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Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher - 2013

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Item # ZIP0185

This model is no longer in stock.

Item # ZIP0185


The best just got better

Contrary to popular belief, one wheel can do it all. Case in point is the Zipp 303. Name any race, and the 303 has either won it or won a stage in it. Seriously. And now, Zipp has found away to improve upon perfection with the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher. More stable, more aerodynamic, and faster than its predecessor, with Firecrest technology, anything is possible.

A number of components went into making the Firecrest 303 Carbon Clincher the strongest and fastest clincher in the Zipp arsenal of 'Speed Weaponry.' First is the Multi-Material Co-Moulding process that permanently fuses a sub-200-gram aluminum hoop to a dimpled carbon structure that acts as a leaf spring for road vibration and impacts. The next step in the process is the implementation of VCLC, which involves the insertion of a visco-elastic material between carbon laminates in the rim, which delivers a ten percent reduction in road vibration. When it came to carbon resin, Zipp faced obstacles in relation to applied heat. It found that clincher rims handle all of the air pressure along with the tire, resulting in catastrophic failure when over-heated. Part of the solution came from the development of the Firecrest Clincher rim shape, and the other came out of an exclusive deal with a Formula One carbon resin manufacturer. Together, they worked out a new resin that improves heat dissipation enough to pass European safety testing.

Zipp's Firecrest design is steeped in a wider-is-better ideology. Zipp found that a wider rim offers greater vertical and lateral compliance for increased control, comfort, and rigidity. For the clincher, they found that distancing the hook beads further apart allowed the tire to take on a more stable shape without adding rolling resistance. 

For strength and rigidity, the Firecrest 303 utilizes both uni-directional fiber and woven fiber. In this design, uni-directional fibers are used to handle the tensile and comprehensive loading within the rim, and woven fibers are used in the spoke-hole areas. A woven silica-ceramic fabric and a woven carbon fabric encapsulate the braking and tire-mounting surfaces. The combination of fiber patterns creates the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio in Zipp production.

The Firecrest is Zipp's most ambitious rim shape to date. Designed to account for differences in airflow between tubulars and clinchers, the Firecrest 303 Carbon Clincher maintains a rim depth of 45.0mm and an aero width of 28.5mm. Using computational fluid dynamics, Zipp improved crosswind stability by moving the center of pressure towards the steering axis. This creates the most stable and predictable deep-section rim on the planet. To counteract drag, the Firecrest maintains a near-constant width around the spoke bed to control the air flow around the back half of the wheel where the curved sections stick the airflow to the rim surface, forcing the flow into a high energy state that creates a turbulent boundary layer near the surface. This action reduces pressure drag, and increases skin friction which is ten times lower than pressure drag.

The wheels roll on Zipp's 88 and 188 front and rear hubs. Both hubs use friction-reducing ceramic bearings, and each have been laced with Sapim CX-Ray stainless steel, ovalized spokes. The front wheel features an 18 spoke radial lacing pattern, and the rear wheel uses a 24 spoke radial/cross lacing pattern.

The Zipp Firecrest 303 Carbon Clincher Wheels are sold individually as either a front or rear wheel, and in the colors Black and White. The rear wheel is available with either Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo compatible freehub bodies. New to 2013, the 303 Firecrest is compatible with Shimano Dura Ace 9000 11-speed cassettes. Each wheel includes a Zipp steel skewer, alloy valve extender, rim strip, and Zipp Tangente cork brake pads.

Please note that Zipp's Tangente Platinum Pro and cork brake pads are designed specifically for use with its carbon clinchers. Zipp also recommends a maximum rider weight of 225lb for these wheels.

Tech Specs

[rim] carbon fiber
Rim Width:
[brake track width] 26.40 mm, [maximum width] 28.50 mm
Rim Depth:
45 mm
Front Hub:
Zipp 88
Front Hub Type:
Rear Hub:
Zipp 188
Rear Hub Type:
Spoke Nipple Material:
Brake Compatibility:
caliper brakes with Zipp approved pads
Rotor Compatibility:
Front Weight:
675 g
Rear Weight:
800 g
Complete Set Weight:
1475 g
Recommended Use:
road cycling
Manufacturer Warranty:
2 years

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Here's what others have to say...

5 5

Great, even for day-to-day wheels

  • Gender: Male
  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm a huge fan of these wheels, having had them for a little over a year now. My intention was to use them as race wheels only, but after seeing how well they held up and rode I used them as daily riders.

They roll up quickly and feel very stiff.

I used several sets of tires with them, and found that at my 175lb weight, 115-120 lbs of pressure worked best for me. Mostly with Michelin Pro4s. Lower than that and they had a tendency to pinch-flat on the rougher NYC roads.

I recommend them highly for someone looking for a set of do-it-all wheels.