Made in USA: Inside Zipp's Carbon Wheel Testing and Production Facility

Jun 17, 2019
by Daniel Sapp  

Zipp, one of the first names in carbon wheels, is located in Indianapolis, Indiana - "the Crossroads of America." This is about as far as you can get from any mountain bike destination in the US, but if you're into making things from carbon that go fast, you'll be in good company here. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the center of the nation's auto racing cult and the Indy 500 is the largest single-day sporting event in the world.

Zipp was founded in 1988 by a motorsports engineer named Leigh Sargent in Speedway, Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis. The first product? A carbon fiber disc wheel that began racking up victories from day one. Zipp expanded its wheel ranges to include innovative racing components and in 2007, the brand was acquired by SRAM, who relocated the factory just down the road to a new, larger facility.

The Zipp name carries some serious weight in road cycling, especially among elite racers. Now, Zipp has jumped into the mountain bike scene, with their 3Zero Moto wheels, released in April this year. That's big news, so we booked a trip to Indiana to see what's going on there.

Zipp have produced high-end road wheels for decades.

Zipp manufactures its wheels at home, in the United States. When it comes to carbon wheels (or carbon anything), most brands head for Asia, where specialized factories can lay up and mold literally anything one could need to build a bicycle. So, why build wheels in America? Zipp says they want to maintain complete control of the entire process. Most of carbon composite manufacturing is hands-on, so quality control is paramount to ensure that every step of the process is executed correctly and consistently. Also, being able to design, prototype, test, refine, and finally produce a product all in one place limits the margin for error and significantly speeds up the process as well.

That advantage is evident in their new 3Zero Moto wheels, which feature innovative profiles and construction methods that would probably create a retraining and restructuring nightmare with Asian suppliers. Everything about the 3Zero Moto wheels was and still is done, start to finish, in Indianapolis. It all starts with rolls of carbon, and then the cutting, molding, curing, lacing, and truing take place. After that the finished products are boxed and shipped to the consumer, and all that happens in one factory. As interesting as the wheels are themselves, the process may be even more fascinating. There's no doubt that the 3Zero Moto wheel wheels are quite a bit different than anything out there. If you're not familiar with them, check out Mike Kazimer's first look and watch for a full review coming up soon.

There were a lot of things that I could see, some things I couldn't, and plenty of sensitive material I was forbidden to photograph. Entire sections of the facility were closed off in order to protect Zipp's trade secrets from prying eyes, but we were fortunate enough to have seen more than most.

What's interesting about the 3Zero Moto wheel rim is it's a single-wall construction, which took a lot of work to get it to where it is today. It began with tons of prototyping, hundreds of rims tested back to back, and thousands of hours of riding all over the globe. Reportedly, there were times when the team would set up at Windrock in Tennessee with a stock of wheels and the team would spend days doing back-to-back runs.

The Zipp Nest. This is the top-secret lab few have access to where ideas first come to life.

Zipp's master wheel builder, Nic James works alongside the team during those tests and has been continuously involved in the development process from start to finish. Not only does he work with designing and testing new wheels, but he also does all of the builds for Zipp's ambassadors and professional teams on the road. He keeps meticulous logs of everything imaginable with each set of wheels he has built, so he knows what does and doesn't work. Having key players like Nik directly accessible at the factory is yet another advantage of manufacturing at home.

Modern retro: Zipp's first foray into mountain bike wheels. Their single-wall Zero Moto rims have almost nothing in common, other than the fact that they're round.

Test riders would take back to back laps on a number of different wheels, picking one over the other. The gradual selection process weeded out the range of options until the team landed on a balance of stiffness and compliance that was most ideal.

The Zipp test lab. There are machines in here that can test anything and everything having to do with bicycle components in a variety of simulated conditions.

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Ruan Trouw, Zipp's advanced development engineer explains how testing goes down at Zipp. Ruan comes to Zipp and mountain bikes from the aerospace industry and his depth of knowledge about carbon and how to apply it to cycling is mind boggling.

This machine heat tests wheels to temperatures that exceed anything anyone would experience in earthly riding conditions.

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Radial fatigue testing ensures that the system stays strong, which is especially important with a compliant rim.

This machine tests impacts to a wheel. It can be set up to hit at a variety of angles. Sensors measure a multitude of parameters, while an ultra-high-speed camera records everything in real time.

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Everything in the Zipp facility is run in a "supermarket" style. What this means is resources are cycled through production in a first in, first out manner. Everything is also made in very small batches on an "as needed" basis, which keeps their carbon materials fresh as possible, and waste to a minimum. This is where the big part of the build starts, on the carbon cutting table. Sheets of carbon are brought out of refrigeration, laid out, and cut according to which type of wheels are being produced.

Pre-impregnated carbon in two different weaves. The tacky material is ultra pliable at room temperature - it's a textile, after all.

These strips of carbon will eventually make up one wheel.

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All of the layers of carbon have been applied and the rim is ready to be cured in the pressure mold. At this stage, it's still soft and pliable, as the resin hasn't cured. It's also extremely tacky and will stick to anything it touches.

3Zero Moto rims use both uni-directional and woven carbon material. This strip of carbon, pulled from an uncured rim was woven in a pattern similar to a Chinese finger trap.

Viewing the actual machine currently in use for curing the 3Zero rims was strictly off limits, this mold is pretty close to what it looks like.

After coming out of the mold, the rims have some excess resin that must be removed and smoothed by hand.

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Weights are precisely calculated to ensure every step of the process was done correctly.

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This scale is so accurate, it can measure the slightest discrepancies in resin content and make it instantly clear if anything isn't exactly as it should be given a set parameter of tight tolerances. Weights that do not fall within a very narrow range are caught. Every production rim's weight is calculated and logged.

