New Stuff From Zipp


Zipp is launching a bevy of new products and assembled a few of us journalist types in Tucson, Arizona, for some riding and in-depth presentations about these new products. The weather hasn’t been quite as cooperative as expected; so far I’ve managed only one ride, though we’re hoping today our ride won’t be canceled by falling snow.

You may have heard recently that Zipp has introduced two new wheels sets, the 30 and the 60. In broad strokes, these wheels are (compared to other Zipp wheel sets) more budget oriented and specifically made for day-in, day-out use. They both feature aluminum rims with a parallel brake track (not the canted brake track that is such a signature part of other Zipp wheels) for predictable braking under the harshest of circumstances.

All those of you who have wanted Zipp aerodynamics with aluminum reliability and a less painful bite to your wallet, you may now rejoice.

The 30 wheels take a low-profile rim approach. The “30” refers to the rim depth of the wheels—30mm, which puts it on a par with the 202 and 101. The 60 is the more distinctly aero wheel and features a roughly 60mm rim (58mm, actually), which puts it on a par with the 404, in terms of depth. They use the same hubs featuring preload-free stainless steel bearings compatible with both 10- and 11-speed drivetrains from SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo. Both sets use an 18-spoke front wheel and a 20-spoke rear wheel. The spokes are Sapim CX-Ray stainless spokes with Sapim’s new locking nipples for the most maintenance-free build possible.


Both rims feature a hybrid toroidal rim shape and the aforementioned parallel brake track. The rim design nicely characterizes the overall design of the wheels themselves. The canted brake track found in Zipp’s Firecrest wheels is faster, period. But it’s harder to manufacture and requires much more stringent tolerances for vertical truing so that you don’t have braking issues if the wheel comes out of true. The 30 rim is an all-aluminum rim, while the 60 rim is very much like the old 404 clincher using an aluminum brake track with carbon fiber fairing. However, Zipp’s David Ripley cautioned the journalists present not to think of the 60 as an old 404 clincher redux. Zipp engineers beefed up the aluminum and carbon fiber to prevent the occasional rim failures they saw at the spoke holes. Ripley stressed repeatedly that they wanted these wheels to be absolutely bomb-proof wheels suitable for daily use. [CORRECTION: Zipp informed us that the 60 rim employs a structural carbon rim with an aluminum hoop (the brake track) co-molded. This is a significantly stronger and more durable design than had the carbon just been a fairing.]

Both wheels take a page or two from current Zipp designs. The 30 features a 21.5mm max rim width while the 60 features a max rim width of 22.5mm to give tires a wider footprint, better traction and lower rolling resistance, not to mention increased rider comfort.


The wheel weights we were presented weighed 1655 grams for the 30s and 1780g for the 60s, so they aren’t especially light wheels. What really sets these wheels apart from other wheels in this price category are their aerodynamics. The 30s are a bit slower than Zipp’s Firecrest 202s and 101s, but not hugely so. The 60s, while not as fast as either Zipp’s Firecrest 404s or Firecrest 303s, are notably faster than many competing wheels. Drag numbers for the 30 put it easily ahead of the Mavic Ksyrium E5 and even faster than the Easton EC90 Aero 56.

A set of wheels includes quick releases, tubes and rim strips (brake shoes aren’t necessary thanks to the machined aluminum brake track).

I’ve had a single ride on a set of the 30s and experienced a quick, trouble-free ride, which is what you’d expect—at least the trouble-free part—for the first miles logged on a set of wheels, but it occurs to me that at $850 for the 30s and $1500 for the 60s, these wheels really change what people can expect for aerodynamic performance from a set of wheels at a significantly lower price point. With the 30s especially, this should be the beginning of the end for the box rim.


Zipp has also added a 650c version of their popular Firecrest 404 Carbon Clincher. Compared to a 66mm-deep V-shaped 650c rim, Zipp’s testing indicates the new 650c 404 will shave 127 gram of drag off of the V-rim’s 194g, for only 67g of drag. It’s a pretty staggering reduction in drag. We’re told the wheels weigh in at 1465g total, have a spoke count of 16 front, 20 rear, use Zipp’s proven 88/188 hubs and are compatible with 10- or 11-speed drivetrains from SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo. Included with the wheels are quick releases, tubes, rim strips, valve extenders, wrenches and brake shoes. Suggested retail is $2725.



