Gear News

Zipp launch 404 NSW wheelset: lighter, more stable and better braking

New top flight wheels emerge from Indianapolis company's 'top secret' development lab

Last year, Zipp launched the 808 NSW wheelset that they said represented all their smartest technology in one place. That wheel went on to win the Ironman World Championships on the bike of Jan Frodeno, and the women’s World TT champs with Velocio-SRAM. 

With that in mind, Zipp have decided that a 404 NSW wheelset is the next thing in line, and here they are. NSW, if you don’t know, stands for Nest Speed Works, the ‘Nest’ being Zipp’s top-secret research lab that comes up with projects like this.

Thing is, when you say something’s come straight out of your super secret research lab, it’d had better be good otherwise you end up looking a little silly. Fortunately, Zipp pretty much exclusively find themselves in the former category and the tech that’s gone into the new 404s looks pretty clever indeed.

The 404 NSWs have a host of interesting features, including the Sawtooth surfaces on the rims that claim to improve stability

First up, Zipp say that the 404 NSWs have a 34 percent reduction in side force over the 404 Firecrests. This revelation has come as the result of 42 different CFD concept studies and weeks in the wind tunnel and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Zipp are claiming unsurpassed stability in the new wheels.

The rim surface of the wheels is dimpled, as has been the case on Zipp wheels for a while, but on the NSWs Zipp are calling it the Sawtooth. It’s made up of 12 nodes that are designed to start aerodynamic shearing at 50hz when the wheel reaches 20mph. This decreases the laminar bubble effect on the aerodynamically shielded side of the rim profile to further reduce high yaw drag and improve stability.

Better than that, the NSWs come with the Showstopper brake track ported over from the limited edition Firestrike wheelset – we’ve had personal experience using it and can honestly say it’s one of the very best carbon brake tracks on the market.

The 404 NSWs also make use of Zipp’s brand new Cognition hubset which, if you’re a hub aficionado, you’ll probably have to sit down before you read any further. The hubs use Axial Clutch technology which disengages the ratchet when you’re freewheeling, which reduces friction and improving coasting.

Inside the Axial Clutch mechanism there are magnets that move the ratchet rings rather than springs, which Zipp say improve reliability on top of 36 points of engagement that all interlock simultaneously. On the rear hub, a star-flanged straight pull design distributes the load placed on the hub flange away from the bearings.

The NSW’s have dropped weight over both the Firecrest and Firestrike 404s, with a set weighing in at 1,555g as opposed to 1,690g and 1,620g respectively. That’s 705g for the front and 850g for the rear at a 58mm depth and a maximum width of 27.8mm. They run 18 spokes at the front and 24 at the rear, and a set will come with a set of wheelbags, Zipp’s own Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads, valve extenders, rim tape, inner tubes and Zipp titanium skewers. How much will all that set you back? £2,150.

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