As expected, Zipp have adapted the Firecrest shape first introduced on their 404 to the shallower 45mm depth of the 303 for 2012. With the new, broader shape – a whopping 28.5mm across at its widest point – Zipp claim the 303 Firecrest registers eight percent less drag than its forebear.
It's designed around 23mm-wide tires, although Zipp say that even with 25mm tires in place, it's still more aerodynamically efficient than comparable wheels from Easton, Lightweight or Mavic with 23mm tires fitted. Stiffness has supposedly improved seven percent, too, mostly owing to the 7.5mm wider rear hub bearing spacing and a canted non-driveside spoke flange that lends a straighter path from hub to rim.
Weight on the tubular set hasn't changed much, with a claimed figure of 1,198g, but new for 2012 is the long awaited all-carbon clincher version, which is much lighter than the older aluminum-carbon set at a claimed 1,498g. Suggested retail price for the tubular set is US$2,300/€2,100 and the clinchers will cost $2,700/€2,500. Both will be available starting 3 October in two new colors: the stealthy Beyond Black or the grey-and-silver Falcon Grey.
The new Zipp 303 Firecrest rear hub features wider bearing spacing and a canted non-driveside spoke flange for improved lateral stiffness
Zipp have also updated their Service Course range of cockpit components for 2012, adding a new SSR (Super Short Reach) drop bar bend, zero-offset seatposts, and the new SLSpeed seatpost with a molded carbon shaft and slick low-profile head that's said to weigh just 185g.
Bontrager unveil full range of aero road wheels
Bontrager announced a full range of carbon fiber aero road wheels at this year's Eurobike show: the 35mm-deep Aeolus 3, the 50mm-deep Aeolus 5, the Aeolus 7 and the Aeolus 9, all of which will eventually be offered in both tubular and carbon clincher versions.
Adopting what they call 'Dual Direction Design' – or D3 for short – that supposedly accounts for incoming air passing over both the tire at the front half of the wheel and the rim at the rear, Bontrager say the new Aeolus posts better drag numbers in the wind tunnel than any other wheel of comparable dimensions. More impressively, Bontrager are claiming that each of the Aeolus D3 wheels is faster than competitors' even-deeper wheels, while still retaining the weight and crosswind handling advantages of a shallower section.
Bontrager launched a full range of carbon aero road wheels at this year's Eurobike show, including the 35mm-deep Aeolus 3 (left) and 50mm-deep Aeolus 5
As is increasingly common these days, the US-made rims boast a rather blunt nose and a very wide section that maxes out at 27.5mm. DT Swiss provide the rear hub internals, straight-pull spokes and nipples – which are externally located for easier maintenance – but the hub shells are a Bontrager design with carbon center tubes (alloy ones on the clinchers) and a 'stacked' driveside rear arrangement that widens the bracing angle for improved lateral stiffness.
Claimed weights for the 35mm and 50mm Aeolus D3 tubular wheelsets are 1,150g (35mm) and 1,295g (50mm), and the 50mm-deep clinchers are 1,590g a set – official weights on the other models are still to be released. Retail prices are US$2,300 across the board for tubulars and $2,700 for clinchers, and Bontrager will offer the Aeolus range as individual wheels for easier mixing and matching of depths along with a wide range of decal colors. Custom options will add another US$200. The Aeolus 3 is shipping to dealers now, with most of the other models arriving by the end of the year.
The so-called 'stacked' driveside flange on Bontrager's new Aeolus rear hub pushes the spokes out as close to the cassette as possible for better lateral stiffness
Also coming from Bontrager later this autumn is the Aura 5 clincher, which uses a similar shape to the Aeolus range but an aluminum and carbon rim to reduce the cost.
More Road Tubeless options from Fulcrum for 2012
Fulcrum's major road introduction for 2012 is the Red Wind collection of aluminum-and-carbon-fiber aero clincher wheels, the company's first foray into such hybrid construction. Fulcrum will offer the Red Wind range in three depths – 50, 80 and 105mm – and four levels, with the top-end XLR 2-Way Fit models offering Road Tubeless compatibility and Cult hybrid ceramic bearings across the board.
