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Zipp launch 404 Firestrike wheels and 202 disc brake wheels

New Firestrike rim shape is said to offer more stability and control

Zipp are launching a new rim shape called Firestrike which, they say, provides a 34% reduction in side force while maintaining the aero performance of their existing Firecrest rims. The new shape is added first to their popular 404 wheelset.

“A revised ABLC (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control) smooths airflow through more frequent and smaller vortices, providing unmatched stability and control on even the windiest day,” according to Zipp.

ABLC refers to the dimpled pattern found on all of Zipp’s carbon rims. It now comes in a new pattern.

“The new wavy dimple pattern is designed to utilize 18 nodes that are specifically clocked to start shearing at a rate of 66hz at a rider speed of 17mph,” say Zipp. “The wave pattern accomplishes this by inducing small sheet vortices that shed at this low magnitude but at a higher natural frequency, decreasing the laminar bubble effect on the leeward of the profile. This high frequency shedding is less perceivable to the rider, creating less disruption, and inspiring greater confidence to hold more aero position in worse conditions.”

In plain English, Zipp claim that the new Firestrike design improves stability. 


The rims are 58mm deep and 27.8mm across at the widest point.

The new 404 Firestrike wheels also feature Zipp’s all-new Showstopper brake track, a moulded in pattern that introduces a silicon carbide surface for improved braking in wet weather.

“This result in equal brake force in wet conditions when compared to industry leading aluminum rims,” say Zipp. “Showstopper technology delivers greater stopping power in wet conditions than any carbon wheel ever produced.”

The company also claim that a completely refined rim production process means these are the most durable rims they’ve ever built.

Zipp say that they’ve precision set the bearing preload in the 88/188v10 hubs so that no pre-load adjustment is required (you used to be able to finetune the preload yourself). Zipp use ceramic bearings in there (Zipp didn’t used to fit ceramic bearings as standard, saying that the roundness of the bearings was way more important than whether they were ceramic or not; they preferred to go with high-quality steel bearings).

Zipp build up the wheels with Sapim CX-ray spokes – 18 in the front wheel and 24 at the rear.

A carbon clincher wheelset weighs 1,620g (Zipp’s figure).

A front wheel costs £1,250 while a rear wheel is £1,500, and they’re available now. As well as the wheel you get rim tape, skewer, valve extenders, tubes, brake pads and a wheel bag.

Zipp 202 Disc-Brake

Zipp have responded to developments in the road bike market by launching a disc-brake version of their 202 wheel.

The Zipp brand is owned by SRAM who have just revealed a revised hydraulic brake design and they already have a disc-brake version of their 303 on the market.

“202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher retains its class leading aerodynamics, durability and impact resistance, making this a perfect wheel for everyday training, racing or the occasional gravel road excursion,” Zipp say.

The difference is that the 88/188 hubset features a six bolt disc brake mounting flange.

The rim is 32mm deep with a maximum width of 25.4mm. Zipp claim a wheelset weight of 1,530g. That compares to 1,395g for the rim-brake version.

The front 202 disc-brake carbon clincher will cost £966 and the rear one £1,179. They’ll be available from July.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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