All About Zwift’s Zipp 353 NSW Wheelset

All About Zwift’s Zipp 353 NSW Wheelset
Zipp 353 NSW, IRL

This week’s Zwift update included a new wheelset: the brand-new Zipp 353 NSW! This is a well-coordinated product release by Zipp+Zwift, because the “real life” 353 NSW wheels were only launched three days ago.

The IRL version of the wheels are meant to replace the 303 NSW, and they’re Zipp’s lightest tubeless wheelset yet.

On Zwift, these new hoops cost 255,600 Drops and require level 19+. Here’s how the Drop Shop describes the wheelset:

“The Zipp 353 NSW Tubeless Disc-Brake wheelset is the pinnacle of versatility and speed. This wheelset fuses Zipp’s two most advanced approaches, Sawtooth rim profile and TSE, for an all-encompassing approach to performance. With its undulating 45-mm deep rim shape, the 353 NSW provides speed on every terrain with best-in-class aerodynamic efficiency and crosswind stability. The 353 NSW is Zipp’s lightest tubeless wheelset yet, making it a fast-puncher ready to fight its way into the breakaway.”

Of course, IRL performance doesn’t necessarily correlate to in-game performance on Zwift. So we run all wheels and frames through a battery of tests to determine how well they perform. Here are the results for the new Zipp 353 NSWs…

Flat (Aero) Performance

These wheels turn in a mid-pack performance on flat and rolling courses, which isn’t surprising given they are up against more aero, deeper-dish wheels. Overall they rank around the 60th percentile for aero performance.

On our ~50-minute flat test, the Zipp 353 NSWs are 23 seconds behind the very fastest wheels available (Zipp 858/Super9), and 13 seconds behind the Zipp 808s which are commonly used by Zwift racers.

Climb (Lightweight) Performance

These wheels perform very well in our climbing tests, setting the same time as the ENVE SES 3.4 wheels and thus tying for 2nd place in our ~50-minute Alpe climb test!

The Zipp 353 NSWs turn in a time 5 seconds slower than the Meilenstein Lightweight wheels, which are the fastest climbers in Zwift. They are 11 seconds faster than the popular Zipp 808s.

Given their performance in our flat tests (where they bested the ENVE 3.4s by 3 seconds), we’ve ranked them as the second-best overall climbing wheelset.

Conclusions

The new Zipp 353 NSW wheelset on Zwift is an excellent performer if you’re looking for a wheel that climbs well without slowing you down too much on the flats. In fact, in our stacked percentile rankings, this wheelset comes in at third place overall:

At this point, we’d say the DT Swiss and Zipp 454s are essentially tied for 1st place in the “all arounder” category, while the Zipp 353 NSWs and ENVE 3.4s are tied for 3rd (2nd?) place.

In fact, all four of those wheelsets turn strong all-around performances on flats and climbs. With only a few seconds separating them over an hour effort. It’s just a question of where you want the advantage – want some help on the flats? Go with the DT Swis or Zipp 454s. Want a little more help on the climbs? Go with the Zipp 353 NSWs or ENVE 3.4s.

Since the Zipp 353 NSWs perform so well, we’ve updated the following posts to include them:

Your Thoughts

Will you be rolling these new Zipp hoops on Zwift? Why or why not? Share below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Mark M
Mark M
4 months ago

Thanks for these tests Eric! (The tie for first means the 353 and 3.4 are tied for third). What Zwift route do you think the stacked percentile rankings would match the timed route performance? Something with an Epic KOM? Yorkshire (way hillier than I realized)?

Peter Ricc
Peter Ricc
4 months ago

Appreciate the expedited analysis and results.

Temps 09
Temps 09 (@quatre24)
4 months ago

Looks like a good wheel set when the event/race is on mountain or mountain 8 type routes where it is a big climb steep climb but lots of down and flat after to the finish. Maybe pretzel as well?

