Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Zipp’s product line and naming convention can make predicting the next wheel to launch fairly easy. The 404 usually gets the ball rolling. That was true when it came to carbon clinchers, it was true when it came to the NSW update and true last November when the new 454, with its undulating HyperFoils influenced by bio-mimicry, was launched. The 808 has always been next to receive the update, so what could Zipp possibly be launching on the heels of the 454 NSW launch? You guessed it – the 858 NSW.
The 858 was actually developed side by side with the 454 in Zipp’s advanced development lab – the Nest – and the goal was the same – aero balance. This is the name Zipp has given to its search for aero efficiency and stability. A super deep, super fast aero wheel is useless if the rider is blown around too much to have faith in the wheel. With the 858, Zipp is attempting to make a rim that is as fast or faster than an 808, but handles like a 404.
Like the 454, the 858 features the Sawtooth rim shape with HyperFoils. These HyperFoils increase the frequency with which vortices are shed from the wheel, meaning the wheels shed crosswind’s side force before it can build up and create a gut churning lurch at the bars. But these wheels use an entirely different profile. Zipp has found a way to separate how HyperFoils shed cross wind from the aero cross section itself. The rim is much sharper at the interior diameter than the blunt 808 or the 454, which helps reduce overall rider/bike system drag by 7.5% average versus the 808 over +/-12 degree sweep of wind angle. That’s a huge saving.
Ben Waite, a Zipp production engineer, said it took 10 months of work to try and make this shape’s production en masse possible. The sharp inner diameter does not leave much real estate for the carbon layers necessary at the spoke hole, while the HyperFoil nodes complicate the process further. It takes 23 people 12.5hours to make a single 858 NSW wheel.
To improve handling even more, Zipp has managed to move the center of pressure closer to the front axle where it can’t influence steering as much, creating an overall 34% reduction in steering torque when the wind does build up, versus the 808. This puts the 858 NSW, a rim that undulates between 82 and 77mm deep, in the same steering torque range as a 58mm deep 404. After a short ride on the 858 NSW in the winds of Hawaii’s Big Island, we can confirm that reduction is more than just a windtunnel or CFD stat, it is apparent in the saddle too. The 858 NSW rides like a much shallower wheel in the wind.
So, the overall effect of the 858 NSW is a faster wheel than the 808 that handles like a 404. It’s also a lighter wheel than the original 808 NSW, making a wheel of this depth a real choice on the road. We’ve seen plenty of race wins with the Zipp 606 – the slang name for a 404 front and 808 rear combination – and even a few road wins on dual 808s, like the 2008 Milan San Remo victory of Fabian Cancellara. As for UCI legality, the 858 NSW clincher, launched today, has actually been on the UCI approved wheel list since July 31st, 2017.
We’d expect to see more and more pro riders using dual 858s on the open road as they will allow riders to handle their bikes more confidently than with an 808 up front, with acceleration characteristics closer to the 404. But the 858 NSW tubular is not currently on the UCI list or even being developed by Zipp. According to Jason Phillips, SRAM Road Marketing Director and the man on the front lines with Team Katusha, it’s still early days, but he’s hoping to get tubulars for his professional teams next year. It would seem to be the ideal wheel for new hire Marcel Kittel and his lead out train.
As part of the NSW family the new 858 NSW gets the new Cognition hubset with the magnetic Axial Clutch free hub reducing drag, as well as the new Impress graphics, Showstopper brake track and updated HexFin ABLC dimples that help maximize the effect of the HyperFoils.
Like the 454 NSW before it, the 858 NSW is also expensive – $4400. It features a 17mm internal, 23.7mm max external width, with 24/24 spokes on the disc wheel and 18/24 on the rim brake wheel. The 858 NSW weighs 1750grams in the rim brake version and 1834grams in the disc brake version. The 858 NSW rim brake version sheds 60 grams versus the 808 NSW, and all that weight came from the rim. While the rest of Zipp’s wheel line has gone tubeless, both the 454 NSW and 858 NSW remain traditional tube type rims.
The wheels are available now in the US and globally available in November. We’ll be getting a set in for long term review soon. Stay tuned.