For those of you who do time trials or triathlon, Zipp has introduced a new integrated carbon fiber bar/stem combination called the Vuka Stealth. To give you some idea about the new bar and stem’s aerodynamics, the Vuka Stealth is said to have the same aerodynamics with its UCI-legal 3:1 aero profile as the 4:1 profile Vuka Aero with the SL145 stem. Cable routing in carbon aero base bars dispenses headaches like Coke machines do soda, but the Vuka Stealth has a surprisingly simple routing aided by specific layup, called Rapid Routing, and multiple exit holes allow the bars to be set up specifically for the different cable entry of bikes from companies like Trek and Specialized. It comes in three lengths with a two-position insert to allow a +/- 10mm fore/aft adjustment. And because it’s a Zipp product, it has nearly 2000 possible fit combinations. The hardware is made from aluminum and titanium and the clamp diameter is an industry-standard 22.2mm to accept extensions from nearly any manufacturer. Suggested retail is $1070.

Finally, Quarq has introduced two new cranks, the Riken and Elsa. Like previous Quarq cranks, these are accurate to +/- 1.5 percent. Riken brings Quarq power measurement to a new price point: $1595. Elsa weighs in at just 735g and adds two crank lengths: 165mm and 162.5mm; it goes for $1995. Both are available in BB30 options for an extra $50.

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  1. Brian

    The 30s will be game changers. For that price point why go with a wheelset that is in the $500-700 range when you can get aero/bombproof for $800. Will be interesting to see how well the sales of the two wheelsets will be. Thanks for the write up Padraig!

  2. [email protected]

    How do the 30’s differ from the 101? Both all-alloy, 101 is wider and more expensive. Same spokes? I think so. But what do you gain with the 101 over the 30?

    And how much different is the 60 than the Mavic Cosmic wheelset that’s been around in various iterations forever? Are the aerodynamics that different?

    I don’t think the box rim will go away as long as these aero rims are only offered in such low spoke counts. If it was 24/28 spoking or in that range, I’d be way more confident of using these for every day riding. Not with 18/20 spokes, though.

  3. Anon

    @Brian: Wouldn’t the reason be an extra $100-300? I agree with Nate. HED can offer close to firecrest performance for a much cheaper price already. FLO does an even better job. It’s a Firecrest ripoff shape on an aluminum rim for $825 to my door(first round pricing at least).

    1. Author

      Nate: My take is that the 60 is directly competitive with the Jet 5 Express, but HED has nothing directly competitive with the 30, certainly not with the Ardennes.

      [email protected]: The 30s don’t have hubs of quite the quality of the 101s, nor are they as light. The 101s are lighter, a hair faster and will require more maintenance due to the canted brake track. Honestly, the 30s have the potential—in my estimation—of killing the market for the 101s. The 30s are that deadly.

      I should probably do a whole post on this, but my experience in the aerodynamics hierarchy is (roughly) box rim, deep-V rim, hybrid torroidal rim, then Firecrest-type rounded rim (a al Firecrest and ENVE SES). The Cosmics and all the other deep-V rims are harder to handle and not as fast.

      Anon: The only wheels that I’ve ridden or even seen that are in the neighborhood of Firecrest performance are the ENVE SES. The HEDs are closer to a hybrid torroidal shape than they are Firecrest, which is to say they are notably slower. The new 60 in the wind tunnel isn’t even as fast as the 303 Firecrest. Firecrest and ENVE SES are a class apart from everything else out there.

      Chromatic Dramatic: After today’s ride on the 30s (my second) I’m unable to come up with solid reasons for why you should consider the 101 instead of the 30s. I’ll talk to the Zipp folks and see if they think there’s a big difference in terms of weight limit for the wheels.

  4. Chromatic Dramatic

    @Padraig like [email protected] my concern would always be about longevity, and more spokes help in this regard. Also if the 101s are wider this would obviously help with staying true (all else being equal).

    Part of the reason I was looking at the 101s was that I could get a custom built jobby through (which, btw is as a result of following linkies from here) with the extra spokes, plus a nice Chris King hub.

    So interested to hear what Zipps feedback is on going one over the other.

