Zipp debuts 650c 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher

Proportional race wheels are key for smaller riders, Zipp says

In recent years there has been much talk of the 650b wheel size, but very little of 650c. Zipp hopes to change that with the introduction of a 650c 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher.

Australian pro triathlete Mirinda Carfrae, who stands 1.6m/5-foot-3, rode a prototype pair of the smaller road wheels at the 2012 Ironman world championships in Kona last fall.

Carfrae's Kona bike with 650c prototype 404s

The 650c size is fairly rare now, with virtually all stock road, time trial and triathlon bikes being made for 700c wheels. But Zipp is betting that smaller riders still appreciate and deserve proportional frames without compromise in geometry

"As it is now for most bikes, small frames have their geometry adjusted for 700c wheels," said Zipp technical PR manager David Ripley. "The further you rake the steering axis (by angling the fork away from the frame), the longer that lever gets, and the more reactive the steerer is. The end result is not a bike with great handling. Short people need smaller bikes. And smaller bikes need smaller wheels."

The new wheelset features zipp's famous toroidal shape and dimpled profile: the new wheelset features zipp's famous toroidal shape and dimpled profile
Smaller wheels allow for proper geometry on smaller bikes, Zipp says

Zipp's 650c 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher features a 58mm-deep rim that is 24.73mm wide at the brake track and 27.5mm across at its widest point. The 10- and 11-speed compatible wheel features Zipp's toroidal shape and dimpled profile.

The 1,465g wheelset will sell for $2,725 (£1,740).

In related news, Zipp also announced a new carbon aerobar, the Vuka Stealth, that features a host of adjustability in an integrated bar/stem design.

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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