The late 1980’s saw several manufacturers start up with a focus on producing fast carbon fibre wheels. Zipp was one of those companies, they initialy set about manufacturing disc and three / four spoke wheels. These were used in triathlons, time trials and track racing events, such as the individual pursuit.
Zipp through Time
In 1988, motorsports engineer, Leigh Sargent turned his focus from repairing and designing Indy 500 race cars to producing fast bike wheels. Leigh started Zipp and set about producing their first disc wheel. The rear wheel featured a screw thread for mounting a seven speed ‘block’ in the pre-cassette era. The wheel and came in 4 colour options. Colour choices were a big change from the established manufacturers which, in the main, produced disc wheels with a black carbon finish. From the very begining, Zipp’s aim was to create ‘Speed Weapons’.
Tri Something New
The following year and Zipp were focusing on front wheels and produced the Zipp 3000 Tri Spoke. Just like the Disc wheels launched the previous year, the 3000 was available in a choice of 4 colours. This allowed time trial riders and triathletes to color co-ordinate their bikes like never before. While the Zipp 3000 Tri Spoke was fast, within a year or so, the wheel was dropped. This was because they had come up with a faster option…
During the early 1990’s, they broadened their consumer base hugely when they started producing the 400 and 440 Deep carbon rimmed wheels. As well as being more stable in strong cross winds, the new era of deep section wheelsets were fast and light when compared to their shallow aluminium predecessors. The current range of deep wheels (303’s / 404’s etc) were developed directly from the original zipp 400 / 440 wheelsets. As deep wheelsets became widely allowed in competitive road cycling, the ‘Speed Weaponry’ world of Zipp was open to a much broader audience.
Zipp through the Peleton
The year 2000 was the start of a new era for the brand. They had recently moved into a new dedicated climate-controlled manufacturing facility on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana. Business was going from strength to strength. Their first foray into Professional bike racing came with sponsorship of the top Belgian team, Lotto – Adecco. Fast wheels win races and soon several teams were wanting to form a partnership with Zipp. Their engineers worked closely with the CSC Team, which included superstars such as Fabian Cancellara. This collaboration led to the development of new products – including wheels which would win Paris – Roubaix. In 2007 the brand was bought by Sram.
Zipp Up to Date
Recently, Zipp have provided the wheels for some memorable rides, including those of by Annemiek Van Vleuten of the Netherlands at Olympic and World level. In addition, top American riders, such as Chloe Dygert (above) and Ashton Lambie who was the first 4km pursuit rider under the magical 4 minute barrier. The brand have excelled in all areas of bike racing and proven to be a reliable option for riders. As well as wheelsets, they also produce a wide range of components. These include seatposts, stems, handlebars and aero bars, produced from both aluminium and carbon fibre.