Zipp dives into tubeless with new 30 Course Disc alloy road wheels

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Zipp's new 30 Course Disc wheelset family marks several key milestones: it's the company's first tubeless-compatible road wheel, its first disc-only wheelset, and the first aluminium tubular option Zipp has ever offered. They're also very wide, seemingly stout, and somewhat reasonably priced (at least for Zipp), which should expand their appeal far beyond the traditional road and cyclocross racing segments.

Zipp 30 Course Disc wheelset key features:

  • 1,650g (tubeless clinchers, pair); 1,615g (tubulars, pair)
  • 26mm rim depth
  • 21mm internal/25mm external rim width (clinchers); 25mm external rim width (tubulars)
  • 24-hole spoke count
  • Sapim CX-Ray bladed stainless steel spokes with Secure-lock alloy nipples
  • 77/177D quick-release or thru-axle compatible hubset
  • Interchangeable hub end caps for quick-release or thru-axle fitments (12x100mm, 15x100mm, 12x135mm, and 12x142mm)
  • Shimano, Campagnolo, SRAM, and SRAM XD freehub compatibility
  • Retail availability: May 2015 (clinchers); July 2015 (tubulars)
  • Retail price: US$1000 / €1045 / £800 / AU$TBC

The new Course 30 Disc will be offered in both tubular and tubeless clincher versions - the first time Zipp has done a tubular wheelset in aluminium

Zipp is no stranger to aluminium road wheelsets but its alloy offerings have still always focused tightly on the high-performance road market. This time around, the brand that most cyclists associate with aerodynamics and speed is going after wide appeal across multiple segments of the cycling community.

At over 1,600g – and with hefty rim weights between 460g and 500g – the 30 Course Disc isn't light enough to be billed as a climbing wheel. Similarly, the rims' 26mm-deep and 25mm-wide external rim profile is roughly comparable to the much more expensive 202 carbon wheels in terms of drag and crosswind stability but we don't expect that the majority of users will go with the narrow 23mm-wide road tyres that would be required to fully extract that aero efficiency.

In either tubular or clincher form, the new Zipp 30 Course Disc rim is generously wide

Instead, the 30 Course Disc's main appeal seems to lie in its versatility. Basically, if your bike uses 700c-diameter wheels and disc brakes, the 30 Course Disc will work – almost regardless of the tyre and drivetrain configuration.

For example, the clincher's extra-generous 21mm internal width (and the tubular version's 25mm-wide tyre bed) should provide plenty of casing support for tyres up to 42mm wide. Moreover, the clincher rim's tubeless compatibility should be especially appealing for cyclocross, gravel, and adventure applications where riders should be able to run lower pressures with less fear of flatting.

Riders can even opt to go tube-free on the clinchers if they want – although with its rather traditional UST internal rim profile, it'd be best to stick to tyres specifically designed to be run tubeless as compared to a converted tube-type tyre.

The 77/177D hubs feature 10-degree engagement speed, interchangeable end caps for QR or thru-axle use, and a very broad range of driver body options

Likewise, the new 77/177D hubset (the same one used on Zipp's recently announced 202/303 Firecrest Disc wheels) will let riders choose from just about any cassette type, including not just the usual SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo spline patterns but even an XD driver for use with SRAM's ultrawide-range 10-42T 11-speed cassettes. Interchangeable end caps will work on quick-release and all commonly used thru-axle fitments, too, so the 30 Course Disc wheels will even fit on nearly anything.

Got a disc road bike? The 30 Course Disc will do the job. Cyclocross with tubulars? Check. Building up a thru-axle monstercross bike with 40mm-wide tyres and a 10-42T cassette? You get the point. About the only thing missing is compatibility with Shimano Centerlock disc rotors, although Zipp says even that's being considered for future development.

First impressions

We rode the 30 Course Disc clinchers for a few hours around California's hilly central coast region on a wide range of road surfaces that included coarse chip seal, old and decidedly broken pavement, and squishy dirt roads that had recently been inundated with heavy rains. Wrapped around the rims were semi-slick Hutchinson Piranha tyres set up tubeless and run at about 50psi.

While it was difficult to determine how quick the wheels felt – those tyres aren't especially fast or light, after all – it didn't take long for us to appreciate the wheels' surprisingly good stiffness as we bombed down washed-out descents littered with deep rain ruts, sharp rocks, and wet sandy soil that more closely resembled creamy peanut butter than anything remotely firm. We felt the rims bottom at least twice, too, with no ill effects to note once we rolled back to camp.

Zipp isn't exactly the first name that comes to mind when you think about mixed-terrain riding but the new 30 Course Disc aluminium wheelset may change that

As promised, crosswind stability was very good with just the slightest tug on the bars despite the occasionally blustery conditions. The rear hub's 36-tooth ratchet also yields a reasonably quick engagement speed that was handy on a few steeper sections of road.

That all said, time will tell to whom exactly these wheels will appeal. While noticeably stiff, apparently durable, and unquestionably versatile, they're also a little heavy for the price or conversely, a bit expensive for the weight (particularly given the hefty rims). The lack of a Centerlock-compatible version will also preclude folks from using Shimano's best-performing 140mm-diameter road rotors, which are only offered in a splined pattern.

There's never anything wrong with a product that simply does what it's supposed to do and apparently won't fall apart in the process. The question, however, is whether being competent and wearing a Zipp logo will be a convincing argument. We've got a set inbound so we'll find out soon enough.

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