Zipp’s 303 line has long been a hit amongst cyclists for a balance of weight and aerodynamics, along with storied wins such as Fabian Cancellara’s back to back 2010 Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix victories.
The 303 has since gone on to cement itself to be a versatile all-around wheelset, along with a few updates. The latest addition to the lineup, however, is the arrival of the most affordable 303 to date, the $1,300 303 S.
Zipp’s other affordable full carbon wheelset, the 302, has been around for a few years, and in a way, the 303 S is more of a continuation of the 302’s affordability, plus more tech one would expect from a 303.
The 303 S retains the 45mm rim height but has a new wider disc and tubeless tire only rim measuring at 27mm externally and 23mm internally. It is also hookless which Zipp claims reduces drag and is optimized to be fastest with 28mm tires, along with a max tire width of 50mm for gravel. The new rim profile allows users to run lower air pressure where Zipp actually recommends users not to inflate above 73 psi. Cosmetically, the 303 S sports a new redesigned permanent graphic under its matte clear coat, a subdued departure from its classic removable Zipp decals.
The symmetrical 303 S rim is then laced two cross with 24 Sapim CX-Sprint j-bend spokes front and rear with external brass nipples. The 303 S is thru-axle only (12 x 100 front, 12 x 142 rear) with the same durable Centerlock-only 76/176D hubsets with either SRAM XDR, or Shimano HG free hub bodies, with Campagnolo driver available as a stand-alone aftermarket option. At 1,540 grams, the 303 S is 155 grams lighter than the 302.
Picking the right tire is mission critical stuff. Bigger knobs for better dirt traction at the cost of speed on the road, or Diamond treads for road at the cost of grip on dirt.
With gravel now gaining a solid foothold in the market, there are correspondingly many gravel tires to choose from for various uses. Gone are the days where one will need to resort to cyclocross tires. The Hutchinson Overides may not have the big knobs to tame the serious gnar, yet with its fast rolling character and surprisingly ample grip, it could very well be the tire for city dwellers who like to venture on an occasional jaunt in the dirt.
Weighing at 427 and 440 grams, our pair of 38mm Overides were easily hand-mounted onto our reliable Stan Avion’s 28mm-wide external and 21.6mm internal carbon rims with a fairly round profile measuring out to 38.2 mm on our caliper. The Overide doesn’t have a lot of rubber to weigh itself down. It’s got short, diamond tread in the center and parallelogram-shaped cornering knobs that get progressively larger from the center to the tire’s edge. This tire screams speed.
And speedy it was. On the road, the Overide rolls quickly and quietly much like a road tire. I questioned the typically short life expectancy of tires with diamond-center patterns, but these lasted longer than I had expected. It didn’t behave any differently when it began to show signs of wear either. Transitioning from the center to the side knobs during cornering was smooth. Its subtle brown, kevlar-reinforced 66tpi casing also looked pretty darn sweet on our mostly black ’19 Ibis Hakka MX. I started my initial rides at 30psi, but would put more air if my ride consisted of more pavement than dirt.
But this Overide is capable of doing a lot more than spending its life on “boring” pavement. The dual-compound Overide loves to party in dry hard packed and slightly loose terrains. Cornering in dirt requires some attention with its tightly-spaced knobs but it’s a controlled, confident affair. I lowered both tires to around 25 psi at some point for more bite and it responded well to the minuscule change in air pressure. I got the additional grip I wanted, minus the unwanted burping and flats.
The Overide is by no means an all-terrain tire, nor does it pretend to be. To bring it to a full-on dirt ride would be akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight. Doable yes, but there are better options. Hutchinson marketed the Overide for “classic roads, degraded, paths or tracks,” and I couldn’t agree more. I often think of the Overide as a beefier, higher volume version of the Vittoria Pavè with teeth on the corners. It’s a tire I’ve grown to leave on my bike for all but the roughest outings, an everyday tire that I would recommend if it fits your uses.
