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Zipp 3Zero Moto Review

The carbon rim reimagined, these wheels provide the best traction, damping, and comfort of any wheel we've tested
zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review
Credit: Zipp
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $1,899 List
Manufacturer:   Zipp
By Joshua Hutchens, Jeremy Benson  ⋅  Nov 8, 2022
86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 9
  • Ride Quality - 35% 10.0
  • Freehub Engagement - 20% 9.0
  • Weight - 25% 6.0
  • Durability - 20% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Zipp 3Zero Moto is the latest mountain bike offering from cycling's oldest carbon wheel manufacturer. Designed like a motocross rim, the unique single-wall carbon rims flex to create increased traction, a smoother ride, and protection from trail hazards. Zipp's own ZM2 hubs offer excellent engagement, low rolling resistance, and durability. The lofty marketing claims all proved to have merit in our tests, and we found these wheels to increase comfort, control, and traction, unlike anything else we've tested. They do come with a slight weight penalty compared to most other carbon wheels, though that may be a tradeoff many riders are willing to accept for the trail-smoothing performance and comfort they provide.
REASONS TO BUY
Incredible traction
Stability at speed
Feedback reduction
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy for carbon
Lethargic acceleration
Vague feeling at lower speeds

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zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review
This Product
Zipp 3Zero Moto
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award 
Price $1,899 List$799.99 at Backcountry
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$1,349 List
$1,299 at Backcountry
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Pros Incredible traction, stability at speed, feedback reduction3-degree freehub engagement, 2-year no fault guarantee, Vault hubs, lightweightLightweight, affordable for carbon, 35mm rim width, outrageous tractionIndustry-leading 0.52-degree freehub engagement, less expensive than carbon, great ride qualityInexpensive, stable, compliant, reasonably light weight,
Cons Heavy for carbon, lethargic acceleration, vague feeling at lower speedsDecals peel easily, not sold as a pair, you need to purchase both the front and rear wheels10-degree freehub engagementExpensive for alloy, heavier than carbonSlower freehub engagement, a little flexy under load
Bottom Line The carbon rim reimagined, these wheels provide the best traction, damping, and comfort of any wheel we've testedThese wheels had the best performance and ride quality of any we testedThis is a lightweight carbon wheelset with a nicely damped ride quality and excellent tractionThe best alloy wheelset we've ever testedA great set of alloy wheels with a comfortable ride quality and well-rounded performance at a very reasonable price
Rating Categories Zipp 3Zero Moto RaceFace Next R31 C... Ibis S35 Logo Carbo... Industry Nine Endur... Hunt Trail Wide MTB
Ride Quality (35%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Freehub Engagement (20%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
10.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
6.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
8.0
Durability (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Totals (%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
Specs Zipp 3Zero Moto RaceFace Next R31 C... Ibis S35 Logo Carbo... Industry Nine Endur... Hunt Trail Wide MTB
Weight Per Wheelset 2011g 1,776g 1,744g 1,895g 1869g
Available Wheel Sizes 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29"
Available Axle Spacing Boost Boost, Super-Boost Boost Boost, non-Boost, Super Boost 157 Boost, Super Boost
Available Freehub Body Options SRAM XD, Shimano Shimano HG, SRAM XD, MicroSpline Shimano HG, SRAM XD, MicroSpline Shimano HG, SRAM XD, MicroSpline Shimano HG, Shimano Micrspline, SRAM XD
Rim Inner Dimension 30mm 31mm 35mm 30.5mm 30mm
Rim Outer Dimension 37.5mm 37mm 41mm 34.1mm 34.5mm
Offset 2.5mm 4.5mm 5mm 0mm 0mm
Spoke Count 32 28 32 28 28
Brake Rotor Attachment 6-bolt 6-bolt 6-bolt 6-bolt 6-bolt, Center Lock
Freehub P.O.E 2.7-degree 3-degree 10-degree 0.52-degree 5-degree
Warranty Policy Lifetime Lifetime 7-year, no fault on rims, 2-year on hubs 2-year 3-years against material or workmanship defects

Our Analysis and Test Results

Zipp has been building carbon wheels since 1988 but only recently jumped into the mountain bike wheel market. The 3Zero Moto is fascinating in many ways and offers what Zipp calls Ankle Compliance, a reference to how a runner's ankle pivots to keep the foot on the ground as the runner rounds a corner. Zipp does this by utilizing an unconventional single-wall rim similar to a motocross wheel. They claim that this rim design offers better traction, higher impact resistance, and additional compliance.

