First Look: New Zipp 404 Firestrike and Zipp 202 Disc wheels

Bike Press Camp Wheels

Zipp Firestrike

Zipp’s fastest wheels just got faster. At least that’s the claim coming out of Bike PressCamp in Deer Valley, Utah, where the top-tier component maker unveiled its new Firestrike 404s. Zipp is calling the new $3600 carbon clinchers the most advanced and highest performing wheel in the company’s 26-year history. That price tag is $875 more than the Firecrest 404s, which will stay in the Zipp line.

The new Firestrike design draws on the same rim patent used in the Firecrest line, but sees the addition of improved brake track tech (called Showstopper), as well as the addition of a new variable dimple pattern that’s claimed to shed air off the rim at a higher frequency in a shorter duration. Or put another way, you’ll be faster — and more stable.

Zipp Firestrike Dimples Zipp Firestrike 404The new brake track is claimed to shed water better, meaning improved wet-weather braking.

Zipp says it took a deep dive into CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and came up with a new shape that provides a 34 percent reduction in side force while maintaining the aero performance of its Firecrest rims.

The new textured brake track is molded into the rim and is claimed to improve wet weather braking performance to the point where you wont notice the difference between these composite hoops and traditional alloy rims. Graphics are also revised, using what Zipp calls Impress (think sublimation) which unlike the decals used on the Firecrest wheels, has no impact on the dimple pattern of the Firestrike.

Zipp says it also improved cornering performance by spreading out the bead seat so you get better tire contact and decreased slip angle.

Claimed weight of the new Zipp 404 Firestrike is 1,620 grams per wheelset. Depth is 58mm with a max width of 27.5mm. Spoke count is 18 front, 24 rear. Spokes are laced 3-cross and are Sapim with secure-lock nipples. Hubs are Zipp 88/188v10, a refined version of Zipp’s 88/188v9s. No bearing pre-load adjustment is required. Smooth rolling ceramic bearings improve pedaling efficiency.

The complete $3600 package will include Zipp rim tape, two Ti skewers, two valve extensions, two tubes, two wheel bags, and four Zipp Platinum Pro Evo brake pads.

Zipp 202 Disc Zipp 202 Disc RimZipp’s new 202 disc wheel joins the 303 disc, but will be more appealing to the hardcore road audience.

Meanwhile, Zipp is also making a continued push into the disc arena, releasing the new Firecrest 202 Disc. These come on the heels of the 303 disc, which gained popularity in the cyclocross arena. The new 202 is a lighter, more road-friendly offering.

Claimed weight is 1530 grams. Rim depth is 32mm with a 25.4mm max width. Spokes are 24/24 front and rear. Hubs are Zipp 88/188 with a 6-bolt mounting flange. The 188 rear hub is built with Zipp’s virtual 3X lacing pattern. Spacing is 100mm front, 135mm rear. And their available with black or white decals. MSRP $2,825. Both new wheelsets will available starting this month.

First Look: New Zipp 404 Firestrike and Zipp 202 Disc wheels Gallery
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Zipp 202 Disc

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Zipp 202 Disc

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Zipp Firestrike 404

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Zipp 404 Firestrike

The staggered dimple pattern is claimed to help the wheels shed air better, making the wheels faster and more stable.
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Zipp 404 Firestrike

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Zipp 404 Firestrike

They certainly pass the eye test.
About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures in British Columbia, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, and Peru among many others. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in January, 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and edited a book on cycling tips. When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying the great outdoors with his wife Lisa.


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