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Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Wheel - Tubular

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Item # ZIP0121

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Item # ZIP0121


Pro performance

Is there any test for a deep dish wheel greater than the Kona Ironman World Championships? It’s the Super Bowl and Tour de France rolled into one day for top triathletes. No competitor with even an outside shot at the win wants to take chances with his or her equipment on that day. In 2010, Zipp, having just developed their Firecrest rim, rushed a pair of the 808 tubulars to Kona favorite and Zipp-sponsored rider Chris McCormack. Though naturally reticent about changing from his normal disc wheel set up, McCormack believed the Zipp engineers when they assured him that the wheels were the best available. McCormack won the race. The win was aided, in no small part, by a breathtaking effort on the bike leg using the Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Wheelset.

The name ‘Firecrest’ comes from the naming conventions Zipp engineers use when they’re testing different rim shapes -- they give each new design, whether it is eventually used or not, the name of a bird. It just so happens that this rim, which was christened Firecrest, came back with such astounding numbers that Zipp quickly realized that they had a rim revolution on their hands. The new design comes from Zipp’s belief that focusing on how the shape of the back half of the rim can become a second leading edge improves aerodynamics. Zipp being Zipp, this meant that they went through many iterations before finalizing the Firecrest. Though its profile may appear a little bland, it is anything but. The Firecrest 808s end up performing better than any deep dished wheel on the market. And they performed well across the board, regardless of tire width or wind direction. The rim’s broad profile gives it greater strength when compared to rims of similar depth, and improves lateral stiffness for sprinting and cornering. The wider rim also prevents the air from ‘spilling’ into the spokes and slowing the wheel down. Firecrest also allows Zipp to build in their VCLC vertical compliance, making it one of the most comfortable rims available, even more so given its depth.

Not only were the aero properties off the charts, it became clear that at critical yaw angles the handling became more stable than any Zipp wheel or any Zipp competitor’s wheel. The Firecrest 808s were easier to handle in cross winds than the old 404s, for instance By optimizing the back half of the rim, the center of pressure caused by the wind is pulled back behind the hub so that the crosswind becomes much more predictable. The wind essentially hits the wheel on the steering axis, taking away the lever effect that typically happens when the wind catches the front half of the rim. This makes the wheel feel like it self-corrects with little need for input from the rider. Saxo Bank’s Baden Cooke said that riding the Firecrest design felt like the wheel rode within the wind and not against it.

Since the Firecrest 808s also feature the well-loved and rigorously tested ABLC ‘golf ball’ texture, you can consider these wheels the sum total of everything Zipp has learned about how to translate aerodynamic advancements into real-world solutions for problems that every rider faces. By reducing the drag and increasing the aerodynamic ‘sweet spot’ for all of their wheelsets, Zipp has forever changed expectations regarding aero wheels. The Firecrest rim will undoubtedly keep aero experts and weight weenies blissfully cavorting about knowing they are rolling the best wheels that love, money, or sponsors can buy.

The Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Wheelset comes in Falcon Grey and Beyond Black in either Shimano or Campagnolo compatible freewheels. The front wheel weighs in at 700 grams, and the rear tips the scales at just 120 grams more. 16 radially-laced spokes in front, and 20 laced 2-cross in the rear provide a nice balance of light weight, and toughness.

Please Note: Zipp's Tangente Platinum Pro and cork brake pads are designed specifically for use with their carbon tubulars. Use of brake pads other than these is highly recommended against and will void the wheel warranty.

Tech Specs

carbon fiber
Rim Width:
[internal] 18.0 mm
Rim Depth:
81.0 mm
Rear Spoke Count:
20 hole
Rear Hub:
Rear Hub Type:
Spoke Material:
stainless steel
Spoke Nipple Material:
not included
Brake Compatibility:
rim brake, carbon specific pads only
Rear Weight:
818 g
Recommended Use:
road cycling, training, racing, cyclocross
Manufacturer Warranty:
2 years

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