Zipp’s new 302 Carbon Clincher loses dimples, adds affordability

Plus 454 NSW goes disc, stays expensive

Are you lusting after some of that Zipp carbon aero goodness but don’t want to spend the equivalent of a new kitchen on a set of wheels? If so, Zipp’s new 302 Carbon Clincher might be for you. This 45mm-deep, £1,299 / $1,500, wheelset offers the cheapest ticket yet to Zipp’s full-carbon prom, and it’s launching in both rim brake and disc brake variants.

If that’s just not expensive enough for your tastes, Zipp has also announced a disc version of its flagship 454 NSW Carbon Clincher. The 454 made waves when it launched last year with its unique whale-inspired Sawtooth rim profile, which claims to reduce aerodynamic drag while also improving crosswind behaviour.

Interestingly, despite the recent launch of Zipp’s new tubeless road tyres, none of the three new wheelsets are tubeless-ready, although it seems more than likely that future versions will be.

Zipp 302 – affordable (by Zipp standards) aero

Zipp's 302 doesn't have dimples
Zipp's 302 doesn't have dimples

Available in both rim brake and disc brake versions, the 302 laces 45mm-deep full carbon rims to Zipp’s latest 76/176 hubset with Sapim CX-Sprint J-bend spokes and brass nipples for easy servicing and durability, respectively.

The disc version of the 302 uses centre-lock 76D/176D Zipp hubs
The disc version of the 302 uses centre-lock 76D/176D Zipp hubs

The disc brake model offers full compatibility with major axle types, along centre-lock disc mount. Meanwhile, the rim brake version inherits brake track technology from Zipp’s Firecrest wheels – no bad thing, as it’s widely held to be among the best in the carbon clincher business. 

The 302 Rim-brake borrows its braking surface from Zipp's Firecrest rims
The 302 Rim-brake borrows its braking surface from Zipp's Firecrest rims

The rim profile is a bulgy one as we’ve come to expect from Zipp, swelling to a gargantuan 26.5mm at its widest. Despite this, the internal width remains a modest 16.25mm, which is fairly conservative by current standards. 

The most noticeable feature of the 302s is actually the lack of a feature – those golf ball-style dimples that have been a hallmark of Zipp’s carbon wheels since they first appeared on the 900 disc wheel in 2002 (and the 404 in 2004/2005) are conspicuous by their absence. 

According to Zipp, this is one of the ways the price has been kept relatively low, as creating tooling for dimpled rims is particularly expensive. In a similar vein, it looks like these wheels have standard decals rather than the fancy ‘Impress’ graphics of the latest flagship offerings. 

Zipp hasn’t provided any lab data, but it’s safe to assume that the 302s will be less aero than the all-singing, all-dancing NSW models. They’re also far, far cheaper, however, with pricing that puts them in direct competition with more explicitly budget-focused brands. 

Zipp 302 specs

  • 1645g rim brake wheelset claimed weight (740g front / 905g rear)
  • 1695g disc brake wheelset claimed weight (785g front / 910g rear)
  • 45mm rim depth
  • 26.5mm max rim width
  • 25.6mm brake track width
  • 16.25mm internal width
  • 20 front / 24 rear spoke count (rim brake)
  • 24 front / 24 rear spoke count (disc brake)
  • Sapim secure-lock nipples
  • Sapim CX-Sprint spokes
  • 76/176 and 76D/176D hubs
  • Available in white decals only 

Zipp 302 pricing and availability

The Zipp 302 will retail at £1,299 / $1,500 / €1,530 / AU$TBC for both versions.The rim brake model will be available this month, with the disc version to follow in June.

Zipp 454 NSW disc brake – wheels inspired by nature now stop better

The Zipp 454 NSW has gone disc
The Zipp 454 NSW has gone disc

The new 454 NSW disc brake makes the predictable move of adding disc hubs to Zipp’s extraordinary-looking 454 NSW, the first wheelset to make use of the whale-inspired Sawtooth rim design.

Zipp's Sawtooth claims class-leading aero properties
Zipp's Sawtooth claims class-leading aero properties

Sawtooth’s wavy rim varies from 53 to 58mm in depth, creating ‘Hyperfoil nodes’ along the inside of the rim that work with the ‘HexFin ABLC Dimples’ (yes, really) to improve airflow and increase the rate of vortex shedding, which Zipp says makes for greater stability.

With no braking track on the rim, the new wheelset gets rows of dimples all the way to its edge. It also benefits from the latest ‘Impress’ graphics, which don’t cover up the dimpled surface the way the old decals did.

The 454’s rims are laced using top-notch Sapim CX-Ray j-bend spokes to Zipp’s own Cognition disc brake hubs, which feature ‘Axial-clutch’ technology for reduced mechanical drag compared to a standard ratchet mechanism.

The 454 NSW is built on Zipp's Cognition Disc hubs with centre-lock disc mounts
The 454 NSW is built on Zipp's Cognition Disc hubs with centre-lock disc mounts

They are both QR and thru-axle compatible, with interchangeable end caps included as standard. 

Zipp 454 NSW disc brake specs

  • 1615g wheelset claimed weight (765g front / 850g rear)
  • 53/58mm rim depth 
  • 27.72mm max rim width 
  • 26.4mm brake track width 
  • 17mm internal width 
  • 24 front / 24 rear spoke count
  • Sapim secure-lock nipples 
  • Sapim CX-Ray j-bend spokes 
  • Cognition disc brake hubs
  • Impress graphics

Zipp 454 NSW disc brake pricing and availability

The 454 NSW disc brake will retail at £3390 / $4000 / €4000 / AU$TBC. It is available from June 2017. 

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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