While we offer Zipp's legendary Firecrest front and rear wheels as individual à la carte items, the more curmudgeonly among us cringe at the thought of some enterprising triathlete matching a 202 front with an 808 rear in the hopes of generating speed while minimizing handling issues. To appease these rim-depth traditionalists, we've paired a front and rear 808 Firecrest Carbon rims as one Road Wheelset. It's Tubular, of course, because the same conservative cyclists who would emit audible gasps at the thought of mismatched rim depths would also never dream of racing on anything but the superior suppleness, lower weight, and higher rolling efficiency of tubs.
As with any deep Zipp wheel, the 808 Firecrest's side-wall bulge and Advanced Boundary Layer Control 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. 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.