Aerodynamics are all about numbers – X wattage over Y kilometers equals N time saving. Factor in all the different depths, widths and weights that are available and a graduate degree in math is necessary to find the fastest package. Although, one number that rarely factors in is price, and for many of us that is the most important number of all.
This is why the 30 clincher is truly new territory for Zipp. Its not about creating the lowest drag number, or the lowest number on the scale, its about creating the lowest number on the cash register and for a wheel with Zipp logos, they have certainly achieved that, $850. The 30mm aluminum rim uses the shape that launched the wheel revolution many seasons ago, hybrid-toroidal. Its not the latest Firecrest shape, but then its not a Firecrest price tag. It is still one of the fastest shapes on the road, certainly much faster than a traditional V of the same depth. The rim itself will be familiar to anyone who remembers SRAMs now discontinued wheel line.
The aluminum rim is 21.5mm wide, falling between a Firecrest width, around 25mm, and a traditional rim, around 19mm wide. Enough to give you some added volume for riding lower pressures and a confident footprint, but not so wide youll need to futz with your brakes. The hubs are an all-new set called the 122 and 249, for the weight of the front and rear respectively. Machined from 7075-T6, this is an expensive alloy with high strength and serious resistance to corrosion, which telegraphs one of the wheels defining attributes, durability. The Sapim CX-Ray spokes help in this regard as well as upping the wheels reactivity. Stainless steel bearings with no-preload adjustment, unlike Zipps 88/188 hubs, are designed for seasons of maintenance free rolling.
Zipp touts the 30s perfectly balanced performance. If you consider just weight, aerodynamics and stiffness the claim seems a bit hollow considering their vaunted line up. More balanced than a 202 or 303? Of course not. But factor in two other elements, budget and durability, and the 30s can certainly make their case.
After a few thousand miles we are duly impressed. On their maiden voyage we took two sets of 30s for a six-hour epic in the rain, mud and cold. This was a ride that destroyed one bottom bracket, one lower headset bearing, a right pedal, a set of Boas and left two bikes in need of a total overhaul. Both sets of Zipp 30s needed only a few minutes with the pressure washer to be ready for more.
The subtle whir from the 249hub body and the lack of big aero hoops amplifying road noise makes the 30s the quietest set of wheels Zipp has ever made. In terms of reactivity and aerodynamics, again, to compare them to any other wheel in the Zipp family is unfair, but against wheels less than $900 they may not have an equal. The 30 may see Zipp finally crack the one peloton that has eluded them for so long, the peloton that rolls out from the bike shop and stops at the coffee shop. And as we all know, that is the biggest peloton of all.
Zipp 30 Clincher: Weight:1655grams Price:$850 w/ skewers, rim strips and tubes.