Eurobike 2010: Zipp launch faster 808 Firecrest wheel

Plus new aluminium Service Course component range

As expected, Zipp have transferred the new Firecrest rim profile from their redesigned 404 over to the more speed-oriented 808.

This has resulted in an all-new wheel that the company say is even faster than their own 1080 in most conditions while also being easier to handle, stronger and providing more consistent braking performance than the old 808.

The Firecrest profile is undoubtedly unusual looking with its very blunt nose, fat 27mm width, nearly straight sidewalls and a maximum width that occurs closer to the spoke end instead of the usual tyre end of the cross-section. 

According to Zipp technical director Josh Poertner, the shape lends better aerodynamic performance when both the leading and trailing cross-sections of the rim are considered.

This is especially true at the higher yaw angles that are likely to be seen in everyday riding – supposedly yielding 110-140g drag savings (or 12-15W depending on speed) over the old 808.

The new profile also supposedly yields far better handling characteristics in crosswinds. Poertner contends that the Firecrest shape counteracts crosswinds' tendency to push riders offline by creating a 'centre of pressure' that falls behind the steering axis.

Tyre bed profiles and heat resistant technology borrowed from the cobble-conquering 303 should result in fewer flats when tubulars are used and cooler braking temperatures on long descents than before.  Clincher rims use identical profiles now, too, and the wider section lends better sidewall support in hard cornering.

Claimed weight on the tubular 808s is 1,519g a set and 1,912g for the clinchers. Suggested retail prices are US$2,500 and $2,950, respectively, and clinchers will begin shipping in October. Tubulars will follow in November.

The Firecrest profile is unusual looking with its nearly slab-flat sides and very blunt nose but Zipp say it's far better at maintaining smooth airflow at higher yaw angles

Service Course

Zipp are best known for their high-end carbon offerings but the 2011 model year will also see the introduction of a moderately priced range of aluminium bars, stems and seatposts called Service Course. 

The Service Course and Service Course SL bars will be offered in Zipp's 'short and shallow' or traditional bends. Claimed weight on the standard 7000-series aluminium Service Course model is 280g, while the proprietary ZTL-71 alloy yields a 20g saving for the SL version. 

Textured stem and lever clamp areas should help prevent slipping, and graduated markings on the drops – on the sides where they can actually be usefully referenced to the lever clamps! – help with initial setup.  The Service Course SL bar will cost just $110; stepping down to the standard version will save you $20.

Service Course is Zipp's new line of moderately priced alloy components. Claimed weight on the SL bar is 260g

Both the standard and SL-level Service Course stems will be made of forged and machined 7000-series aluminium and boast four-bolt faceplates and opposing-bolt steerer clamps, while radiused edges all around will prevent point stress on fragile carbon components.

The 120g, $110 SL will come with titanium Torx-head hardware and a relieved faceplate, while stainless Torx bolts and a solid faceplate will bump weight on the standard $70 version to 130g.

The standard Zipp Service Course forged aluminium stem uses stainless steel hardware while the SL version upgrades to titanium

Rounding out the Service Course collection is a pair of seatposts, both using 20mm-offset twin-bolt heads with long lower cradles for good rail support and shorter upper cradles to maximize fore-aft adjustability. 

Zipp will offer just 27.2mm and 31.6mm diameters for now and lengths that range from 270mm to 350mm. Weights range from 220-270g, with the lighter version costing $120 and the standard Service Course seatpost fetching $90.

Zipp will offer two Service Course seatposts for 2011, both with 20mm offsets and available in 27.2 or 31.6mm diameters

Why the alloy bits at all, you might wonder? Zipp marketing manager Andy Paskins says it's by no means an effort by Zipp to move downstream but rather a way for the company to gain a foothold in the notoriously conservative (at least when it comes to bars and stems) elite pro ranks where aluminum is still king for more demanding races like the spring classics. 

By adding heavier – but tougher – alloy components to the range, Paskins says it'll be more likely that we'll eventually see Zipp carbon bars and stems on top team bikes. Fair enough. Either way, Service Course bits should start appearing in stores within a few weeks.

Carbon bars

Zipp have been busy with their bread-and-butter carbon handlebars, too. The new VukaSprint uses similar drops to the Contour SL (albeit flared outwards by an additional degree) but a unique aero-profile and forward-swept top section to both reduce drag and provide more surface area to cut down on hand pressure. Claimed weight is just 210g and retail price is $350. Expected delivery is late this year.

New for 2011 is the Zipp Vuka Sprint drop bar with UCI-compliant aero-profile tops and textured clamp areas

Finally, there are new VukaBull aero base bars with updated UCI-compliant cross-sections, wider clamp areas for a wider range of clip-on settings, and upwardly angled grip areas for a more secure handhold in starts and corners. Zipp will offer the VukaBull in both 0mm and 40mm drops, both in a 42cm width. Suggested retail price is $250, claimed weight is just 200g and expected delivery is this December.

Zipp's new Vuka Bull base bars use UCI-compliant aero cross sections, and again have textured surfaces for more secure stem and hand grip

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