Zipp's new wheel range boasts disc-specific wheels, each incorporating tubeless compatibility. Both Firecrest and NSW ranges have seen updates, designed to bring the range up to date with the fast-evolving road market and cater for the growing trend for mixed terrain riding.
First up, four models from the Firecrest range, the 202, 303 (in 650b – more on that below), 404 and 808 have received a reprofiled internal rim, with the 404 and 808 versions featuring a 19mm internal rim diameter, while the 202 and 303 wheels have seen an increase to 21mm diameter.
Why? Daniel Slusser, PR man for SRAM, Zipp's parent company, says it’s down to the prevalent use of those wheels in the hands of the rider.
“The 202 and 303 650b are optimised for a 28mm tyre, so they’re faster with a 28mm tyre over a 25mm equivalent tyre, yet are faster than the outgoing models that were designed for 25mm rubber," he says. “It’s an all-round win – you’re getting more comfort, lower rolling resistance and better overall aerodynamics.
“The narrower 404 and 808 rims are optimised for a 25mm tyre, and that’s because they’re more road-specific in their use and so have slightly better aerodynamics with that use, whereas the 202 and 303 650b are better at crossing over to gravel and even CX use."
The aerodynamics are improved throughout the range because the distinctive ABLC dimples now run right up to the tyre, while the tubeless compatibility comes from a redesigned rim contour, which Slusser says makes use of a shelf and an inner bump that helps to encompass and ‘seat’ the tyre bead more securely.
New 650b wheel
Now, we mentioned the new Firecrest 303s were 650b in size, which shows that Zipp has been thinking about smaller riders, as well as those on gravel bikes.
“We think we’re going to see more 650b road bikes as well as gravel bikes coming onto the market," says Slusser, explaining why a 650b wheel now accompanies the 700c version that’s already available in the range.
“The Canyon//SRAM team has also been extensively testing this wheel, and we’ve had some great feedback from them. We’re going to see the likes of Tiffany Cromwell and Trixi Worrack riding them from now on, while they’ll be well-suited for the gravel market."
Meanwhile, four top-end NSW wheels have also seen an update along the same lines, introducing the same tubeless compatibility.
Here, the rim profiles mirror those in the cheaper Firecrest wheels (21mm internal rim diameters in the 202 and 303 – 700c this time – and 19mm in the deeper 404 and 808s).
The NSWs feature’s the brand’s premium ABLC Sawtooth aerodynamic dimples, which combines curved ridges along with the dimple pattern to create a more active boundary layer that can shed air more efficiently in crosswinds, along with a lighter carbon layup and more efficient hubs and ‘Imprint’ graphics.
All the while, the practical side of disc brake stopping is taken care of with swappable compatibility for quick releases and thru axles for all the wheels, with six-bolt rotor attachment in the Firecrests, and the Centerlock format in the NSWs.
They’re all scheduled to become available in the UK by October.
Total Zipp 2018 wheelset prices (RRPs)
202, 303 (650b), 404: £2,200
202, 303, 404: £2,540