  5. Tod

    Could you please take an actual measurement of the rim width for these wheels? Because, according to the Zipp website, they’re not wide at all.
    Zipp lists a “brake track width” of 18.7mm for the 60s, with a “clincher bead width” of 13.7mm. That’s a conventional rim. The 30 rim is marginally wider, at 20.4mm, but still far shy of the 23mm “standard” that is the norm for wide rims these days (and far shy of the 22.98mm measurement of the 101).

    1. Author

      Chromatic Dramatic: After talking to the engineer in charge of the development of the 30s, I’m told that the 101s and the 30s have the same weight rating. In this case, more spokes isn’t necessary for maximal longevity. I like Chris King hubs a lot, but I’ve learned nothing to tell me they are superior to the Zipp 88/188. Those are really light hubs with really stellar Grade 10 stainless steel bearings.

      Tod: Sorry, but I don’t have calipers here and I’m back at my room with no access to the wheels. The maximum rim widths we were given were 21.5mm and 22.5mm respectively for the 30 and the 60; I’ll do what I can to secure additional details in the next few days, but the information you have seems odd given what we were told in our presentation.

  6. Tod

    The information I have is all taken directly from the Zipp website, so it can’t be that odd. Go to the 30 or 60 page, and click on Specs. I suspect the maximum rim widths are just that; the widest section of the rim, not the brake track (and that number is apparently 23.5 for the 60, not 22.5). Again, all per their website.

  7. Randall

    I’d say that HED, Flo, Bontrager and some others all have the new “better-than-hybrid-toroidal” shapes. Looking at this image: shows the “hybrid-toroidal” shape coming to a characteristic point, like some Mavics I have seen. The key for handling is to have that blunt inner edge, and while the firecrest certainly is in the “sweet spot”, what is less clear is how blunt the wheel needs to be to get in that spot.

    Of course, at that level, the comparisons are in the sub-watt range, and stiffness, price and weight may be more important considerations, atmo.

  8. nate

    Padraig, If you can ever get this information from a Zipp Engineer, (in regards to the Zipp 60) why did they go with attaching the spokes at the CF instead of at the aluminum rim beyond like HED has done with the Jet line? I’m sure they have an opinion and just curious to hear what that is.

    I would love to see you review a HED Jet wheelset if you haven’t already, just to get your take. Variety would be nice. I think you have Specialized and Zipp covered 😉

    EDIT: I see you offer an opinion on HED wheels above being not as fast. Just to clarify – were you testing the newer blunt edge JET’s?

  9. Anon

    I agree with your statements above. I’m not sure why they would call the newer designs hybrid-toroidal other than picking and choosing which wheels they test against in the windtunnel. Check forums a couple of years ago for some great HED/zipp/forum users ‘discussion’ on this topic.

    Regardless, a HED wheel is 99% of the zipp performance for much less in price. And to head off the weight argument… go to the analytic cycling website and ask the physicists about weight, rotational or otherwise.

    If you have the cash, the winner is zipp. However, comparing wind tunnel tests and averaging them out to help reduce bias, the differences in grams of drag measured may equate to mere watts. Zip your jersey up, or take care how you pin your number, and you’re there.

    1. Author

      Some final notes on weight and longevity of the 30s and the 101s: Both wheels are rated to 250 lbs. Zipp has a “bump drum” they use to test/kill wheels. Most good wheels will last 20-50 hours I’m told. The 30s lasted more than 200 hours. They eventually shut off the machine because other engineers were tired of one wheel hogging so much time on the machine.

      Tod: I’ll talke to Zipp. I can’t begin to guess why there’s a discrepancy in that info.

      Randall and Anon: I’ve spoken to an engineer who works at a bike company that has no dog in the fight but has tested virtually all the aero wheels on the market in the San Diego Low-Speed Wind Tunnel. What I’ve previously stated about the fastest designs comes from him rather than some opinion I formed based on reading everyone’s marketing materials. He told me that Firecrest and SES are significantly faster than every other wheel they tested. The bike company in question, just to clarify, tested wheels in an effort to see which wheels were fastest for the simple reason they wanted to spec the fastest wheels available on their TT and Tri bikes. I consider this the best, most unbiased information I’ve been able to get regarding wheel performance.

