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Zipp launches new wheels and handlebars

Stu Bowers
31 Aug 2017

Zipp has jumped on board the tubeless train with 8 new wheelsets

Zipp brings its entire wheel portfolio up to date for disc brake and tubeless compatibility across the board.

The Indianapolis brand adds a total of eight new wheelsets, and its message, as ever, is about making riders faster.

‘The landscape of the road bike market has changed dramatically, and with it the ways in which people want to ride bikes’, says Zipp’s wheel product manager, Bastien Donzé.

‘It’s an exciting new era for product development, as riders push outside of traditional riding methods it means we have to find new ways to keep on delivering them specific products.’

It feels like Zipp is, for once, a little late to the party, only now fully committing to a complete range of disc brake and tubeless wheels, but this is due to the fact it has redeveloped its current rim profiles to best suit the evolution of demands.

Disc brakes and riding wider tyres, often off road on gravel or dirt, brings a whole new set of variables so the range has been updated accordingly.

This includes specific lay-ups and materials to deliver the stiffness and durability required for more adventurous riding styles. 

Having no need for braking surfaces opens the door for additional benefits like extending its renowned dimple patterns all the way to the extremity of the rim.

Zipp claims it was able to produce these wider rims for the same weight, and the new processes have been applied across the board.

For anyone not familiar, that’s: 202 (32mm rim depth); 303 (45mm); 404 (58mm) and the super fast 808 (82mm rim), effectively creating a whole new product line.

However at this point there is still no disc brake or tubeless offering in the 454 NSW – Zipps super premium ‘sawtooth’ profiled carbon wheelset. That, Donzé says, is purely a cost issue.

Fatter is faster

Obviously wheels need tyres, and their presence in the system is a huge part of the overall performance of the wheelset, especially aerodynamically.

Widening the internal tyre-bed width is an important part of Zipps new rim shapes. It claims its new 21mm internal width means there is less aero drag with a 28mm tyre fitted than with 25mm.

‘It’s marginal’, admits Donzé, ‘but it’s hugely significant that a 28mm tyre can prove even slightly faster between 5° and 15° of Yaw.’

Achieving that Holy Grail of aero balance, that is, having wheels that are not just fast but also stable in the wind, is also a key attribute of Zipp’s new line up. 

‘If cross winds and challenging conditions reduce your control of the bike, you ultimately ride slower’, says Donzé. 

With its new rim profiles Zipp claims the improvements mean even the 82mm deep 808 is more usable than ever, significantly reducing the side force across the Yaw range.

Crucially though it saw the largest improvements at the highest yaw angles, suggesting these latest designs are by far its most stable yet.

Tubeless time

Zipp’s explanation for holding off on tubeless for its entire range (just its 303 disc brake wheel had until now been given the tubeless treatment) is that only now is it fully confident to really move forward with this technology.

Zipp has produced its own range of Tangente tubeless tyres, which it claims out perform its leading competitors for both dry cornering grip, and rolling resistance.

It’s unlikely to tell us anything else, of course, but whereas Mavic, for instance, was keen to have users only fit its own tyres, Zipp says it’s confident it has tested thoroughly enough to be sure other brands are safe to use.

All new line-up

The new profiles and tubeless compatibility roll out across the entire NSW range, that includes Zipp’s most premium technologies; such as printed ImPress graphics and its Cognition hubset.

RRP for 202, 303, 404 is £2540, RRP for 808 is slightly higher at £2710

Available: Oct 2017

It also applies to the Firecrest range.

Firecrest wheels use the same rim profiles, but it’s not the same rim. It does not undergo the same processes and it is constructed from different materials, plus uses a different dimpling pattern.

Other differences include the graphics being decals, and the hubset is Zipp's 177/77 disc hubset.

RRP for 202, 303, 404 is £2200, RRP for the 808 again is understandably slightly higher at £2460

A completely new wheel to Zipp’s range is a 303 Firecrest 650B, also disc brake and tubeless compatible. This wheelset serves two very different aspects within the market. 

First, from feedback and testing Zipp carried out with its Sram-Canyon professional female race team, smaller riders looking to achieve an aggressive riding position on a small frame can really benefit from a 650B wheel size.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in the more adventurous, go-anywhere category, the 650B size enables the fitment of much wider, MTB style tyres onto compatible gravel bikes.

The target audience is more likely to be the latter, and Zipp says the wheel has been specifically tested with gravel use in mind, makig sure it's tough enough to withstand the rigors of of road use, and still offer some speed gains too.

‘Testing showed that even with a large knobbly tyre the 303 still shaved off some drag and so it’s still making you faster on gravel rides’, Donzé says. 

What’s important to note is the 650B is NOT the same as the old 650C standard. It is actually larger than the old 650C, but still smaller in diameter compared to 700C.

Details: 1596g pair: 735g front; 860g rear

£2200

Available Oct 2017

It's not just wheels

That’s the wheels wrapped up. But Zipp also had a new road carbon handlebar to show – the SL70 Ergo.

Product manager, Nathan Schickel, explains this new carbon handlebar evolved from Zipp’s Contour SL bar, where the carbon construction means it’s possible to play more with fine-tuning the shape to make it fit the rider better, compared to aluminium.

A variable radius drop is a key part of the new shape, more compatible with different riding positions – just as suitable for those that like to hunker low as those who might want a more upright posture, and the shape also shortens the reach to the brake levers when riding in the drops.

The tops have a 3° backsweep and a flattened profile, aiming to elicit a more natural and comfortable hand position.

Details: 205g

Sizes: 40,42,44cm (centre to centre)

70mm reach, 128mm drop, 10° ramp, 4° drop outsweep, 3° backsweep.

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