Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Road Wheelset - Tubular $2,599.95
Not all trends are without merit.
Over the past season, we witnessed an impressive trend. What's that? Well, the Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Road Wheelset has been getting picked up by nearly every pro squad known to man. It stacks the starting line at Kona, and it slays the World's time trial by around five seconds. We're not kidding. For 2013, the Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Tubular is faster than the 2012 by around 15 seconds over 40 kilometers. Zipp made it a touch deeper, a tad wider, and far quicker. Riding is believing.
The Firecrest 808 is Zipp's most ambitious rim shape to date. Designed to control airflow, the 808 Firecrest carbon tubulars maintain a deeper, 82.0mm rim depth and a wider, 27.5mm maximum width. Using computational fluid dynamics, Zipp moved the center of pressure towards the steering axis to create the most stable and predictable deep-section rim on the planet. Zipp found that a wider rim offers greater vertical/lateral compliance for increased control, comfort, and rigidity. For the strength and rigidity, the Firecrest 808 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 the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio in Zipp production.
A number of Zipp technologies went into making the 808 Firecrest carbon tubular the fastest wheel 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 808 Firecrest 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 808 Firecrest experiences it at the real-world conditions of 10 to 20 degrees. In fact, the 2013 Firecrest 808 is 15 seconds faster of 40km than its 2012 predecessor.
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 808 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Road Wheelset is available with either a Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo compatible 11-speed freehub body. Please note that the wheel does not come with a tire, but it does come with a pair of Zipp's Tangente Platinum Pro brake pads. If you think that you'll prefer another pair of pads, please visit Zipp's official website for a list of approved pads, as deviating from this list could void your warranty.