This machine measures discrepancies in any shape irregularities of a rim.

The needle can tell changes that are microscopic. If anything is off on a rim tested, then others from the same batch are tested as well to ensure that there was no error in the production cycle.

After passing yet another inspection, rims are drilled.
Rims are laced up at this station before they are trued.

Truing wheels isn't just eyeballing here. Every single adjustment is recorded by tools that are checked for calibration multiple times a day. If anything is the slightest bit off, it's caught before it leaves the building.

After truing, the spokes are stressed and the rim is deflected to ensure that everything has set up and there's no spoke wind-up. The wheel will be as perfect as it could be when it gets to the rider.

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Labels are tediously applied at this station.

Wheels waiting for a final inspection and to go in the box.

Wheels are packaged and shipped directly from the facility.

The facility also processes SRAM and RockShox warranty issues. This wall of relics is in the suspension rebuild room.

How thorough and complete is the process at Zipp? Throughout the entire process, at each station and with each step, from unrolling the carbon to boxing the wheels, every tension and parameter is documented and recorded and scanned into a database. Therefore, if there's ever any issue with a wheel whether it's on the production floor or a return several years later, the barcode can be scanned and the wheel can be analyzed, down to the individual strips of carbon.

This allows the team at Zipp to pinpoint, with complete accuracy, any change or issue that may have impacted that wheel, a certain time period of production, or certain material used in production.

Well, there you have it. That's as close of a look at the inside of the Zipp facility as you can get without possessing credentials that only select employees have.


  • 77 3
 Can we look at Enve's factory now for comparison? Lol
  • 16 4
 It would be interesting to have this compared to the production of Mavic, Ryde or DT aluminium extruded rims. Just to have a comparison of how much work goes into the production of those. Lots of people on here seems to be complaining about the price of carbon wheels. See, the price is hugely influenced by the amount of work and development that goes into it. Much more than the actual improvement in "performance" (whichever way that may be defined). Whether it is worth the effort/materials/time etc is up to them to decide, but they need to charge for what they put in. As with all "top level" stuff, the improvement is only slight (if even there) compared to the considerably cheaper stuff. It goes for everything really. Carbon frame vs aluminium frame, Shimano XTR vs Shimano XT drivetrain.

So yeah as far as rims goes, I'm perfectly fine with a good aluminium rim. But if some top athlete decides the added expensive of a carbon rim is worth it (and relatively low compared to the costs of racing all over the world) I'm not going to argue.

Even though I'm not really interested in the design and production process of Enve, the one thing I'm really curious about is: how do they do their quality control?
  • 3 0
 QC stations have to be better here. There sure are enough of them!
  • 4 0
 @vinay: With their eyes closed.
  • 1 0
 I think the Santa Cruz Syndicate has a tour through their factory on their channel.
  • 9 2
 I've toured ENVEs older plant and as much as it pains me to say as a user of their wheels, it definitely wasn't as impressive as this.
  • 2 1
 Have you sent a set to Danny McAskill?
  • 47 2
 Reading this while running a CMM I feel obligated to correct a few things. The "needle" is called a stylus and is a precisely machined ruby sphere. That type of probe is a "touch trigger" meaning it deflects and records a hit a a calibrated amount of force in any direction. When it triggers the machine records its location and movement vector which allows for it to correct for the radius of the ball and calculate the actual hit point. While these machines may have a standard deviation of .0002" or less (mine is currently running at .00005 with a 50mm stylus which is pretty good), they cannot really measure anything "microscopic". Ideally the they should be accurate and repeatable down to 10% of the tolerance for what you are trying to measure. So if your machine is repeatable to .0002" then the smallest tolerance you should measure is .002", which is hardly microscopic.

Pedantry managed!
  • 2 0
 Haha yeah as a former machinist the terminology in these manufacturing articles can definitely be flawed... does that probe, stylus, even have a ruby though? It doesn't appear so in that pic unless the ruby is really small. Also with all that high tech machinery they have I couldn't help but laugh at the Sawzall trim jig they have set up... it is ingenious but still funny!
  • 2 0
 Yes it does have a ruby. Renishaw is based here in the UK, I have been to their factory many years ago wheee they make those probes. @millsr4:
  • 2 0
 @m4tth3w: I wasn't doubting that the probe came with a ruby on it, rather I was implying that this particular stylus was broken and the ruby was missing. The ruby diameters are usually the same or bigger than the shaft they are mounted to and it looks to be missing in that pic.
  • 2 0
 @millsr4: you can get those with synthetic rubies or silicone nitride tips. They silicone nitride might not show well in the photo if the stylus is small. They likely are running something small enough to measure the radius where the bead hits the wall
  • 2 0
 Some of the parts I work with are scanned by an old West-Germany made Zeiss that is apparently more mechanically accurate than most modern cmm's due to its lack of computer mapping compensation. It's good to the tenth of a micron, absolutely insane!
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: there are styluses (is that the plural? lol) that are made from carbide and they don't have a ruby on the tip. could be one of those...
  • 37 1
 * Enve executive throws coffee on computer *
  • 2 1
 SRAM marketing suits have sore backs after another successful advertorial.
  • 15 4
 "Labels are tediously applied at this station."

