What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Test: Zipp Tubulars

3-som! Zipp’s new Tubular Tires are on test! And since we couldn’t very well show their new rubbers on a set of someone else’s wheels, they HAD to send us a set of 303’s!!! And since we couldn’t show the wheels on someone else’s QR’S…

You, I and everyone else have seen the gear from Zipp. The 303’s are almost sure to pop up at the next race you do, and it’s for a good reason. Zipp makes good solid stuff, and “solid” has very little to do with Extra weight. Zipp are pretty large in size, but still look at stuff like a small company would. They do the do when it comes to wheel sets, rims, hubs (built to insane high tolerance) and now QR’s, tires, a sweet set of handlebars and other bits.

First up are the new rubbers. The Rubber compound is pretty tacky. The tread is a single pattern type that covers the entire top surface. It is similar to the tread pattern of the top line Continentals and I really like that tire.

The heart of Tubulars is really the casing and Zipp’s is a descent quality 300TPI Synthetic. Underneath the tread is a layer of tighter woven material designed for puncture protection, and the matte cloth bottom (where the stitches are) is a nice loose weave that holds a good amount of glue. While the TPI count is pretty standard, the bottom matte is a little thicker than some. Where it overlaps for closure, this creates a little bit of a hump in the tire at full presure until you get a couple of miles in, and then it’s smooth sailing. The stitching is a single line and an adhesive is part of the mix in holding the overall construct together. Most higher end Tubulars inflate to 170 – 220 PSI, while Zipp go with a pressure of 140.

The transition from tread to sidewall casing is done very well. The tread / tire interface and General shape were designed to mate well with the rim and to provide a more aerodynamic overall unit (Tire / rim). They did a great job here, as the tire does conform well at the rim, with the bottom cloth peaking in just enough for glueing, but not getting out into the wind and the tread ends with no “lip” to catch any air.

At 250 Grams, they are not the lightest Tubulars on the market, but you get a very stable feel. At 140 PSI max they don’t inflate to the same pressure as several Tubulars in their price class, but if you are a light or middle weight rider, the 140 is plenty. The grip is great, with durability to be determined. Mounting is a snap, as these are made a little larger and stretch well, so getting them on the rim is easier than a lot of tubulars on the market. The ride is EXTREMELY smooth.

Stay tuned for the Wheel reveal, but expect no surprises, as the 303’s are as battle tested as you can get.

Get more info on all the Zipp gear at

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