Zipp unveiled their new clincher wheelset at this year’s Eurobike Demo Day. We got to try the hoops out over a 40km ride in southern Germany.
The new 32mm Firecrest 202 has a typically distinctive shape, with rim width more than half the overall depth at its widest point. It’s Zipp’s take on a climber’s wheelset, so with the addition of Firecrest’s aero benefits it could well be the most usable all-rounder in the current clincher line-up.
The basic principle of the Firecrest’s unique shape is that the rear half of the rim (the second leading edge) mimics the tyre (the leading edge of the front half).
At 1,375g for the pair the new 202s are no heavyweights, and Zipp claim that the aero benefits make for a better performing and handling wheel than a standard aluminium box-section rim.
The 32mm firecrest rim is more than half as wide as it is tall: the 32mm firecrest rim is more than half as wide as it is tall Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Their own drag tests showed that a 13mm deep box-section aluminium rim produces around 324g of drag, whereas the new 202 produces just 131g – a claimed reduction of about 60 percent. They also say that it has better aero performance over standard ‘V’ section aero wheels up to 66mm deep.
Because of the shallower size, particular attention has been paid to the structure, with the brake track being bolstered significantly both for strength and heat-handling ability. Zipp also reported that in their 2.5 years of producing carbon clinchers they’ve had no heat-related failures.
Zipp showed us the 202s with a new version of the brilliant Platinum pad. The new EVO pad is thinner, making for better compatibility with older style brakes when paired with the wider rim. As well as being thinner, the new pad is also deeper.
We rode the 202s in warm but blustery conditions, with a few lumpy climbs. They felt both light and neutral, with no effect from cross or side winds on the steering.
The 202 Firecrests should be available in the late autumn/fall with a retail price of US$2,725 / 2,525 Euros. The new Platinum pads are $40 / 36 Euros a set.
The firecrest 202, while plenty light at 1,375g, still packs an aero punch: Ben Delaney/BikeRadar