Common features include co-molded aluminum rims with solid rim beds, structural carbon fiber caps, trick aluminum guides at each nipple seat that help ensure proper spoke alignment and distribute load over a larger area for better durability, aluminum hub shells with Fulcrum's trademark Two-to-One rear lacing pattern, and oversized aluminum nipples.
The Fulcrum Red Wind XLR is the lightest in Fulcrum's new aluminum-and-carbon road wheelset range. The 80mm versions weigh 1,770g per pair
Weights are competitive throughout the range, with the lightest 50mm-deep Red Wind XLR 2-Way Fit model coming in at a claimed 1,590g for the set and the Red Wind XLR 105mm 2-Way Fit weighing 1,960g. Suggested retail prices range from US$1,539-$3,438 depending on model.
Off-road, Fulcrum will add the new entry-level 26in-only Red Power wheels with straightforward alloy clincher rims, alloy hubs and J-bend spokes; the slightly lighter Red Power SL wheels with straight-pull spokes and 26in or 29in options; and the all-new Red Power XL range with externally milled aluminum rims to save weight, oversized aluminum hub axles and six-bolt or Center Lock rotor fitment options.
The Fulcrum Red Power XL is a new model for 2012. The rim is milled to save weight
DT Swiss move upscale with RRC Dicut collection
DT Swiss's 2012 road range is topped by the all-new RRC Dicut carbon fiber wheel collection. Dedicated hubs front and rear use straight-pull spokes and flanges pushed way to the edges of the shell for what we expect to be the best lateral stiffness figures in the company catalog. Special heat-resistant resins promise reliable braking even on long downhills, and new shapes plus a 'swirl lip' just behind the spoke holes – similar to what Reynold have been doing – presumably offers better aerodynamics than in years past.
DT Swiss will offer tubular and carbon clincher RRC Dicut wheels in three depths – 32, 46 and 66mm – as well as a new rear disc. The lightest RRC 32 Dicut T set is said to weigh just 1,090g while the 66mm-deep version is still impressive at 1,415g a pair. Clincher variants add 200-260g per set depending on the depth while claimed weights on the rear RRC Disc Dicut wheels vary between 1,050g and 1,200g depending on tire fitment.
A 'swirl lip' just behind the spoke holes on DT Swiss's new RRC Dicut rims supposedly makes for better airflow
Also new from DT Swiss for 2012 are the lower-cost RC carbon clinchers in 32mm and 46mm depths, tubeless-compatible RR 1600 TL and RR 1800 TL alloy clinchers, and a 30mm-deep disc-compatible Cyclo Cross aluminum clincher with Center Lock hubs and 135mm rear spacing.
We've already shown you the highlights of DT Swiss's 2012 off-road range but one pleasant surprise at Eurobike was the FX 1950 Tricon freeride set. This has 23mm-wide (internal) tubeless-compatible rims designed to handle up to 2.7in-wide tires, star ratchet rear hub internals, and multiple through-axle hub fitments – and we have to admit to being keen on the bright green finish, too. Claimed weight is 2,000g for the set.
You can find out more about DT Swiss's 2012 wheels, including the new Dicut and Tricon XM1550, in the video below, which also includes a look at their new 29er forks:
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Suspension-wise, DT Swiss's major new offerings are 29er versions of their XMM 100 and 120 forks with Single Shot or Twin Shot damping systems, ABS air spring systems, quick-release or 15mm through-axle dropout options, aluminum or carbon fiber straight or tapered steerers and crowns, and optional remotes – all with HollowArch magnesium lowers.
Easton add Road Tubeless model, trail models to wheel range for 2012
Easton have finally jumped into the Road Tubeless market with their new EA90 RT, whose relatively shallow aluminum rims feature the same threaded nipple inserts as on their Haven and Havoc mountain bike wheels that allow for a solid and airtight outer wall.
