Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Road Wheel - Tubular $1,314.95
When nothing but fast will do.
You might need a microscope to understand the intricacies of the 404 Firecrest Tubular, but you certainly don't need one to grasp the magnitude of its records. From L'Alp d'Huez to Kona, it's nearly impossible to find another wheel with such a storied career. However, the best just got better with the 404's adaptation of Zipp's new 188/V9 rear hub. The future is here.
The 404 is one Zipp's most ambitious rim shapes. It maintains a rim depth of 58.0mm and a maximum width of 26.53mm in the front and 27.07mm in the rear. The Zipp 88/188 hubs' bearing stance has been widened by 7.5mm, and the rim's body shape has been canted out by two percent. Zipp found that the design creates a more stable structure, and offers greater vertical and lateral compliance with increased control, comfort, and rigidity. While the 404 benefits from these welcomed additions, to achieve the Zipp-standard of strength and rigidity, the 404 utilizes unidirectional fibers to handle the tensile and comprehensive loading within the rim, and woven fibers 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 a high stiffness-to-weight ratio without stacking up the grams.
A number of Zipp technologies went into making the 404 Firecrest one of the most versatile wheels in the Zipp arsenal. First, the Multi-Material Co-Molding process permanently fuses a sub-200-gram aluminum hoop to a dimpled carbon structure that acts as a leaf spring for road vibration and impact. Spokes laced directly to the carbon body give you the benefit of a carbon feel and aluminum braking. Next, visco-elastic material is inserted between carbon laminate in the rim to reduce road vibration by ten percent. Lastly, the dimples of the Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) on the curved rim section work to create a slight turbulence directly above the rim surface. This creates an artificial boundary layer that forces the laminar boundary layer towards the forward part of the rim to become turbulent. This process enables airflow to remain attached over more of the rim for a longer period of time, providing a lower level of integrated drag. The drag that ABLC creates is called skin friction drag; although it's greatly increased, pressure drag (which is ten times higher than skin friction) is decreased to make the 404 wheels faster than the competition in a wide range of conditions, not just the wind tunnel. While most wheels only enjoy minimum drag at rarely occurring yaw angles of five and ten degrees, the 404 experiences it at the real-world conditions of 10 to 20 degrees.
For the build, Zipp used its proprietary 88 hub on the front and the new 188/V9 on the rear. This new hub has larger precision Swiss steel bearings for increased durability, and it provides an increase in lateral stiffness over its predecessor. According to Zipp, this new bearing/cartridge system also delivers a 25% increase in torsional stiffness compared to the leading competitive hubs currently available. The wheels still receive an 18/24 Sapim X-Ray spoke configuration, but on the rear wheel Zipp moved from a radial non-drive side and two-cross lacing drive side pattern to its new "virtual three cross" lacing configuration on both sides. Zipp uses the word "virtual" here to describe the manner in which one spoke doesn't actually contact the other two spokes it crosses. The result is a stiffer overall construction that more effectively transfers power directly to the rear wheel, which is crucial for those out-of-the-saddle sprints and climbs.
The Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Road Wheel is available in the color Black with either Black or White labels. Every wheel is hand-built in the USA, and the rear wheel is available in two freehub configurations to fit either Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM 11-speed cassettes. Please note that Zipp's maximum recommended rider weight is 250lbs.