ZIPP rims and wheels build easily with fairly traditional methods. They can be some of the easiest wheels you will ever build. ZIPP wheels will, however, require a few new or modified techniques. The following are a few tips that will ensure a properly built and long lasting wheel. Have fun.
- Use the recommended lacing patterns. All ZIPP front wheels of any age use a radial lacing pattern. 1999 and newer ZIPP factory built wheels use direct pull hubs and spokes. All wheels built with direct (straight) pull hubs and spokes are a radial non-drive and 2x drive side pattern on the rear wheels. Pre 1999 traditional J bend spoke ZIPP rear wheels use a 2x2x spoke pattern. Any type of hub or spoke may be used on shop built custom wheels. Do not use more than a 2x spoke pattern. Due to the depth of the rim, additional crossings will only weaken the wheel by creating too severe a bend in the spokes at the point they enter the nipple.
- Make a special tool to insert nipples. Bend a spoke into a T-handle shape. Thread a nipple fully onto the T-handle spoke so that several threads protrude beyond the end of the nipple. Use Loctite if you like. You can now thread a nipple backward onto the exposed threads and use the T-handle to insert nipples through the rim while building. Take care that the nipple does not partially unscrew from the spoke as the tool is removed. This ensures even starting engagement of the spoke threads.
- Lubricate the shoulders of the nipples where they will contact the rim. The nipples seat against a carbon fiber inner ring. This nipple seat area exhibits more friction than traditional rims making the spoke feel tighter as you turn the nipple. Also, make sure to lubricate the spoke threads and/or use your preferred thread locking compound. Lubrication of the nipple shoulder and spoke threads will greatly reduce friction in the nipple seat area and reduce spoke "wind-up".
- Make a bladed spoke tool. Use a small block of metal that fits easily in the hand and between the spokes. Cut a slot in the tool just wide enough to hold the narrow portion of the bladed spokes you will be using. Use the tool to prevent spoke wind up during the building process. It is best to use this tool just above the top of the spoke wrench.
- CORRECT SPOKE TENSION FOR 2001 and newer rims is 100Kgf. 2001 and newer rims may be identified by not having woven fabric appearance on the side walls. Older models of ZIPP rims will have the appearance of a woven fabric construction. Correct spoke tension for these older rims is 80kgf. ZIPP specifies the wheel be built to within .020" of true and within .030" of roundness measured from the center of the tire seat area.
- Tension the wheel slowly and evenly taking care to avoid spoke wind-up and to stress relieve the wheel as needed.
- Use a Tensiometer! Even spoke tension is the key to strong and long lasting wheels! ZIPP rims do not feel or sound like traditional rims as they are being built. The nipples seat against a carbon fiber inner ring. This carbon ring exhibits more friction than the nipple seat area of a traditional rim and will make the spokes feel tighter as they are turned during the building process. Also, because the rim is more than twice the stiffness of a traditional rim, it is possible to build a "true" wheel with low or very uneven spoke tension. Use of a tensiometer will ensure a great wheel build.
Removing a hop or truing the wheel:
True the wheel exactly as you would any other. When removing a hop, the stiffness of the ZIPP rim requires you move the hub within the wheel. If the wheel develops a "hop" while building the technique may be different from what you are familiar with. You cannot simply "pull" out a hop. Loosen the spokes at and around the hop, and tighten the spokes opposite the hop to move the hub to the center of the wheel.
Spoke lengths used at Zipp in 2011 [xls]