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Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Wheelset

Vital Rating: (Outstanding)
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Through the Wringer: Vital's Long-Term Test of Zipp's 3Zero Moto Wheelset

After a favorable first impression, we spend serious time aboard the feature-loaded carbon wheels from Zipp to see if their durability matches the hype.

Rating: Vital Review
Through the Wringer: Vital's Long-Term Test of Zipp's 3Zero Moto Wheelset

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to spend some time aboard Zipp’s 3ZERO MOTO wheelset. While our initial impressions were mostly positive, we knew that a more thorough test was required to offer an educated opinion on whether or not Zipp’s claims of compliance and traction were marketing jargon or legitimate improvements over traditional wheelsets. Since our initial piece, our 3ZERO MOTO wheels have been used and abused throughout the Sea to Sky corridor of British Columbia and made the trip to World Championships at Monte Sainte Anne. They have put in miles on a short-travel Norco Fluid where bottom outs are frequent and on a long-travel Geometron G1 where speeds are high and decisions are poor. Needless to say, we feel that we're now qualified for that opinion. Read on to find out how the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheels have held up since our initial impressions.

Strengths

  • Excellent vibration damping
  • 30mm inner width is ideal for modern tires
  • Easy tubeless setup, even with a rim strip
  • Integrated TyreWiz with quick-glance LED tire pressure indicators
  • Same spoke length throughout
  • J-bend spokes

Weaknesses

  • Too much compliance at times
  • Heavier than some high-end carbon wheelsets

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Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Highlights

  • 27.5 (650b) and 29-inch rims and complete wheelsets
  • UniStitch carbon material
  • Single-wall Moto Technology
  • 30mm internal rim width, 14.8mm height
  • Radially and "ankle" compliant
  • Asymmetrical design
  • Boost and Torque Cap axle sizing
  • Zipp ZM1 Double Time rear hub with 52 points of engagement
  • 32 double-butted Sapim D-Light spokes front and rear
  • Quark TyreWiz integrated tire pressure monitoring system
  • Quick-glance LED tire pressure indicators
  • Includes two decals and eight Speed Line color graphics
  • SRAM AXS app, ANT+, and Bluetooth capable
  • Includes tubeless tape and valve(s)
  • Lifetime warranty and 'Life Happens' crash replacement program
  • Wheelset Weight: 1,825g (27.5-inch) // 1,910g (29-inch)
  • Rim Weight: 535g (27.5-inch) // 565g (29-inch)
  • MSRP: $1,999 US wheelset with TyreWiz // $700 rim only (plus optional $200 TyreWiz add-on)

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Initial Impressions

We noted in our First Look,below, that there is a lot to like about the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheelset. A few promising traits stood out in particular, but a single day of testing was not enough time for us to be certain about the wheels' strengths or our preference for 3ZERO MOTO wheels versus a traditional setup. After our initial piece, the Zipp wheels were bolted up to a Geometron G1, which we use as a parts mule for a variety of articles. Replacing the Specialized Roval Traverse SL wheels had been testing previously, the Zipp 3ZERO MOTOs proved an excellent comparison. With far more travel than the Forbidden Druid that we were riding initially, we had questions about whether or not the compliance Zipp promotes is a difference-maker on the much larger G1. For this review, we chose not to run a tire insert, however, we mounted CushCore and Huck Norris inserts easily on the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset, just for the sake of ensuring that they were not an issue. Tire setup varied, but we spent the majority of our time on a Maxxis Assegai and Minion DHRII combination with downhill casings.

...the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheels are as durable as anything we have ridden to date.

