Wil reviews the Zipp 1Zero HiTop wheelset
Brand new for this year, the 1Zero HiTop is the first lightweight XC wheelset to come from Zipp. It follows the 3Zero Moto trail wheelset that was introduced in 2019, and the 101 XPLR gravel wheelset that launched in 2021. Both of those models placed a strong focus on compliance thanks to their distinctive single-wall carbon rim design, and while the new 1Zero HiTop aims to embody a similar ethos, it does so with a different rim design and a much lower weight.
Building a wheelset for modern XC riding
Lightweight XC wheels have traditionally been designed to be very stiff, which kinda goes with the territory when you’re building an uncompromising race bike. As XC courses have gotten rougher and more technical however, bikes and component design have evolved accordingly. Frame geometry is getting longer and slacker, 2.4in wide tyres and dropper posts are becoming more prevalent, and suspension has gotten a lot smoother.
Zipp wanted to build a wheelset to suit this new-school approach, and the result is the 1Zero HiTop.
Compliant carbon rims
Unlike the wheels that came before it, the Zipp 1ZeroHiTop makes use of a more conventional double-wall profile. The single-wall design is great from a strength and compliance perspective, but it’s difficult to make a rim sufficiently lightweight when it’s one big thick piece of carbon. Case in point being the 101 XPLR, which at 1,665g is on the heavy side for a gravel wheelset.
By going double-wall, Zipp was able to use a thinner construction to reduce weight while maintaining an appropriately stiff and strong structure. However, compliance is still a strong theme here. The 1 Zero HiTop rim features a very shallow 21.2mm depth and a proprietary carbon layup that Zipp says has been tuned to provide a smoother ride that passes less feedback on to the rider. The aim of this built-in flex is to allow the wheel to conform to the terrain and allow you to carry more speed through rocky and rooty sections of trail.
Further improving grip and comfort, the 1Zero HiTop rim utilises a 30mm inner width that is ideally suited to the latest crop of 2.35-2.4in wide XC tyres.
Looking deeper at the rim’s hookless beads, you’ll notice a pronounced winged profile. This creates a broad surface area that is less likely to cut through the tyre in the event of a hard rock strike, reducing the chance of a pinch flat.
Zipp 1Zero HiTop price & specs
There are two models available in the Zipp 1Zero HiTop lineup. Prices start at $2,050 AUD for the HiTop S, and go up to $2,950 AUD for the HiTop SW.
Both wheelsets utilise exactly the same carbon rims. However, the pricier HiTop SW model does get waterslide decals that are physically baked into the rim, while the cheaper HiTop S sticks with conventional stick-on decals.
The build is also different between the two models. The HiTop SW wheelset features Sapim CX Ray spokes and Zipp ZM2 SL hubs. In comparison the cheaper HiTop S wheelset gets Sapim CX Sprint spokes and Zipp ZM900 hubs.
Lastly, the HiTop SW includes the new TyreWiz 2.0 widget on both front and rear wheels.
Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW Wheelset
- Use | XC Racing & Trail Riding
- Wheel Size | 29in
- Rim Type | HiTop Carbon
- Rim Width | 30mm Internal, 37.7mm External
- Rim Depth | 21.2mm
- Hubs | Zipp ZM2 SL
- Freehub | 6-Pawl w/66 Engagement Points
- Brake Mount | Centerlock
- Spokes | 24 x Sapim CX-Ray
- Nipples | Sapim Alloy Locking
- Warranty | Lifetime Warranty
- Claimed Weight | 1,325g
- Price | $2,950 AUD
Zipp 1Zero HiTop weight
Our Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW wheelset came in at a confirmed weight of 1,358g. That’s including tubeless tape and the oversized Torque Caps, which may account for the extra grams over the 1,325g claimed weight.
Either way, this is an impressively svelte wheelset. Here’s how it compares to some of the other XC wheels we’ve tested previously;
- Bontrager Kovee RSL – 1,217g
- Roval Control SL – 1,278g
- Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW – 1,358g
- Reserve 28|XC – 1,464g
- Roval Control Carbon – 1,505g
- DT Swiss XRC 1200 – 1,516g
- Reynolds Black Label 309/289 XC – 1,520g
- Giant XCR 1 Carbon – 1,531g
- Crank Brothers Synthesis XCT 11 – 1,575g
- DT Swiss XRC 1501 – 1,583g
- Oquo MP30 Team – 1,616g
In the lead-up to their official launch, I’ve had the Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW wheelset fitted to my Canyon Lux World Cup and the Cervelo ZFS-5 over the past couple of months.
As you’d expect for a modern XC wheelset, the Zipp 1Zero HiTop is only available in a 29in diameter and with Boost hub spacing. The hubs feature a Centerlock rotor interface, and lockrings are included in the box along with regular and oversized Torque Caps.
A SRAM XD freehub body comes fitted as standard, though Zipp offers a Shimano Microspline freehub separately for those running a Shimano 12-speed drivetrain.
