ZIPP 3ZERO MOTO Carbon Wheels (RIDDEN!)
Back in April of this year Zipp released their first mountain bike wheels called the 3Zero Moto. When NSMB first laid hands on these wheels at Sea Otter, we published this article here with loads more info.
Coleman's Notes; the rims are a carbon single wall design. The design is said to be Moto inspired, the goal being more vertical compliance than normal mountain bike rims. The thinking is that a vertically compliant wheel essentially adds suspension to your bike, allowing the wheel to more easily deform over obstacles on the trail. The intent is to improve traction, and reduce the impact forces transmitted through the bike.
Technical detail recap:
- Moto inspired low-profile, single wall, carbon rim
- Intended use is trail and enduro
- Rims are manufactured by Zipp in Indianapolis, USA
- Available in 27.5 and 29 inch wheelsets or as rim only
- Rear hub has 52 points of engagement = 6.9 degrees engagement angle
- Wheelsets come with TyreWiz included
- Lifetime warranty with a 120 kg weight limit
- Weights: 27.5" - 1,825 grams // 29" - 1,910 grams
- Price: $1,999 USD
TyreWiz comes standard in the 3Zero Moto wheels. This is normally a $200 USD spend, but the way it's packaged in to the 3Zero Moto rims is much more elegant than the standard TireWiz you can buy in the aftermarket. The idea behind TireWiz is you can check your tire pressure on your phone, or on your smart cycling computer. This can alert you if you're getting a flat, or if your tire pressures are falling outside of your preset window. TireWiz requires you to set an ideal pressure for each tire, and then a band of ± 1, 2, 3 or more psi depending on how OCD you are. I think the feature I'd use the most is to quickly check if my tire pressures are still in my window when pulling the bike from the rack, flashing green means good to go. It might be a bit gimmicky, and you probably don't NEED it, but I can see it being handy for some.
The SRAM guys told me to bring my trail bike along to Whistler Opening weekend. The weather was beauty and the lift lines were short so we shredded some laps on the Giant TRX 0 wheels I'm testing. Once the lines grew long we retreated to the shade where Jeff Bryson from Wheel Thing bolted a set of the new Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels to my bike. In the flesh the rims are beautifully made, and the finish is among the nicest around. Making these single wall rims is harder than you'd think, which makes the finish and quality of the Zipp wheels even more impressive. With wheels mounted, the time had come to get them out on the trail. We had determined our test track and the dirt in the bike park was primo.
Things got off to a chill start. Initially I found my groove on the new wheels and tires. Ideally we would have used my tires, but changing tires would have taken too long. I'm well used to the Maxxis DHF front and DHR2 though, and the traction was all time. The test track had a mix of all elements featuring loads of different corners, jumps, tech, flow, you name it. I was immediately struck with how soft these wheels feel on the ground. There is legitimately less vibration transmitted through the bike. In some situations this meant excellent traction, and more importantly these are really comfortable to ride.
As I built pace and load through the wheels I noticed the rear tire starting to lose traction where the front still stuck firm. I think what is happening is that under high cornering load the rear rim is starting to deflect, lose its camber to the trail, and the side knobs aren't engaging as aggressively. I noticed this in a few different situations, but most noticeably in high load, bermed corners. This affect is likely only under heavier riders that are hitting corners abnormally hard. I was listening in on the feedback of other riders, and the general consensus was overwhelmingly positive. Another thing that I noticed was that the extra compliance made the 3Zero Moto wheels feel less precise than other carbon wheels I've ridden recently. This is both a plus and a minus. While the compliance is excellent, the placement and communication of the tire and rim combination on the trail wasn't as good as I'm used to on stiffer carbon wheels.
More on the TireWhiz: After a sketchy side move, I slid back on the the trail and the rear tire made an awful tire carcass rippling noise from the load I put through the wheel and tire. Things got very sideways and I thought I had torn the tire off the rim. Sealant was oozing and it seemed I had burped a bit of air. The tire hand squeeze confirmed there was still air in the tire, but how much? The TireWiz was helpful, a quick glance at the valve stem. Green flash. "Braaaaap, let's shred!".
The Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels offer a very different riding experience to any other wheels I've tried to date. The 3Zero Motos provide excellent compliance and they feel very comfortable on the trail. I think for many riders this is going to be a noticeable improvement in comfort over stiffer wheels, and possibly in traction as well. However, if you're a heavier and more aggressive rider you might find more deflection than you'd ideally like out of the rear wheel.
The asking price of $1,999 USD isn't cheap, but with the inclusion of the $200 USD TireWhiz, and quality of the product, the MSRP seems inline with other top tier wheels. That said, this is a first ride impression based on 5 runs in the bike park. I'd love to try the Zipp 3Zero Moto wheels over a longer period of time to see how they hold up around these parts, how they ride with different tires, and also to test the ride characteristics over a wider array of terrain.
For more on the Zipp 3Zero Moto click here...