Zipp has today unveiled a new addition to its 303 family of wheels. The 353 NSW, which claims the title of the lightest clincher wheelset ever produced by the brand, weighing in at 1,255g in its lightest configuration.
Replacing the 303 NSW, the new wheels will be positioned at the top of the 303 hierarchy and this is reflected in the pricing, retailing at £3,200.00 / $4,000.00 / €3,600.00.
Zipp says that despite the low weight, they meet the same strength requirements for gravel riding as the popular 303 Firecrest wheels, but reiterates these are lightweight road wheels designed for and marketed towards road endurance riding.
They are given Zipp's iconic sawtooth rim profile, at a maximum depth of 45mm which dips by approximately three millimetres at its shallowest. Zipp says this shape offers an aerodynamic benefit versus a traditional round rim - though doesn't quote any figures - but the biggest gain comes in the form of reduced weight while retaining strength.
Another weight reduction comes via the brand's transition toward using hookless beads, something that Zipp claims enables a rim to be lighter, stronger and more aerodynamic, whilst also being easier to manufacture and therefore cheaper to produce.
Between the beads, the internal rim width has ballooned to a progressive 25mm, and as a result, there's a minimum tyre width stipulation of 28mm. With this, the radically low tyre pressure recommendations that Zipp introduced with the 303 Firecrests continue here, suggesting that a 70kg rider will roll fastest with 55psi in the front and 60psi in the rear when using Zipp’s own 28mm tubeless road tyres on a typical road.
The 353 NSW wheels are committed to tubeless technology, and Zipp goes so far as to limit their use to tubeless tyres only. According to the brand, there is no harm in running an inner tube, but it must be within a tubeless-ready tyre for the increased bead rigidity that it provides. A full tyre compatibility list is available, but as with the 303 S and 303 Firecrest models, they remain incompatible with Continental tyres.
Rim brake purists will be disappointed to find that the 353 NSW wheels are committed solely to disc brakes, and all wheels will be compatible with 12mm thru-axles.
Another major update comes within the hub, where Zipp has overhauled the Cognition Axial Clutch mechanism that disengages the freehub driver to offer reduced drag when freewheeling. This system, which worked using a 12-part configuration of magnets and springs has been replaced with Axial V2, which takes advantage of the properties of a material called Sylomer.
The retail price of £3,200.00 / $4,000.00 / €3,600.00 positions the 353 NSW at the top end of the pricing spectrum of the best lightweight wheels and simultaneously reminds consumers of Zipp's position as a premium wheel brand. However, those consumers will find some solace in Zipp's lifetime warranty and lifetime protection against damage 'during intended use'.
Tech specs: Zipp 353 NSW wheels
- Weight: 580g (F) / 675g (R) / 1255g total
- Price: £3200.00 / $4000.00 / €3600.00
- Depth: 45mm undulating
- Warranty: Lifetime with crash replacement
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