  • 22 3
 I'm fairly sure it's tedious work.
  • 9 2
 I know these are available as rims only, but it would pretty sweet if it had better hub choices as a full build kit. $2000 for something that doesn't have I9 Hydra, DT240, CK, Onyx, P321, etc. is kind of a hard pill to swallow.
  • 3 0
 Yes, 4 pawl hubs are a disaster waiting to happen. Only having two engagements at a time is a great way to destroy pawls.
  • 8 0
 @danielsapp, did you visit Brown County State Park while you were in town? Easily one of the best midwestern mtb destinations.
  • 5 0
 Ya, back in the 90's I was a did some collegiate MTB racing (XC), and did a couple races in Indiana. I remember the riding was surprisingly good. All in all, I think the mid-west gets a bad rap for mountain biking. I've never been disappointed there - they have tons of forest and it's basically ALL singletrack, with hardly a fire road climb in sight.
  • 3 0
 Yea, I don't think "This is about as far as you can get from any mountain bike destination in the US . .. " was a completely fair statement although I get the effect that was intended. There are some pretty amazing trail networks within a 200 mile radius.
  • 2 0
 Yeah was just gonna say... BROWN COUNTY STATE PARK!! I'm heading down there the first weekend it's not raining lol.
  • 1 0
 @ZebraJacket99: Agreed. I live in a coastal MTB destination (San Luis Obispo) and just came back from a business trip in Minneapolis. I had a GREAT time on their local "midwest" trails. Totally different and totally fun.
  • 4 0
 Not this trip but I have before. Great riding amidst the cornfields and corn liquor.
  • 1 0
 Kickapoo right across the border in Illinois & Griffin down in Terre Haute. This area is shaping up!
  • 1 0
 @laksboy: Yea so many hidden gems that are just now starting to get some much deserved attention.
  • 4 0
 I love all the high tech. machines and tooling, then they use a hand drill tie wrapped to a home made jig for deburring.
What ever works and does the job properly.

And you can still find carbon parts with no serial/part numbers, ya I think we sold them to Intense but I'm not sure.

Zipp are cradle to grave, with proper processes in place to insure quality, Being a Luddite even I might consider using their wheels, but probably not, since they will be 5 times the price and not 5 times as good as aluminum.
  • 1 0
 To be fair, that "homemade jig" has numerous custom-machined parts (e.g. the latching mechanism that clamps over the rim). 99% of people could never make that at home.
  • 4 0
 They sound like awesome rims. But why is the 29” x 30mm Inside width Aluminum Arc30 about 30grams lighter than the Zipp moto3 CF rim at the sane internal width? Is the performance so amazing that i will want to pay that much more $$ for a heavier rim?
  • 6 0
 From experience its down to system weight and pressure compromises.

I used to run a rear insert and higher PSI to protect from flats. Since getting these wheels I've ditched the insert & dropped 5 psi so running a reduced overall weight and noticeable increase in grip.

Got just over 80k ft of descending on them now with 1 flat (sidewall rip - nothing stopping that).

I also reckon that inserts increase the likelihood of treadface punctures but thats another story! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @moominator: Great comment thanks. Lets see, I am 230lb. I ride hard over Socal rocky terrain. I use ARC 30 aluminum rims and can't destroy them after 3 years. No inserts ever, but always use good tires with decent sidewalls. and depending on tire down to 22psi tubless no inserts. I never flat, like never ever
  • 6 0
 No maketing jargon . Plenty of precise quality control. I have a new found respect for Zipp wheels.
  • 10 8
 More companies need to make more of their carbon frames, wheels, etc in the U.S. It would take brands like Santa Cruz, Trek, and Cannondale to a new level. Nowadays everything is made overseas, but our bikes don't need to be. if I see an American made component like I9, you'll bet that Ill pick it over some other foreign manufactured product.
  • 35 2
 it would also take them to a new price point!
  • 19 4
 That's easier said than done though. The reason most bikes and components get manufactured in Taiwan is not only because it's cheaper, but also because of their expertise which they have built up over decades. It's hardly a third world country where high end bikes get put together in sweat shops. It's advanced manufacturing. Yes you have brands like Hope, Alchemy, Orange, I9 etc that build in their respective locations, but these are always high end, lower volume products. Besides, US made doesn't always mean better (ENVE wheels anyone?) and I much prefer a German engineered car over a US gas guzzler. OK, maybe not a diesel...
  • 23 1
 But the expertise is in Taiwan.

The idea that something being made in China/Taiwan automatically means it is an inferior product has long gone and basically pure nationalism. Yes you have to keep an eye on the QA (who doesn't? Looking at you ENVE. Looking at you Orange with your welding) but while you can make shit really cheap there, you can also get really really nice stuff made there if you pay for it.
  • 12 5
 If you think $9000 bikes made in Asia are bad enough, add 50% to that price if made in the USA.

I like US made stuff as much as the next guy, but it commands an increased price premium. One that PB commenters are more than willing to bitch about. And one I'm very hesitant to pay.
  • 10 2
 @Almazing: Not to mention that the increase of price does not necessarily even mean an increase in quality at all, let alone a proportionate increase.
  • 15 4
 Guerrilla Gravity is doing it! Domestic manufacturing is possible! We are One composites too. I know next to nothing about the complexities of carbon fiber manufacturing or the politics of the industry. But it is possible to do in North America. Their prices aren’t outrageous, and they are helping eliminate the massive expense of transporting materials all over the world. Keep it “local”! @vp27:
  • 18 2
 That's just chauvinism. Don't assume just because it's made in the USA it's automatically gonna be of higher quality.
  • 5 0
 @chileconqueso: You're absolutely right. But GG is a small company. And their frames are made to order. You're looking at lead times of 2 or more months. For a small company that churns out only a handful of frames per day, it can be sustainable. They don't have plans to expand their operation. Their customers are also more or less patient with the wait.

