One of the main criticisms of carbon clinchers is wet-weather braking performance – some carbon hoops are down-right dangerous when it rains – but Zipp have sought to address that with their latest wheelset, the Zipp 404 Firestrike. The 58mm-deep 404 Firestrike rim is based on the venerable 404 Firecrest but is marginally wider at 26.4mm and has a slightly blunter profile which, along with Zipp’s refined ‘Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control’ dimple pattern, is said to keep air attached to the leading edge of the rim for longer. The result is a claimed 34 per cent reduction in side force, thus improving stability in crosswinds.
But what about when it rains? The Zipp 404 Firestrike’s new ‘Showstopper’ brake track combines silicon carbide particles suspended in the surface resin with a moulded-in pattern where four grooves work with the brake pad to remove water and debris from the rim while also improving braking force. The result is a wheelset which Zipp say offers braking performance comparable with leading aluminium rims and “greater stopping power in wet conditions than any carbon wheel ever produced”. Claimed weight is 1,620g.