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Zipp has brought its time trial and triathlon wheelsets up to speed. The deep profile 858 NSW and 808 Firecrest have gotten a major overhaul and now feature hookless tubeless rims, helping slash weight, among other improvements.
Major weight savings
Improvements in wheelsets can often feel modest, but there’s nothing incremental about the weight savings of the latest generation 808 wheelsets. The 808 Firecrest has gone from 1,917 grams to 1,635 grams, a whopping 282-gram savings. The 858 NSW, featuring the distinctive Sawtooth rim profile that undulates between 82mm and 85mm deep, shaves nearly as much, going from 1,773 grams to 1,499 grams, a total savings of 274 grams.
The 858 NSW owes its weight savings to something called “Carbon Internal Reinforcement,” which Zipp says has allowed it to make a rim 10% lighter than previously possible. Hookless rims also play a role in slimming down the weight, but more on that later.
For many years, the 808 series has represented Zipp’s fastest non-disc wheels, even superseding the deeper 1080 wheels some years back while being lighter and more stable in crosswinds, leading to that model being discontinued. There aren’t incredible aerodynamic improvements to report in this latest generation, but the wheelsets do manage to marginally improve upon the already speedy previous generation. Both the reworked undulating 82mm/85mm rim of the 858 NSW and the 80mm rim of the 808 Firecrest are 1 watt more aerodynamically efficient — not a headline stealing statistic, but an improvement nevertheless.
Hookless rims for Total System Efficiency
The modest aerodynamic gains could reflect that Zipp, a pioneer in wheel aerodynamics, is running up against the upper limit of how fast it can make rims — at least in the ways measured in a wind tunnel. But the brand has found other ways to increase a cyclist’s speed.
For the latest generation of wheelsets Zipp has been rolling out, the brand has turned to something called “Total System Efficiency” (TSE) as its guiding point on design. The 858 NSW and 808 Firecrest are no different. TSE looks at wheel design holistically — not just the traditional factors of aerodynamics and weight — factoring in things like rolling resistance of tires and vibration losses from rough surfaces to find areas to increase speed while also bolstering comfort.
One of the core design features of TSE is hookless tubeless rims, which provide multiple benefits. Hookless rims provide better support to wider tubeless tires run at lower pressures. The 23mm wide rims have been designed to perform best with 28mm tires, which, when run at lower pressures, reduce inefficiencies from road vibrations. That means more speed, in addition to a smoother ride. Additionally, the hookless rim creates a smoother transition between the rim and tire for optimal aerodynamics.
Hookless rims have even more upsides. Zipp says they are simultaneously stronger than hooked rims while needing less resin, resulting in a lighter final product. The construction process also results in less scrap material for a lower production cost.
Like the 303 and 404 lines, the Firecrest version of the 808 features the Zipp ZR1 hubs, and the 858 NSW is laced up with the brand’s Cognition V2 hubs. Each rear hub ships with either a Shimano or SRAM XDR freehub body. There is also an option to purchase a Campagnolo N3W freehub body separately.
As usual for Zipp, the new wheelsets don’t come cheap. The 858 NSW costs $2,000 for the front and $2,400 for the rear. The 808 Firecrest is much less at $1,125 front and $1,175 for the rear.
More info: sram.com/zipp