This is currently the only single-wall carbon trail/enduro rim on the market, if their claims are true we could expect the market to respond. The wheels are offered in 27.5" and 29" versions and are approved for e-bike use but have a 286-pound system weight limit. Zipp backs these wheels with a lifetime warranty that covers anything that happens while you're riding. We put them through their paces to see if they live up to the claims and the hype.

Performance Comparison


zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - everything about the ride quality was confidence inspiring
Everything about the ride quality was confidence inspiring
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Product Specifications


The 3Zero Moto wheels have a unique rim design intended to improve traction, compliance, and durability. The rims have a shiny all-carbon construction and measure 37.5mm externally with a 30mm internal width. While the internal width is typical, the external measurement is wider than most rims due to their substantial bead wall thickness. These are ideal for trail and enduro tires ranging from 2.3" up to 2.6" in width. The rims have a central ridge that aligns with the 32 spoke holes breaking up their flatter-than-usual appearance. The bead is hookless and although Zipp advertises frustration-free tire installation, the shallow rim cavity created a bit more than the usual installation challenge.

The German-engineered ZM2 hub set features 12 pawls that create 132 points of engagement. Freehub options are SRAM XD and Shimano HG, but notably, no Shimano Micro spline is currently offered. Rotors attach using the 6-bolt standard and we found the end caps to be nicely machined and secured using rubber lock rings. The wheels are only offered with 32 spokes and are laced in a three-cross pattern using J-bend spokes with comparatively low spoke tension. Hub spacing is boost 148mm in the rear and 110 up front with Torque caps for Rock Shox forks included as an option. The wheels are compatible with the Quarq Tyrewiz, a lightweight, Bluetooth-enabled tire pressure monitoring system.

Zipp offers eight different colors of stickers to customize the wheels' aesthetics over the "Unistitch Carbon Weave". They shipped with tubeless rim tape and valve stems pre-installed.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - the zipp wheels give your bike a very calm feel as they mute much of...
The Zipp wheels give your bike a very calm feel as they mute much of the feedback from chunky trails and deliver heaps of traction.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ride Quality


If someone were to tell you that these rims were made of 20% rubber, we'd be tempted to believe them. We found the ride to be noticeably dampened, traction was heroic and the ride quality was noticeably smoother than any of the other wheels tested. We're typically pretty wary of bold marketing claims, but there is no denying these wheels work as advertised.



Despite excellent engagement, the acceleration felt sluggish at times. It's not clear if that feeling is due to the heavier weight, lower spoke tension, or the flex in the rim itself. We had to recheck our tire pressure a few times to verify that we were indeed running the same pressure as the other wheel sets in the test. To be clear, the wheels didn't feel slow but they lacked that snappiness we've come to expect from carbon wheels and this is more apparent at lower speeds. They have a remarkably stable and confident feel, and the harder you ride them, the more that stability is showcased. The performance through rowdy rock gardens really sets them apart, instead of deflecting, they seem to find their own line of composure and transmit significantly less feedback to the rider. This helps the bike feel calm underneath you, and also has the added benefit of keeping your hands and arms feeling fresh.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - the dramatic increase in traction lets you play fast and loose with...
The dramatic increase in traction lets you play fast and loose with line selection
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The 3Zero Moto wheels have a relatively standard 30mm internal rim width that works well with today's modern width aggressive trail tires. The rim width effectively makes the tire larger, increasing air volume so that lower pressures can be run to enhance traction and damping. Additionally, the localized twisting of the rim means that the tire can conform to more terrain without risking damage to the rim bead. While most carbon wheel manufacturers seem to have settled on 28 spoke configurations, Zipp chose 32 spokes for these wheels and the lowest spoke tension of the wheels in our comparison. Higher spoke tension is generally associated with responsiveness but gives the rim less room to flex.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - the zipp zm2 free hub body uses dual row pawls to provide 132 points...
The Zipp ZM2 free hub body uses dual row pawls to provide 132 points of engagement
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Freehub Engagement


The ZM2 hub set gets overshadowed by the novelty of the unique rims but they deserve some praise and attention themselves. The rear hub uses 12 pawls, 4 groups of 3, staggered to interface with a 33-tooth ratchet ring. This means there are always 3 pawls engaging which increases durability enough for Zipp to endorse this wheelset for e-bike use. Engagement occurs at 2.7 degrees which is pretty respectable in the high-end hub market.


