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Zipp’s 2010 404 Firecrest rim came as close as possible to squeezing every drop of aerodynamics out of a 58mm rim depth. The question is, ‘Where do they go from there?’ While lowering aero drag is an obvious and fairly quantifiable tangible when it comes to going faster, Zipp felt there was room to increase rider speed by focusing on the intangibles of speed, the things that may be stopping riders from using the wheel’s full aero potential.
Zipp’s newest wheel, the Firestrike 404 Carbon Clincher, was designed to address these intangibles. The wheel is reportedly more stable in cross winds, allowing riders to run the deep wheels in more conditions, more comfortably. A new molded brake track pattern and surface material increase brake performance in wet rims, equal to the best alloy according to Zipp. Redesigned 88/188 hubs, with ceramic bearings and pre-set tension utilize a new virtual 3x lacing pattern for added torsional stiffness. Your ‘need to know’ information on the new Zipp Firestrike rim is below.
Need to Know
• Reduction in side force thanks to the new rim shape as been calculated at 34% compared to the Firecrest, which was already very good, so that reduction may actually feel fairly subtle on the road.
• New dimples, or ABLC (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control) in Zipp speak, feature a wave pattern and supposedly play a big roll reducing the side force by improving the rim’s air flow shedding capabilities.
• The new brake track pattern and surface of silicon carbide have been dubbed ‘Showstopper’ and require Zipp’s new EVO brake pads, which are included with each wheel set.
• New manufacturing and lay up results in the toughest rim Zipp has ever made, if you’ve ridden the 303 you know that is saying something.
•Adjustable bearing pre-load was initially presented as an advancement in the original 188/88 hubs but Zipp has changed that position, believing factory pre-set is now superior.
• New Zipp graphics called ‘Impress’ are printed directly on the rim, instead of stickers. This saves some minimal weight, but it does mean running Zipp’s in stealth mode will be more difficult.
•At 1620grams for a set, the wheel is actually slightly heavier than the Firecrest 404 at 1615grams.
• The Firecrest 404 is not going anywhere for now. The Firestrike is a new, more premium level (and you didn’t think that was possible, did you?). A set of these wheels costs $3600.
• The Firestrike 404 Carbon Clincher is available now and includes wheel bags, skewers, extenders, rim tape, brake pads and tubes.