I’m building a new bike and making the change to disc brakes and that led me down multiple rabbit holes (tubeless, rim depth, Bontgager, Roval, Zipp, Hunt, …).
I’m leaning towards going with Zipp 303s wheels and there is plenty of information out there on short term use but I’m curious about riders that have been on them for longer. I’m generally an easy use case for wheels because most rides are done on paved roads and in good weather (weigh 165 lbs). I may do a bit of gravel as well but not too much.
1- How have the wheels held up for you and how about the hubs? Any need to replace bearings, how often?
2- Any problems with the hookless rims? I’m leaning towards using Conti S TR (28mm wide) tires but open to ideas. Other than getting over the idea that running lower tire pressure is actually ok going tubeless seems like a good idea.
3- I’m also considering Zipp 303 FC if the upgraded hub/rim is worth the extra money but I would prefer to not spend that much unless there is a clear benefit. Specialized Roval 38c wheels are also in the running as well because they are really on a good sale right now and seem like all around solid wheels.
For the majority hookless hasn’t been a bit problem. Go wider if you’re at a point where the pressure exceeds the recommendation. I am not sold on road tubeless. When it goes wrong, it’s an enormous mess that tubes aren’t. I probably need to go up to 32mm tires to have it work well and have way to many tires under that to ride on.
I have the Alpinist CLXs, Rapide CLX2s, and the Terra CLXs. I tend to ride in the 80ish psi range which would be pushing me to a wider tire on the road wheels. Hubs have been easy to maintain since it’s dt swiss internals. I haven’t heard anyone say good things about Zipp hubs.
If you’re looking at the C38s, consider the Terra Cs with a wider internal and more gravel compatibility if you may venture that way.
Thanks for the feedback! The big draw to Roval wheels is the DT Swiss hub internals and I do like the Shimano wheels as well but their warranty is only 1 year I believe. A big draw to Zipp is their lifetime warranty. What is nice is that there are several great options out there and prices seem better than in the past.
I have 303 firecrests on my gravel bike - I’ve only had them a year but have already replaced the hub bearings once (both front and rear) during that time. I replaced them at the recommendation of my LBS so I’m not sure it was absolutely necessary but I only rode 2500-3000 miles last year on them so it felt pretty soon to replace them. Other than that the wheels are really nice.
I have used three sets of 303S wheels, with different bikes. So far I have not had any issues.
I have used one set of wheels for gravel for two summers, 2023 will be the third. After approximately 200 hrs of riding the wheels are still perfect: no issues with the bearings or rims. I have used only Zipp G40 tyres and they are very easy to set up tubeless. The flying rocks have left some tiny marks on the carbon rims, but those are purely cosmetic.
Then I have used another set for road riding since July 2021. No issues with this set either. The Schwalbe Pro One tyres were quite easy to set up tubeless, although not as nice as Conti 5000 S TR.
The third set I have used with my ”bad weather” road bike since the spring of 2022. The wheels have been used for hours and hours in pouring rain and in slush, but the hubs seem to be still working fine. My plan is to upgrade some components of the bike during the spring/summer and at the same time take a closer look at the hubs.
Had to replace the freehub and rear wheel bearings… not sure what went wrong with the freehub but the bearings were a mess… maybe the seal wasn’t replaced perfectly when I re-greased one time. However I received a free replacement and no problems since.
Only other minor gripe is the freehub is a little slow to engage on occasion, but it doesn’t bother me too much.
Setting up tubeless has been simple with 28mm Schwalbe pro one, no tyre levers needed and seated easy with a charger style pump. 38mm Gravel King slicks were a little trickier and required a touch of soapy water around the bead to seat.
I’ve found them pretty stable in cross winds as well (~68kg).
I would 2nd this. I have a set of 303s for cyclocross in the winter but been using them on the road since the end of the cx season. My bike came with 60mm DT Swiss which are absolute sails in crosswind. It wouldnt be a stretch to say theyre the worst deep wheels Ive ever owned. Compare that the 303s, I hardly notice the crosswind. Yes, theyre almost 20mm shallower, but they perform very well in the wind
The key factor is if you’re light or heavy enough for these wheels. Hookless tubeless has a quite tight pressure margin for safety. If you’re 50-65kg, you will be ok, if over 80kg you’ll be above the safety pressures for 28c.
Other than that, unless you’re using the wheels also for gravel I’d err on the 303s. Deeper and slightly narrower so you could run a 25 on the front and gain some aero advantage (again if you’re heavy enough).
I have both 303fc (28 f, 30r) (or 32s for winter) and 404fc (25f, 28r) and they are ok. I rode the 303s all winter in the UK, they’ve done about 5000km and the bearings are still good.
However - I’m on my second rear 303 rim. The first tore a spoke through the rim and folded it under itself. Whilst I’ve been hard on the rims - riding mountain bike centres on them with 40cs, they never failed during use. They literally just did this overnight.
The early models of 303S did not have the water holes drilled to the rim. When washing the bike or riding in heavy rain some water got inside the rim and it was almost impossible to get it out. The current models should have the water holes, but I recommend checking if purchasing.