Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Disc Brake Road Wheelset - Tubular $2,500.00
Race smarter, go faster.
Zipp's 303 Firecrest Disc Brake Tubular Wheelset stands in as one of the most relied-upon wheelsets for both road and cyclocross racers year after year. This is in no small part due to the versatility and durability that comes with these tried-and-tested hoops, and they've now been built to accept disc brakes. In order to accomplish this, Zipp's engineers redesigned the hubs and added a new spoke arrangement, which work to mitigate the different load forces and stress that result from disc braking. Now you'll be equipped with the proven blend of aerodynamics and speed long associated with the 303, wrapped into a new disc-specific wheelset package.
The 45mm rim depth on the 303 wheels is better for lighter riders, or for those who feel concerned about being buffeted by crosswinds. And as they did on the 404 Firecrest rim shape, Zipp's engineers developed a new 303 Firecrest rim profile that moves the center of pressure in towards the hub, away from the outside edge of the rim. The tangible benefit is a marked decrease in the leveraging effect of stiff crosswinds on the steering axis -- you'll be able to ride more confidently and faster in blustery conditions. Also, their dimpled 45mm rims are still deep enough to offer serious aerodynamic advantages. In fact, the Firecrest is 8% faster than the last generation 303. Even with this marked increase in shear speed, the 303 Tubular Disc Wheelset comes without much of an increase on the scales.
Zipp uses unidirectional carbon throughout the rim, but the tubular sidewalls and outer rim wall use woven carbon for added toughness on the tubular shape. The wheels roll on Zipp's 88 front and 188 rear disc-specific hubs. The newly designed 11-speed compatible freehub uses a larger bearing -- still Swiss stainless steel -- and custom cartridge in the rear hub shell for increased durability. The rear hub is also spaced to the 135mm mountain bike standard for compatibility with the current disc frames, and both hubs have a preload adjustment so that you're able to dial them in to that bearing nirvana -- just between a bit of play and slightly too tight. Speaking of bearings, Zipp's Swiss-made bearings enjoy a reputation for exceptional smoothness.
The 303 Tubular Disc Wheelset gets 24 radial spokes in the front and 24 spokes in the rear wheel, split between both sides -- crossed on the left and radial on the right. This is up from the 18 spokes used in the standard 303 front wheel, as the added spokes in the disc-specific Firecrest provide increased rigidity against the stresses caused by disc braking. The Sapim CX-Ray stainless steel ovalized spokes are far and away the best in the industry. They're lighter than most round butted spokes, and the coining process used to produce their aerodynamic shape makes them stronger and very durable. They are anchored to the full-carbon rims with Sapim alloy nipples.
One more design aspect of note is the width of the 303 Carbon Tubular wheels. With its prior development, Zipp has experienced many benefits by using a slightly wider rim. Firstly, the aero properties are best exploited when paired with a like-sized tire. And since most of us train and even race on 23-25mm tires, the use of a wider 28.5mm width 'fits' the tires better for optimum aerodynamics; in addition to changing the shape of the tire for a few more benefits. These are due to increasing the total air volume inside the tire. This increase in volume increases the cornering contact patch without increasing the rolling resistance. It also allows you to ride at a slightly lower air pressure as the straighter sidewalls possess more stability and deflect less against obstructions on the road and against cornering forces. The chance of pinch flats with straighter sidewalls is also lessened.
The Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Disc Brake Wheelset is perfect for hard riding in hard terrain. Uphill or into the wind, they're snappy and fast. And since they have a few extra spokes compared to the 404 wheels, they're a great choice if you have to train on your race wheels. They come with either Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM compatible freehubs, and the Shimano body is equipped for the new Dura Ace 9000 11-speed shift system. A set of Zipp steel skewers are included as well as two Zipp alloy valve extenders. Also, because these wheels' rims wear the current 303 clincher/tubular shape, they retain the standard brake track.