Easton has been quietly adding their part into the ever-growing gravel scene as of late, and now, they are adding two new sets of carbon hoops designed specifically for the unique junction between road and dirt: The EC90 and EC70 AX.
The two new wheelsets follow Easton’s existing nomenclature: E for Easton, C for Carbon, 90 for the top of the line stuff, 70 for the more budget-conscious, and now, AX for gravel.
Both optimized for gravel tires 35mm and up, both the Centerlock only EC90 and EC70 AX feature tubeless-ready carbon rims with 24mm internal depth and low 21mm rim height .
The 1,470g, $1,549.99 flagship EC90 wheels have a wider 31mm external rim width, 24 Sapim straight pull double-butted spokes, and Easton’s very own 60-point, six degree Vault hubs.
Meanwhile, the EC70 is a tad heavier at 1,515 grams but with a wallet-friendlier price tag of $1199.99. Compared to the EC90, the EC70 has a slightly narrower 28mm external width rim, four more spokes per wheel and uses the firm’s X5 hubsets. These race-proven wheels are available today.
When I was told a few weeks ago that Goodyear was making a comeback into the bicycle tire business, I had to look up what they meant by “comeback”.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know that Goodyear wasn’t in the bicycle business. With companies like Continental, Michelin and Maxxis knee deep into bike tires, you’d think Goodyear, the third largest tire manufacturer in the world, would be in the game in some shape or form.
Well, they were. As a matter of fact, the Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear produced bicycle tires from the company’s founding in 1898 up until 1976.
So unlike Michael Jordan’s one year “retirement” from the NBA, or Johnny Manziel and Dave Chappelle, it’s been 42 years. But guess who’s back, back again? Goodyear is back. Tell a friend. Thank you Eminem for that sweet quote.
While Goodyear’s new lineup consists of nine tires, I am just going to focus on the road-going Eagle.
That’s right, the sole road tire in Goodyear’s lineup shares the same name as the company’s better known racing rubbers both previously seen in Formula One and currently seen in NASCAR… and most likely as OEM tires in some cars. In fact, Goodyear even used the same font to label “Eagle” on the sidewall. Okay, I get it. The Eagle has a deep, high-performance heritage.
And Goodyear was kind enough to send us a pair in 25c to play with before the launch.
Our test samples weigh 310 and 311 grams, just a tad over the claimed 300 grams for the 25C tire. Installation was pretty straight forward. I was told the Eagle is mountable with just a floor pump. I managed to get one of the two tires inflated with no sealant while the second tire needed just a tiny bit of sealant and compressed air from my Bontrager TLR Flash Charger. There wasn’t any overnight leakage, either. I did, however, injected some sealant into that one dry tire for extra insurance before my first outing.
My first ride using the tires was a 70-mile stroll following the weekend’s atmospheric river that caused some minor flooding, downed trees, and well, unpredictable road conditions that left me yearning for those disc brakes on the Focus Paralane I just sent back and I almost went to IKEA instead of riding. Not your ideal day to try out tires for the first time, or was it?
So off I went. Rolling down this 10% hill right outside of my house. The Eagle felt supple, dare I say even better than the Zipp Tangente RT25 I just came off of, or the stable Schwalbe Pro One 25s. Goodyear ostensibly didn’t include much info such as the tpi of the casing used, but did mentioned the inclusion of a Nylon-based fabric from bead to bead called R:Armor to combat against cuts on punctures.
Interestingly enough, the Eagle didn’t balloon as much as the other two tires, measuring at 25.55 and 26.17mm on our Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR D3 rim-braked wheels. It’s definitely a welcoming tidbit if you don’t have a lot of tire clearance.
Not long after I navigated out across the slippery Golden Gate Bridge, I ran across this broken Jameson bottle in Sausalito. Last time I rode on wet road with glass, the glass won so I was waiting to hear the tell-tale hiss. Nope. Nothing. The show went on.
