Zipp’s 302 Carbon Clincher simplifies their popular offerings to make the advantages of mid-depth carbon available to everyone. And they’ve done it for both those who want rim brakes and those who want disc brakes. These wheels are built to be ridden daily, raced when you’re ready. They’re tough enough to withstand the rigors of cyclocross and gravel-grinding as well.
Wheels are the biggest performance upgrade you can do for a bike. They impact the overall weight of the bike, as well as the feel, as well as your speed, your safety, and even your comfort. Wider rims are now almost de rigueur, as the extra width adds air volume and changes the tire contact patch, which function to add comfort and decrease rolling resistance, so long as you drop your tire pressure a bit from your old narrower rims. Weight is important for accelerations, which are going on all the time, particularly when you’re climbing. Aerodynamics matter most of the time, too. The only time they don’t is when you’re grinding away in your lowest gear. Once you’re past that, it matters, and the longer you ride and/or the faster you ride, the more it matters, the more it adds up.
Zipp is first and foremost about the rim. The 302 is based off the all-purpose 303, which was the first carbon rim to win at the cobbled classics. That was a tubular, but the lessons learned from building it went into the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher, which is, if anything, more durable than a regular aluminum rim. The 303 has the added benefit of being light enough for climbing, while still maintaining a significant aero advantage on the flats. This rim is 45mm deep, with a blunt-edged spoke bed and going as wide as 26.5mm, but nipping back to 25.6mm at the brake track. As this is a clincher, internal width also matters. Here it’s 16.25mm.
In the name of simplifying the mold, the rim doesn’t have dimples as you see on the 303. And the brake track, for the rim brake version has a surface treatment similar to the 303. For the disc brake version, the rim construction is the same, though the brake track, as it’s unnecessary, doesn’t receive any treatment. Zipp has found that in the name of rim durability, removing weight from the rim walls makes little sense.
The rim version is built with 20 radial spokes in front, 24 cross-two in back. The disc version has 24 cross-two spokes both front and rear. The spokes have external nipples, Sapim Secure-Lock, for serviceability, and to further the ease of service, the wheel has been built with J-bend Sapim CX-Sprint bladed spokes. J-bend spokes are something every bike shop has a supply of, so in the rare occasion that you break or damage a spoke, any shop will be able to fix the wheel and get it rolling again.
The hubset is new, and built by Zipp. The flanges are a bit taller to help with lateral stiffness. The rim brake version rolls on the 76/176 hubs, while the disc brake version rides on 76D/176D hubs that feature removable end caps and Centerlock rotor mounting.
Zipp offers you the option of either a SRAM/Shimano 10/11-speed cassette body or Campagnolo 10/11-speed cassette body. An XDR driver body is available separately.
The wheels come with quick releases and rim tape. The rim brake version does not come with brake pads, though Zipp highly recommends their Tangente Platinum Pro Evo Brake Pad. Whatever you do, don’t use the same pads you use on your aluminum rims; those potentially have aluminum shards and rocks and debris in them, stuff that can score your carbon rims. The disc brake version comes with end caps that pull off to adapt the wheels to 100x12mm, 100x15mm front thru-axles, and 135x12/142x12mm rear through-axles. Tire widths narrower than 23mm are not recommended, though you can go pretty much as wide as you want, so long as the tire fits the 700c diameter.
The Zipp 302 Carbon Clincher opens up a whole new world.