The new Zipp 60 wheel combines the
stopping familiarity of an aluminum braking surface with one of the brand’s
hybrid toroidal carbon rim profiles. (Photo: Eric Wynn)
SRAM’s 2013 media camp in
Tucson, Arizona, centered on new offerings from the corporation’s Zipp and Quarq brands (see RBA’s previous
coverage here). And while the presentations were plentiful and informative,
there’s nothing quite like getting out on the road for a first ride on the
latest and greatest wheels. Here are some of our initial thoughts on the Zipp
30 and 60 wheelsets.
A small band of SRAM master mechanics,
which included Justin Koch (above), was tasked with setting up a couple of
dozen demo bikes for the event.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: ZIPP 30 ALUMINUM CLINCHERS - If ever there was a ride ideally suited for
gathering first impressions on a wheel’s toughness (short of Paris-Roubaix),
then our first day’s excursion is certainly in the running. Rolling out of the
Starr Pass Marriott hotel, our group headed west to Gates Pass Road, a 2.5-mile
climb well known among local Tucson cyclists, and took in another
local-approved route, the scenic McCain loop. And while the cacti- and
mesa-filled vistas were a sight to behold, the roads themselves were, well, bad.
SRAM also provided a fleet of TT and
triathlon demo bikes for those so inclined.
The roads were pleasantly
winding, to be sure, but the actual road surfaces were chewed-up, covered in
coarse gravel and sand, and there were wheel-devouring potholes lurking every
100 meters. Imagine compressing all of the road imperfections you’d ride in an
average century into a 35-mile jaunt and you’ll start to get the picture. About
7 or 8 members in our 10-strong group were riding the Zipp 30 clinchers (fitted
with Zipp Tangente tires in size 23c), and not a single problem was reported
during the 2-hour rumble strip march.
The camp’s second ride day was hampered
by sudden snowfall.
The event’s second day
included the bulk of SRAM’s presentations on its latest products and was
scheduled to include another 2- or 3-hour ride in the afternoon. Unfortunately,
a rainstorm made its way over to Tucson and falling temperatures brought snow
into the mix. The ride was nixed for safety reasons. But the third and final
day of the event had something special on the dossier that more than made up
for some bad luck: a climb up the famed, 22-mile Mt. Lemmon. The weather report
called for clear skies, so I went to sleep dreaming of an epic ascent the
The biggest climb during our demo rides
was Gates Pass, which we tackled from different sides. From the east (above),
the road funnels through a canyon with a gradual incline before opening up to
an expansive swath of gorgeous desert landscape.
Sadly, the storm the
previous day had covered much of Mt. Lemmon in snow down to the climb’s 2-mile
marker. But credit goes to the folks at SRAM for offering a backup plan: riding
over Gates Pass to the McCain loop, just as we had two days prior. The 6-mile
McCain loop’s mix of undulating terrain and short punchy climbs would provide
us with an ideal test track for trying out different wheels, tires and the
SRAM mechanics followed the riders in
one of the company’s neutral service race vehicles, complete with spare bikes
And after a few additional
runs on the Zipp 30 wheels, my initial impressions were confirmed: the wheels
are plainly durable and, despite weighing in at 1655 grams (claimed), they
handled some short, punchy climbs with little trouble. And although the rim
profile is admittedly less aerodynamically advanced than Zipp’s premier
aluminum offering, the 101, the 30 can certainly lay claim to being developed
with Zipp’s vast experience in the wind tunnel. I won’t say too much about the
overall ride quality just yet, because the roads were quite rough and I didn’t
have access to a familiar, comparable aluminum clincher wheelset. But I will
say that the 30 wheels descended quite well, and provided a feeling of
confidence even over the rough stuff. We can’t wait to give the 30 a long-term
My demo Specialized Tarmac may not have
been an S-Works model, but I was still able to test out both the Zipp 30 and 60
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: ZIPP 60 CLINCHER WHEELS – After several dozen miles on the 30s, I traded
them out for a set of Zipp’s other new 700c offering, the 60. But the 60 wheel
isn’t exactly “all-new.” And that’s because the 60’s hybrid toroidal rim
profile was originally developed for the company’s higher-end 404 wheel. Then
came the development of Zipp’s ultra-wide Firecrest profile and, along with it,
a prime example of trickle-down technology.
SRAM brought out a demo fleet of
Specialized S-Works Tarmac road bikes to let attendees try out the company’s
Swapping from the 30
wheelset to the 60 didn’t require changing brake pads, because the 60 utilizes
an aluminum braking surface. But the 60 is narrower at the brake track than the
30 (18.7mm versus 20.4mm), so a quick tightening of the brake cables was all
that was needed before I went on my way.
Several SRAM and Zipp employees took
the time to ride. One of the few BMC Time Machine TMR01 road bikes seen out in
the wild belongs to Zipp wheel engineer, David Morse.
The first thing you notice
when riding the 60 wheelset is its distinctive whirring sound. It’s the same one that you’ll hear when riding most
any medium- or high-depth carbon wheels, a sound that, if nothing else, makes
you feel like you’re going way faster than you actually are. The second think
you’ll notice is that the 60 wheels are quite comfortable. They’re a bit
heavier than the 30 wheelset (1820 grams versus 1655 grams), and this was
evident in a noticeably less snappy acceleration during my back-to-back demo
loops. But once up to speed, the 60 wheels roll incredibly well and carry
momentum much better than the 30, which is likely due to the 58mm depth and
more advanced aerodynamic profile.
SRAM has been hosting annual media
camps at the JW Marriott Starr Pass resort for a few years.
The SRAM media camp test
rides were subject to some windy conditions, but despite some gusts upwards of
15 mph, neither the 30 nor the 60 felt difficult to handle. Compared to Zipp’s
popular 404 Firecrest full carbon clincher, the 60 is noticeably more
susceptible to crosswinds, but not by much. This is most likely due to the
Firecrest profile being significantly wider. Our recent experience testing a
variety of wider profile wheels confirms that, when done properly, the wider,
blunter edges of wheels like the Zipp 404 offer enhanced crosswind handling
capabilities. Just like the 30, we’re looking forward to a long-term test of
the Zipp 60.
Despite the roads being a bit rough,
the western side of Tucson’s typically sunny weather and beautiful scenery make
it a great riding destination. (Photo: Eric Wynn)
WIN MICHAEL'S SCHWAG! - Here's your chance to win the Zipp prize package you see above, which includes a pair of Zipp socks, a Zipp cycling cap and a Zipp Purist water bottle! Send your answers to the following questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and a random winner will be selected. Good luck!...
1. According to Zipp's website, how many versions are there of the 404 Firecrest wheel?
2. What is your dream set of wheels?
3. Why do you ride bikes?
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