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Just In: Zipp 202 NSW Carbon Clinchers

Check out the new premium wheels that have just arrived for testing

Zipp’s new 202 NSW Carbon Clinchers have just arrived at for review, so let’s take a quick look before they get fitted to a bike.

NSW stands for Nest Speed Weaponry. That needs an explanation. The Nest is Zipp’s advanced development lab, where engineers work on the brand’s leading technology. Essentially, NSW products are designed to be Zipp’s best; the premium lineup.

Zipp 202 NSW - rim detail.jpg

Zipp introduced the 808 NSW wheelset last year, followed that up with the 404 NSW and the 303 NSW earlier this year, and now the 202 gets the NSW treatment for the first time. 

The 202 is the shallowest section carbon clincher in Zipp’s range with rims that are 32mm deep (the maximum width is 25.4mm). Zipp says it has refined the carbon-fibre layup of the existing 202 Firecrest to drop weight. Our 202 NSW wheels hit the scales at just 621g (front) and 789g (rear), a combined weight of 1,410g (including rim tape, compared with Zipp’s claimed weight of 1,375g and a claimed weight for the 202 Firecrest carbon clincher of 1,450g). The two quick release skewers add 70g.

Check out our complete guide to Zipp wheels here.

Zipp uses its ABLC (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control) SawTooth technology here, which refers to the dimpled rim surface. 

“Our new Sawtooth dimple design consists of 12 nodes that are specifically clocked to start aerodynamic shearing at a rate of 50hz at a rider speed of 20mph,” according to Zipp.

“Sawtooth accomplishes this by inducing small sheet vortices that shed at a low magnitude, but at a higher natural frequency, thus decreasing the laminar bubble effect on the aerodynamically shielded side of the rim’s profile to further reduce high yaw drag and improve crosswind stability.”

The wheels feature what Zipp calls its ImPress graphics. This means the graphics are printed directly on the wheel rather than via stickers, the idea being that the dimples aren’t covered so they are free to do their job.

Zipp 202 NSW - rim detail 2.jpg

Unlike the 202 Firecrest, the 202 NSW features Zipp’s Showstopper brake track.

“Showstopper is a complimenting pairing of a directional, moulded-in, texture with silicon carbide particles suspended in the surface resin.”

The idea is to improve the braking performance, especially in wet conditions, when used with the Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads that come as part of the package.

Zipp 202 NSW - rim bed.jpg

Zipp reckons that you get equal brake force to ‘industry leading aluminium rims’ in the wet. We look forward to testing that out because wet weather braking on some carbon rims can be, um, disappointing... and that’s putting it kindly.

Whereas the 202 Firecrest wheels feature Zipp’s 77/177 hubs, the 202 NSW uses the brand’s Cognition hubset.

“Every time a conventional hubset starts to coast, friction within the freehub ratchet mechanism works like a drum brake to slow the rider down,” says Zipp.

Zipp 202 NSW - rear hub.jpg

“With the Cognition hubset’s Axial Clutch technology, we’ve reduced this drag by disengaging the ratchet mechanism when coasting.”

How? Zipp uses magnets rather than springs inside the Axial Clutch mechanism to move and engage the ratchet rings.

“Our testing shows that the best traditional three-pawl hub designs have twice the rotating friction as our Axial Clutch equipped Cognition rear hub, and the most popular hubsets using a similar drive mechanism as Axial Clutch were found to produce four times the rotating friction,” says Zipp.

Zipp 202 NSW - front hub.jpg

The rider weight limit is exactly the same as for the 202 Firecrest carbon clincher wheelset at 250lb (17st 12lb or 113kg).

You’re going to want to know the price, aren’t you? That's reasonable. The front wheel is £1,047 and the rear one is £1,322. Buy them one at a time to spread the load!

So, that’s essentially a rundown of the story from Zipp, now it’s time to get the 202 NSW wheels out on the road.

If you want more details before our review is sorted, head over to


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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