The more miles I rode on the Eagle, the more I trusted its capability. The proprietary silca-based Dynamic:Silica4 compound designed with a smooth center for low rolling resistance felt lively and comfortable at 90psi.
And that “best in class wet grip” Goodyear claims to have is pretty darn good too. The Eagle handled water graciously with its directional sipes on the edges and grooves to channel water from the center. I’d like to see the comparison chart, though.
It’s still too early to comment on the long-term durability of the Eagle but it’s looking pretty promising so far. So stay tuned for our long-term report. The Eagle retails for $70 in four widths: 25, 28, 30, and 32. The 30mm and 32mm will also come with a second version that includes reflective strip all the way around the tire.
I take my rubber seriously. And in this case, I am talking about the rubber I ride. On my bike.
Since I converted to tubeless, I honestly haven’t looked back. I’ve also found myself paying much more attention to the tire market. Tubeless appears to be slowly gaining ground, but the choices are still limited. A quick search on Competitive Cyclist yields 18 tubeless tires in comparison to 34 clinchers.
Thus I get excited whenever I see a new offering.
Although Zipp is best known for their highend carbon hoops and sweet looking cockpit bits, they also make tires. The Zipp rubber might be a bit underrated and far less prominent than the wheels, we think they are still pretty darn good and they have a small, but loyal following.
Personally, I’ve settled on the Schwalbe Pro One for the past year or so and I honestly think the Schwalbe guys are onto something good. In fact, I love ’em so much I bought myself four pairs and they now sit next to my seldomly-used collection of tubular tires. With that said, the search for the tubeless holy grail never ends, which brings us to the Tangente RT25.
At first glance, the RT25 looks just like any other tubeless tire: All black everything (I am still hoping to see a tubeless tire with a tan sidewall, guys.) My test pair weighed in at 290 and 300 grams… very good considering Zipp listed these $74, French-made gems at 292 grams. Zipp wouldn’t divulge which manufacturer makes the tires, but there are only a handful of tubeless tire manufacturers out there, and there’s only one French tubeless road manufacturer I can think of…
The Tangente RT25 was one of the easiest tubeless tires I’ve ever installed. I guess Zipp really means it when they say “No tire levers needed or recommended for installation.” It slid onto my Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR D3 carbon clincher so effortlessly I was worried that I was going to spend some quality (read: way too much) time trying to seat a loose fitting tire. Not so. Not only did it not need sealant to help seat the tire, it popped right into the rim bed on the first try as if it had a tube in it. Zipp does recommend adding some sealant against puncture, though. So I just deflated it, injected some sealant, and inflated. I really liked the zero-mess and zero-fuss installation.
On the road, the RT25 were impressive. I’ve been running mine at around 90PSI for the past two months and they were buttery smooth and lively. The 127TPI nylon casing was supple while the 60 shore A tire compound was both grippy and durable. Granted, the RT25 is a racing tire where tire wear takes second place behind performance but the RT25 has shown little wear, even for those not particularly deep water-siping patterns on the side that I was initially skeptical about. I haven’t had a flat yet, but there’s a Polymide layer beneath the rubber should those occasions arise.
Overall, it’s hard to find any fault with the RT25. It’s fast, grippy, and durable. There are definitely lighter tubeless road tires on the market, but the durability and exceptional all-around performance of the RT25 is well worth the few extra grams. The RT25 reminded me of the crowd-favorite Continental Grand Prix 400 S II clincher in many ways. The Tangente RT25 is a tire that won’t let you down and it’s possible I just found my new favorite tubeless road tire.
Tubeless tires are great and all but I absolutely loathe dealing with solidified sealant every so often.
Even worse, solidified sealant inside tubulars.
Alas, Finish Line have developed a solution: A sealant that won’t curdle inside the tire on its own (duh.)
Developed in conjunction with industrial sealant specialist Multi Seal, the latex and ammonia-free sealant features a DuPont FiberLink Kevlar fiber filler in a liquid suspension that automatically clings to the side of the puncture area to form a physical plug.
