It’s been quite a while since we’ve talked about wheels, but now seems like a good time — The Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW wheels dropped today, so we’re going to run you through all the juicy details as well as some quick ride impressions. They’re light, compliant, and come in a couple of flavors to meet your budget. Stick around to see if they’re the right wheels for you.
Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW Wheels
Let’s dive into all the details about the new Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW wheels. First, we have two different models in this HiTop series. The S and the SW. The wheels we have today are the SW wheels that come equipped with all the bells and whistles, like 66-point engagement hubs, centerlock interface, and TyreWiz 2.0. The S version uses the same rim and proprietary HiTop carbon layup but a lower engagement hub (52 points), 6-bolt interface, and no TyreWiz. Both wheelsets are designed for XC racing and riding but are also tough enough for trail bikes with up to 130mm of travel. Oh, and they both come with a lifetime warranty.
Diving a bit deeper, let’s talk about what makes the HiTops special. The magic lies in the name – HiTop. This is Zipp’s unique carbon layup that offers more compliance. Unlike a lot of XC wheels, they place an emphasis on compliance rather than all-out stiffness. If you know anything about Zipp wheels, that’s kind of their thing — the 3Zero Motos are very compliant. These wheels are less compliant than the 3zero Motos, however. They also feature a more traditional rim profile rather than the single-wall design of the Motos. Zipp claims this compliance will make you faster by offering more traction, confidence, and comfort. I’m not one to argue with a little extra comfort on my bike. I’m not landing myself on an XC podium anytime soon, so I’ll take the traction and control every day of the week.
These wheels are still built around XC riding and racing, though — meaning they’re lightweight and easy to spin up. The SWs that I have here come in at 1325g, and the S wheels come in at 1495g. As a point of comparison, Enve’s M5 wheels are 1388g with the lightest hubs they offer. It’s worth noting those wheels have an internal rim width of 25mm. Berd, who probably makes the lightest wheels, has an XC wheelset that comes in at 1230g, but those have an internal width of 25mm. So that might not be the best comparison either. Basically, what I’m trying to say, is that, for the category and intended application, the 1zero HiTops are pretty damn light.
Like we’ve talked about earlier, these wheels are made for XC and short-travel trail bikes. Most bikes in those categories these days come with 29” wheels. You’re out of luck if you want to put HiTops on your 27.5” bike. They’re only offered in 29.
Let’s chat for a second about TyreWiz 2.0. I’ve become particularly sensitive to tire pressures these days. They can make a huge impact on your ride quality. Too much air and your tires feel like they’re made out of wood; too soft and you’ll have the pressure police called on you in every corner. Or worse, you’ll flat or break a wheel. While I’m not completely opposed to the squeeze test as a good indicator of the pressure I’m running, I can see TyreWiz being helpful in two ways. The first is incredibly accurate pressure readings. Most MTB pumps are about as accurate as my 4-year-old son standing at the toilet — let’s just say they can vary by quite a pretty large percentage. TyreWiz is accurate to +/-2%, taking any sort of parking lot bike pump match out of the equation. The second way I think TyreWiz could be beneficial is in the AXS app. You can get personalized recommendations for tire pressure. I’m used to putting 30Psi in both of my tires and dropping from there until it feels right. Having a more accurate place to start could be a nice touch.
Now, let’s go ride and talk about how they feel out on the trail.
Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW First Ride Review
For a bit of context, I’m riding the SW HiTops on a Santa Cruz Tallboy. It has 120mm of rear wheel travel and 130mm up front. The bike itself is surprisingly capable. I’d have to imagine the Tallboy is in the upper range of the 1Zero’s intended application. While it’s far from an XC bike, it’s still a competent climber and balanced bike overall and a good fit for the HiTops. For tires, I have the Maxxis Dissector EXO up front with 25psi and the Maxxis Rekon EXO with 26psi.
Starting with uphill performance, it’s readily apparent that these wheels are light. They spin up very quickly. The Tallboy hasn’t always been the snappiest and most XC-feeling trail bike. The HiTops go a long way in putting some pep in its step. They give the entire bike a quick and lively character. In addition to the overall weight, I think the high-engagement hubs help out here, too. With 66 engagement points, that gives them a 5.5° engagement. It’s certainly not the highest, but it’s quick enough not to be noticeable on the trail.
On the descents, the compliance is noticeable but not nearly to the degree I expected. Keep in mind I rode these wheels completely blind. I didn’t even know what they were called when I first threw a leg over them. I knew they said Zipp on them, so I expected a large dose of compliance. I was pleasantly surprised that they toned down the compliance from the 3Zero Motos. While I liked those wheels enough, they felt a little soft for my liking in the corners. The 1Zero HiTops are much more in line with what I personally prefer in a wheel. They still have that snappy feel that I enjoy in a carbon wheel, but they flex enough to offer a lot of traction. I was blown away by how much traction I had. My riding so far has been in dry, dusty condition with a Maxxis Dissector F/Rekon R combo. That’s not necessarily the most grippy setup. I rode some steep, loose, off-camber, rooty, and rocky trails with way more composure than I would have expected from the bike. The bike’s rear suspension certainly does a good job of providing traction, but I have to think the wheels contributed quite a bit here. I especially felt the compliance in off-camber roots and rocks.
I had zero mechanical issues or flats. Time will tell, but for now, they seem solid.
In my short amount of time on the wheels, I’m happy with where Zipp ended up in terms of compliance/stiffness balance. I think they’ve found the sweet spot.