If you’re looking for a one-sentence summary of Zipp’s newest 303 wheel, I’ve got one: This is the best version yet.
The new model retains its 45mm-deep cross section but flat- tens the sides slightly and widens the rim bed to 21mm (internal) for better aero- dynamics. Zipp says a 28mm tire is the fastest choice for the wheel shape—good news, as that size pro- vides a cushy ride in most situations. The wheels are disc only, which allowed Zipp to move the dimpling pattern on the rim closer to the edge, something the brake track prevents on rim- brake versions.
The dimpling mimics some of the effects of the sawtooth pattern of Zipp’s pricier 454 and 858 wheels, which both have a molded rim profile that helps promote stability in crosswinds. Another update: The graphics are printed directly on the rim to keep the dimpling clean and unblocked by decals. Laced to Zipp’s Cognition hub set—with its smooth-rolling magnetic freehub mechanism and CenterLock disc interface—this 303 is ready to rip on nearly any surface.
All that tech is great, but it’s hard to quantify lab results in the real world. So, do these wheels live up to the hype? The answer is a resounding yes. On the road, the 303s were steady in all conditions. There was little feedback from crosswinds, and the generous rim bed added volume, enabling me to run lower pressures for better grip and less rolling resistance. Swapping in a set of cyclocross tires for off-road riding highlighted the wheels’ stiffness—I dove into turns at the local ’cross course without flex or wobbliness.
With these smart updates, Zipp has made the 303 one of its best wheelsets, period.