Zipp Unveils First Full Carbon Clincher Wheelset – The Firecrest 404

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After two years in development, Zipp Speed Weaponry has unveiled their first-ever full carbon clincher wheelset, the Firecrest 404 Carbon Clincher.

Using a “revolutionary” new aerodynamic rim shape called Firecrest, the 404 Carbon Clincher is remarkably lightweight for a deep-profile aero wheel, tipping the scales at just 1557g for the set.  The wheels are handmade in Speedway, IN, by lacing the new 58mm deep rims to their 88 (front) and 188 (rear) hubs with 16 and 20 spokes respectively.

To improve aerodynamics, Zipp created a clincher specific rim profile with high radius curves, moving from 25.5mm wide at the brake track to 27.5mm at the widest cross section (detail photos after the break).  Add Zipp’s ABLC dimpled surface design, and they claim “far exceed the aero performance of any other clincher wheelset in its class.”

But aerodynamics isn’t the whole story…

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The 404 Carbon Clincher draws on Zipp’s race testing with their 303′s during Paris-Roubaix, showing that the wider rim creates a more stable ride while also providing better tire contact during cornering.  Perhaps counterintuitively, Zipp says this also improves lateral compliance, making for a smoother ride over bumps and, if you ride them, cobbles.

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Another issue that arose during testing was the increase in surface temperature with braking.  Zipp says the rim reacts differently than their carbon tubulars, so they borrowed motorsports technology to develop new heat-resistant resins.  The result, says Zipp, is more consistent braking performance and tire pressures on long descents.

zipp-404-firecrest-carbon-clincher-wheels1Individual weights are 718g front and 839g rear.  The front uses all 16-count radial spoke lacing, and the rear gets radial drive side with 1-cross lacing on the non-drive side with a total of 20 spokes.

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The Zipp 404 Carbon Clincher wheelset comes with Zipp steel quick release skewers, Tangente High Performance cork brake pads, Zipp rim tape and a valve extender.  MSRP is $2,700 / set.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

Zipp Speed Weaponry has revealed details of the company’s highly anticipated 404 Carbon Clincher, the first deep-profile carbon clincher design to offer the superior aerodynamics, ride quality, strength, and handling of a wide rim body.

Available now through authorized Zipp retailers around the world, the 404 Carbon Clincher employs a radical new aerodynamic rim profile, dubbed Firecrest™, and exclusive materials technology developed in collaboration with Zipp’s composites supplier.

As a result, the 404 Carbon Clincher reaches an unrivaled level of performance for clincher wheels and a total weight of just 1557 grams, putting it among the lightest deep-profile carbon clinchers available.

Zipp Technical Director Josh Poertner said, “This is a product that a lot of people have been waiting for, and we wanted to give them something unlike any other wheel on the market. We spent two years optimizing our carbon clincher technology and it’s probably the biggest leap forward we’ve ever made.”

To address the differences in airflow patterns between clincher tires and tubulars, Zipp engineers developed the fully toroidal Firecrest profile with a complex set of high-radius curves that adjust the width of the rim from 25.5mmm at the braking track to 27.5mm at its widest point.

This wider, less tapered version of the proven hybrid-toroidal profile used in Zipp’s previous clincher wheels particularly improves the aerodynamics of the rear wheel as it rotates within the frame and makes the 404 Carbon Clincher by far the most aerodynamic clincher wheelset in its class. The new rim shape also directs airflow so precisely that handling is noticeably improved.

As Zipp discovered with designs like the Paris-Roubaix-winning 303 Tubular, a wider rim also increases lateral stiffness for sprinting and cornering yet offers greater vertical compliance for more control and comfort on rough surfaces.

With clincher tires, the wide rim design offers even greater benefits, as the tire takes on a more stable shape that places more rubber on the road while cornering without adding rolling resistance. Increased air volume also reduces the likelihood of pinch flatting compared to narrower rims.

Because clincher tires are more susceptible than tubulars are to the effects of heat buildup from heavy braking on carbon surfaces, the 404 Carbon Clincher is manufactured with a heat-resistant resin based on the materials used in motorsports brake systems.

During the development process for the 404 Carbon Clincher, chemists and engineers from Zipp’s composites supplier made repeated visits to Zipp’s R&D lab to test and refine the new technology, which offers more consistent braking performance and prevents spikes in tire pressure on long descents.

According to Jim Douglas, Zipp product manager for wheels, “The versatility and popularity of the Zipp 404 made it a natural choice for carbon clincher. The performance characteristics of the 404, combined with the functionality of our carbon clincher and Firecrest rim shape will make it a success among triathletes and road racers alike.”

Indeed, the 58mm-deep 404 has long been a favorite of Zipp athletes for long-course triathlons, field sprints, rolling breakaways, and even mountain stages.

Like all Zipp carbon wheels, the 404 Carbon Clincher uses rims manufactured in-house by Zipp, premium Sapim CX-Ray spokes (16 front/20 rear), and US-made hubs with Swiss steel bearings.

Suggested retail price is $2700 U.S. per wheelset.

Comments

Alex Parker - 05/07/10 - 7:15pm

For $2700 they couldn’t figure out how to throw in ceramic bearings? C’mon….

Matt - 05/10/10 - 9:49pm

WAAAHHHH Ceramic bearings are worthless. Zipp’s bearings are at least as good as ceramic. but if you want them, and you can afford a $2700 wheelset, you can’t afford a set of ceramic bearings?

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