      It’s worth noting that Zipp reveals what tire they use in their testing while HED does not. As a result, the bike company in question was able to replicate Zipp’s results by using the same tire. Contrarily, they could never find a tire that would allow them to replicate HED’s wind tunnel results.

      Looks aside, I’ve ridden wheels from a number of manufacturers and my personal experience is that nothing handles as well as Firecrest and SES, never mind the speed.

      Nate: Zipp has told me previously that they go with nipples at the base of the rim for one simple reason: ease of serviceability.

  10. Randall

    Is there any information about when there might be tunnel data available for these new wheels? It would be very interesting to compare within their product line and with others.

    On the the sidebar, the point about the tires is really interesting. I like the “aero” discussions on a purely nerdy level, I wasn’t trying to make a specific point against Zipp. This page aggregates tests other people have done: It also shows different tests of the same wheel, and it is true that the tests vary considerably. Perhaps the tires are the reason for this!

  11. Chad Smith

    [email protected],

    I am 170lbs, train every day on the 101s, and even race our local Thursday night Criterium series on them, and have not had a single issue in the last 12 months. Have never needed to tension the spokes, true the wheel, etc. They are pretty solid wheels. The 30s are listed at 1655 grams with a 250lb weight limit. The 101s are 1530 grams with a 250lb weight limit. The 101s are a little wider (better aerodynamics and the whole “larger contact area” thing) and use different (i.e. higher quality) hubs. I personally LOVE the wider rims (I have Zipp 101 and HED Ardennes) and can definitively say you get a speed advantage from them. My PR on 1 of my favorite weekend loops in Austin was on the 101s, and my average power was comparable to other rides, on the same loop, on different wheels, but the average speed was faster. This meant a drop of about 20 min from my previous fastest time on a 50 mile course. That’s substantial.

    I will also say that, between 25-40 mph (even faster, but in training I rarely go over faster unless it is a really long downhill) you really feel the technology of the wheels. If you are doing circles in your driveway, you will not feel a difference. But when you are hauling… you will feel the wheels slicing the wind and the liveliness of a wheel run with slightly lower tire pressure (my 101s ride like tubulars, with the right tires, at 85/90 PSI).

    Will be getting a pair of 404 Firecrest clinchers in the near future.

  12. Chad Smith


    the 101s are still a viable option IMHO for people who do NOT want to spend the big $$$ for Firecrest carbon clinchers. I bought my 101s last year as a racing wheel, and ended up training on them, too. I already owned a set of 2007 American Classic Carbon 58 tubulars (which are just non-dimpled 404 rims on American Classic micro hubs), but wanted the convenience of clinchers for riding out to the local crit, then riding home after racing (usually with a beer in 1 hand).

    The 101s are only 5 grams heavier than the 404 Firecrest clincher. I realize the 404s are a faster wheel. My point is that, for the budget-minded racer, I think the 101s are a viable option as a RACE WHEEL. You get the same quality hubs, the toroidal rim, wide braking track, and you can upgrade 2012 hubs to 11-speed if you want, for about $1000 less than the 404s. Obviously, the 404s are faster. But I can tell you that racing my local crit series on the 101s was pure joy – they really are an exceptional set of wheels. I’m now using them to train on, ordering the 404 firecrest clinchers in the next 2-3 weeks.

  13. blue kite meditation

    $850 for the 30 and somehow box section rims are will die? Padraig, I think you’re out of touch with a lot of cyclists with that comment. You can still build up a fine, durable set of wheels for $300 with box section alloy rims, at a similar weight. $850 might be a good value for aero wheels (and I like most Zipp products), but please separate that from $850 wheels suddenly becoming affordable to people who can only afford $300 wheels, or people who don’t care about aerodynamics and prefer the comfort or braking characteristics of certain box section alloy rims. While comments like yours can help you earn your trip to Arizona, it reminds me why my buddies (admittedly liberal) call your site Red Party Prayer.

  14. Peter lin

    @blue Kite
    I agree with you. $800 for a set of new wheels feels too pricey for me. I just got a set of Mavic Aksium wheels for 315.00 and that felt just about right for me.

    I’d much rather put money away for kids college and retirement than spend 850-1000 for a set of wheels.

