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Zipp launches 454 NSW Disc, 302 Carbon Clincher rim and disc wheelsets

Stu Bowers
19 May 2017

Several new pairs of wheels from Zipp all launched at once

Zipp has been at the forefront of the road wheel design for decades with an affinity for delivering game changing wheel technologies, such that when it releases new wheels you can bet its competitors are on high alert. Three new wheelsets - all at once - is sure to create a stir. Let’s start at the top of the tree.

Zipp 454 NSW Disc Brake, £3,390

The next generation of Zipp’s 454 NSW wheels, with their radical saw-tooth rim profile - a design inspired by the tubercles on a humpback whale’s pectoral fins - brings this technology to the disc brake market.

These will be available from June.

If you’re not up to speed on the Zipp 454 NSW concepts, here’s a brief recap. The key message was about creating wheels that were not just fast, but more stable, such that riding in crosswinds (the blight of the deep section wheel) wouldn’t be so treacherous.

Zipp’s engineers used what they called ‘biomimicry’, essentially taking inspiration from nature, to search for a solution to reduce side force, such that aero benefits of riding deep section wheels would be less restricted by wind conditions.

Zipp claimed the so-called ‘hyperfoils’, that create the 454 NSW’s distinctive 53mm/58mm rim shape, plus new swathed groupings of hexagonal dimples (it calls Hexfin ABLC), replacing the older golfball-esque dimples, resulted in a wheel that was marginally faster than its highly acclaimed 404 Firecrest, in terms of aero drag, but importantly, performed closer to its significantly shallower 303 Firecrest (45mm rim depth) in terms of the side force the rider will experience.

The 454 NSW then, has the potential to be an extremely versatile, high performance wheelset, and adding disc brakes only stands to improve its all-round capability.

As you’d expect much of the technology from the rim brake version carries over, but it’s not just a case of switching in a disc brake compatible hubset.

No longer needing to worry about a braking surface means Zipp has completely re-engineered the rim.

Each rim, Zipp suggests, takes a painstaking 12 hours to handcraft, in its Indianapolis facility, with the dimple pattern now extending all the way to the outer edge, to maximise the benefits to aero performance.

Zipp’s Cognition hub technology with Swiss made bearings and its magnetic Axial Clutch freehub engagement, stays at the heart of the centre-lock, disc hubset.

Specifications:

Claimed weight: 1615g pair; 765g front; 850g rear 
Rim depth: 53/58mm
Max rim width: 27.7mm
Internal width: 17mm
Spoke count: 24 front, 24 rear
Available: June 2017

A disc brake version of the 454 NSW was arguably to be anticipated, but their lofty price tag ensures these wheels won’t feature on the vast majority’s shopping list.

Of greater interest to the wider market then is Zipp’s all new 302 range.

This is a big step for the historically ‘premium only’ brand, venturing into the lower price brackets, with a full carbon clincher wheelset, with both rim and disc brake options, under £1,300.

Zipp 302 Carbon Clincher, Rim Brake and Disc Brake £1,299

All of Zipp’s carbon clincher rims are hand crafted in-house in its Indianapolis facility, and the 302 rim is no different.

This is not a case of Zipp simply outsourcing to Asia, to hit a price point then.

Zipp claims it has focussed on the ride quality and aerodynamics it is renowned for, with many features handed straight down from its Firecrest range, especially its brake track technology used in the rim brake version.

The most obvious difference though is the 302 full carbon, 45mm deep rim is smooth, missing Zipp’s trademark dimples, but otherwise the profile is very similar to much pricier 303 Firecrest.

Zipp has opted for this rim height to achieve a good balance of aerodynamic performance and all-round usability in a variety of conditions and has not skimped on build quality, retaining Sapim spokes and using its own hubs, just as it does in all its high-end offerings.

Claimed weights are very competitive at this price point – suggesting the rim brake version is 1645g (740g front/905g rear) and the disc version, 1695g (785g front/910g rear).

Wheels ship with valve extenders, rim tapes, QR skewers, and all necessary end caps for current thru-axle standards. Sram’s XDR Driver body is also available separately.

Specifications:

Depth: 45mm
Max rim width external: 26.5mm
Internal rim width: 16.25mm
Spoke count: 20 front, 24 rear (rim brake); 24 front/ 24 rear (disc brake)
Sapim CX Ray Sprint spokes with secure lock nipples
Hubs: Zipp 76/176 (Rim) 76D/176D (Disc)
Available: Rim brake May 2017, Disc brake June 2017

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