This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
BikeRadar verdict: "Offers Zipp carbon quality without all of the cost of some of the others in the range"
Highs: Zipp build quality, solid, reliable performance
Lows: Marginally less stability and speed than Firecrest shape
Buy if: You want Zipps at a lower price
Zipp is proud to manufacture its carbon rims in Indianapolis, USA, which ensures two things. First, construction quality and quality control are without question, and second, it’s harder to compete with Far Eastern-made rims on price. But, the new 302 makes owning Zipp carbon much more affordable.
The carbon clincher rims measure 45mm deep, 16.25mm internally and between 25.6mm at the outer edge and 26.4mm at their widest. They’re built on to Zipp’s 76D/176D Centerlock disc hubs, and come with alternate end caps for quick-release (QR) and thru-axle fitting.
I weighed mine, including QR end caps and rim tape, at 807g and 922g, plus 89g for the QR skewers.
Compared to the 303 Firecrest, the 302’s rim profile is a little more teardrop than blunt, although it’s still wide, and the outer surface has a smooth unidirectional carbon finish instead of Zipp’s trademark dimples. The rim is shared with the rim brake 302 model, although the brake track isn’t sand-blasted on the disc version.
They look classy, and tyres slip on with the usual ease expected from Zipp. Ideally suited to tyres of 25mm and upwards, Zipp says the 302 is equally at home on- or off-road, but as they’re not tubeless compatible, that comes with the usual clincher caveats.
Maximum rider weight is 115kg, and the rear hub accepts Zipp’s XDR driver body, allowing use of a 10-42 cassette.
Over several test rides with 28mm tyres fitted, I found the 302s to be responsive and accelerate keenly, although not with the surging feeling common from lighter wheels.
They hold speed well in rolling terrain, are laterally stiff and handle with the agility of shallow rims. Climbing feels efficient, while high speed descending is predictable, and benefits from the reliability of disc brakes to scrub speed.
In blustery conditions, the rims felt unaffected by swirling crosswinds or when passing hedge gaps, allowing us to concentrate on riding.
The 302 wheelset boasts high quality construction and reliable hubs, and should give years of fuss-free use for the cost of one Zipp 303 NSW wheel. Cheaper alternatives often come with durability compromises, but the 302s only compromise a little on ultimate performance and overall mass.
- Front: £580 / $655 / AU$1,005
- Rear: £783 / $845 / AU$1,294
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