The front hub is pretty straightforward, mid flange, 32 holes, 6-bolt rotor interface, and matched-sized bearings. The swappable end caps have rubber o-rings inset so they stay put during wheel swaps, and the included Torque Caps work with newer Rock Shox forks to increase the interface between axle and fork. Our only gripe up here would be the use of two different spoke lengths on the front wheel, they're the same two sizes the rear uses but wheel manufacturers utilizing a single spoke length per wheel set get the nod from the mechanics.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - using what zipp calls an "automated preload system", which is a wave...
Using what Zipp calls an "automated preload system", which is a wave washer sitting between the axle and end cap, the hubs are easy to service and always adjusted properly.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Weight


On our scale, the 3Zero Moto leveled in at 2011g with tape and valve stems. While we wouldn't recommend them to anyone counting grams, their ride quality is so unique and compliant, that judging them by weight alone would really miss the point. In this case, the carbon construction and price is less about weight savings and more about the desired ride characteristics achieved through their unique design. They weigh about 122 grams more than our Enve AM30 test wheels and more than any other carbon wheelset we've tested.


While we can't say enough great things about the ride feel of these wheels, the heavier weight is somewhat noticeable when compared to lighter and snappier wheels. They feel a tad lethargic when accelerating, and we found the rotational weight to make long climbs feel a bit draggier than normal. This weight went virtually unnoticed on most descents, where we found ourselves riding faster thanks to the traction and damping offered.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - the single-wall carbon rims offer a new paradigm of traction and...
The single-wall carbon rims offer a new paradigm of traction and comfort.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Durability


While Zipp does not endorse these wheels for DH use, they are approved for use on e-bikes provided your combined rider and bike weight, what Zipp calls "system weight" doesn't exceed 286 lbs. Zipp warranties the wheels to the original owner for life against pretty much anything that happens on the bike. During our testing, there were several instances when we thought we'd surely be testing the Zipp warranty but the wheels survived unscathed. Several high-speed, loud impacts to the rim where we'd clearly blown through the tire's protection didn't leave a visible trace. Zipp spent years developing this rim and has arguably more experience than any other company in the world making carbon wheels.


Throughout this test, we found the 3Zero Moto wheels to be steady, stable, and compliant. These wheels saw some pretty gnarly action from Sedona to the Sierra. Enduring hundreds of miles of use and abuse, we're impressed with not only the durability but the wheels' ability to protect themselves.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - despite their weight, we wanted to ride these wheels on all of the...
Despite their weight, we wanted to ride these wheels on all of the epics.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Despite some poor line choices, repeated rim-outs, and some awkward landings, they show no sign of damage. The wheels are still round, true, and dished, the only visible wear is from rocks and debris contacting the upper portion of the rims and decals. The decals, what Zipp calls Speedline graphics are replaceable and available in 8 colors.

As with most modern carbon rims, Zipp builds the 3Zero Moto with a hookless bead. This construction creates a stronger bead and rim sidewall while also reducing the likelihood of pinch flats.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - these wheels will be the best value to the rider who wants to...
These wheels will be the best value to the rider who wants to dramatically increase the composure of their bike, not save grams.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Value


The 3Zero Moto is the most expensive wheelset in our current test group, and they're also the heaviest. This would seem to give them a disadvantage in the value department but that wouldn't be totally accurate. While this wheelset won't be everyone's cup of tea, it feels like a solid value for such traction and comfort-enhancing wheels.

There are many less expensive carbon wheels and many lighter offerings but nothing that we've ridden offers a similar level of downhill performance. The traction and compliance were such standout features that these wheels feel like they're in a class of their own. Respectable engagement, all-day comfort, and a lifetime warranty.

Conclusion


The 3Zero Moto is a really impressive offering from Zipp. They've reimagined the wheel and created a unique product with impressive specs and a lifetime warranty. While we found the ride quality top-notch, the nuances of its performance might only be unlocked by more advanced or aggressive riders. For the average rider, this wheel set might be less compelling, it's not the lightest, doesn't engage as fast as some others, isn't available with micro spline, and has a somewhat polarizing appearance. All those points considered, these are the wheels that made the greatest performance difference and all of the testers wanted to ride again, ride hard, and ride fast.

zipp 3zero moto mountain bike wheel review - rapid swaps on the same trail system gave us valuable feedback for...
Rapid swaps on the same trail system gave us valuable feedback for comparison.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Joshua Hutchens, Jeremy Benson
 
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