Since FiberLink is the part that stops the leak and the fluid in the sealant is merely a carrier, Finish Line is able to design the liquid suspension in such that the liquid will stay in its form throughout the life of the tire. Goodbye dried out sealant.
The non-toxic, hypoallergenic formula is also said to work nicely with carbon rims, is CO2 friendly and water washable. It sure sounds really good and could possibly be a game changer, so stay tuned for our review.
Four sizes will be available: 4-ounce ($8.99), 8-ounce ($14.99 ), 1-liter ($35.99), as well as a monstrous 1-gallon ($139.99) for shops, or anyone who just has a lot of tires.
The Bontrager Aeolus D3 TLR Carbon Clinchers. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
The Aeolus D3 uses Bontrager hubs with DT Swiss internals throughout and it has been buttery smooth and problem-free this past year. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Subtle AND removable graphics on the rims mean you can go totally stealth if you so choose. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
At 67g front and 70g rear, the included Bontrager skewers are not going to win any weight weenies battle anytime soon, yet they are very comfortable in hand with a smooth and sure-footed cam action that's close to the venerable Shimano Dura-Ace offering. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Still have plenty of cork left after one year of use. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Dried sealant and an inverse-patched tire patch. That's what the inside of the Bontrager R3 TLR Hard Case Lite looks like after one year of riding. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Let me make this clear: I did not expect myself to like tubeless road tires. My tubulars work just fine.
Plus, I have plenty of spare tubulars (intentionally) aging in my garage waiting for their turns.
Unfortunately, their call-ups might take longer now that I find myself enjoying, well, smitten over these Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR D3 carbon clinchers that we’ve been playing with this past year.
But my love for tubeless road tires didn’t begin this way. In fact, it was like that very first shitty first date.
When the box showed up this past spring, I was as excited as kids running to their gifts under the Christmas tree on Christmas day. Coming in at 1,439 grams (644front/795rear) with the tubeless strip pre-installed and with the tire valves, skewers, and brake pads included, the Aeolus 3 was ready to rock straight out of the box. A bit of elbow grease and voila, got some 26mm Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR tubeless tires installed and off we went.
Then I got a flat on the first ride. Boo.
A 2mm cut from a piece of glass went through the tread and I had just enough air to limp back home thanks to a can of Vittoria Pitstop and pumping more air whenever I could.
It wasn’t pretty and the cleanup aftermath was a pain. Nevertheless, I was able to ride home instead of walking home.
Frustrated but undeterred, I repaired the tire following instructions from Stan’s NoTubes and the tire worked like a charm. When I finally replaced the tires about 10 months later with Schwalbe Pro One , the tires had three major repairs and a handful of cuts that would normally spell the end of a clincher tire. But each time I was able to ride home without having to put in a tube (still have to pack a tube and repair kit with tubeless). And in a few instances, I didn’t even know I punctured until I stopped for my mid-ride coffee.
They have won me over since then and they’re now my go-to wheels. Yes, I reckon my tubulars are still lighter and arguably smoother, but I did find the extra peace of mind and the convenience of road tubeless tires pretty hard to beat. I can pick and choose my tires for the ride/weather without worrying about gluing in advance.
But what about the rest of the wheel? Well, one year of abuse did not do anything to the DT-Swiss internals. They’re still smooth and quiet while the wheels remained true the entire time. The 35mm tall OCLV carbon rim also proved to be durable and comfortable throughout the test. One word of caution: the rims on the Aeolus 3 are significantly wider, measuring at 27mm on the outside with a 19.5 mm inner diameter, so make sure your bike has adequate clearance.
In the crosswind, the Aeolus 3 TLR D3 was easy to handle due to its lower rim height and rim shape, but my oh my, these wheels felt just as fast as some of the taller-rim hoops I’ve been on. Regarding the braking department, Bontrager recommends using their own cork brake pad with the wheels. While cork might lack absolute immediate stopping power, it makes up for its shortcoming by providing a very consistent and manageable lever feel that’s not so bad after getting used to it.
