Zipp’s Firecrest gets better - and much cheaper

Significant hub upgrade and another price drop for all-carbon wheelsets

Zipp's Firecrest wheel line (202, 303, 404, and 808) pioneered wider rim design along with the blunted aero shape that rivals have sought to emulate for its aerodynamic stability.

When the Indianapolis-designed-and-built wheelsets debuted, they genuinely raised the bar for performance carbon road wheels. While the Firecrest line is no longer the pinnacle of Zipp’s designs (that’s reserved for the 404 Firestrike, which is wider), it’s still the series that new wheel designs are benchmarked against.

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For 2016 the Firecrest line for caliper brakes has been revamped, following on from the introduction of the new disc hub earlier in 2015. The new 77/177 hub pairing features revised flange geometry and spoke hole attachment. This has optimised the torsional and lateral stiffness of the Sapim CX-Sprint spokes found throughout the range (bar the lightweight 202 Tubular which comes with lighter CX-Rays).

The 202 tubular is the lightest wheelset in the zipp range at 1180g a pair:
The 202 tubular is the lightest wheelset in the zipp range at 1180g a pair:

The 202 tubular is the lightest wheelset in the Zipp range at 1180g a pair

The hub body is also reshaped with much more alloy cut away by CNC tooling – and plenty of polished alloy on show. The hubs have oversized 17mm axles to increase stiffness, plus an all-new quick release design to go with them. The bearing fitments have been reworked so they require no adjustment whatsoever, addressing a criticism levelled at the original Firecrest hubs.

The new 177-rear hub is also compatible with SRAM’s XD driver body (with no need to re-dish the wheel) so if you wanted to go over to a 1x drivetrain with a wide cassette of up to 10-42t you can do so with the 2016 wheelsets.

The biggest improvement, however, isn’t in materials or design but in the retail price. When Firecrest first launched the wheels retailed at nigh on £2500; we’ve seen a significant price drop since then to £2150, but the new revised Firecrest wheels all retail for less than £2000/$2500.

All the new wheels will be available in September 2015 – see below for full price listing and wheel specs.

Zipp has also added to its Tangente tyre line with new 28mm and 30mm rubber. They’re available in Course spec in both sizes, which is a 120tpi nylon casing with a protective central strip and a water siping tread pattern.

The 28mm wide tangente course tyre is made around a 120tpi casing:
The 28mm wide tangente course tyre is made around a 120tpi casing:

The 28mm wide Tangente Course is made around a 120tpi casing

The 70a durometer rated rubber has been tested to offer 33.15 watts of resistance at 40kph (using a Zipp Butyl inner tube). The 28 tips the scales at 260g with the 30 at 306g. The 28mm model is also available in a Speed version with a 220tpi casing in softer 60a durometer rubber, tested with a much lower rolling resistance of 21.97 watts at 40kph. The Speed version tips the scales at 216g. No price information on the tyres is available yet. 

Zipp Firecrest 2016 wheelset specs

 Wheelset Type WeightWheel depthMax widthSpoke count Hubs Spokes Price
 202 TubularTubular 1,180g 32mm
 18 (front) / 24 (rear) 77/177 Sapim CX-Ray$2,000 / €2,100 / £1,600
 202 FirecrestClincher 1,450g 32mm 25.4mm 18 / 24 77/177
 Sapim CX-Sprint$2,100 / €2,200 / £1,680
 404 Firecrest Clincher / Tubular 1,690g (C) / 1,505g (T) 58mm
 18 / 24 77/177
 Sapim CX-Sprint$2,100 / €2,200 / £1,680 (clincher); $2,000 / €2,100 / £1,600 (tubular)
 303 Firecrest Clincher / Tubular 1,625g (C) / 1,390g (T) 45mm 28.5mm 18 / 24 77/177 Sapim CX-Sprint $2,100 / €2,200 / £1,680 (clincher); $2,000 / €2,100 / £1,600 (tubular)
 808 Firecrest Clincher / Tubular 1,885g (C) / 1,700g (T) 82mm 27.5mm 18 / 24 77/177 Sapim CX-Sprint $2,400 / €2,500 / £1,920 (clincher); $2,300 / €2,400 / £1,840 (tubular)
Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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