The American components manufacturer Zipp has announced a range of upgrades to its rim brake NSW and Firecrest wheelsets.

The biggest change is seen on the premium NSW wheelsets, which are now available as tubeless ready. The benefits of running a tubeless set up are already well documented, but Zipp’s shift in its pro-aimed range highlights how the teams in peloton might be warming up to an alternative to clincher and tubular set ups.

It’s not just a case of slapping some rim tape into the old rim brake NSWs though. Zipp has redesigned the rims so that they work aerodynamically when used with a wider set up. The internal rim comes in at 19mm (a 2mm increase on the old model), which leads to an outer rim shape that Zipp claims has been optimised with 25mm tyres in mind.

Guide to Zipp's range

303: All-rounder that leans towards climbing ability
404: Good balance of aero with climbing and cornering capabilities
808: Go-to wheel for speed merchants

The three NSW Carbon Clincher wheelsets to get a shake up in this update are the 303s (675g front, 825g rear), 404s (738g front, 882g rear) and 808s (857g front, 998g rear). All have increased slightly on the scales, but this will be negated when using in a tubeless set up as an inner tube won’t be required.

Zipp NSW 404 Carbon Clincher Tubeless


303 NSW Carbon Clincher Tubeless:
Front wheel – £1,160; Rear wheel – £1,518

404 NSW Carbon Clincher Tubeless:
Front wheel – £1,160; Rear wheel – £1,518

808 NSW Carbon Clincher Tubeless: 
Front wheel – £1,250; Rear wheel: £1,607

The rest of the features are pretty similar to those seen on the 2017 models. All come packed with the ‘Cognition’ hubset with ‘Axial Clutch’ technology, which Zipp claims provides reduced drag when coasting. The rim’s ABLC Sawtooth dimple design (similar to that seen on a golf ball) also reportedly helps manage airflow around the rim – producing a fast and stable wheel. Finally, the ‘Showstopper’ section will boost your rim brakes’ stopping power whatever the conditions.

The wheelsets will be available this month and are shipped with tubeless tape and valves already installed for a quick set up.

Zipp 303 NSW Carbon Clincher Tubeless

Firecrest range also receives overhaul

The ‘Ultegra’ equivalent to Zipp’s ‘Dura-Ace’ NSW range, the Firecrest wheelsets have also also had a shake up in the US manufacturer’s latest update.

The main talking point is weight. By adopting technological innovations only previously seen on the NSW range, Zipp has managed to shave off a fair bit from each wheelset – the new 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher rear wheel, for example, weighs in at 835g (a saving of 65g, which is more than 7 per cent).

Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher


303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher:
Front – £907; Rear – £1,079

404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher:
Front – £907; Rear – £1,079

808 Firecrest Carbon Clincher:
Front – £1,071; Rear – £1,250

The new Firecrest wheelsets also benefit from the same ‘Showstopper’ braking technology as the NSW for the first time, while the company claims that those dimples and a revised rim profile have combined to reduce drag while improving stability in crosswinds.

Each rim is laced to Zipp’s 77/177 hubs – a durable staple of the peloton that won’t look out of place on the club run too.

Like the new NSW range, the wheelsets will be available this month. We’ll be getting a set of both releases in to see if they’re as good as Zipp claim.