Zipp 2001 and 3001 were a line of bicycle frames, now discontinued, made by the Zipp company. While they have been out of production for 7 years, they are still considered one of the fastest time trial frames ever made, and still have a cult following within triathlon, where they remain race-legal.
The mid 1990s were a fertile time for bicycle designers. New materials (aluminum, carbon fiber) created a lot of new possibilities beyond the "double diamond" design of bicycle frames that had dominated the market. While steel was strong, it needed to be reinforced geometrically in order for thin tubes to be used; large, unsupported beams were impossible unless designers were willing to add pounds and pounds of steel to hold them up. But with aluminum and carbon fiber, newer, more creative designs became possible.
During the late 1990s, a number of "non-traditional" designs launched onto the market. While the Zipp 2001 may be one of the better known products, other frames made in this era included Hotta, Softride, Trek's Y-foil, and the Cheetah Cat. .
The frame that was to become the 2001 was first shown in prototype form in 1990, finalized in 1991, and entered production in 1992. The Zipp 3001 (which was a 2001 with additional boron strips stiffening the carbon fiber) was offered in 1997. 1998, the UCI announced that all non-double diamond frames would be illegal for road racing starting in january of 2000. This led zipp to discontinue production at the end of 1997.
The existing component inventory was sold to one of the men who had worked on frame production, and the frames have not been produced since that time.
Successes of the FrameEdit
While it was in production, it was widely regarded one of, if not the fastest bicycle frame in production. "Project 96", an attempt to create a US-only superbike for the '96 Olympics, fell into disarray when the data suggested that rather than building a new prototype then in tests, they should instead simply use Zipps rebadged as "US bicycles". Interestingly, despite 7 years of development after zipps were shut down, it still seems that there are few or no frames as fast as a zipp. The production frame currently thought to be the fastest, the new Cervelo P4, is, by Cervelo's own admission, slower than a Lotus (also out of production), while it was known in the 90s that Zipps were as fast or faster than Lotuses.
Since January of 2000, Zipps have not been legal for use in road racing or UCI organized time trials. They are, however, legal in triathlon, which has much more liberal equipment rules. Despite the fact that they have been out of production for 10 years, the frames still have a cult following within triathlon. While they are known for being flexible, and therefore not well suited to hillclimbing, they are well suited to flatter courses.
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