Now for a huge company like say, Trek or SC, they'll have to build huge facilities to build carbon frames in. Which costs hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars and more. Ideally, they'd like to keep their production numbers and ship dates the same as if their frames were still made in Asia. Also, they'd need to hire employees who probably need to be trained in proper carbon assembly and construction. Not too many people in the USA have that expertise or experience. Not everything goes according to plan. Ever. So if they(big companies) ever venture out to try to make frames in the US, they'll come across setbacks that can negatively affect their reputation.

This is all speculation by the way. The gist of it is, big bike manufacturers are a business. As a business, profits and numbers are number one. It's not profitable, nor expedient to make certain products domestically.
  • 5 2
 @chileconqueso: Comparing a company like GG to Trek, Santa Cruz etc is like comparing your local artisan bakery to Warburtons.
  • 10 2
 When the money circulation stays more local you have a bigger chance of some of that money coming back to you. This is an economic fact. Second, it avoids transportation via container ships which are killing our oceans, amongst other things. Sometimes its not about "build quality" but "impact quality".
  • 8 0
 @Boardlife69: These are the best arguments for it and ones that I totally agree with. I just think the quality argument is a very weak one nowadays.
  • 5 5
 @Boardlife69: The USA is a global economy. Money doesn't just 'circulate back to you' because you bought a domestic product. The money you spend on a local artisan or Wal-Mart moves around just the same. Taxes are paid, suppliers are paid, transportation fees are paid. Somewhere along the line, it's all lost in the madness of the economy.

Second, big bike manufacturers aren't chartering huge ocean liners for themselves. They're 'sharing' cargo ships with the entire global industry. Could be anything from clothing, to cars, to heavy machinery, etc.
  • 5 2
 @Almazing: I said "bigger chance". I didnt say it will automatically come back to you. If I hire the local artisian to make something for me, he is more likely to come to my resturant whereas some guy in China will not. Yes the rest of the money will be circulated to wherever. And the less "sharing" of cargo ships the better. Every. Gram. Matters.
  • 3 0
 @Almazing: FYI Trek does not build anything except a few small parts these days. Everything is outsourced.
  • 4 1
 @Denning76: Not really, GG is tiny, their frames should be more expensive than Trek.Spec. due to economies of scale, anything GG is doing, the big guys should be able to do faster, better and cheaper. Trek and Spec and also high end products like GG, so to say they're "supermarket quality" while GG is an artisinal bakery is also false.

If the expertise in carbon is in Taiwan, GG doesn't have the money to bring that expertise here, the big guys do. I also don't buy this argument, as Trek makes their high end frames here, they have no reason to make anything here, they're already known as a Taiwan brand, but they keep production of their top tier bikes Stateside. Same goes for Race Face, their Next cranks are made in Canada, cost the same as XO, an RF is another company known for Chinese and Taiwanese production choosing to build their top of the line carbon in Canada. The expertise exists everywhere.

There are quite a few components made in the 1st world that compete on price with those made in Asia. I prefer to buy American, but really, anywhere I can be reasonably sure labor practices aren't abusive and environmental regulations are being followed is fine by me. My current bike build has lots of US, UK, EU and Japanese manufactured parts, all were the same price, or less than equivalent Chinese/Taiwanese made parts.
  • 11 0
 As the owner of a US custom industrial company, I'll say that one of the biggest challenges we and others face is finding employees who will do the work and maintain the high quality standards we require. A good employee is like gold and then there are still typically problems.
  • 6 0
 @delamar: And maybe part of that is:
1) Wages- a lot of manufacturing jobs just don't pay a good wage anymore. Those that do are hard to find. Of course the other issue is benefits - I know so many manufacturing jobs that think 1-Week to start for vacation is satisfactory. If more companies offered more time off, I think they could push employees harder. Unpaid month off? Hell yea I'll work overtime.
2) Specialized skills that are hard to find education for - I know my local small town doesn't offer any machinist related certificates. I'd need to go get a Mech Eng Tech Bachelors in order to learn CAD/CAM/3D prototyping. Without that background no local machinist will hire me. Messing around on my little 3D printer isn't enough. To make matter worse, all the VoTech schools that offer Industrial Tech or Machinist courses do so during the work day - which means your highly educated folks who might want to switch careers really cant. All of our educational system is based around "right out of highschool" but sadly most kids that age don't make the best employees - it's the people working white collar jobs bored out of their minds that make quality employees.

I think for many of us, not a day goes by when we don't think we should have attended college for something different, but for many of us, we can't give up a good salary, good benefits, and years of experience in one industry on the off chance a career switch to industrial manufacturing will be rewarding.
  • 2 4
 And the MAGA Hats are made in the USA?
  • 1 0
 @Denning76: exactly! way better....
  • 2 2
 @Almazing: Just because the USA is a global economy doesn't mean all the money you spend instantly get shipped all over the globe lol!!!! yes taxes are payed (to the US gov not a foreign one) then if the the suppliers are american (more money at home) the transportation is from US plant to US plant and even more money stays at home again for american truck drivers. to say that no money comes back around because the US is a global economy is the dumbest thing I've heard. If you support locals they have money to support you. Also shopping at a local bakery and a giant company like walmart are two different things.
  • 1 0
 @nismo325: You're making the assumption that the suppliers and transportation companies are American. They may or may not be domestic. I never said that the money doesn't circulate back to your local economy or back to the USA. You're putting your own twist on my statement in order to try to make your own point. Read with the purpose to comprehend. My point is that it's not easy to track where your money flows BECAUSE it's a global economy. Everyone gets a piece of the pie, domestic or foreign.
  • 1 0
 @chileconqueso: OK, but you're just confirming what I said. These are not mass producers. I love buying local kit, especially when it's top quality at OK prices. I just don't agree that we should be negative about overseas manufacturing when they manage to mass produce a quality product at a good price. Especially when this is the result of years of investment.
  • 1 1
 @PHeller: Excellent points, I agree. I got a bachelor's in a field I never worked in, had a great (salary, benefits) white collar job for several years and found it very unsatisfying. Luckily I was able to take on greater hands on roles and learn the skills needed for when I bought this biz. Now I work way harder than ever before for less money (for now) but the work is very satisfying.

