303 Firecrest Carbon Road Wheel
We always have fond memories of Zipp's 303 Firecrest Carbon Road Wheel, after all, it was the first carbon wheel to conquer Roubaix. With every new addition, the wheel gets a little more refined and as that old adage goes, "it never gets easier, you just go faster" these wheels might not make the riding any easier but you definitely reap the benefits of going faster and further with less effort with these hoops mounted up. Tubulars still rule the roost when it comes to discerning pros as the feel, weight savings, and safety during a flat still isn't matched with the current crop of clinchers and tubeless tires.
The dimpling of Advanced Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) that Zipp relies on for aero supremacy returns on these wheels and are further refined through wind tunnel and real-world research and development. Along with the rims' signature bulge, ABLC also helps improve stability at common cycling yaw angles by directing side forces more toward the steering axis. We definitely appreciate ABLC — if for no other reason than that it's become a staple in the peloton, winning races under names ranging from Cancellara to Armistead — but we can't forget other high tech features like its Visco-Elastic Constrained Layer Control (VCLC) and Carbon Bridge.
VCLC is similar to a construction model that we're seeing more and more in high-end frame manufacturing, especially among the venerable Italian names. It involves, to deconstruct Zipp's initialism, constraining a visco-elastic layer between the wheels' carbon fiber layers in order to increase the structure's ability to absorb and control road noise. As mentioned above, we're used to seeing this in racing frames, but Zipp may be the only manufacturer to bring it to wheels.
The Carbon Bridge design incorporates Kevlar threads in the carbon layup to take advantage of Kevlar's 350% greater resistance to impact. The benefits throughout the wheel are obvious, but higher durability is especially welcome at the tire mounting surface, which is often the first area to take a hit, and Zipp claims that the 303's durability under duress jumps by almost 40%. Zipp even goes so far as to make the joke that the wheels are practically bulletproof.
The rims are anchored by Zipp's updated 77 and 177 hubs in the front and back, respectively. The new hub model features a flange and spoke lace design meant to decrease the torsional twist a wheel can experience under hard accelerations and the lateral flex produced by long periods of steady, uphill grinding. Zipp also claims that the new hub improves bearing life.
- Zipp's carbon fiber wheel for the classics
- The 45mm depth offers everyday aerodynamics
- 28mm external width supports wider tires with ease
- Zipp 77/177 hubs spin smoothly and drop grams
- Tubular compatibility remains the racing gold standard
- Dimpled surface improves the aerodynamics and stability
- Delivered with Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads, Zipp Integrated Valve Extender with a valve-core wrench, rim tape, and quick-release skewers