On The Trail

The most rugged testing of the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheelset came during our trip to Monte Sainte Anne for Worlds. We had been riding them in the Sea to Sky corridor for quite some time by that point, but those who have ridden MSA understand why the area is an ideal location for wheel smashing, particularly when compared to a loamy spot like Squamish. La Tordue and Le Tak-Tak were our lift-accessed trails of choice while there, and we also chose to explore the surrounding cross country trails. Le Tak-Tak is one of the rockier trails we have ridden in recent memory, and we are guessing that the name is based on the sounds that come from the bike as it rattles down the trail. Simply put, if there is a smooth line on Le Tak-Tak, we did not find it. Rock smashing galore and most of them sharp. For the sake of comparison, Top of the World in Whistler (a known wheel and tire destroyer) feels sidewalk-esque. La Tordue is a mellower trail that leads to Le Tak-Tak, but we found that many of our harshest impacts occurred here because we could carry speed more easily. In truth, it was impressive that we did not flat or damage the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset on these trails, it felt at times like the trails had more square-edge rocks than dirt, plus we were riding blind with far from ideal line choice. We probably could have ridden more aggressively, but riding trails like Le Tak-Tak in an XC helmet beyond a casual pace were a little unnerving.

After riding the Sea to Sky for months and Monte Sainte Anne on our wheels, on both short and long-travel bikes without any damage to the rims or detuning of spokes, we believe the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheels are as durable as anything we have ridden to date. Like all rims, their durability has a limit – we did not find it. Zipp’s Moto Technology affects certain ride qualities, and it also allows for impacts to be spread over a larger area of the rim, which Zipp claims improves durability.

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At an internal width of 30mm, the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset pairs nicely with just about any tire combination. We rode Maxxis, Schwalbe, and e*thirteen tires, all of which mounted and aired up easily. The inner profile of the rim and spoke bed strip made things straightforward, both with and without tire levers, having no concerns about mutilating rim tape. More important than mounting, the 30mm width made for a great tire profile with tires securely mounted. Even at pressures around 21psi, burping was uncommon until we deliberately tried to roll tires off the rim.

A unique feature for the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset is the integrated Quark TyreWiz system. It is common to see folks tinkering with tire pressure and we all have a friend who creates a 10-minute delay every ride as they quadruple check their tire pressure. The integration of TyreWiz and the accompanying SRAM AXS app may seem like overkill for daily rides; however, we appreciated the simplicity of the red and green LEDs that would indicate whether we were rolling on our ideal pressure or not. It only takes a couple of minutes to check the old-fashioned way, but the convenience of not needing to attach a pump unless the red light was blinking was great. We can also see how this feature would be extremely useful for racers as tire pressure for different locations and trail conditions can be saved within the AXS app to maximize setup efficiency from one race to the next.

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Compliance seems to be the buzzword in the wheel world these days, and the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheelset is no exception. The major departure from the norm is the use of a single-wall design, which in combination with specialized nipples allows the rims to pivot laterally to conform to trail surfaces. In theory, this ankle compliance absorbs impacts and increases traction, which translates to comfort and speed. When we initially rode the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset, we put the wheels in scenarios that allowed this trait to shine: off-cambers, roots, undulating rocks, and generally ugly terrain. The wheels deflected less compared to stiffer setups, and after months of riding we are still impressed by the ankle compliance that Moto Technology allows. Even when we swapped from a short-travel trail bike to an enduro bike, we still felt the difference between the Zipp wheels and traditional carbon wheelsets on terrain where one would expect ankle compliance to help. In blown-out, loose-over-hard sections, the 3ZERO MOTO wheels also felt great.

The wheels are still plenty stiff laterally, but in tighter corners where we could load up and pump aggressively, the ankle compliance was less advantageous. It seemed to absorb some of our energy and momentum. Simply put, riders who spend their time riding berms and relatively smooth trails like Whistler’s Ninja Cougar are less likely to take advantage of Moto Technology than those who spend their time riding rugged, more natural trails like those on Blackcomb.

General Wheelset Comparison

Zipp 3ZERO MOTO

  • Improved traction on off-camber and rough terrain
  • Least fatiguing
  • Easy tire mounting
  • Durability
  • TyreWiz
  • Warranty

High-End Carbon

  • Better acceleration and exit speed when pumping
  • Can be fatiguing
  • Lightest weight
  • Durability
  • Warranty

High-End Alloy

  • Less harsh than most carbon wheelsets
  • Less fatiguing
  • Heavier
  • Durability, but more susceptible to dents
  • More maintenance
  • Affordability

Things That Could Be Improved

Zipp has entered the wheel market with a splash. The 3ZERO MOTO wheelset is an outside the box (get it?) approach to wheel design and has some great performance attributes. On occasion, we would have preferred that the ankle compliance be a little less prominent, but those instances were few and far in between. Riders looking for the stiffest wheelset they can find may look elsewhere. Zipp is offering demo sets at select events for those looking to try something a little bit different.

