In the classic debate about how far science can go versus how far it should go, carbon rims probably don’t seem as controversial as, say, nuclear energy, human cloning or McDonald’s kiosk ordering system. But ever since we let that relatively light weight, relatively durable genie out of the bottle, we’ve been fighting the unexpected side-effect of the countless excessively stiff wheelsets being released along with him. The ultimate solution is a flatter, wider profile, but you can only go so flat and so wide when you’re talking about a box-section carbon rim. The mechanism that expands inside that box section while binding the carbon needs to have as even a set of dimensions as possible to help put uniform load on all four walls of that cross-section. That’s why we get tall, boxy rim structures that make for lots of strength, but not a lot of comfort or compliance.
Zipp, which has been owned by SRAM since 2007, has taken a radical path toward offering an alternative. 3ZERO MOTO is a single-wall carbon rim that aims to combine the light weight and overall wheel strength we get out of carbon with a compliance that surpasses that of even the most properly shaped aluminum rims. The name 3ZERO MOTO comes from this particular wheelset’s internal width of 30 millimeters, and from the moto-inspired shape of the rims. The single-wall design not only helps absorb the radial impacts of taking direct hits while traveling in straight lines, it’s also uniquely able to twist during indirect hits. When an impact focuses more on one side of the rim than the other, which it most often will, a single-wall rim is able to keel slightly to increase compliance and decrease the possibility of a pinch flat. The trail / enduro-oriented wheelsets are laced with 32 spokes, a rare choice in today’s 28-hole-dominated market. The throwback spoke count is intended to offer greater strength and less wind-up under breaking and accelerating loads.
Alongside this announcement, Zipp is announcing that TyreWiz wireless pressure-monitoring valves now offers form-fitting versions that sit flush against the 3ZERO MOTO rim, and includes a set with each set of pre-built3ZERO MOTO wheelset. They come in either 27.5 or 29-inch versions, and you can choose it with any one of eight colors of racing stripes. One rim by itself (which doesn’t include a TyreWiz) goes for $700, and a wheelset including Zipp’s own hubs and Sapim D-Light spokes goes for $2,000.