Zipp has dropped eight new wheelsets and one of them isn't 700c
Zipp has today announced eight new wheelsets and the focus is on disc brakes, tubeless-ready design and gravel. The new line-up introduces four top-of-the-range NSW models and four Firecrest wheelsets, including the all-new 303 Firecrest 650b Tubeless Disc-Brake, which is aimed squarely at gravelistas.
Hailing “a new era of road riding” where riders don’t confine themselves to tarmac, the range updates go some way to rationalising Zipp’s wheel line-up, bringing full tubeless and disc brake support to all the key models.
Notably absent from the latest updates is the distinctively scalloped ‘Sawtooth’ rim design, which remains the preserve the of 454 NSW halo model.
Zipp isn’t ruling out bringing this to more wheels in the range and the NSW models do get Sawtooth dimples (just not the varying rim depth), but for the time being, it remains cost-prohibitive as the design and manufacturing requirements are considerably more onerous.
Eight new wheelsets from Zipp? Is it Christmas?Matthew Allen / Immediate Media
According to Zipp, discs open up new possibilities for innovating with rim design. Without a braking surface, the signature aerodynamic dimples can extend right to edge of the rim, and the move to bigger tyres means wider rims
Zipp is really pushing tubeless, citing the advantages (comfort, grip) that arise from being able to run lower pressures with minimal risk of pinch flats, as well as rolling resistance and ease of setup, although those last two aren’t totally uncontroversial.
The new wheels ship with tubeless valves, and the rim design is properly tubeless-specific, with a pronounced ‘shelf’ either side of the central channel and ridges to prevent the tyre beads from being pushed inwards.
Zipp’s tubeless rims have ridges either side of the central channel to keep the tyre beads in placeMatthew Allen / Immediate Media
Internal widths have increased across the board and the wheels are aero optimised for 28mm tyres.
Naturally, Zipp would prefer that you use its own Tangente Speed tubeless tyres for the best possible experience, but use of rival brands’ rubber is not expressly forbidden.
On the tyres front, Zipp says it has benchmarked its tubeless offering against two major unnamed rivals, and it claims to have beaten both of them on dry grip and rolling resistance.
303 Firecrest 650b — for gravel AND smaller riders
If all that disc and tubeless goodness wasn’t a clear enough sign, the new 303 Firecrest 650b Tubeless Disc-Brake Carbon Clincher shows that Zipp is firmly on the gravel gravy train.
The smaller 650b (or 27.5in) wheel size lets bike designs spec super fat tyres without compromising geometry, as the rolling diameters end up close to that of a road tyres on a standard 700c rim.
As well as catering to the burgeoning all-road/gravel/groad/whatever market, the 303 Firecrest 650b offers a high-end option for manufacturers who offer their smaller sized bikes with scaled-down wheels, such as Canyon.
202, 303, 404 and 808 NSW Tubeless Disc-Brake specs and pricing
The NSW models get Zipp’s latest and greatest Cognition hubsMatthew Allen / Immediate Media