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Long Term Durability

In our sit-down with Product Manager Bastien Donze, below, he chatted at length about his issue with many consumer’s belief that rims and wheels are disposable. Regardless of whether we are running a more affordable alloy wheelset or something as expensive as the 3ZERO MOTO setup, we are always disappointed when a single mistake results in a wheel failure. With advancements in carbon technology, wheelset durability has already improved. In combination with Moto Technology, Zipp’s enduro wheelset should be able to withstand some serious abuse.

In our case, the wheelset has been set and forget. The integration of TyreWiz meant that unless a red light was flashing, we were out the door without concerns about the wheels or our tire pressure. The bearings are still rolling extremely smoothly, the rims show no signs of damage even after extreme abuse in Monte Sainte Anne, and the spokes have not required any attention whatsoever. We do not commonly break wheels but do regularly detune them, and we were thrilled that our wheels remain as solid as day one. Zipp also offers a limited lifetime warranty.

Zipp did their homework and nearly aced their first test.

What’s The Bottom Line?

High-end carbon wheelsets usually retail at just about $2,000 US and aftermarket TyreWiz valves are $200, so the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset is priced right where it ought to be. Regardless, in an age where a used bike can be purchased for around the same price, a wheel upgrade needs to be justified by a noticeable improvement in ride quality. The 3ZERO MOTO wheelset has allowed Zipp to introduce ankle compliance to the mountain bike world, which provides riders with improved grip in many scenarios. In turn, this may allow racers to carry speed more easily, which ultimately makes time. For the average Joe, more traction often means more fun. It would be interesting to see whether this technology could hold up to frequent use on DH bikes. With the bar constantly being raised, we would not be surprised to see Moto Technology finding a place on tracks like Monte Sainte Anne or Maribor. Furthermore, riders who have historically struggled with premature failure or deflections aboard most carbon wheelsets have a new option thanks to Zipp. The3ZERO MOTO wheels improve traction, reduce upper body fatigue, and sacrifice very little acceleration. Zipp did their homework and nearly aced their first test.

Visit zipp.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating: 4.5 Stars - Outstanding

_______________________________________________________________________

About The Reviewer

Joel Harwood – Age: 36// Years Riding: 20+ // Height: 5’11” (1.80m) // Weight: 185-pounds (83.9kg)

Joel’s unique coaching background and willingness to tinker with products bring an objective perspective to testing. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest simply exploring the limitless trail networks surrounding his home of Squamish, BC. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products while exposing any shortcomings.

Photos by Jessie McAuley

First Ride and Deep Dive: Zipp's Wild 3ZERO MOTO Wheels

An initial back-to-back test and the chance to dig into what makes these wheels stand out.

First Ride and Deep Dive: Zipp's Wild 3ZERO MOTO Wheels

After suspension, wheels are arguably one of the most impactful components on bicycle performance. While suspension seems to see ongoing innovations, traditional double-wall mountain bike rims and wheel design have not changed dramatically since the 1930s. Improvements to manufacturing processes, materials, and engineering have resulted in a myriad of great double-walled rims and wheelsets, each with their take at the ideal balance of stiffness, compliance, and durability, but no major brand has departed from traditional design until recently. Taking inspiration from motocross along with a clean slate, Zipp quietly tested and refined their new 3ZERO MOTO wheelset. Whistler served as our first ride aboard the Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheelset and an opportunity to chat in depth about the wheels and concept with Zipp.

