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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers - First Ride Review

If I said I wasn’t a victim of good marketing I would be lying, then again it’s only good marketing that I fall victim to in the first place. As consumers we learn about our products through the disclosure of manufactures and what they decide to share with us. With the hot release of the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers. I thought to myself “were these the effects of good marketing”. At least That was what I thought. Then I rode them!


These are the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers in the Beyond Black setup (with the exception of the decals which will be black) with black hubs, black spokes, and black nipples. The aero rims sits at 45mm tall with a brake-track width of 26.2mm while boasting a massive aero width of 28.5mm. These are equipped with the revised 2012 188 rear hub as well, adding more lateral stiffness to what is already designed to be a high performance wheel. As you read on, please keep in mind that I will be using references from previous rides with Mavic Ksyrium SL's, Shimano Dura Ace C24 clinchers, and Reynolds MV/C (same aero profile as the current Reynolds Thirty-Two carbon clincher wheels) carbon clinchers all equipped with the same Continental GP4000S 23mm tires on the same 2012 Pinarello Dogma 2 frame 

During my 60 mile ride, the terrain and weather conditions provided a very wide range of "testing" for these wheels. Immediately the ride's route took us across the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. For those of you who have had the opportunity to do so on a cloudy windy day. You know very well that the winds are not at all forgiving nor are they singularly directed  The conditions were no different on this day. Super strong crosswinds blowing in all directions. To my delight, the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers tracked true and steady. They were not ill affected by the crosswinds any more than say my Shimano Dura Ace C24 clinchers or the Reynolds MV/C clinchers I have ridden. In fact! I felt when I was riding on the Mavic Ksyrium SL's, I experienced more issues with the winds than these "high profile" rims. This was a shocking, but a welcome surprise.



In the corner the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers were extremely confidence inspiring. The bike hugged every corner it faced. All you could hear are the tires gripping the road for dear life while you beg for the courage to push it even further, keeping that corning speed. The wider rims seems to provide increased cornering abilities of the Conti GP4000s they just felt awesome. The corner entry was responsive and neutral, while during mid corner the rear seems to just trail happily whichever way you point the bike.


The braking performance on the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers were as strong as any of the basic aluminum braking surfaces. Zipp has their own carbon pads now made by swiss stop to be used specifically with their carbon rims. They are effective and so far there have been zero fading or any issue with stopping during my ride. Inevitably I will be doing more testing in the next couple of weeks, making sure to put the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers through the same conditions as my other wheels to see if the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers can really withstand the heat of constant braking and fast descends over and over again.


The 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers have a claimed weight of 1498 grams, which makes it a bit heavier than other carbon rims on the market in the same profile. The lateral stiffness of the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers makes the weight unnoticeable. Although the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers are roughly 100 grams heavier than the DA C24 clinchers and Reynolds MV/C and about the same weight as the Mavic Ksyrium SL's, they certainly climbed just as well if not better. Perhaps having a spoke count of 18 in the front and 24 in the rear along with the higher profile rims keeps the spokes shorter, help add more lateral stiffness to these wheels. The improved rear 188 hub they moved the non-drive side bearing another 7.5mm outwards, and canting the flange so the spokes are even straighter than before, the overall climbing performance of the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers. Two words.  Simply Amazing. 


After 60 miles of riding with some steep climbing and some bad bumpy roads, I was super impressed and not beat up at all. Being that the 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers are "aero" wheels, it seemed throughout the ride like these wheels certainly carried more speed and did so with the greatest of ease simply slicing through the air. I'll have a better idea once I get a chance to attack our local downhill where speeds of mid 50mph's can be reached. 


Overall, I would have to say that Zipp absolutely KNEW they were going to nail it with this wheel, and personally, I can't think of anything negative about the new 2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers Remember these are brand specific spokes so be sure to order extra with the purchase of your new  2012 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers. I will be riding the wheels through the winter and will test them out in all conditions but I have a lingering suspicion that they will not disappoint.

Kudos Zipp, Kudos.

1 comment:

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