First Impressions: Zipp’s New 202 Firecrest Clinchers & SRAM Red Quarq Power Meter Crankset

2013 SRAM Red Quarq power meter crankset and Zipp 202 clincher road bike wheels review

On Monday morning of Interbike week, I joined SRAM and a few other journalists for a ride from the Las Vegas Strip out to Bootleg Canyon to test out the new SRAM Red Quarq power meter crankset and Zipp 202 wheels. Both were queued up on a Specialized Tarmac, which rode fantastically well…not as twitchy and crit-racery as I remembered it from five or six years ago.

For the crankset, honestly, it felt just like the standard “new” Red crankset, which offers vastly lighter overall shifting (in conjunction with changes to the derailleur and brifters, of course) and is as stiff as any normal rider would want or need. And they look good. The Quarq power meter is housed completely within its own spider, so it uses standard Red chainrings. You’ll need the Quarq crank arm/meter package, though, you can’t retrofit the power meter onto the standard Red crank arm.

It communicates via ANT+ with any brand cycling computer that’ll accept and display power data. It transmogrifies the data to show left/right power balance along with all manner of instant, interval, max and average power output.

The star of the show for me, though, were the wheels. More details and images on both below…

2013 SRAM Red Quarq power meter crankset and Zipp 202 clincher road bike wheels review

The new SRAM Red Exogram crankset has a one-piece hollow carbon crankarm and spider. The Quarq version is actually still using the old (ie. original) SRAM Red crank arm, which isn’t quite as light. And, the new X-Glide chainrings are actually a teensy bit heavier, but they pulled weight out of the power meter spider itself. Overall it’s a bit of a wash, and the unit weight comes in at 778g for the GXP model.

In this day and age, most major brand crank-based power meters are (theoretically) all pretty accurate. And, in reality, you should be basing your performance improvements on consistent data from the same meter. That removes any inconsistency-across-brands-or-devices variables and lets you compare apples to apples. What makes the Quarq unit a compelling choice is that it’s available in versions for most major crankarm brands and the battery is easily user-replaceable. That may seem like a bit of a non-plussed review, but they are what they are and Quarq has a good track record for reliability from what we’ve heard. What’s not to like?

The interesting part of test came during lunch when all of the numbers for each rider were presented. I’m happy to say I had the highest total wattage of any other journalist that day. I’m less happy to say that my power-to-weight ratio and sustained power metrics were below par. Honestly, this was my first ride using a proper power meter, though, and the information was not only enlightening, but fascinating. I can see why people are addicted to this stuff. (They’re emailing me my chart, I’ll add it to the post soon)

2013 SRAM Red Quarq power meter crankset and Zipp 202 clincher road bike wheels review

The Zipp 202 Firecrest Clinchers had their Tangente Open Tubular 23c tires mounted. The tires are made for them by Vittoria, and they kept the “open tubular” description for the clinchers.

For most of the ride (see pic below), we were in a two abreast paceline and not trying to kill each other with the pace. Roads varied from super smooth to scratchy pavement to a few bumps and pits. All in all, the wheels were well mannered over the variations. While at the front of the paceline, the mild head/cross winds didn’t seem to faze the 202′s.

What really stood out was braking performance. Over the past few years, I’ve had a chance to ride a number of carbon rims and their corresponding brake pads. Like most rim manufacturers, Zipp specifies their own pads for use with the 202′s. These come with their new Tangente Platinum Pro Evo pads (scroll to bottom of this post for details). The combo was grabby in a good way. You could certainly ease into the braking, but when you wanted to slow down, they reacted quickly without having to death grip the levers on the brink of lockup. In other words, braking felt as confident on these as with normal alloy rims, and that’s saying a lot.

As we neared Bootleg Canyon, we hopped on the bike path for a short Strava segment (which was the segment recorded for power analysis and comparison at lunch). It was an up-and-down, twist-and-turn bit that was a real blast to ride. Road Bike Action’s Neil Shirley destroyed all of us (handily), but it was a good quick test of the wheels’ ability to sprint and react.

All that in mind, this was just one ride in dry, moderate weather and without a ton of hills, descents or sharp turns. We have a set headed into the Bikerumor office for a proper long term review this fall/winter, so we’ll dive deeper into it then. For now, if you’re chompin’ at the bit to get new hoops, our first impressions suggest you’d be pretty happy with them.

Comments

Whatever - 10/03/12 - 3:32pm

Putting out big ass power in 39×25. Classy!