Our target employee is a person 40+ who knows what work is, can leave the phone alone, and values the job. We as a country are doing a disservice to many young people by pushing them toward 4 year degrees as a matter of course and it is good to see renewed interest in trade education. I personally wish I could have gotten trade education instead of a bachelors degree.

In our area manual machinists can write their own ticket, programming skills alone produce a capability gap. See if you can find an old timer tool and die maker to apprentice with at night.
  • 4 0
 @delamar: Cool story, bro. (Seriously lol) That's kind of my goal. I hope to earn and learn enough in my more laid back corporate job so that someday, when my kid and wife are less dependent on me I can switch things up. For now, it's a good solid stable paycheck that puts food on the table and keeps the wife happy (and also buys sweet bikes that I can ride on my lunch break!)

The point remains - it's hard for us Americans to make career switches. We struggled with the manfacturing-to-tech transition of the 80's and 90's, and now we're struggling with it in the White Collar Bachelors-to-Passionate Builders. I wish our economy had more flexibility, but healthcare (being tied to employment) and the cost of education don't make it easy.
  • 3 1
 @delamar: "Our target employee is a person 40+ who knows what work is, can leave the phone alone, and values the job"

ok... fair enough
My questions to that statement would be:
is this ideal employee being given the paid and unpaid leave and vacation he/she needs to live a life? (parental leave; paid sick leave; sabbatical; whatever)
Are they being given the psychological care that's needed, when/if it's needed?
Is he or she secure in the fact that if that job goes away or they were to become ill, that they'd still be getting paid at least a good chunk of their wage?
More to the point: is this employee that should not look at their phone, even though their family member is sick or dying, or perhaps has a whale of a pregnant wife who is overwhelmed, still be able to focus solely on valuing the job that they've so courteously been "given?"
Maybe you and your company are different... I've no way to tell. The point is simply, that even on the best of days that "40+ person" has a great deal of concerns and needs.

From my experience as a former employee of mostly fair and respectful companies and as an ex-North American I would say that even while working for the best employer I ever worked for, the answer is simply no.
  • 3 0
 @ssteve: It certainly is an issue. Even the best American employers would balk at the allowances, benefits, and work-life balance European companies provide. In America, its as though the only way you achieve a good work-life balance is to either A) own your own company B) have incredibly in demand skills (Doctor, Lawyer, Programmer/Developer). Where as in Germany, for example, a lowly old janitor gets a few weeks of vacations, paternity leave, health benefits, etc.

It seems to me that's how you would rebuild American manufacturing, make those workplaces attractive places to work for the best and brightest.
  • 1 0
 @Denning76: it’s such a true statement. We get out iPhones, TV and other highly complex products from there yet the need to make them here. Doesn’t make sense other than pride but then we be bitching about cost
  • 1 0
 On point comment. @Almazing:
  • 1 1
 @ssteve: I get your point, and correct, the answer is no. The reason we would prefer 40+ is exactly because of the responsibilities they have which you cite.

We do pay higher than average and are fair and flexible with hours as needed but do expect quality and attentiveness on the job in return. We are a small company and of course phone use would be permitted if something is going on they need to be attentive to but that doesn’t include casual texting, social media monitoring, and definitely not earbuds. The risk to safety, parts, and equipment makes it unacceptable.

Regarding those benefits, my father didn’t get those in his decades in the military, PhD mom doesn’t in her public service job with the state, wife doesn’t as a public school teacher, I didn’t for the feds or in the private sector. Would be nice though..
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: Stop calling the janitor 'lowly' - when we think down on one another, that type of narrative only keeps proper benefits out of the hands of all of US labor.
  • 7 6
 The only carbon rim that I could consider having. Low profile with thick walls promising impact resistance.

Can anyone from Zipp say how are they working with high pressures if I wanted to install procore? Are nipples alloy or brass?
  • 2 2
 Why would ProCore be an issue? As they now have a thicker layer of material holding both sides together (as opposed to a hollow aluminium rim where it is only the rim bed doing that) I expect it should hold up just fine. I'm just not sure whether they're fine with drilling a second valve hole if (like me) you're fed up with the valve of the 20 euro tube clogging up. Same goes with the tension of the spokes. It is supported by a thicker wall than you'd have in a hollow chamber rim, so it may actually do a better job at dealing with the out of plane loads that spokes dish out.

That said, yeah out of all carbon rims, these also make most sense to me. I love to be late to the party though so I might only get a third or fourth generation when they've made them better and cheaper.
  • 5 4
 @vinay: because if weaving layup is done in a way that it won’t support 5-6bar then you know what will happen Smile it is not uncommon for fresh carbon road hoops to go bang
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Yeah, we obviously need their approval on this because indeed the construction could be such that it may be strong but not in the required direction. My rough guess (not even up to armchair engineering level) is that because they brought it down to one thick layer of composite instead of hollow chamber design of aluminium rims (or carbon rims trying to mimic those) as a consequence of still having some out of bending and torsion strength and stiffness, it is also strong enough for ProCore.

See, I think there are three failure modes because of ProCore.
1. The high pressure of the ProCore tube rips the center channel apart.
2. The high pressure of the ProCore tube presses down too hard down onto the center channel.
3. The high pressure of the ProCore tube the rim together and reduces the spoke tension so much that you'd need unacceptable preload on the spokes.

