ZIPP 302: A Versatile American Made Carbon Wheelset
ZIPP recently did something unexpected as the predominate name in carbon wheels. They deputed a new full carbon clincher wheelset that is available in both rim and disc brake versions at a sub $2k price-point, the ZIPP 302. Admittedly, my first thought when I saw the $1,500 price tag was "what's the catch?". Seeing as the 303 Firecrest carbon clinchers are already a great deal at $2,099, I was curious what tech ZIPP cut from the spec' sheet to get the 302's even more affordable.
After getting my hands on the 302's it was immediately noticeable that they retained the ZIPP build quality and finish that you would find on their higher echelon Firecrest and NSW models. In the name of affordability they did do some creative cutbacks. The 302's loose the trademark rim dimples, which makes production less expensive. You also get traditional hub flanges with Sapim CX-Sprint J-bend spokes. Compared to the lighter and stiffer straight-pull Sapim CX-Ray's found on the Firecrest and NSW. The cutbacks don't do much to the weight - the 302's are only 40 grams heavier than a set of 303 Firecrests.
Once I was able to get the 302's installed on my SCOTT Foil I was able to get some real world data. My test course was the hills of west Austin, through Lost Creek, Cuernavaca and Terrace Mtn. The terrain offers plenty of steep ascents and descents to put the 302's through a proper test. It's hard to find a fault in the 44mm rim depth. The mid-depth rim is pretty much perfect for everyday use and plenty stiff when battling for KOM's against your friends. Wind gusts don't grab them, but you still get the aerodynamic advantage of more easily maintaining your speed. While the brake track isn't technically as good as the Firecrest it works very well, better than expected actually. The stiff carbon rims never quivered through any of the descending radius turns or punchy climbs.
Overall I would say that the 302's are great for everyday riding and racing. The modern shaped wide rim allows for a versatile wheel that can take fatter road or CX tires. They come with skewers, rim tape, ZIPP's two year warranty, and are only available with white decals. You can fit any colored 303 decal on them if you so desire.
If you are looking for pro-level race gear and every fraction of every second matters to you, then you might want to look up the ZIPP chain to the Firecrest and NSW. If you want a durable and great carbon clincher that will easily take you on spirited group rides and the occasional local crit without raising the eyebrow of your significant other, these are for you.
- Come by any BW location and see the 302's for yourself. -