Drew
Drew
4 months ago

Oh man, I really want these wheels but my fav Cervelo S5 frame has rim brakes.

Bikelink
Bikelink (@darren-r-linkin)
4 months ago

1) they are all so close that I don’t think it makes a difference even though it feels like if the numbers are different they have to. IRL too sold zipp 808 tubulars event back to clinchers (ok ok I just rode crits but still) 2) BUT I DO play the game!! 3) so they get the same 2 sec (Vs 1 for 454) uphill advantage over dtswiss losing less on flat than enve 3.4. Net loss for 3.4s biggest so they’re now ‘dominated’ by the 353s and worst on flats so move to #4. Honestly 353s probably ‘overall’ 3rd… Read more »

JayDee
JayDee
4 months ago
Reply to  Bikelink

I’d rather see the option to ban Tron in events, just like there is the option to ban TT bikes. Now the only time when you are not riding a Tron is when the race is completely flat and you have Disc wheelset or the race is only uphill (Alpe/Ventoux) or you are riding a TT bike.

Bikelink
Bikelink (@darren-r-linkin)
4 months ago
Reply to  JayDee

I’m ambivalent. If you’re smart and pick right you can get most things to be on par but not 858!94 7.8 enve’s. OTOH climb your butt off and you can earn the trons i can see both sides and If some races did that I respect the ease designed decision to make rules and see how people like them. I think govern the climbing uncertainty there’s wiggle room snd opnion s can be mixed and would be a shame foe all races to ban them. Bit I’m mostly doing ToW and other non categorized group rides that are sorta races… Read more »

Bikelink
Bikelink (@darren-r-linkin)
4 months ago
Reply to  JayDee

I’m running aero road 2021/858’s recently. Slower than Tron but so close I think it’s meaningless and enjoy mixing things up and seeing more feedback from the avatar by the way.

Bikelink
Bikelink (@darren-r-linkin)
4 months ago

It’s been said before but would be fun to be able to trade in ‘never gonna use again’ drop shop items. I can’t remember the rule in monopoly but you don’t get the full price back seeking ‘houses’ and ‘hotels’ … I mean we can earn endless drops so it doesn’t have to be a lot. Heck I’d like to clear out my garage for faster bike changes say foe nothing. How about 50% of drops back? 25%? Between new stuff occasionally coming out and things being changed seems fair. And wouldn’t it be nice to try things for fun… Read more »

nardix
nardix (@renato-nardello)
4 months ago
Reply to  Bikelink

I’d be glad to just get rid (just delete) of the bike i have never used and/or will never use again…

Evan
Evan
4 months ago

Speed tests for Giant bike?

Weiwen
Weiwen
4 months ago

The stacked percentile charts implicitly treat flat and climb performance as equally important. And more specifically, the scenarios are pan flat versus a steep climb – the only things I remember that are comparable to the Alpe test are Ventoux and the Radio Tower. When I’m comparing the 353 NSWs’ numbers to other wheelsets, it’s 2-3s ahead of the DT Swiss 62s on the Alpe test. It’s 5s behind the DTs on the flat test. You haven’t done a test of the wheelsets on an intermediate climb like the Epic KOM (around 4% grade, vs 8% for the Alpe). Based… Read more »

Weiwen
Weiwen
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

I didn’t know you’d tested wheels on other courses, but I’m glad to hear that aero does generally beat light weight. in my case, many of the Zwift routes have descents after the climbs, and I am on the lighter side, and I want to be able to rest as much as possible on the way down. If I am trying to stay with other riders, I would guess that a more aero wheel vs the Enve 3.4s or these Zips would be the difference between me being able to supertuck and having to pedal to stay with others. On… Read more »

Thomas Christiansen
Thomas Christiansen
4 months ago

So these are the fastest climbing wheels money can buy (well drops in this case). And they only get a 3 star weight ranking? There’s like a handful of 4 star weight wheels available?! All slower up the Alpe.

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