Zipp 303 N(ew) S(exy) W(heels) Tubeless Wheelset - The Review

Posted by Alder Martz on 3rd Aug 2018

Zipp 303 N(ew) S(exy) W(heels) Tubeless Wheelset - The Review

According to Wikipedia, NSW stands for Nest Speed Weaponry; Nest referring to Zipp's R&D department. While "The Nest" went above and beyond in designing the NSW's, they failed at coming up with a better acronym. I would have chosen NSW to stand for Night Shadow Warriors. Ultimately that would get shot down and I would have settled for New Sexy Wheels. It describes this wheelset to a T - or an NSW. 

I was given a set of NSW 303 Tubeless Carbon Clinchers to ride for a few days and it pained me to have to give them back. Is it a coincidence that my first local Tuesday night win came when using them? I think not. They were smooth, responsive, good looking, and, most importantly, they just worked. Isn't that what any of us want from a set of wheels? Something reliable with great performance? 

One of the first things I noticed about the 303 NSW's was the simplistic ease of setting it up as tubeless. Face it, tubeless is better. It has a lower rolling resistance, is more impervious to flats, and has the supple feel of a tubular. Historically, the only downside to tubless has been the struggle in the set up. Not with the NSW. All the needed parts were included and the tires slid on and off without any tire levers, grunting, or swearing. You could almost say it was a pleasant experience.

Another thing that was immediately apparent were the hubs. Redesigned to decrease the amount of drag during coasting, the COGNITION hub uses magnets to engage under load and fully disengage when freewheeling. This disengaging, through Zipp's Axial Clutch technology, has been tested to give the hubs half the amount of rotating friction as other popular hubsets! Half! No wonder I won that Tuesday night local ride...

It's fun to go fast but slowing down is equally as important. Zipp gave the NSW's braking surface an overhaul in the form of the Showstopper braking track. The braking performance of the NSW delivers the best modulation and shortest stopping distances in wet and dry conditions for carbon wheels and has even been rated similar to some aluminum braking tracks.

Zipp has made the aero wheel even more streamlined by embossing the label into the carbon as opposed to slapping a sticker on the rim. It gives the wheels a stealthy look, increased aerodynamics, and allows the dimpled surface to be uninterrupted. The rims also feature an internal width of 19mm, which is optimized for wider tires, allowing the rider to run lower pressures which translates to more control and a more comfortable ride. 

As if this wasn't enough to make you swap whatever pair of wheels you currently use onto your "B" bike, Zipp has one last trick up their sleeve. Each wheel is assembled in Zipp's factory in Indianapolis and every person involved with building of the wheel, from the hub builder to the spoke tensioner, is linked to the wheel's serial number. It's a promise of responsibility, it's putting a face to a finished product. In a world that is increasingly dominated by machines, it's putting a human face to a finished product, and taking responsibility. 

That is what you get when you ride a Zipp NSW.

You can see the full range of Zipp NSW wheelsets on the Glory Cycles store here.