    1. Author

      Blue Kite: I think you’re attempting to read more into my remark than is really there. Box rims will never leave the market, but I don’t think they can be marketed as an element of a relatively premium wheel set, with such obviously superior options (due to their aerodynamics) available. No one is suggesting you need to care about aerodynamics, but even the most minor nod to aerodynamics in your wheel selection can allow you to ride faster at a given effort.

  15. blue kite meditation

    “With the 30s especially, this should be the beginning of the end for the box rim.”

    I don’t know how I read more into it than what you clearly state, but my point is that so many of us don’t care about the speed or aerodynamics and it’s about getting out there, enjoying it, and riding what we can afford (and sometimes build ourselves). As a site that calls itself the “soul of cycling” I worry you lose sight of that “soul” and think we’re all racer boys. That’s an important part of cycling, but certainly not the soul of it, and if keep that majority of cyclists (non-racers) in mind, it would help you appear less advertorial.

    1. Author

      Blue Kite: You really thought that I meant that one product introduction was going to end the use of all box rims in all bicycles? Nevermind. To your point, I’m no racer boy. I haven’t pinned on a number for a road event in 11 years. But I still like to go fast and I suspect that the vast majority of our readers believe that 20 mph is more fun than 12 mph. If that’s not the case for you, I suspect you’ll find most of our work at odds with your ethos and I’m sorry about that.

  16. blue kite meditation

    Padraig: Fair point about 20mph being more fun than 12mph unless you’re talking road versus cross, but of course nobody can say these wheels make that big of a difference. So if you’re talking real differences, the seconds or minute it might save in a 40k time trial still seems trivial to most non-racers. We love pushing ourselves, but I think it’s a huge leap to think that most non-racers find joy in relatively minor speed gains from simply upgrading to expensive equipment as opposed to just riding more and pushing yourself. Many of us riders and former racers, like you, still enjoy going fast, but my point is that we don’t all get that joy from having the latest aero wheels but by pushing each other, riding more, and staying connected to the soul of cycling. That’s the disconnect here. If you get a thrill by seeing your cyclo show .1 mph faster or you set a PR on strava on your new equipment, that’s what I mean by racer boy, number pinned or not, and many of us aren’t of that mindset. Just feedback that I hope is helpful so that you’re aware of how you can alienate a large part of your potential readership that does make up the soul of cycling. Thanks for listening.

    1. Author

      Blue Kite: It was a fair point because I’m not talking about cyclocross; that was never a part of the conversation. This isn’t a ‘cross specific site. By automatically assuming that a pair of the wheels like the 30s will only give a rider a negligible—if even identifiable—difference in speed you’re demonstrating a foregone lack of trust for both the wheels and the review. I personally think the gains weren’t so subtle and I wrote about that experience. I wasn’t paid to write what I did and I absolutely believe that when you consider the wheels that the 30s will compete against—stuff in the $750 to sub $1000 range—the box rim for that price point deserves to go the way of the Dodo. If a set of wheels will allow you to go 21 mph instead of 20, I think there’s a large swath of the RKP readership who are interested to hear that, and if that makes me, and us, racer-boy-types, so be it.

      However, if you’re unable to trust that I wrote my post in good faith, I’ve already lost you as a reader. And if you’re unwilling to trust that I do my job in good faith, losing you as a reader is something that doesn’t bother me.

  17. Randall

    I am about as slow as they come, and I do occasionally balk at the price of of products, but I certainly wouldn’t blame a reviewer for talking about what is being sold in his market segment.

    I also think that most people try to get the best bang for their buck: “Best shampoo under $5,” “Best shampoo over $5,” everything. I want the most speed per dollar, and I especially like new [email protected] things.

  18. ryder

    Am using Fulcrum Racing Zero, with its ultra smooth ceramic bearing, carbon hubs, and bladed spokes. super stiff wheels and very good at climbing. My question is, should I upgraded to a proper aero wheels, say 303 FC or 404 FC (clincher), would I feel noticeable different? Or is my FR0 is good enough to the point that the performance feeling is very marginal especially on the flat windy route?

    Thanks and looking forward. To spend such amount of money on zipp wheels but feeling not much performance difference than my current wheel is totally unacceptable. I need to know and convinced that there would be MASSIVE difference in terms of speed advantage.


    1. Author

      Ryder: My experience has been that the 303s are a noticeable improvement over traditional box rims, the 404s even moreso. A set of 303s is good for a cog, the difference between good form and great form.

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