1. I haven't seen this but I suppose it only goes for the lightest/weakest of rims. A 1" high tube at 6bar would push as hard as a a 2" high tire would at 3bar. Sure Stans rims aren't rated that high so they'd probably fail but I expect most other rims to do just fine. After all, even though no one would do it, the tire sidewall says you often can go up to 4bar or so so I'd expect a generic rim should be able to deal with that too.

2. As mentioned, it may be an issue but as they went with a rim this low, they should have designed it to withstand radial loads like impact too in a more compact rim so it probably keeps up.

3. The rim is more flexible (than the conventional designs) so spoke tension varies a lot more too as you ride, absorb hits etc. The ProCore tube may actually cancel out some of that variation because unlike spokes, the pressure it applies to the rim bead doesn't vary as the rim deforms.

That said, weaves can do funny things when loaded so of course it would be best to know what pressures are allowed. And of course whether they allow you to drill a second valve hole.
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 @vinay: you don't need a second valve hole with the new procore valves
  • 1 3
 @vinay: you are overthinking it. In some rare situations, tire inflated to high pressures blows the flanges off the rim. When I was buying rims for my dirt bike I asked Mavic, DT, Halo and Spank whether it is fine to inflate tires to 4-4.5 bar. Both Mavic and DT said no and to follow their guidelines. Spank and Halo said no probs. The issue with procore is that it is known for making dt swiss exlode after denting impact
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I've got Syntace W35 wheels. Rims look like Ryde Trace 29 (29mm internal) rims, not sure if they're exactly the same though. They came with a label that said "ProCore ready" (ProCore is from Schwalbe and Syntace) so that's what I installed. I typically inflate the tube up to 6bar (why not) and it holds up just fine.

@cravks: Yeah the regular 20 euro tube has some complex valve that when it clogs up is impossible to clean out. That is, I don't have a clue how to do that. So now I'm using a Pepi valve for the tyre and use a 1" tube with its own valve. The Pepi valve is tall enough to hold the air guide in place. First ghetto approach was to drill holes in the sides of a regular tubeless valve (through the rubber bit near the end) but it sealed soon enough so I soon enough went with the Pepi valve instead. As my rims are ProCore ready they already had the second valve hole drilled (4 spokes away from the first valve, covered with a black sticker) but as far as I know, all aluminium rims can have a second valve hole. I'd stick with the four spoke step and not more as you don't want to extend the area where you can't push the tire bead into the center channel. That would make tire installation/removal more difficult and would require the use of tire levers etc. Right now I'm only using two valves in the front wheel. The rear wheel still has the ProCore tube with a single valve. If it clogs up, I'll install a Pepi valve and a regular tube there too.
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 @vinay: I inflate Procore to 5bar because my DT EX471 is has no procore ready sticker Smile . Syntace were the official Guinnea Pigs for Schwalbe when developing procore so they surely did their homework. I wouldn’t trust Ryder rims for anything though. Too many reports of them being a nightmare to put the tire on and then being soft and easy to dent.
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 @WAKIdesigns: Syntace and Schwalbe developed ProCore independently, then later realized they were onto the same thing and then moved on together. The first experiments were with two valves, they only later developed that single nightmare valve. So I think the ProCore ready label only meant that they already drilled the second hole and that it is up to the pressure. It may not be a Ryde rim but the profile of the Syntace W35 looks very similar to that of the Ryde Trace. No experience with those though. I've only used their rims for commuter use. Aluminium Ryde and Rigida rims and steel Van Schothorst rims. So many names for that same brand! They've all held up fine though of course it wasn't mountainbike use. As for how hard it is to put on tires, I'm baffled by how poor tire installation technique some people have. Push the tire bead into the center channel, drag all "play" towards the valve and lift that end over the flange. Though I do admit I've started to use tire levers now too for the blue inner tire. When covered in sealant, it is hard to grip and drag it over the flange. But no reason to blame that on the rim. That said, being from The Netherlands I'm getting away with running the tires that you despise because they won't hold up where you're riding. Currently running Nobby Nic 26x2.35 in the rear and Conti Trail King 26x2.4 in the front.
  • 2 1
 @vinay: I am now an expert on installing procore and tires... just got one in with a fresh Maxxis Double Down. I know my sht Smile my source on Ryder rims is profficient as well.
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 Nipples on the complete wheels are Sapim alloy secure locks. (Sapim D-Light spokes).

Don't know about the procore - but i believe the design concept is to remove the requirement for inserts / DH tyres etc?

I've been running a set for a couple of months at low pressures and have been seriously impressed.
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 @WAKIdesigns: Installing ProCore never got me trouble. Before you inflate the tire, inflate the tube to 3bar. Only then inflate the tire. It seals instantly (unless the tire is already punctured, obviously). I helped my neighbor install regular tubeless, which was a first for me. It wasn't an endless nightmare by any means, but it takes a minute of pumping or so before both beads pop and it actually holds air. Until then it spills sealant so eventually you don't really know how much is actually in there. The only thing that bothered me is the expensive tube with the complex valve. I much prefer my current setup with two valves. For people who already have their rim tape, sealant, tire levers and all that, it is probably even much cheaper to just get the ProCore blue tire and airguide and just get a regular 1" wide tube and Pepi/CushCore/whateverinsertishotnow valve and use this setup. You just need to drill a second valve hole which may only be an issue with some carbon rims.

Now I'm curious whether these Syntace W35 are actually Ryde Trace rims. The complete wheelset does use Sapim spokes and Sapim owns Ryde so I wouldn't be surprised if it is the same thing. I think Syntace did have a vision about what a rim was supposed to be like but needed a supplier to make that happen. They don't produce their own stuff as far as I know.

