Zipp launches 404 Firestrike, SRAM re-launches HydroR discs

SRAM re-launches HydroR discs, Zipp has a new flagship wheel, and Rival goes 11-speed

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PARK CITY, Utah (VN) — What’s old is new again. SRAM’s HydroR disc brakes are back, with reinforcements, and Zipp’s latest 404 is an old 404, but better.

Both brands used the annual Press Camp media event in Park City, Utah to unveil the jewels of their 2015 ranges, including a new flagship carbon clincher, the 404 Firestrike, the return of HydroR brake systems, and the all-new Rival 22 11-speed group. Read on for details.

11-Speed Rival

Joining its Red 22 and Force 22 big brothers is the new Rival 22 group. Rival shares many of the same internals and the shifting characteristics as Red and Force, but in a heavier package.

The single biggest change is the introduction of new hydraulic rim and disc brakes, in addition to new and cable actuated rim brakes, all under the Rival banner. The Rival HydroR products are part of the re-launched SRAM hydraulic line that is now the most comprehensive in the industry, spanning clear from the budget Apex group through Red 22.

The new Rival crankset is only available as a compact 110BCD, with 50-34 and 52-36 tooth ring options available. Aesthetically, the crankset gets a breathe of fresh air and more closely resembles its Force and Red 22 big brothers.

The front derailleur gains Yaw technology, and with it the “22” branding, as the front derailleurs shape gives the user 22 useable gears. The rear derailleur comes in a short and mid cage WiFli offering, which can accommodate up to a 32 cassette cog.

Rival 22 is available for order now, and should be in shops in about a month. A group with mechanical brakes will start at $765 with a GXP crankset (BB30 is also available) and a short rear derailleur cage — non WiFli equipped. Hydraulic rim brakes add $582, and hydraulic disc brakes add $792, bring those groupsets to $1,347 and $1,557, respectively.

HydroR reintroduced in a big way

When SRAM recalled the HydroR disc and rim brakes last December, they said that they would completely redesign the system. They’ve done that and more, doubling the HyroR lineup. Now every price point from 10-speed Apex to 11-speed Red 22 has a hydraulic option.

At every price point — 10-speed S-700, Rival 22, Force 22, and Red 22 — there are both disc and rim brake hydraulic options. The Force CX1 left lever will only be available as a disc unit, and every lever/caliper set will be sold individually. So, a rider could use a Red 22 right brake and shifter with a Force CX1 left brake lever, to save weight.

Zipp introduces flagship Firestrike wheels

Zipp says that from the moment the brand introduced the Zipp Firecrest line years ago, the engineers have been hard at work to develop a still better wheelset.

“In the past we’ve designed wheels to optimize aero drag and rolling resistance. Since Firecrest, been looking to make a wheel better overall, not just faster. We’ve always focused on aero, but there are confidence-driven forces that are fighting to slow a rider now,” said Zipp wheel product manager Jason Fowler.

The result of this mindset is the new Zipp 404 Firestrike carbon clincher wheelset, which features both aerodynamic and ride quality improvements, as well a hefty bump in the price tag compared to the Zipp 404 Firecrest.

The Firestrike wheels receive a new aero dimpling pattern that moves closer and further from the brake track as it makes its way around the rim. It no longer goes from the brake track to the spoke nipple. Zipp claims that this is in an attempt to control turbulence and to make the wheel more stable.

New silk-screened logos replace decals and don’t disturb the dimpling of the wheel.

The new Showstopper brake track is the big change from Firecrest, which already sports one of the best carbon brake tracks on the market. Still, the Firecrest struggled under wet braking, and the Firestrike seeks to improve that, allowing riders race the 404 Firestrike clinchers in any conditions.

The Showstopper brake track uses of silicon carbide, giving it a textured, unidirectional louvered look. This texture is key to improved wet-weather braking, Zipp claims.

The rim is built under the same shape patent as the 404 Firecrest, and is the same depth, but borrows a few characteristics from the 303 Firecrest, specifically the wider tire bead hook width.

The upgrades from the 404 Firecrest carbon clincher to the 404 Firestrike don’t come cheap. The 404 Firecrest currently costs $2,725 and it will remain in the line. The new 404 Firestrike wheelset will be available as a higher end option for $3,600. The Firestrike is just 20 grams lighter than the Firecrest 404, and uses largely the same shape; clearly the new wheels will appeal only to a very specific rider, one who often rides in the rain and, most importantly, is willing to shell out serious cash for marginal gains.

Zipp 404 Firestrike carbon clinchers are available now.

Logan VonBokel spoke with SRAM and Zipp at Lifeboat Event’s Press Camp in Park City. Press Camp provided travel and lodging for media attending the event.

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