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Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Wheelset

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First Ride and Deep Dive: Zipp's Wild 3ZERO MOTO Wheels

An initial back-to-back test and the chance to dig into what makes these wheels stand out.

Rating: Vital Review

After suspension, wheels are arguably one of the most impactful components on bicycle performance. While suspension seems to see ongoing innovations, traditional double-wall mountain bike rims and wheel design have not changed dramatically since the 1930s. Improvements to manufacturing processes, materials, and engineering have resulted in a myriad of great double-walled rims and wheelsets, each with their take at the ideal balance of stiffness, compliance, and durability, but no major brand has departed from traditional design until recently. Taking inspiration from motocross along with a clean slate, Zipp quietly tested and refined their new 3ZERO MOTO wheelset. Whistler served as our first ride aboard the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheelset and an opportunity to chat in depth about the wheels and

After suspension, wheels are arguably one of the most impactful components on bicycle performance. While suspension seems to see ongoing innovations, traditional double-wall mountain bike rims and wheel design have not changed dramatically since the 1930s. Improvements to manufacturing processes, materials, and engineering have resulted in a myriad of great double-walled rims and wheelsets, each with their take at the ideal balance of stiffness, compliance, and durability, but no major brand has departed from traditional design until recently. Taking inspiration from motocross along with a clean slate, Zipp quietly tested and refined their new 3ZERO MOTO wheelset. Whistler served as our first ride aboard the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheelset and an opportunity to chat in depth about the wheels and concept with Zipp.

Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Highlights

  • 27.5 and 29-inch rims and complete wheelsets
  • UniStitch carbon material
  • Single-wall Moto Technology
  • 30mm internal rim width, 14.8mm height
  • Radially and "ankle" compliant
  • Asymmetrical design
  • Boost and Torque Cap axle sizing
  • Zipp ZM1 Double Time rear hub with 52 points of engagement
  • 32 double-butted Sapim D-Light spokes front and rear
  • Quark TyreWiz integrated tire pressure monitoring system
  • Quick-glance LED tire pressure indicators
  • SRAM AXS app, ANT+, and Bluetooth capable
  • Includes two decals and eight Speed Line color graphics
  • Includes tubeless tape/valve
  • Lifetime warranty and 'Life Happens' crash replacement program
  • Wheelset Weight: 1,825g (27.5”) // 1,910g (29”)
  • Rim Weight: 535g (27.5") // 565g (29")
  • MSRP: $1,999 USD wheelset with TyreWiz // $700 rim only (plus optional $200 TyreWiz add-on)

Moto Technology Explained

Regardless of mountain bike discipline, wheel and tire issues are commonplace on the trail and at the races. Mechanicals aside, wheels have a significant impact on control, precision, and feedback, which equate to safety and speed. With that in mind, the 3ZERO MOTO project began back in 2017 with input from enduro rock stars Jérôme Clementz and Adrien Dailly, both of whom received mentorship from master tinkerer and former World Champion Nico Vouilloz. Attention to detail and competitive nature means never settling, and when blind testing began their feedback indicated that Zipp’s new concept, known as Moto Technology, was worth pursuing.

While the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset has several features, Moto Technology is what really sets it apart from most other wheelsets. The single-wall rim design, in combination with cupped washers, allows the rim to pivot from side to side. Known as "ankle" compliance, this feature absorbs impacts, deflects out of harm’s way, and allows riders to hold lines more easily. For the racer, this means potentially shaving time. For the average Joe, this means a great piece of kit to make riding more fun with more control. For both, more durability, reliability, and smiles for miles.

Tech and Testing Deep Dive

We met up with Bastien Donzé, Zipp's Wheel Product Manager, to discuss the wheels at length. There's a lot of great information in this interview you likely haven't heard before:

Key Points

  • 0:26 - Moto inspiration
  • 3:00 - Early testing with Jérôme Clementz and Adrien Dailly
  • 4:30 - Layup testing at Windrock
  • 5:12 - Race testing at the Enduro World Series
  • 5:59 - Single versus double-wall rims, plus a history lesson
  • 8:55 - Flex talk
  • 10:30 - Rim compatibility with various spokes, nipples, and hubs
  • 11:56 - Using TyreWiz as a racer and rider
  • 14:12 - Durability testing
  • 16:15 - Spoke performance and maintaining tension
  • 17:15 - Over 35,000 miles of on-trail testing and some maintenance tips

"If you push on the side [of a dirt bike rim] it's actually over an inch of travel... This tilting motion around the spoke pivot could do a lot of good things. Let's see if we can develop this for mountain bikes." - Bastien Donzé

Back-to-Back Testing at Whistler Bike Park

Now that the 3ZERO MOTO has made it to production, a demo program allows riders to compare Zipp’s wheels to their current setup. The hope is that by swapping an existing wheelset for the 3ZERO MOTO setup and repeating the same trails, riders will have the opportunity to experience the differences first hand. In addition to the improved ride qualities, Zipp is also claiming improved durability, which is mandatory for a trail/enduro wheelset that will see a ton of abuse.

As an introduction to our time with the wheels and a longer-term review to come, we decided to give Zipp's demo program a go. The same demo program will run during Crankworx.

Initial Impressions

After a few laps shaking off the bike park rust, we were aided in swapping to Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheels. In the interest of keeping things as consistent as possible we were running another high-end carbon wheelset – 30mm wide x 25mm tall WeAreOne Agent rims on Industry Nine hubs – with an identical tire setup before the swap. We mounted them on the 130mm travel Forbidden Druid in the hopes that a shorter-travel bike would highlight any advantages compared to a bike with a pile of travel.

