Not quite in the market for a new bike, but ready invest a little more in your cycling? Wheelsets are typically the first upgrade people choose to make to their bikes. Upgrading from the wheels that came standard on your bike typically means a lighter and stiffer wheelset. (We discussed why that is ideal in Weighing in on Cycling Weight.)
Check out the newest wheels we got in from Zipp. There’s a reason the company is known for its Speed Weaponry.
Zipp 101 Clincher
Aero wheels are faster for every rider at every speed. Zipp’s more than two decades of research, testing and results have proven that point. They’ve also shown that fine-tuning rim shape can significantly improve aerodynamics without sacrificing weight, acceleration or handling.
For the Zipp 101, they’ve transferred that knowledge into the world’s most aerodynamically advanced aluminum wheelset. It’s the most affordable way to take advantage of Zipp’s cutting-edge aero technologies and premium build quality. After all, these are the wheels pros log tens of thousands of tough training miles on each year.
The 101’s centerpiece is the first fully toroidal aluminum rim, developed in the wind tunnel with a proprietary profile curve extending across the braking surfaces. With this patented design, the 30 mm-deep 101 can exceed the aerodynamic performance of V-shaped rims with much deeper aero profiles. And no shallow-profile design comes close to the 101 in the wind tunnel or on the road, where the 101 can save up to 42 seconds over 40 km compared with the industry’s benchmark aluminum wheelset.
Creating the 101 required developing new technologies to conduct wind-tunnel testing using structural prototypes with fully inflated clincher tires. This makes the resulting test data more accurate and realistic than ever before. After our engineers honed in on the fastest shape, the manufacturing process required its own set of innovations for rolling, welding and machining the 101’s precisely curved toroidal profile.
With a maximum width of 23.79 mm to complement most common tire sizes, the bulged profile of the 101 smoothes airflow around the wheel more effectively than typical narrow rim designs. The 101’s wide platform also resists pinch flatting, improves lateral stiffness and provides stable handling without tire “squirm” on rough surfaces.
Because the rim is narrower at the hook bead than in the middle, the 101 can be used safely with tires as narrow as 21 mm, unlike other wide-profile clincher rims. The 101 is optimized for tires in the 23 to 25 mm range, those preferred by most roadies. The maximum recommended tire width for the 101 is 35 mm.
The 101’s rims are precision machined in Indianapolis. The 101 is laced with 18 front and 20 rear Sapim CX-Ray spokes and Zipp’s new 88 /188 hubs with a wider bearing stance and Swiss steel bearings. The hubs are manufactured in Indiana using the proprietary Z310.9 alloy and feature oversize 17 mm axles and adjustable bearing preload.
Wheelset weight: 1,530g
Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher
In the past two years, the 303 has emerged as one of the most formidable wheels in the pro peloton, with wins in the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and more. Its speed, light weight, and utter reliability have been proven in pro cycling’s most demanding races.
In 2010, the 303 made history by becoming the first carbon wheelset to win cycling’s two most famous Cobbled Classics: Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Its wider rim provided extra durability, and improved aerodynamics. That wider rim also led to the development of our revolutionary Firecrest platform, and now the revolution has come full circle.
The 303 has been completely redesigned with Firecrest shaping. The Carbon Clincher preserves the aerodynamic advantages of its tubular brother, while adding the convenience of a clincher tire. And at just 1,475 g, it’s light enough to climb up the steepest gradients with ease.
All of the hallmark characteristics of the 303 have improved with the Firecrest Carbon Clincher. The Firecrest shaping optimizes the aerodynamic profile of both the front half and the back half of the wheel. In addition, Firecrest moves the center of pressure of the wheel backwards, giving the 45mm-deep rim the crosswind stability a box-section rim. At the same time, the 26.4mm-wide brake track (at center) allows the clincher tire to take on a wider, more stable shape without compromising rolling resistance. It’s faster, simpler, and more stable. Or as Zipp technical director Josh Poertner puts it, Firecrest is “lightning in a bottle.”
The new wheels retain all the small details that make Zipp wheels what they are. Exposed spoke nipples sit in the aerodynamic shadow of the rims, keeping serviceability simple without compromising speed. And their signature ABLC rim dimples squeeze every last second of performance possible.
To complete the package, Zipp has refined its venerable 88/188 hubset, reshaping the hub body and pushing the non-drive-side flange and bearing out by 7.5 mm on the rear hub to increase overall stiffness and strength.
Wheelset weight: 1,475g
Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher
Zipp chose to launch their groundbreaking Firecrest and Carbon Clincher designs with our most versatile wheelset, the 404. Its 58mm rim depth is a classic all-around performer that has carried athletes to victory in every kind of event – triathlons, criteriums, breakaways, field sprints and even Grand Tour mountain stages.
In fact, Zipp’s first full-carbon clincher wheelset, the 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher, has been described as the most heavily anticipated wheelset of all time. And following two years of development for its revolutionary rim shape and carbon technology, they’re confident that the 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher lives up to the hype.
The 404 Firecrest features the the 88/188 hubset, with a 7.5mm-wider bearing stance in the rear hub, and a driveside hub canted by 2 degrees for improved stiffness and reliability.
Its Firecrest aero profile is the first deep-profile carbon clincher design to offer the superior aerodynamics, ride quality, strength and handling of a wider rim body. Yet the 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher weighs just 1,525g per set, putting it among the lightest deep-profile carbon clinchers available.
Designed specifically to account for the differences in airflow patterns between clincher tires and tubulars, the 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher far exceeds the aero performance of any other clincher wheelset in its class. As Zipp proved with the Paris-Roubaix-winning 303 Tubular, a wider rim offers greater vertical compliance for control and comfort on rough surfaces while increasing lateral stiffness for sprinting and cornering. The same holds true for Firecrest rims with clincher tires. And because the hook beads are farther apart, the tire itself takes on a more stable shape without adding rolling resistance.
Heavy continuous braking on carbon surfaces can cause spikes in rim temperature and tire pressure that impact performance and handling – especially with clincher tires. To solve this challenge, our U.S.-based composites supplier created a new heat-resistant resin exclusively for Zipp. This technology improves heat dissipation so substantially that theirs are the only carbon clinchers to pass stringent European safety testing without limitations on rider weight or brake pad options.
Wheelset weight: 1,525g
Note: All Zipp wheels for model year 2013 are compatible with cassettes of up to 11-speed to work with all modern drivetrains.
These Zipp wheelsets are now available at Higher Gear.
Click here for more on Zipp’s Firecrest technology.