I don't question your sources nor your proficiency on installing tires. You may have noticed my tires have much thinner sidewalls than what you are using, so obviously that helps. That said, I also never met someone who had trouble removing a cassette using a chain whip. The a year ago I read a review here about an alternative for a chain whip (a catalog product like Decathlon has been offering for a good while before that) which was great because the PB reviewer always ended up with bloody knuckles when taking off a cassette. And I don't question their experience in taking cassettes on and off either. Sometimes stuff is hard. I won't judge.
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 @vinay: the problem is to get the other side of the DH tire into the rim with slim groove (like EX471) after you installed the procore because one bead of the tire and the both beads of procore occupy the whole groove so there is no more room for the other bead of the tyre. Basicaly once you got the procore in, you have to inflate it to 4-5bar so that it pushes the tire bead out of the groove and against to the rim wall. In this way you also get one side of procore out. Then you deflate the procore, push it’s visible side to the inside of the groove and only now you can start installing the tyre, since only now it has place to get into the groove. And if it’s as fresh as mine you better use some soapy water. Forget about installing a fresh, unstretched DH tire without bead sitting inside the groove.
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 @wakidesigns - Zipp’s take on Procore is: “Pro core is not approved on MOTO, we have not done the Proper testing and will consider testing the system officially if we feel there is a strong enough demand.”

Cushcore is not recommended but it’s fine if people use it on the Moto wheels.
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 @WAKIdesigns: Yeah, actually that's what I do too though don't go over 3bar initially. I do this to make sure that the tube is completely inside the blue tire and not somewhere still under the bead (so that it could blow). So maybe that's what helped me. Though the W35 is slightly wider than the EX471 so maybe the center channel is already wider too. If I'd buy new rims, I'd probably get something from Spank though. They have two center channels so that makes it a bit less cramped, even around the valves. I've got no experience with their rims but I expect them to be fine. They're affordable, available in 26" and they even do pretty colors. I may even get them foam filled (Vibrocore) just to be up to date with the latest tech too for once. Jay!

@danielsapp : Thanks for figuring that out for us!
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 @WAKIdesigns: That's a great tip on Procore installation. And why I switched to Cushcore on all my wheels except for one. Any similar tips for removal when the sealant has glued the outside of the procore to the inside of your tire? (and you can't get a tire lever under both beads?)

Coincidentally the sole Procore I have is nestled inside a hollowed out Cushcore insert. Giving better sidewall support to the Procore while adding the rock solid bead-lock attributes of the Procore along with tunability that Procore provides to "tire bottom-out."
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 @danielsapp: Thanks. I know that thousands of people run carbon rims with tyres inflated to 80 psi. We call them roadies. Then some very few people run carbon rims with 20" and 26" fatter tyres inflated to at least 50psi, usually pro BMXers and slopestylers. procore is nowhere different to a 32-35c road tyre. So there are many people for whom it works. Howevr, cashing out on carbon hoops only to see them explode before the first time you ride them is as French call it: "Une bummeur"

@laksboy yes it has glued to the inside of the tyre once, but it wasn't that hard to pull it off of it. The biggest problem for me is sealing the valve and I don't know what it is but I think they screwed up the shape of it's base. I tried 2 different procore sets on 2 different rims and each case required extra shenneningans to seal it against the rim. I now run an extra gorrilla tape patch on top of the base tape, around the valve hole. Then I use an old, fat ring from Shimano UST valve, to pull the valve hard against the tape/ rim from the inside. Then unlike insides of tyres, I find procore to be a real pain in the arse to clean from old sealant. Normally I use a cut out bit of an old Slow Reezay Highroller and it peels off the old sealant in a matter of two strokes. Takes no more than 3 minutes to perfectly clean the inside of the tire from old sealant. Not with procore though. It works more like spreading diarrhea on inflatable swimming pool.

@vinay - for that particular reason, having room for both procore and a tyre with fatter casing I am pretty sure, Spanks wavy center will actually be worse. Companies should simply make a wider and deeper grooves to ease the installation, especially in wheelsets that will likely "wear" DH tyres.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. My blue procore "tire" covered in unremovable stans boogers. Except on the silver "schwalbe" lettering. I hate the valve. It permanently plugs and it's too short for deeper sectioned carbon rims.
  • 1 0
 @laksboy: I still love it. The feel in rough corners at speed and the rear tyre gently cushioning on the procore -Oh Ghawd... enticed to try the Cushcore though
  • 2 0
 You should. And it's easier to install/remove than procore especially once you understand and utilize the "trashcan" method.
  • 1 0
 @laksboy: I'm actually considering Tannus. Seems really convenient to use. Only downside I see compared to ProCore is that there is no way to make the tire "chamber" softer or harder. Not sure how much being able to play with the tube pressure makes up for that. And I don't know whether and how quickly the foam wears (cracks, stiffens etc). As there is no sealant it doesn't seal punctures in the tire but then again when something penetrates deep enough to puncture the tube, you can always swap out the tube and patch it at home. Just like I used to. But I want to build a spare wheelset and install it in there. At least there is no sealant to age. The neighbor I helped install his tubeless tires the other day actually has some pool noodle variation in there. Not sure how different all those are, this one is from Barbierri. Fifteen pounds for a pair including valves. No reason not to give it a shot. He seems happy with it.
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 @vinay: procore has its big cons aside of puncture protection that only DeanEasy can match and only to some degree. That is damping hits and burping protection. DeanEasy doesn’t protect against burping though. Both are better at damping than Cushcore. Tannus seems silly to me. It will not be that hard to puncture that inner tube. You may as well buy a regular noodle for less money.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: DeanEasy Tube Plus is a bit like ProCore but without the blue tire. Which makes me worried about what material that tube is made out of. Can it be patched if it punctures? It also seems like more hassle for that second valve. Why not just drill a second valve hole?