I also love the Aeolus’ overall minimalistic graphics. Big enough to show its maker yet not overly obnoxious as if I was a rolling billboard. And for those that want even more stealth, rejoice my friend, the decals on the rims can be easily removed since they are not water transferred decals with a clear coat on top.
If there’s any cleft with the Aeolus 3 TLR, it would be its $2,400 price tag. Pricey, yes, but a worthy prime candidate for those who are looking for those holy grail hoops for both training and racing with the added benefit of being tubeless. This is a set of hoops that could go fast without beating up the rider. I am addicted.
Welcome to InterBike 2016! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
PURPLE PURPLE MORE PURPLE PLEASE Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Everyone seems to be making their own cycling computers these days but one thing that caught my attention about this Stages Dash computer is its claim of 30-hour battery life. Hey, you can now record your entire 24 hr bike race in one charge! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Shouldn't this fall under the e-motorcycle category? Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Otso Voytek got a good buzz throughout the show. Carbon frame that can take 27.5+ or 29+ AND up to 26 x 4.6” tires on 70 mm rims? Sign me up. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Lightweight's amazingly light Meilenstein has finally gone disc. The Meilenstein C Disc is a thing of beauty but was a bit disappointed to find out the rim width is still 20mm external and 17.8mm internal. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Giro's Factor Techlace sure looked different but it made a lot of sense after checking it out at the booth. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
I have to admit I was drawn to the Orbea booth by the dazzle paint job on this prototype Terra gravel bike. Looks even better in person. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
A 3D-printed Syntace FlatForce stem and a real Syntace FlatForce stem photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Let's admit it, skinsuit is a pain to put on. But Giordana might have an answer with their Quick On zippered suit system. More aero than a bib/jersey combo but easier and more versatile than a traditional skinsuit. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Dario Pergoretti's paint work never ceases to impress and this Responsorium in Ravenna finish is just so fresh. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Just can't get enough of this 3T Exploro. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Slovenia-based Unior tools might not be a household brand here in the States, but they've been around since 1919 and chances are you will see the tools a lot more in the States this coming year. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Australia-based Knog brought their newest Oi bell to Interbike. It's dramatically different than one's image of a bell, but it's an interesting take just like their line of LED blinker lights. photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Old-school-esque e-bike, anyone? photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly
Poor tire, its one and only job is just to be poked. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
We had a glitch on the site in the days after InterBike, so this post is way past due but the unplanned slow down also meant more time to relive this year’s InterBike
While the gallery above is going to highlight all the fun stuff… Below are the observations from the show floor.
– First, the appointments. I got smart this year and did a bunch of appointments in advance to check out offerings from various brands. So my InterBike was more structured, with shots of adrenaline from random drive-bys to booths I didn’t know much about.
– The buzz I kept hearing was “it’s pretty quiet this year.” Well, that was true. The show was smaller than last year’s. I honestly could have just spent a day there. One industry veteran commented on how he/she was checking out people’s badges and noticed there weren’t as many buyers at the show as there used to be, and he/she would be pretty pissed if they got a booth… All about the ROI, guys.
– On the outskirts of the show floor was arguably where the fun was… I got a pitch about a solar USB charger stating “looks like you can use one of those” during day one. At the other end of the hall was also a booth that sells handheld electric massage devices. The massage device booth definitely saw an uptake in traffic on Thursday, possibly due to the walking from day one on the floor + CrossVegas hangover collab.
Really thought the days of scantily-clad booth women were a thing of past. But I was wrong. I mean, okay, sex (allegedly) sells. But wouldn’t money be better spent on making a better product instead of having models promoting shitty products (and offending the female attendees while at it)?
Amount of broken arms/legs: It dawned on me during day two that there were quite a few people in slings/braces. Guess adventure shows must have a few of those around. As one rep put it “they’re getting after it”.