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Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Highlights

  • 27.5 and 29-inch rims and complete wheelsets
  • UniStitch carbon material
  • Single-wall Moto Technology
  • 30mm internal rim width, 14.8mm height
  • Radially and "ankle" compliant
  • Asymmetrical design
  • Boost and Torque Cap axle sizing
  • Zipp ZM1 Double Time rear hub with 52 points of engagement
  • 32 double-butted Sapim D-Light spokes front and rear
  • Quark TyreWiz integrated tire pressure monitoring system
  • Quick-glance LED tire pressure indicators
  • SRAM AXS app, ANT+, and Bluetooth capable
  • Includes two decals and eight Speed Line color graphics
  • Includes tubeless tape/valve
  • Lifetime warranty and 'Life Happens' crash replacement program
  • Wheelset Weight: 1,825g (27.5”) // 1,910g (29”)
  • Rim Weight: 535g (27.5") // 565g (29")
  • MSRP: $1,999 USD wheelset with TyreWiz // $700 rim only (plus optional $200 TyreWiz add-on)
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Moto Technology Explained

Regardless of mountain bike discipline, wheel and tire issues are commonplace on the trail and at the races. Mechanicals aside, wheels have a significant impact on control, precision, and feedback, which equate to safety and speed. With that in mind, the 3ZERO MOTO project began back in 2017 with input from enduro rock stars Jérôme Clementz and Adrien Dailly, both of whom received mentorship from master tinkerer and former World Champion Nico Vouilloz. Attention to detail and competitive nature means never settling, and when blind testing began their feedback indicated that Zipp’s new concept, known as Moto Technology, was worth pursuing.

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While the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset has several features, Moto Technology is what really sets it apart from most other wheelsets. The single-wall rim design, in combination with cupped washers, allows the rim to pivot from side to side. Known as "ankle" compliance, this feature absorbs impacts, deflects out of harm’s way, and allows riders to hold lines more easily. For the racer, this means potentially shaving time. For the average Joe, this means a great piece of kit to make riding more fun with more control. For both, more durability, reliability, and smiles for miles.

Tech and Testing Deep Dive

We met up with Bastien Donzé, Zipp's Wheel Product Manager, to discuss the wheels at length. There's a lot of great information in this interview you likely haven't heard before:

Key Points

  • 0:26 - Moto inspiration
  • 3:00 - Early testing with Jérôme Clementz and Adrien Dailly
  • 4:30 - Layup testing at Windrock
  • 5:12 - Race testing at the Enduro World Series
  • 5:59 - Single versus double-wall rims, plus a history lesson
  • 8:55 - Flex talk
  • 10:30 - Rim compatibility with various spokes, nipples, and hubs
  • 11:56 - Using TyreWiz as a racer and rider
  • 14:12 - Durability testing
  • 16:15 - Spoke performance and maintaining tension
  • 17:15 - Over 35,000 miles of on-trail testing and some maintenance tips

"If you push on the side [of a dirt bike rim] it's actually over an inch of travel... This tilting motion around the spoke pivot could do a lot of good things. Let's see if we can develop this for mountain bikes." - Bastien Donzé

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Back-to-Back Testing at Whistler Bike Park

Now that the 3ZERO MOTO has made it to production, a demo program allows riders to compare Zipp’s wheels to their current setup. The hope is that by swapping an existing wheelset for the 3ZERO MOTO setup and repeating the same trails, riders will have the opportunity to experience the differences first hand. In addition to the improved ride qualities, Zipp is also claiming improved durability, which is mandatory for a trail/enduro wheelset that will see a ton of abuse.

As an introduction to our time with the wheels and a longer-term review to come, we decided to give Zipp's demo program a go. The same demo program will run during Crankworx.

Initial Impressions

After a few laps shaking off the bike park rust, we were aided in swapping to Zipp 3ZERO MOTO wheels. In the interest of keeping things as consistent as possible we were running another high-end carbon wheelset – 30mm wide x 25mm tall WeAreOne Agent rims on Industry Nine hubs – with an identical tire setup before the swap. We mounted them on the 130mm travel Forbidden Druid in the hopes that a shorter-travel bike would highlight any advantages compared to a bike with a pile of travel.

Picking up...
...and smashing holes in the name of science.