Brandon - 10/03/12 - 3:58pm

It’s actually the old S900, not the old Red cranks on the new Red Quarq.

Brandon - 10/03/12 - 4:01pm

I can’t imagine any bike feeling too twitchy or too crit-like with 40mm of spacers and an up-turned stem. Too bad they couldn’t hook you up with a Serotta, at least those normally have a huge stack of spacers on them…

Andy - 10/03/12 - 4:02pm

That bike is aesthetically appalling. I advise getting a frame that fits you better.

Brandon - 10/03/12 - 4:03pm

Forgot to add: how in the world can you be the editor of pretty well-known online cycling publication in 2012 and have this be your “first ride using a proper power meter”?!

Robb - 10/03/12 - 4:05pm

What exactly is total wattage?

Rob - 10/03/12 - 5:17pm

Wow, what’s with all the hating? So Tyler’s never spent a large amount of time on a power metre, so what. The bike may not be the correct size for him but I’m sure it was a make do affair. You arrive at these ‘test days’, (I’ve been to a few), pick the bike that best fits or adapt to what you’re given. Just my 2 cents.

I personally support BikeRumor and shall continue to do so.

Andy - 10/03/12 - 5:48pm

A guy who’s never used a power meter is posting a review of a power meter? Ok….

Lou Diamond Phillips - 10/03/12 - 8:06pm

It takes a big man to heckle another man’s bar/stem setup or power meter usage with an anonymous comment online. You guys are badasses.

Anthony - 10/03/12 - 8:12pm

@Brandon that is the quarq red http://www.quarq.com/sram-red-quarq-power-meter If you are gonna troll, be accurate.
It’s not his bike, he wasn’t doing the tour, just a test ride.
If you don’t care to read it, don’t.

Jay - 10/03/12 - 8:20pm

I have seen Neil in action multiple times and you are either a latent talent who missed his true calling, or Neil didn’t fully light it up. I get my backside handed to me regularly by him and some other riders around here and it’s something to see. ex Cat 2s screaming in agony, left in wreckage by the roadside, etc.

Egads man, get on that power meter, you have some talent!

Reynard - 10/03/12 - 8:31pm

Brandon, actually, that set-up will render a bike more twitchy since it puts less weight over the front wheel. Lower, more agressive positions serve to not only be more aero, but also far more stable and less twitchy.

Devin - 10/03/12 - 8:48pm

Do you guys not know that Neil Shirley is an ex-pro roadie? Dude was fast back then, and still fast now.

PS- hating on people who regularly bring you fresh content for free is pretty much the height of being an internet a**hole. Don’t like what he had to do to make a loaner bike fit? Get over yourself, I’m sure he wasn’t stoked either.

Brandon - 10/03/12 - 9:49pm

Anthony: I know what THIS Quarq is. But it is using the old S900 arms with new “Red” graphics, NOT the old Red arms. If you’re going to try to correct me, make sure I need correcting.

http://www.sram.com/sram/road/products/s900-crankset

Quarq is using their new powermeter system on the S900 cranks. This is why I was pointing out “The Quarq version is actually still using the old (ie. original) SRAM Red crank arm”, because it’s not using a Red crankarm at all, except that it’s an S900 arm with Red graphics.

My point being: why is a guy who has never ridden a power meter reviewing a power meter and giving out incorrect info?

dale - 10/03/12 - 9:54pm

Tyler must be a dentist.

Joe K. - 10/03/12 - 11:14pm

Man, it is the output that matters, not the height of bar/stem. Don’t get me wrong. My stem is slammed all the way down for stability. I am just saying that it is the result/wattage that matters, not the contest of flexibility.
:-)

44gnats - 10/04/12 - 10:16am

There’s hating and then there’s constructive feedback; in this case, the former is unnecessary and the later is appropriate. I love geeking out on bikerumor and am thankful for the prolific content it provides. That said, how could anyone read this (and observe the photographs) and not be dumbfounded (regardless of how much “talent” the author has a cyclist). As noted earlier… ” a guy who’s never used a power meter is posting a review of a power meter? Ok…” My sentiments exactly.

Chris - 10/04/12 - 10:25am

” a guy who’s never used a power meter is posting a review of a power meter? Ok…”

Agreed. But, like the majority of bikerumor entries, it’s less of a review and more just information and a few facts on the product. The post is also titled “first impressions” which is exactly what was delivered.

I don’t get all the hate in the comments lately. If the post doesn’t apply/appeal to you don’t bother. There’s a lot of info out there and bikerumor is just serving up their piece of the pie.

