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If versatility reigns as the most important characteristic for your new set of hoops to possess, stop reading hyperbolic marketing claims about 80mm rims being able to handle any terrain you throw at them and pay attention to Zipp's 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Road Wheel. Construction speaks for itself with this wheelset; at 45mm, the 303 is faster than the narrower 202s when you're pushing through wind on the flats, but won't get bogged down on a climb the way a wider rim would.
The thought of fighting with a set of deep dish carbon rims on a breezy day inspires similar dread to trying to control an overtired toddler in a public place. You can try to stay in control, but you'll be hard pressed to ever find a few minutes when you can relax. You'll experience none of that unpredictability during a ride with the 303's, as the 45mm rims manage winds calmly and consistently, while their wide 26.4mm brake track gives a range of tire sizes a wide, stable perch to sit atop that won't cause bulging while cornering.
Zipp adds its signature Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) to the 303 as well, which is an excessively descriptive moniker for the dimpled surface that's been a hallmark of Zipp for years. ABLC smooths airflow, cutting drag and saving you watts over time in conditions you'll encounter out on the roads, rather than only in a wind tunnel. As you pedal, the 303 will hum reliably on Zipp's 77/177 hubs, which Zipp reinforced this year to better block out grit and water for improved longevity.
Out of the box, the wheels come with Zipp's updated quick-released skewers, which have been further fine-tuned for better aerodynamics and easier installation, as well as Zipp's Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads, which Zipp recommends you use exclusively to get the full heat-resistant benefits of its resin brake track.
- Carbon fiber
- 45mm depth
- 26.4mm brake track width
- Zipp 77/177 hubs
- Dimpled surface
- Delivered with Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads, Zipp Integrated Valve Extender with valve-core wrench, rim tape, and quick-release skewers
- Item #ZIP002P
- Q & A
Incredible wheels for the price
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
This is my first upgrade into carbon wheels. The 303s are super fast, may even be 2 mph faster than stock wheels, climb very well and above all you get all day comfort. They are 45mm deep, cross wind is not an issue. Replacing tubes is a breeze. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck. Competitive Cyclist matches price so I got them for less than retail.
Is it worth upgrading to 454 for more than twice what I paid? that is entirely your call. Keep in mind that the 303 will climb and handle crosswind better.
Bottom line, I couldn't be more pleased with those wheels.
ZIPP 303 Carbon Wheel set
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
By far the lightest, most rigid, and high quality wheels I have ever had. I usually buy Mavic, but made an exception, and am glad that I did. Hubs are also very high quality, and I am very pleased with this purchase.