Although best known for its legendary cobblestones, the epic course of Paris-Roubaix consists mostly of flat, smooth, windswept roads. In search of the ultimate wheel for the "Hell of the North," the riders of Garmin-Slipstream, Cervélo TestTeam, and Team Saxo Bank challenged Zipp Speed Weaponry to combine bombproof durability, surefooted handling, and cutting-edge aerodynamics. The completely redesigned 303 tubular wheelset was the response.
After a commanding victory in the Spring Classics opener Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Cervélo TestTeam’s Thor Hushovd noted, “I definitely felt that the 303 is now stiffer and still very fast and comfortable. It was the perfect wheel for that day and I plan to use it at Paris-Roubaix and throughout the Classics.” Six weeks following Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the 303 helped Thor to a third place finish at Paris-Roubaix.
To handle the rough roads and rugged conditions of the Spring Classics, Zipp widened the 303’s rim from 22.3mm to 27.5mm with a slight rim depth increase from 44mm to 45mm. Without adding a gram, these changes substantially improve the already superb impact resistance of Zipp’s Carbon Bridge™ technology while offering a more comfortable, forgiving ride. At the same time, the wider, deeper rim increases the 303’s lateral stiffness for sprinting, cornering, and accelerations. Another benefit is that wider tires, like the new 23mm version of Zipp’s dimpled Tangente tire, have minimal impact on the wheel's superb aerodynamics.
Meanwhile, the 303’s tire bed has been redesigned to protect against tire damage and pinch flats at low pressure, and for more precise mounting of tubulars. In poor weather, riders will appreciate the improved brake modulation of the new 303’s angled brake track. These upgrades also make the 303 an excellent choice for cyclocross.
Incorporating the knowledge gained from the redesigns of Zipp’s workhorse 404 and 808 wheelsets, the 303’s radical new rim shape is 12 seconds faster than its predecessor over 40km. Yet it maintains stability in crosswinds, even for smaller riders like Olympic triathlon gold medalist Emma Snowsill. Like all Zipp carbon rims, the 303 is marked by Zipp's unmistakable ABLC™ dimples.
Even with its improved toughness and performance on flat terrain, the 303 remains an excellent choice in the mountains. At 1182 grams, it’s lighter than some manufacturers’ dedicated climbing wheelsets.
The 303 includes Zipp’s new 88 front and 188 rear hubs that feature oversize 17mm axles, taller flanges, and adjustable bearing preload. Steel skewers, 18 front and 24 rear SAPIM CX-Ray spokes, and Swiss steel bearings more precise than many ceramic upgrades complete the package. Along with the rest of Zipp’s wheel line, this wheelset is handmade in Speedway, Indiana.