Everyone relax. If you don’t like the post, save the comment, and go for a ride instead.

I’m going for a ride.

DBordewisch - 10/04/12 - 10:37am

Yes, I to have been to bicycle demos. You kit should have the following a taper measure and torque wrench. As a rider you will know your stack ,reach and saddle height/setback/angle. It only takes minutes to make these adjustments. The author should be held to a higher standard than just someone attending Dirt Demo. The temptation to treat these events as just a chance to ride some cool bicycles is very great. Hopefully someone who is presenting an unbiased review will strive to do more. Would you go test ride the new car you plan to buy and not adjust the seat, mirrors and steering wheel? Or just leave it where they are at and say wow what a cool nav system.

Captain Obvious - 10/04/12 - 10:48am

You haters are missing the obvious..

If this pic was taken on the Las Vegas strip.. the bike should’ve been held by a Vegas Showgirl and the bottle cages should’ve been carrying two of those yard long margarita glasses.. all work and no play for poor Tyler who is only trying to provide an update for haters to complain about.

Thanks for the content Tyler. I check the site every day. Keep the information coming.

PS
With all the hating lately.. you guys are clearly thicker skinned than me. I’d be messing with people by this point. I’d purposely be taking pictures of bikes in the small chainring.. making sure tire logos are not properly aligned with valve stems.. adding steerer tube extensions to allow for a dozen donuts worth of spacers.. tilting the bars vertically.. and slamming the seat to the frame.

Kenny - 10/04/12 - 11:24am

Comments like these are why people hate roadie attitudes. I can only assume the mask of the internet turned some of these people into the a**holes they are. I sincerely hope they bite their tongues in real life interactions.

DBordewisch - 10/04/12 - 12:19pm

Is Bikerumor.com a news outlet or a personal blog. If it is a blog I agree ride a frame that is the wrong size get all of the free trips and schwag you can. Print fact or fiction who cares, just let everyone know upfront. If bikerumor.com is a news site then an effort should be made to be good journalists. Check facts, edit, proofread, be objective state things like SRAMono paid for my trip to test ride this product. Strive to become better. Or just be Bicycling.

Robert - 10/04/12 - 1:39pm

@Brandon

you are incorrect, and blatantly ignorant… -fact
the old S900 has a conventional 5 Bolt mounting position

the new red crankset and as we see here the Quarq crankset both have a chainring bolt position affixed to the back side of the crank arm.

just because we ride bikes doesnt mean that we have or have tried all the new gadgets. personally i choose to not ride with a computer or power meter… listening to my body, i believe, has really benefited me in my training, even more so than with all the fancy electronics out there. -believe what you would like, this is just my opinion.

dale - 10/04/12 - 2:18pm

Another thing that people always ignore with fit and spacers is body proportions. If you have a short torso and really long legs you can’t just “get a frame that fits”. I have a 37 inch inseam and a 13cm saddle to bar drop but I still need spacers on a 58 Tarmac with a 203mm HT. And a 60 would be too long. So it’s not like every brand has frames to fit every body size/proportions.

Brandon - 10/04/12 - 3:23pm

Robert: The S900 doesn’t have a bolt pattern at all, the spider is removable, just like this crank. So they added a hidden bolt, it’s still the S900 crankset with one bolt behind the drive-side arm. Try this: put one in your hand, the new Red Quarq and the S975. Try it. I have. Guess what I learned…..

I don’t care who rides what, as long as people are riding. The point is that I’ve thought this site was striving to be an industry news site. If that’s true, we shouldn’t be getting reviews from people who have no experience. But, if this is just a dude’s blog that happens to have some ads and a bunch of people reading, then there’s no foul here.

GZA - 10/05/12 - 3:30am

Zero content in this review to be fair. People would kill for a job like this and the journalism is poor at best, thus the hate – Interbike seems like a great opportunity for insiders to have a great time, and why not, but the quality of reporting of the product has been poor across all websites – I find that a little frustrating, as must the manufacturers.

J.R. - 10/05/12 - 9:12pm

Look guys, I’ve been highly critical of some of the stuff on this site in the past. I’ve also traded emails with Tyler about some of my objections. However, all of the negativity and criticism on this post is seriously unmerited. It says right there in the title: “First Impressions”. It’s not a full-blown review, but rather a quick blurb on a few new products. You don’t agree? That’s fine. There are many other cycling sites like this to choose from. You want to attack the author personally? Go start your own blog site.

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