Prior to capturing all the goodies at NAHBS 2015, we were invited along with select cycling media to take a factory tour of Zipp Speed Weaponry. There we saw the company’s latest products, including its move to a thru axle hub, as well as lighter weight (and priced) 202 and 303 Firecrest Disc wheels, but we also took an extensive tour of their facilities. Zipp is one of the very few companies that continues to manufacture carbon rims in the United States, rather than simply assemble, finish or design them here. Only the hubs on Zipp’s wheels are manufactured abroad.

The company’s history is intertwined with that of the Indianapolis 500 racing as Zipp had its humble beginnings in Speedway, IN, and they hired engineers from the racing industry. Since then, they have moved to Indianapolis, but their connection to high speed pedigree remains firm with their long history of carbon fiber manufacturing and aerodynamic research; they even produced an areo carbon frame in their early days.

We went through the full process, from the initial design phase, to their cutting and curing equipment and quality control center where they push their wheels to their limits in testing.  While some might bulk at the price of their wheelsets, it’s clear that when you’re buying a Zipp wheel, you’re supporting a company that values working conditions, testing, environmental impact, innovation and rider sponsorship. The sheer breadth of their testing equipment and the extent to how much they punish their wheels should give Zipp owners a peace of mind when riding ultralight wheelsets.

This point was never so clear until Jason Fowler, Zipp’s Product Manager, revealed what happened when a counterfeit wheel went through the same product testing, typically meeting with disastrous results.

Finally, the history of the company was literally written upon its walls, from their early designs of carbon rims and BMX wheels alongside crankarms they once produced for Campagnolo to a vast score of memorabilia of all the athletes they have sponsored and helped get to the podium.

You can use the scroller below to follow the path that our tour took us on, and can find more information on Zipp and its products at

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Zipp's master wheel builder Nic James personally builds many of the wheels the pros use. © Cyclocross Magazine

Zipp’s master wheel builder Nic James personally builds many of the wheels the pros use. © Cyclocross Magazine

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