When we think of race-ready, 82mm carbon rims, we don't normally think of "convenience," but the Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon clincher Road Wheelset adds two conveniences to race-ready aerodynamics. First, we've packaged the wheels as a pair rather than as individual front/rear options, which is par for Zipp's course. Second — and more importantly — they represent the latest round of racing clincher wheels from Zipp. Since the new generation of Firecrests are more durable than ever, the convenience of clinchers means that they can serve as racing and training wheels.
As with any deep Zipp wheel, the 808 Firecrest's side-wall bulge and Advanced Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) texturing are its signature features, both of which contribute to improved stability at the kind of yaw angles you'll actually experience on the road, not while cloistered in a wind tunnel. ABLC is especially important for this generation of Firecrests because Zipp's engineers revisited the sizes and distribution pattern of the signature dimpling. While these two features tend to steal the headlines, Zipp's Visco-Elastic Constrained Layer Control (VCLC) and Carbon Bridge technologies may be even more impressive despite being less evident from a visual standpoint.
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. To unpack Zipp's initialism, VCLC involves constraining a visco-elastic layer between the wheels' carbon and resin 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 when tires flat. Of all the Firecrest line, the 808s are not only the deepest, but they also benefit the most from the addition of Kevlar; Zipp claims that the 808's durability under duress jumps by a cool 50%.
The rims are anchored by their final new feature, Zipp's new 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 and lateral flex produced by hard accelerations, sprinting, and punchy climbing.