The rims come taped from the factory, and tubeless setup proved to be straightforward with the 2.4in wide Maxxis Rekon Race Maxx Speed tyres I chose to run these with.
As mentioned earlier, the HiTop SW wheels come with a TyreWiz fitted front and rear. These second generation digital pressure gauges are said to be more accurate and provide better compatibility with different rim profiles. Paired up the SRAM AXS app, they’ll give you live tyre pressure readings in 0.1psi increments at a claimed accuracy of +/- 2%. You can also configure your ideal pressure range so that the LED will flash red if you’re above or below it, making it easy to tell if you need to add some air before heading out for a ride.
On the trail
Having replaced the stock DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheelset on my Canyon Lux World Cup CFR Team, the Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW immediately made its presence known. With close to a 200g weight advantage, the improvement in acceleration and handling response was considerable.
Pickup from the 6-pawl freehub mechanism is rapid, with just 5.4° of rotation between each engagement point. I’d say the freehub noise is somewhere in the middle of the annoyance spectrum, with the metallic whirr being relatively inoffensive.
The biggest difference in performance however, is just how much smoother the 1Zero HiTop is on the trail. Thanks to those unique low-profile carbon rims, this wheelset offers a high level of damping that makes it ride quietly across rough terrain. There’s less buzz and feedback, improving overall comfort on longer rides. The built-in flex also allows the tyre to maintain better contact with the ground, helping to generate more grip when you have the bike leaned over through rocky and off-camber turns.
It’s a lovely sensation indeed, and one that is particularly welcome on a short-travel and relatively firm XC race bike.
Despite their smooth ride quality, the 1Zero HiTop wheelset remains taut and responsive. Heavier riders may have a different experience to me, but I’ve not encountered any vagueness when landing drops or loading up the wheels into high-speed berms. There’s no spoke-twanging to speak of, which is partly due to the subtly angled hub flanges that provide a more direct path for the spokes on their way to the rim.
Durability & servicing
Thankfully I’m yet to encounter any issues with our Zipp 1Zero HiTop SW test wheelset. On the topic of durability, it’s worth noting that Zipp says they’re designed to be used on trail bikes with up to 130mm of travel. They also come with a generous 130kg weight limit, so they’re not exactly delicate race day-only wheels.
Furthermore, the 1Zero HiTop wheelset is covered by the same lifetime warranty as the rest of the Zipp range. That includes accidental crash damage, which is fantastic. You can get more info on the Zipp warranty here.
A question mark still exists around the ZM2 SL hubs, which are yet to be proven in the mass market. I’ve not had any weird pops from the freehub mechanism, and the steel cartridge bearings are still rolling smooth. It’s all pretty easy to pull apart for cleaning and servicing, and we’re glad to see standard J-bend spokes and external nipples.
Zipp 1Zero HiTop vs Bontrager Kovee RSL
We recently reviewed the Bontrager Kovee RSL wheelset, which is a comparably high-end set of carbon hoops designed for XC racing. The Kovee RSL wheelset is lighter (1,217g vs 1,358g), though also a good deal more expensive ($3,799 AUD vs $2,950 AUD) than the Zipp 1 Zero HiTop SW wheelset.
Specs aside, I was keen to see how the two wheels would compare in the real world. I fitted each wheelset with the same 2.4in Maxxis Rekon Race tyres and a CushCore XC insert in the rear. I set pressures at 17psi on the front and 19psi on the rear, and embarked on some back-to-back testing with the Canyon Lux World Cup.
To me the difference was clear within the first 100m of riding. Across chunky rock gardens and sprawling root mats, the 1Zero HiTop wheelset was noticeably smoother, offering better grip and comfort. It felt more forgiving and did a better job at filtering out corrugations in the trail surface, while also being quieter overall.
In comparison, the Kovee RSL wheelset delivers a touch more accuracy when flip-flopping through sharp corners. It was slightly more responsive underfoot, which I expect comes from a combination of the lower weight and stiffer build.
Both are very good wheelsets, and the diehard weight weenies will no doubt be happy with the outrageously lightweight Kovee RSL. However, factoring in the cheaper price, smoother ride quality and lifetime warranty, it’s the 1Zero HiTop that gets the pick from me.
With its sub-1,400g weight, the Zipp 1Zero HiTop is an impressively lightweight wheelset for XC racing and light-duty trail riding.
The big story here is the low-profile carbon rims, which offer incredible damping and compliance that makes for a smooth ride over rough terrain. Off-camber grip is excellent, and they’re mighty forgiving when you’re pummelling through chunky rock gardens. Out of the lightweight XC wheels we’ve tested, these are the quietest and most comfortable on the trail.
While they’ve remained trouble-free over the couple of months I’ve been riding them, the new hubs will need a lot more time before they can pass the durability test. Even still, given the generous weight limit, lifetime warranty and the fact that these are cheaper than other high-end wheels from Roval, Bontrager and Crank Brothers, there’s already a lot going for the new Zipp 1Zero HiTop wheels.