Picking up...
...and smashing holes in the name of science.

The laps we chose for comparison were A-Line, Angry Pirate, and Fantastic. On the trail, the Zipp wheelset muted more vibrations and felt composed. Similar to the feeling of transitioning from a single-ply to a DH casing, moving to the Zipp wheels felt more planted through A-Line’s braking bumps. This is likely a result of their radial compliance.

The ride quality that stood out as the biggest difference was how the Zipp wheels felt "muted."

Fantastic – a wide-open trail which features multiple flat, rough corners with brief off-camber sections – was chosen to determine whether “ankle” compliance would allow us to hold a line more easily. Surprisingly, holding a line on high-speed off-camber felt easier. We feel this trait will be even more discernible beyond the bike park and in more natural terrain.

Lastly, Angry Pirate is more representative of the terrain where most folks will ride the 3ZERO MOTO wheels and has a diverse character within a short trail. In well-supported corners, the wheels felt composed and confident. When things got a little more rugged, they never felt harsh. Rock impacts and big compressions didn't feel hugely different to our prior wheelset, but with limited runs we're looking forward to additional back-to-back testing.

The ride quality that stood out as the biggest difference was how the Zipp wheels felt "muted." Compared to the WeAreOne setup, on high-speed bike park chatter the Zipp wheels felt smoother. The muted feeling was also there in tight/snappy corners and they didn't seem to snap around corners as aggressively. Additional ride time will help determine whether we prefer this or not in this scenario. It's different, no doubt!

Though the 3ZERO MOTO wheels were approximately 200g heavier, no major difference could be felt due to the weight in a bike park setting.

We only glanced at SRAM's AXS app interface for TyreWiz briefly. It shows tire pressure, but what we found more useful is the built-in LEDs on the TyreWiz units that flash red when you're not in the pressure range you specify. This would be very handy for a quick glance before jetting out for a ride.

While a day of riding is not enough time to draw definitive conclusions, our brief experience aboard Zipp’s new wheels was overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to spending a few months hammering them in the Sea to Sky to see how they perform long-term. We've got them mounted to a bigger big bike for round two.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Zipp has taken a clean-slate approach with the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset, seamlessly integrating innovative new concepts and years of high-end wheel building experience. They've found a balance between the qualities and features racers and riders demand from a performance product, added Quark's TyreWiz system, and backed it with a lifetime warranty without pricing themselves out of the market.

Even after a relatively short time aboard the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset, we are willing to express that they have the potential to take a big step forward in the wheel wars. We are already working on a long-term review, and we hope that a great first impression is just the tip of the iceberg.

Visit www.zipp.com for more details or sign up to demo a pair at Crankworx 2019.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating: 4.5 Stars - Outstanding


About The Reviewer

Joel Harwood – Age: 35 // Years Riding: 20+ // Height: 5’11” (1.80m) // Weight: 185-pounds (83.9kg)

Joel’s unique coaching background and willingness to tinker with products bring an objective perspective to testing. He dabbles in all types of racing but is happiest simply exploring the limitless trail networks surrounding his home of Squamish, BC. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products while exposing any shortcomings.

Photos by Jessie McAuley

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10 comments newest first

At 205# and going through an alloy wheelset a season (sometimes more) I'm starting to lean towards carbon, these specifically, and now that many more companies are offering lifetime warranties, it might be time for me to pull the trigger...

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I was thinking the same, looks like major additional forces on the spokes and nipples.

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I'm 180 and chew through aluminum wheels as well. Sadly Ive just come to the conclusion that downhill tires and DH pressures appear to be the only option for slowing down how quickly a rim disintegrates if you ride downhill on any bike. 550+ gram rims and 1300+ gram tires at 26+ psi seem to be the minimum threshold for me. Michelin sidewall tech is ok for a 100-150 gram savings, but that's as low as I can go and even those don't compare to a true double ply.

I've witnessed enough carbon rim failures that I'll pass although the theory and single wall design is interesting with these. I'm going to try the Newmen EG30s. Lots of thoughtful details with how those are designed and independent tests show that they are the head of class with respect to aluminum rims.

| Reply

You sound like a good candidate for CushCore. I can highly recommend them. Not only do they protect your rim, but the improvement in grip/support is significant.

| Reply

Interesting review. How about some comments on the forbidden druid?

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Of all the carbon rim options out there, IF (and that is a big IF) I were to go with carbon rims, this would most likely be the option. Folks saying Zipp has mostly done road/tri stuff...Zipp has been doing carbon longer than most anyone out there. They know a few tricks. Curious...

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Specifications
Product Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Wheelset
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Rim Material Carbon
Rim Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Rim // UniStitch Carbon Weave // Moto Technology // Asymmetrical
Inner Rim Width 30mm
Hole Count 32
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Zipp ZM1 hub with Double Time Technology // 52-points of engagement // SRAM XD or Shimano MTB driver
Rear Axle 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub Zipp ZM1 hub
Front Axle 15mm x 110mm (Boost), Other (21mm standard and 31mm RockShox Torque Caps)
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes Sapim D-Light in 3-cross lacing pattern
Nipples Sapim Secure-Lock
Colors Silver or Slate Decal // Blue, Green, Orange, Red, White, Stealth, Teal or Yellow Speed Line
Weight
  • 4 lb 0.4 oz (1,825 g)
  • 4 lb 3.4 oz (1,910 g)
Miscellaneous Features TyreWiz integrated tire pressure monitoring system
Tubeless valve and tubeless rim tape come factory installed
Includes various front hub end caps
Rim only $700
Lifetime warranty
Price
  • $1,999
  • $950
  • $1,049
More Info

Zipp website

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