By Michelle Arthurs-Brennan published
Zipp has launched a new 353 NSW wheelset, carrying over much of the tech introduced in the Zipp 303 Firecrest and Zipp 303S refreshes of 2020: wide, hookless rims designed to be run at lower pressures, and a decrease in weight.
If the name doesn't shake your memory, the NSW range is the high-end family with a wavy profile. The newest model is suitable for tyres 28mm or over due to the 25mm internal width. Zipp has taken the decision to make these available in disc brake only form.
This brings the 45mm NSW offering back up in-line with Zipp's developments elsewhere, discussing the new arrival, SRAM's Danie Lategan said: "When we launched the 303 family it left you asking 'why would you buy 303 NSW?', because you're getting a heavier wheel for double the price, and you don't get any of the technologies you get with 303 Firecrest. [At that time] the question answered itself, but we do think you can [always] go better. We set out to design the new level of NSW wheels."
As per previous models of the NSW wheels, these come with an undulating 'Sawtooth' design which is said to aid stability and therefore speed in the crosswinds, it's an approach we've seen used elsewhere, including by Princeton whose wheels were used by Team Ineos in Tour de France time trials.
This approach also creates more strength at a lower weight via the use of less material - paired with the use of a hookless rim this has brought the weight down to 580g (front) and 675g (rear): 1225g per set, without rim tape or valves. This is now Zipp's lightest ever clincher/tubeless ready wheelset.
SRAM hasn't provided wind tunnel data, or any watt saving claims, alongside these wheels - Lategan said he didn't expect a major straight-line speed uplift between these and other similar depth models in Zipp's line up.
"We are testing a lot less in the wind tunnel, [and focusing more on] real world testing, we work closely with Aero Lab doing some independent testing for us, I think that carries a lot more weight than just looking at wind tunnel data on its own, we are looking at the total system approach more which is a big change in how we test product."
It's long been understood that wind tunnel data doesn't tell the whole story, but alternatives aren't simple either. The move to outdoor testing is something we've seen invested in by wheel brand Parcours, too, led by Oxford Engineering graduate Dov Tate and Dr Steve Faulkner at the sports engineering department at Nottingham Trent University.
SRAM's 'total system approach' refers to the combination of a focus on aerodynamics, wheel weight, rolling resistance and the transmission of road vibration - with the latter two improved via the 25mm internal rim width and hookless rim which requires a wider tyre and lower pressure.
Opting for a hookless profile does currently limit riders to using a pressure under the regulation 72PSI, set by the ETRTO, and not all tyres are compatible. In many cases, it also lowers the price with savings passed on to the consumer. Zipp has brought the price of these down vs previous iterations; we listed the NSW at £3,570 to £3,930 last year, but they're still far and away more expensive than its own alternatives, at a rather jaw-dropping £3,200 a pair vs £985 for the Zipp 303S and from £1,965 for the 303 Firecrest (at 2020 launch).
The latest iteration of the 353 NSW wheels uses a re-engineered SRAM 'Cognition V2 Hubset'. The spring clutch mechanism which previously used magnets now uses a Sylomer ring with a plastic carrier on top which provides the spring action. Sylomer is a foam-like material also used in the automotive and medical industries.
The hub has also been updated to feature 54 points of engagement, over 36, offering quicker pickup and Lategan says this has no tangible effect on longevity, with the new system making servicing easy.
The wheels ship with 12mm front and rear end caps, and use a center locking rotor interface - the lockring is supplied with the wheels. They come with XDR and SRAM/Shimano driver bodies, with a Campagnolo option sold separately.
Each wheelset comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Zipp 353 NSW Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake $1,800.00 / €1,600.00 / £1,425.00
- Zipp 353 NSW Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake SRAM 10/11sp $2,200.00 / €2,000.00 / £1,775.00
- Zipp 353 NSW Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake XDR $2,200.00 / €2,000.00 / £1,775.00
- Wheelset: $4,000 / €3,600 / £3,200
Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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