The company are quick to point out, however, that the EA90 RT isn't just tubeless-compatible but rather fully certified as conforming to Road Tubeless dimensions for a supposedly more reliable fit. Also, the 17.5mm internal rim width lends more air volume than typical road rims for a cushier ride and surer cornering traits. Claimed weight for the set is 1,550g and retail cost is set at US$800.
Easton add a Road Tubeless-certified option to their 2012 range – the EA90 RT
Easton are also bringing tubeless compatibility to lower price points on the mountain bike side with their new EA70 XCT model, which uses similar dual-threaded nipple technology as on the EA90 RT but with burlier disc-compatible hubs and wider UST-certified 19mm (internal) rims.
Easton will offer the EA70 XCT in both 26in and 29in options plus quick-release or 15mm through-axle fitments up front and quick-release, 12x135mm or 12x142mm through-axle rear fitments. Claimed weights are 1,620g or 1,745g depending on diameter and retail price is $725-750.
You can find out more about Easton's EA90 RT wheels in the video below:
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NoTubes lighten up with new ZTR Arch EX rim
Stan's NoTubes replace their popular ZTR Arch cross-country rim with the new ZTR Arch EX, which grows in width just a touch from 24.4mm to 24.6mm (external) but sheds 20g across the board thanks to a thinner extrusion. Claimed rim weights are now just a paltry 400g for anodized 26in models and 450g for anodized 29in samples.
As usual, NoTubes will offer the ZTR Arch EX as separate rims, prebuilt wheels with the company's own Stan's 3.30 hubs, or fully custom wheels with your choice of a wide range of hubs from American Classic, Hope, DT Swiss, Stan's or Cannondale, with spokes from DT Swiss across the board.
Stan's NoTubes have revamped their popular Arch rim design for 2012. It's now 20g lighter
E*thirteen jump into complete wheel game
Chain guide and crank specialists e*thirteen will jump into the complete wheelset market with three new 26in models and one 29er offering for the cross-country, trail and downhill markets. All have trick scandium rims built with brazed-on eyelets, huge-diameter hubs with quick six-degree engagement speeds, and DT Swiss Supercomp triple-butted stainless steel spokes that e*thirteen's Chris Costello says yield 5-12 percent stiffness gains over comparable Easton models.
The lightest XCX+ wheelset uses a 26.5/21mm-wide (external/internal), tubeless-ready TRS+ scandium rim that's said to weigh just 372g in 26in trim, and alloy bodied XCX+ hubs for total weights of 1,444g or 1,464g depending on axle fitment.
E*thirteen have added several wheel models to their range for 2012
The TRS+ will use the same rim – in 26in or 29in fitments – but beefier TRS+ hubs with larger diameter spoke flanges (59mm front, 77mm rear) and carbon center shells. Claimed wheelset weights range from 1,650g to 1,762g depending on rim size and axle fitment.
E*thirteen's burliest wheelset option will be the LG1+, which uses a wider 29.4/23mm scandium rim and beefier hubs with even bigger spoke flanges (77-91mm!). Claimed weight is 2,050g for the pair. The XCX and LG1+ wheels also get matching machined aluminum cranks using e*thirteen's clever 30mm aluminum spindle and tapered triangular interface.
All e*thirteen wheels feature monstrously oversized hubs
What really caught our eye, however, were the new LG1+ flat pedals. E*thirteen have opted for a novel polycarbonate and aluminum sandwich-type body construction that Costello says lends better impact protection and is more likely to slide across rocks than all-metal bodies. The plastic platforms are also replaceable when they get really chewed up.
Additional features include 4mm or 7mm traction pins, low-profile Igus axle bushings with adjustable preload so users can tune how freely they spin, and either chromoly or titanium spindles and pins. They're also light, with the top-end LG1R model coming in at just 380g – 42g lighter than CrankBrothers' 5050 3.
E*thirteen opted for a partial polycarbonate body on their new flat pedal for impact resistance