After an excellent ride through Central California when they were launched, I’ve since had two sets of Zip 30 Course wheels in for review — one disc and one rim brake. Both have now been put through the wringer and both are still happily in active use. If you’re going alloy and want a bombproof, do-it-all wheelset, these are hard to beat.
Zipp 30 Course Rim/Disc Wheelset Features:
- Available in rim or disc in both tubular and clincher/tubeless
- Comes tubeless-ready
- 24-spoke 2-cross pattern front and rear (radial front for rim brake)
- Wide 21mm internal width and 26mm deep
- Built to mimic aero performance of Zipp 202’s
- Uses same 77/177 hubset as the 202’s and 303’s
- Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes with Sapim Secure Lock nipples
- Disc models Includes adapters for all current axle standards
- Weight: 1650 grams (pair)
- MSRP: $1000
Durable and ready for adventure
While everyone wants to have a shiny set of carbon clinchers on their bike, it’s always great to have a durable set of wheels for training, gravel, cyclocross or winter riding. Though that’s the typical duties given to alloy wheels for those with the luxury of having a set of carbon clinchers for races and summer riding, the 30 Course wheelsets don’t have to be relegated to second-tier duty. I’ve had plenty of warm, dry miles in these and I’ve also had some wet, cold and soggy days on them with equal satisfaction.
Over the course of the last 18 months, I’ve had the disc brake and rim brake 30 Course wheelsets on several bikes and a huge variety of tires and tire widths. Most were more endurance-oriented or gravel bikes, but all were perfect matches for these fast and capable alloy clinchers.
As Zipp’s first tubeless-ready rims, the 30 Course is also Zipp’s widest internal width at 21mm. What that means is you can load these up with the widest gravel tires on the market and still have a nicely-shaped tire that will roll fast and provide proper cornering traction.
Throughout my tests, I have had these mounted up with 25-33mm tires in both tubed and tubeless variations. Setting them up tubeless is a breeze with just a little soapy water and the trusty Bontrager TLR Flash Charger pump. Most tires were straightforward to mount without tools while others required a bit more body English to mount. I was able to mount all tires sans tire levers (which is the best way to do it). If you work the tire bead into the center track opposite the valve and then stretch the tire around the wheel down to the valve, the bead will pop in, but I’d always recommend wearing gloves while doing this to keep your digits happy.
At 21mm internal width and 26mm depth, these are wide and stiff-riding wheelsets — there’s no getting around it. On some bikes, like the Santa Cruz Stigmata CC or the BH Quartz Disc, 25mm tires running tubes at 90-95 psi. were responsive and fast-rolling, but quite harsh. Switching that up to tubeless at lower pressures and things got noticeably more comfortable.
Due to the internal width, you’ll typically get a fuller, rounder tire profile. Actual inflated tire widths widths for two of Specialized’s popular tires are as follows:
- Roubaix 23/25: Measure at 24.7mm
- S-Works Turbo 26: Measure at 27.2mm
On the Wilier GTR SL and Pinarello Dogma F8, I used the rim brake wheels with tubes and ride quality was a little harsh but manageable. I did not run the rim brake wheels tubeless, but they should perform just as well as the disc brake versions. The braking surface is solid and provides great braking under all conditions.
So, to get the best ride quality out of these wheels, I’d recommend running them tubeless or going with a 30mm tire (given your bike can handle them).
Most recently, I’ve been running the 30 Course disc wheels with the Specialized Roubaix 23/25 tubeless tires aboard the smooth BMC Roadmachine 01. That is a great setup with a smooth ride, excellent responsiveness, and fast rolling. And, I just received the new Zipp Tangente Speed RT25’s, which mount up nicely to these wheels. In fact, they are the easiest road tubeless tires I’ve mounted to date.
With the 30 Course wheelsets, you get enough depth for all-around aerodynamics and minimal crosswind issues. In fact, I’ve not felt any adverse affects of crosswinds in all my miles and conditions. For most riders, that’s an important consideration because nobody wants to be thrown into speed wobble at 40 mph while descending a curvy mountain pass.
There’s really no terrain or discipline that these wheels can’t be used for. You really are covered for pure road, gravel, adventure, winter training or cyclocross with a single wheelset.
And, when these are mounted tubeless, the full system weight (wheels, rotors and tires) weighs less per wheel than the new Zipper 303 Tubeless Disc Brake wheels. While these are not flyweight climbing wheels, they are respectable and don’t feel slow when pushed hard. In my roll-to-stop tests, these wheels consistently rolled nearly as far as the best wheels I’ve tested.
- These wheels sing with 25mm tubeless tires
- Accelerate well
- Reasonable stiffness
- Perfect for wide gravel-friendly treads
- Accepts all current axle standards out-of-the-box
- Easy tubeless mounting
- 5-year warranty
- Can accept XD driver for 1x setups
- Stiff, harsh ride
- On the expensive side for alloy clinchers
- You’ll likely need to expand your rim brake calipers due to the external width
The Bottom Line: Zipp 30 Course
As a go-anywhere, do-anything wheelset, the Zipper 30 Course disc and rim brake wheels are excellent choices. They roll well, can be mounted tubeless (preferred, actually) and can accept wide tires for smooth road riding, cyclocross or gravel. And, since they are alloy, you don’t have to handle them with kid gloves.
Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com
There are a handful of wide alloy wheelsets and the 30 Course is certainly one of the best choices. Available in either rim or disc versions, these roll well and are reasonably-light for all-around duties. Gravel and cyclocross are certainly the sweet spot for these, but don't discount their on-road capabilities
Hi Jason, thanks for the thorough review. You always seem to hit on all the salient points that are important in cycling component s and equipment. As ride quality is one of the biggest things I am looking for in a wheelset, which alloy and carbon wheels would you suggest do the best in this regard?
Ride quality definitely depends on tire size. The best ride quality always starts with selecting the widest-possible tire that will fit on your frame and going from there. In the case of disc frames, I’m settling in at 28-32mm tires (depending on clearance).
Something that’s awesome about the 30 Course is you can get a fuller tire due to the rider internal rim width. Going tubeless is even better. If you can fit a 28 or 30mm tubeless tire on the 30 Course, you’ll be rewarded with a nice ride. If you opt for something more expensive, like the Zipp 303 Tubeless, you’ll get an even better ride (it’s pretty amazing actually), but it comes at a significant cost.
Here’s my review of those:
The 303’s are the sweet spot, no question. They are comfortable, fast, light, tubeless and the width delivers a fuller tire.
Another option that’s a little less expensive is the Bontrager Aeolus D3 TLR wheels:
Further down the line, Boyd makes a 44mm tubeless-ready disc clincher that’s a respectable 19mm inner width at a further reduced price:
I haven’t ridden Boyds wheels, but I know them well and feel confident in their quality. Those are some thoughts to get the best ride possible at a few price points.
It was a beautiful set of wheels until after roughly 10,000 miles.
The spoke and nipples are made of aluminum and freeze over time. As a result, some spokes break on their own. But the most severe issue is the wheel alignment, which is impossible due to the freezing nipples. The solution to this issue is replacing all the spokes and nipples. Which is very expensive!.
Another little detail is the freehub. Again, the design is basic but functional. There is, however, only one thing holding the freehub together — a bit of low pressure on the shaft and the end cup. A tire repair in the middle of a ride sometimes is necessary. When removing the rear wheel. Avoid positioning it with the cassette facing down since the freehub might unexpectedly fall out, and the PAWL SET can be easily lost.
Even a great wheel set will get worn out, but it’s unfortunate that the hubs are falling apart like that. Sounds like you’ve gotten plenty of use out of them though.