Revolving and evolving.
The Zipp 202 wheelset has long since earned its reputation as one of the most venerable pairs of road hoops extant, with countless wins in the classics and major tours alike, over all types of conditions and under all types of riders. Now, the 202 has taken two major steps forward. The first is the integration of Zipp's revolutionary Firecrest rim technology, and the second is the addition of the disc-brake-compatible model you see here, which embraces the approaching storm of road-disc capability that's making its way onto the road bike scene.
What's Firecrest? Firecrest is a series of changes to the shape and construction of the wheel's rim to decrease aerodynamic resistance and increase overall performance, and it's Zipp's most ambitious rim shape to date. Because it's partially designed to account for differences in airflow between tubulars and clinchers, the 202 Firecrest carbon clincher maintains the traditional 202 rim depth of 32.0mm, but now it's been given a max sectional width of 25.4mm (24.6mm at the brake track). Using computational fluid dynamics, Zipp found this brought on a few aerodynamic advantages, but we'll get to those in a minute. Zipp found that a wider rim offers greater vertical compliance for increased control and comfort. Moving the clincher's hook beads farther apart allowed the tire to take on a more stable shape without adding rolling resistance. For strength and rigidity, the Firecrest 202 utilizes unidirectional fibers to handle the tensile and comprehensive loading within the rim. This is further reinforced by using woven fibers in the spoke-hole areas. Lastly, 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 driving concept behind Zipp's Firecrest technology is relatively simple — what goes up must come down. For years, the 202 has been the wheel of choice for Grand Tour ascents, but Zipp found room for improvement on the wheel's handling and stability on the way down. The natural decision was to produce a Firecrest version of the wheel, but this proved more difficult than it had been on Zipp's other models. Zipp found that the 202's profile was more sensitive to tire shape than deeper rim depths, so it had to adapt the Firecrest profile accordingly. As a result, the 202 Firecrest lives up to the aerodynamic performance its name promises, and it does so with virtually any road tire. The 202 is ready for 'cross, hair-raising descents, and the roughest of roads.
The 202's construction is a large part of what makes the wheels so extraordinary, as well. 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, without metal eyelets or reinforcement, add compliance and save weight. Next, a viscoelastic material is inserted between carbon laminate in the rim to reduce road vibration by 10 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 mildly disrupts the air at the leading edge of the rim, allowing airflow to remain attached over more of the rim for a longer period of time, thus 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 10 times higher than skin friction) is decreased to make the 202 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 to 10 degrees, the 202 Firecrest experiences it at the real-world conditions of 10 to 20 degrees, making it the least susceptible to crosswinds of any Firecrest wheel.
For the build, Zipp used its proprietary disc-specific 88/188 hubset. Specifically, the new disc-ready 188/V9 rear hub design reports a claimed 25% increase in torsional rigidity over the previous 188 hub, and it's also stiffer laterally than the last iteration. Additionally, it features larger Swiss Steel bearings that distribute load more evenly across the axle. Finally, the hub's new lacing design allows for what Zipp calls its "virtual three-cross" lacing pattern, which delivers three-cross durability with a two-cross build. The wheels receive an 18/24 Sapim X-Ray spoke configuration, and to minimized mechanical drag, each hub rolls on Swiss Steel bearings.
The Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc Brake Wheel is available in a 700c size and is sold as an individual clincher. The rear wheel is available with either Shimano/SRAM- or Campagnolo-compatible freehub bodies. The hubs are only compatible with 6-bolt rotors. The rims on the disc-specific 202 are structurally identical to the rim-brake 202s, however, they are not compatible with rim brakes because the brake track is not sanded to induce friction - this is a disc-only wheelset. Decal colors available include Black and White. Please note that Zipp does not recommend the 202s for riders exceeding 250lbs in weight.
- Firecrest carbon-fiber rim technology
- 25.4 maximum width and 16.25mm bead width
- 32mm rim depth
- Zipp 88 disc front hub and Zipp 188/V9 rear hub
- Stainless steel Sapim X-Ray spokes
- Six-bolt disc-brake rotor compatibility
- ZIPP titanium skewers