Zipp’s new 302 Carbon Clincher loses dimples, adds affordability
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 dimplesZipp
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 hubsZipp
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 rimsZipp
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)
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 mountsZipp
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
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.