The laps we chose for comparison were A-Line, Angry Pirate, and Fantastic. On the trail, the Zipp wheelset muted more vibrations and felt composed. Similar to the feeling of transitioning from a single-ply to a DH casing, moving to the Zipp wheels felt more planted through A-Line’s braking bumps. This is likely a result of their radial compliance.

The ride quality that stood out as the biggest difference was how the Zipp wheels felt "muted."

Fantastic – a wide-open trail which features multiple flat, rough corners with brief off-camber sections – was chosen to determine whether “ankle” compliance would allow us to hold a line more easily. Surprisingly, holding a line on high-speed off-camber felt easier. We feel this trait will be even more discernible beyond the bike park and in more natural terrain.

Lastly, Angry Pirate is more representative of the terrain where most folks will ride the 3ZERO MOTO wheels and has a diverse character within a short trail. In well-supported corners, the wheels felt composed and confident. When things got a little more rugged, they never felt harsh. Rock impacts and big compressions didn't feel hugely different to our prior wheelset, but with limited runs we're looking forward to additional back-to-back testing.

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The ride quality that stood out as the biggest difference was how the Zipp wheels felt "muted." Compared to the WeAreOne setup, on high-speed bike park chatter the Zipp wheels felt smoother. The muted feeling was also there in tight/snappy corners and they didn't seem to snap around corners as aggressively. Additional ride time will help determine whether we prefer this or not in this scenario. It's different, no doubt!

Though the 3ZERO MOTO wheels were approximately 200g heavier, no major difference could be felt due to the weight in a bike park setting.

We only glanced at SRAM's AXS app interface for TyreWiz briefly. It shows tire pressure, but what we found more useful is the built-in LEDs on the TyreWiz units that flash red when you're not in the pressure range you specify. This would be very handy for a quick glance before jetting out for a ride.

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While a day of riding is not enough time to draw definitive conclusions, our brief experience aboard Zipp’s new wheels was overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to spending a few months hammering them in the Sea to Sky to see how they perform long-term. We've got them mounted to a bigger big bike for round two.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Zipp has taken a clean-slate approach with the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset, seamlessly integrating innovative new concepts and years of high-end wheel building experience. They've found a balance between the qualities and features racers and riders demand from a performance product, added Quark's TyreWiz system, and backed it with a lifetime warranty without pricing themselves out of the market.

Even after a relatively short time aboard the 3ZERO MOTO wheelset, we are willing to express that they have the potential to take a big step forward in the wheel wars. We are already working on a long-term review, and we hope that a great first impression is just the tip of the iceberg.

Visit www.zipp.com for more details or sign up to demo a pair at Crankworx 2019.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating: 4.5 Stars - Outstanding


About The Reviewer

Joel Harwood – Age: 35 // Years Riding: 20+ // Height: 5’11” (1.80m) // Weight: 185-pounds (83.9kg)

Joel’s unique coaching background and willingness to tinker with products bring an objective perspective to testing. He dabbles in all types of racing but is happiest simply exploring the limitless trail networks surrounding his home of Squamish, BC. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products while exposing any shortcomings.

Photos by Jessie McAuley

Specifications

Product Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Wheelset
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Rim Material Carbon
Rim Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Rim // UniStitch Carbon Weave // Moto Technology // Asymmetrical
Inner Rim Width 30mm
Hole Count 32
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Zipp ZM1 hub with Double Time Technology // 52-points of engagement // SRAM XD or Shimano MTB driver
Rear Axle 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub Zipp ZM1 hub
Front Axle 15mm x 110mm (Boost), Other (21mm standard and 31mm RockShox Torque Caps)
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes Sapim D-Light in 3-cross lacing pattern
Nipples Sapim Secure-Lock
Colors Silver or Slate Decal // Blue, Green, Orange, Red, White, Stealth, Teal or Yellow Speed Line
Weight
  • 4 lb 0.4 oz (1,825 g)
  • 4 lb 3.4 oz (1,910 g)
Miscellaneous Features TyreWiz integrated tire pressure monitoring system
Tubeless valve and tubeless rim tape come factory installed
Includes various front hub end caps
Rim only $700
Lifetime warranty
Price
  • $1,999
  • $950
  • $1,049
More Info

Zipp website

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