail or ride. TyreWiz is part of the AXS system.



RIDE IMPRESSIONS

Myles Kelsey and Bike Network testing the new ZIPP 3ZERO MOTO wheels on Signal Hill in Cape Town on 20 October 2019.
Any wheelset which allows riders to run lower tyre pressures without destroying rims or rolling tyres off of the rim is worth it’s weight in gold.

In Enduro racing or when charging gnarly trails a couple psi changes in tyre pressure has a phenomenal impact on traction, ride feel and speed. For that reason any wheelset which allows riders to run lower tyre pressures without destroying rims or rolling tyres off the rim is worth it’s weight in gold. I am not going to comment on how much stronger they are than other carbon wheels because this is not a scientific or laboratory-based test. On that note, Zipp does say in testing the wheels “exceeded our expectations for impact resistance due to MOTO technology compliance. As for ride quality, the wheel also deflected three times more than top rival box-section carbon wheels.” I used a whopping 3 psi less than usual for the test period, without any tyre inserts and never broke or damaged a wheel or tyre. Not a single flat or cut tyre! They do indeed seem to be very durable.

When it comes to wheels, strong and stiff is good, but stiffest is not always best. The optimal amount of compliance, in the right direction, will improve performance. With the 3ZERO Moto wheels when you are hammering down a trail it is very difficult to specifically isolate the exact moments of the flex and compliance. I figure with more testing and a controlled environment that might be possible – but that’s not the point here really. The point is the flex and compliance does indeed exist, but is so very subtle that all you end up feeling is a more planted ride with less of the harsh trail feedback when things get rough.

Very rocky and rough terrain is slightly smoother with these wheels and it is easier to ride more direct lines, controlling the chaos and making up time. For one of the rides, I reverted back to my regular tyre pressures to do an ‘apples with apples’ comparison and could feel the improved control is more than just a result of running lower pressures. Overall, the bike is a little less nervous through turns and the traction parameters seem to be a little further off than usual which is a great benefit to all riders.


POV | Zipp 3ZERO MOTO in Action



SUMMARY

The 3ZERO wheels are incredible in technical terrain. When crisscrossing ruts, riding up inside edges and holding high lines on off cambers the technology simply does what it is supposed to and everything seems easier. Without a doubt, this is a phenomenal wheelset and I don’t know that there is anything better.

I think for a racer (virtual or real-world) the added value in this wheelset is felt after about two minutes into a long trail, and that value grows with compound interest for every additional minute spent at pace. I am talking about arm pump and rider fatigue. With more control and less effort wasted fighting the bike, you are simply fresher and more able to continue attacking the trail all the way to the finish line, beach or bar.

Myles Kelsey and Bike Network testing the new ZIPP 3ZERO MOTO wheels on Signal Hill in Cape Town on 20 October 2019.
With more control and less effort wasted fighting the bike, you are simply fresher and more able to continue attacking the trail all the way to the finish line, beach or bar.

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