Tannus seems convenient, I don't quite get why it would be easier to puncture than ProCore. I once got a nail (probably from a boardwalk section) through both tire and tube. The tire sealed, the tube obviously didn't and deflated. That also made me realize how much pressure you need with regular tubeless to get some stability. Because that's obviously how I needed to finish my ride. Either way, that nail could have punctured a tube inside the Tannus system too but it is a matter of minutes to swap a tube (which is just a regular tube). And a few minutes at home (or during a picknick) to patch the old one. I'm curious to read from someone who has ridden with the system. Either way, I think ProCore is still the best system for what I need. But Tannus sounds like a good idea for when I just don't want the complexity and mess of tubeless and hard to find spares. Like when on a trip or for a spare wheel. I currently don't quite see the advantage for me in the other systems (HuckNorris, MrWolff, Pepi, CushCore, regular tubeless...). And of course people who run a rim that's incompatible, they can't get ProCore either. Though with the alternatives on offer, I'd just choose a compatible rim.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: DeanEasy is a tubular tire punctured through with a fancy valve that allows for inflating both itself and the tire it sits inside of.Thickness and hardness makes it hard to puncture and becomes a good base for damping hits, but unlike procore it won't push against the walls of a tire with a wider rim involved because as it will not expand much.
  • 1 0
 The Zipp Moto is a cool product. Might take some time to shake out if there is any actual benefit to this design and it's the way forward or not. For what Enve charges, they should have been at the forefront of new CF wheel ideas. That company seems to have became awfully stale as of late.
  • 1 0
 wonder how the rim edge are smoothed out - just polishing video or a clear coat added ?
my roval carbon wheels are getting rough and cutting into the tires sidewalls causing early leaks before the thread wears off... I wasn't sure if I should buff them back, or apply a very thin epoxy to make them smooth again and hide the fiber that cuts right trough tires... I used flexible epoxy for plastic bonding, but eventually comes off after dozen of rides...
  • 3 0
 It's exactly how you see in the video. No clear coat. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say if you're having trouble with fibers cutting your tires it may be time to stop riding the wheel/wheels in question. Something's not right there.
  • 1 0
 Zipp must be ISO certified. Surprised there was no mention of that, most companies flaunt it like a marketing term. I guess we could call it being humble, less they decided there was no need and skipped the certification?

What I'm really curious about are the jigs they aren't showing us. I find it really hard to believe those test methods are their 'core' tools for product development. Bench marking, sure...but that's not nearly as fun as setting the bar.
  • 1 0
 I'd love to see what size these brands value the aftermarket carbon wheel market at in MTB. I literally know nobody to ever buy a set, outside of XC. Yet every brand and their dog is releasing carbon MTB wheels.
  • 1 1
 I think it would be very interesting and maybe even surprising for us to see actual laboratory comparisons of modern double-walled aluminium rims and carbon double- and single-walled rims. Also, some proper statistics on reasoning of frequent ENVE rims failures. I mean thinks like lacing patterns and tension values, radial and torsional stiffness, ...

Why is radial compliance on wagon wheels suddenly wanted when we've been being told that wagons roll so much better over surface irregularities and obstacles? To be able to have lower lacing tension?
  • 3 0
 Look another mag 20. Im not alone
  • 2 0
 Well... sure looks like you get what you pay for.
  • 3 0
  • 2 0
 Easily one of the coolest forks RS ever made.
  • 1 0
 Oh man you guys beat me to it
  • 3 1
 ENVE employees are furiously taking notes.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for doing this piece @danielsapp. This single wall idea is intriguing.
  • 2 0
 The only testing we like to see is the Danny Mcaskill way!
  • 1 0
 I didn't know Maxxis still made the Crossmark. That was my go to XC tire for a long time.
  • 1 0
 It looks like they drill their spoke holes? I thought that weakened the hole and fibers allowing earlier failures.
  • 1 0
 I came to see rims being destroyed. 2/10. No rims were destroyed but that one did jiggle some.
  • 2 0
 Where is Paul Aston? We need him back to test these wheels for us... :-)
  • 2 1
 Curious to know how they dispose of the carbon off-cuts?
  • 1 0
 Usually recycled and used in asphalt.
  • 1 0
 In a product like that you will have very little offcuts due to the relatively small patches. This is more of an issue with large panels like in the automotive sector
  • 1 1
 @Flowcheckers: really, I'm surprised seeing as Specialized and others who produce frames etc overseas seem happy for it to go to ocean fill as the technology and costs to recycle is too expensive.
  • 1 0
 @SleepingAwake: but volume would suggest over various production cycles that waste would be significant, Taiwan and China, who Specialized and others use for frame production, seem happy with ocean fill, would be interesting to know how Zipp deal with it.
  • 1 0
 ground into cupcake sprinkles.
  • 1 2
 All this for rims? Whatever sense of environmental purity and idealism the industry once had has been annihilated by performance demands.
  • 1 0
 Keep all your work under one roof! Love it.
  • 1 2
 Do these guys only make the road bike wheel sizes of 700c and 650b? When will they make the mountain bike wheel size of 26"?
  • 2 0
 Not enough people buying high end 26 MTB wheels anymore to justify the cost of tooling. O
  • 2 0
 We Are One makes high end carbon 26 inch hoops. With a lifetime warranty.
  • 2 3
 “Zipp, one of the first names in carbon wheels...”

  • 5 0
 For those of us who don't think MTB is the only bicycle discipline on the earth...
  • 2 0
 @Tinga: It's not?
  • 1 3
 The new ENVE
  • 1 3
 ITT: Envy towards ENVE.

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