Reception of e-Bike: Last year was all about e-bike bashing and all of a sudden e-bikes are the future this year.
The international aisle. Probably the quieter, less buzz sections but everyone there was pretty cool to talk to (knowing Mandarin and Cantonese definitely helped) and they really deserve more recognition for their efforts of travelling across the globe to Las Vegas to showcase their products, whether it’s the gazillion lights, matte carbon fiber parts, or aluminum parts in all the imaginable anodized colors one can possibly dream of.
Best snack from the show: Vanilla Ice Cream at the Skratch booth made with their new recovery drink mix. Not only was the line 4,000 times shorter than the Starbucks line outside but it was also freaking delicious. Way different than the typical “come by our booth for free booze” hook too.
Last thing I did at the show: tried an e-bike at the rep’s prudent suggestion, only to make it 30 plus feet before a security guard rolled up and warned “no biking on the show floor”. Returned the bike to the booth, walked down the aisle, and was greeted by two bros zipping past on motorized scooters.
The Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump. The silver barrel is the pump and the bigger, black cylinder is the air chamber for tubeless. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
We wish the PSI gauge have more markers for more precise reading. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
Flip the red lever down to charge the chamber for tubeless. Flip it again to release the air, or use it just as a normal pump.
Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
The pump head is plastic but it worked liked a champ during out test, gripping both schrader and presta value with ease.
Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
The red lever and the bleed valve. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
For the longest time, owning any tubeless tire almost meant you’d be better off owning a compressor too in order to help it seat properly. A regular floor pump/co2 sometimes worked but a compressor gives you that massive volume of compressed air with just a squeeze of the nozzle lever.
I reluctantly got a small Craftsman compressor when I converted my mountain bikes to tubeless. I found the compressor to be awfully loud as if I was mowing the lawn inside my garage. Good headphones helped but that’s just not very ideal … Can you imagine what it’d be like having a compressor in your two bedroom Brooklyn apartment with squeaky wooden floors? Yeah, not a good idea.
But the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger could very well replace the need for a compressor.
Just Flip the Switch
Built with two chambers, the TLR Flash Charger is part pump, part (manual) compressor. After flipping the unmistakable red switch, you pump air into the giant chamber. To use the stored air to seat a tubeless tire, all you’ll have to do is flip the switch and watch the air blast into the tire.
It’s that simple.
It takes about 42 strokes to get the chamber charged to the red indicator. Which, at about 160psi, was plenty enough to seat our 26, 29, and 700c tires with extra.
Pump it Up … Eventually
The other function of the pump is, well, to inflate your tires. Here I feel the TLR Flash Charger comes up a bit short. It’s not that it doesn’t fill the tires with air just like every other pump. But instead of just connecting it to the tire and pumping away, the TLR Flash Charger needs to be equalized (with the tire) first before one can start the actual inflation (Huh?).
Think of it this way, say the tire already has 100PSI and you want to check the pressure. The pump will pull about 50 psi from the tire for the equalization to happen. It’s not a big deal if the tire is flat as a pancake, but it was annoying having the need to do the extra work. So plan ahead if you’re in a time crunch.
I would also love to see a more precise pressure gauge. The numbers on the existing top-mount (thank you) gauge were easy to read. But I was left scratching my head at the fact that it only showed increments every 20psi with no markers in between (other than 30PSI). So what if I wanted to pump it to 90PSI? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a built-in bleed value?
This won’t be an issue if you measure your tire pressure in bars instead of psi but come on, for $120 you would think that’s a no brainer.
So is this pump for you? That depends. The TLR Flash Charger works beautifully in setting up all sorts of tubeless. It’s as good as any compressor in that regard albeit without all the noise and need for electricity — which is great if you’re living in a place with sensitive neighbors/housemates/kids, or don’t have the room for an electric compressor.
I really liked the concept, and it would be perfect to the be only pump you should own if Trek can do away with the air equalization.