Zipp built a brand around the idea that speed can be weaponized in cycling, and no rim profile this side of a disc wheel better demonstrates that than the venerable 808. The tubeless-ready 808 Firecrest Carbon Disc Brake Road Wheel changes the equation a bit, though, by weaponizing braking, too. The inclusion of disc brakes eliminates our most common critique of carbon race wheels—the questionable braking—by eliminating the need to brake on carbon. The result is a wheel whose braking is equal to its aerodynamic benefits.
Of course, the wheels are still aero-first, and ditching the rim brake track means that the aerodynamic benefits of Zipp's Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) dimpling can extend all the way to the edge of the rim. While we can't guarantee anything, extending ABLC might logically be credited with reducing the additional drag caused by disc brakes—though, to be fair, we've seen estimates that it's as low as under 1g of additional drag, so the point may be moot.
Regardless of how far they extend, the ABLC dimples remain the foundation of the Zipp empire. The brand credits them with aerodynamic advantages at real-world yaw angles of 10 to 20 degrees, which compares favorably to many competitors whose minimum drag numbers manifest at yaw angles of five to 10 degrees—numbers that rarely occur outside of a wind tunnel. In non-tech terms, this means these wheels should outperform the competition in the conditions you'll actually encounter on the road.
While Zipp is mostly known for bestowing free speed through aerodynamics, the disc brakes do something that rim-brake carbon can only dream of: surpass alloy in terms of modulation, responsiveness, and overall stopping power. These qualities are a big deal for climbing wheels, as knowing you can depend on your brakes means you can carry more speed into corners, brake later, and not worry about locking your wheels up when an unexpected obstacle—an off-leash dog at a trailhead, the inevitable sudden motorist, rubble sloughed off of a canyon wall—materializes.
It also eliminates any fear of testing carbon brake tracks on rainy descents or during muddy cyclocross conditions. Don't get us wrong, we've had positive experiences with the second generation of Zipp's Showstopper brake track that features on the NSW rim brake wheels; however, when it comes to virtually perfect stopping power, disc brakes are all but impossible to match. Adding disc brakes (and the requisite two-cross spoke lacing) does also add a few extra grams, but the increased stopping confidence more than makes up for the slight weight gain.
Despite the different tire-mounting format, the tubeless 808 Firecrest gets the same hub treatment as its clincher and tubular counterparts. The rims are laced to a 77 hub on the front and a 177 hub on the rear, both of which enjoy improved durability and stiffness compared to their predecessors. Featuring a new platform and graphics, these hubs boast increased bearing protection over their previous versions and are ready to roll without any pre-load adjustment. The rear hub is compatible with a separately sold XD driver body to allow for a wider cassette range of up to a 10-42t if needed, and driver bodies can be swapped out without having to re-dish the wheel. Each wheel includes an updated quick-release skewer with a widened handle that provides leverage when installing the wheel and clean lines as it sits close to the frame when closed.
Though it's depth means it's obviously best suited as a road wheel, the 808 Firecrest is built well enough to handle some light gravel abuse. Toward that end, every Firecrest Disc Brake model ships with thru-axle conversion end caps for 12 or 15x100mm up front and 12x142mm in the back. The wheels also include standard quick-release skewers, so regardless of your gravel, 'cross, or road axle standards, you should be covered.
- A deep dish wheel that isn't afraid of braking in poor conditions
- The most aerodynamic profile this side of full disc wheels
- Disc brakes add confidence to braking in all conditions
- Tubeless construction increases comfort and supple feel
- Better flat prevention and easier recovery for when you do puncture
- Includes quick-release skewers with fork thru-axle adapters
- Zipp knows that speed is nothing if you can't stop when you want to