Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (6)

According to Zipp, it was the need for better braking in cyclocross that inspired the creation of their first disc brake wheel. After introducing the disc brake 303 to the world in 2013, Zipp started working on a new creation that would appeal to the growing road disc segment. Slotting in underneath the 45mm 303 Firecrest rim, Zipp’s 32mm 202 Firecrest wheelset adds the ability to run disc brakes while keeping things as light as possible.

Just as you would expect from any carbon wheelset coming out of Indianapolis, the 202 Firecrest Disc Brake wheels offer an extremely high end level of fit and finish as well as an impressive weight – for a price.

Details plus actual weights next…

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (7)

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (8)

Bearing the Firecrest logo, the disc brake rims don’t look all that different from their rim brake counterparts. In fact, it looks as if the rims still include a brake track, but that’s only partially true. The rims are not rim brake compatible, but they are structurally identical to their rim brake siblings. The difference? The disc model does not include the finish sanding process that adds a textured finish which results in the rim’s ability to stop in the wet. Zipp points out that while many have heralded the arrival of disc brakes as a way to make rims lighter, the rim still needs to hold the tire and survive impacts. That means the rims have stayed the same weight, at least for now.

Known for their aerodynamic designs, the Firecrest rim shape was developed using CFD to minimize drag and wind-induced steering torque. Basically, it makes for a faster wheel that is easier to handle in strong winds. As an added bonus the wider design of the rim results in better lateral stiffness, a wider tire profile, and according to Zipp, better compliance for a more comfortable ride.

Each 202 Firecrest clincher rim measures a full 32mm deep and 25.4mm wide at the widest point on the rim. At the brake track the rim is 24.62mm wide externally, and 16.25mm wide internally. Bearing the characteristic aero dimples or Advanced Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) if you will, the 202 Firecrest rims use external Sapim nipples under a traditional rim strip. The rims are not tubeless compatible, but there is a tubular version of the 202 Disc Brake wheelset available.

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (14)

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (11) Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (10)

Held together with 24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes front and rear, Zipp uses a 6-bolt variant of their 88/188 hubset to keep the wheels spinning. Yes, that means you won’t be running the Shimano Ice Tech Freeza rotors on these wheels, but considering Zipp’s parent company SRAM has a few hydraulic road disc brake systems of their own, that’s probably the point. Note that SRAM has always claimed to be able to properly manage heat from the discs without special rotors and standard 6 bolt hubs.

hub-cross-section

If you’re unfamiliar with the 88/188 hubs, Zipp introduced the new 188 rear hub in 2011 which was a big improvement in stiffness, as well as durability. By moving the bearings out as far as possible, the hubs added 6% stiffness to the wheel while increasing bearing life. If you really want to geek out on wheel design, Zipp goes into an incredible amount of detail including diving into the math that results in a better wheel here.

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (12) Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (9)

Inside each 188 hub you’ll find custom Swiss steel bearings that include grade 10 steel balls and ABEC 7 races. Fitted with an 11 speed compatible freehub body that engages with three wire EDM (electron discharge machining) steel pawls. That precision carries over to the hub shell which is made from a proprietary alloy called Z310.9 developed with Alcoa. Reportedly twice the strength of 6061 aluminum which is common in hub design, the stronger alloy allows for Zipp’s Spoke Hole Impact Forming Technology (SHIFT). Essentially the process individually forges each spoke hole rather than machining it which makes for a much stronger hub that will be less likely to crack in the future.

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (17) Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (16)

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (19) Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (1)

One of the easiest ways to visualize the performance of the 202 Firecrest Disc Brake wheels is on the scale. At 693g for the front and 819 for the rear, the 1512g wheelset is admirably light for a 32mm disc brake wheelset (and 18g under claimed weight). The wheels include a lightweight set of stainless steel quick release skewers that weigh in at 85g for the set, as well as the rim strips which add 21g each.

Zipp 202 Clincher firecrest carbon wheels (18)

All of the accessories come packaged in a quality zippered pouch along with the user manual and a pair of valve extenders with their own wrenches. Wheelsets are available with either matte white or the matte black stealth graphics above. We’re digging the black.

As usual, all of that U.S. made precision and technology does come with a price. The Zipp 202 Firecrest Disc Brake wheels should be flawless at $2,825 per set. First impressions point to that being the case. Now to finish the install on our new SRAM Rival 22 Hydraulic group (details soon) and get some miles in.

zipp.com

28 COMMENTS

  1. “Zipp points out that while many have heralded the arrival of disc brakes as a way to make rims lighter, the rim still needs to hold the tire and survive impacts. That means the rims have stayed the same weight, at least for now.”

    So wait for the next generation, or another manufacturers product that has already addressed this issue is basically what your saying. Got it.

  2. “After introducing the disc brake 303 to the world in 2013, Zipp started working on a new creation that would appeal to …”

    It took them a year+ to figure out how to _not_ machine a braking surface? Are these cheaper, at least, since they require less machine time to produce? — Not quite, they’re $100 more expensive.

  3. So is Zipp “accusing” Enve of lying about making the Smart 3.4 disc rims 50g lighter by changing layup and resin? Or are they admitting they can’t do it?

  4. They’ve realized that they’re loosing sales to other vendors, so they came with a mediocre stopgap measure. Next year they’ll come out with much better designs.

  5. Nothing special here. I got a set of the Reynolds Assault Disc and they have been awesome. 1565 g, TUBELESS!!, 25mm, designed with only disc in mind (no brake track), accept any rotors (Shimano compatible), and it I crash these in a cross race Reynolds will replace them at no charge. All for $1900.00.

    So why would you buy the Zipp’s?

  6. Next year they’ll machine the brake track, claim they’re lighter, and up the price $250.

    But if they keep the “quality zippered pouch” then maybe its worth it.

  7. ” Note that SRAM has always claimed to be able to properly manage heat from the discs without special rotors and standard 6 bolt hubs.”
    SRAM requires the use of 160mm rotors for any road use. 140mm rotors are only approved for cyclocross bikes in cyclocross racing conditions (lower speeds, no sustained descents, etc). Minus one for SRAM.

  8. Not that I care one way or the other @beenatittoolong, but I suspect in five years, we won’t really remember rim brakes on road bikes at all.

  9. Just in? An old road rim laced to quick-release disc hubs. If Zipp spent a little less on horn-rimmed glasses and more on new tooling they wouldn’t be years behind every other wheel manufacturer.

  10. “Zipp points out that while many have heralded the arrival of disc brakes as a way to make rims lighter, the rim still needs to hold the tire and survive impacts.”

    I ran this through Google Translate – [Marketing -> English]:

    “Zipp points out that while many have heralded the arrival of disc brakes as a way to make rims lighter, they don’t have this rim yet, but they’d like to cash-in on the road disc market. Your wallet may not survive the impact.”

  11. I have been running a set of 202 Firecrest Road clinchers tubeless all year with no issues at all. Not sure why Zipp does not officially approve the clinchers for tubeless tires, seems extra important on the 202 Disc for CX!

  12. @Flip. agreed. I really don’t care if discs are on a road bike or not, because i don’t ride road. But for cross, which i do ride, they are priceless, but this coming from a dirty mountain biker…

  13. Un-thru-axle compatibility kills for me. Why would Zipp or anyone else not even make their hubs that are both QR and thru-axle compatible? They claim that they built a brand new wheel, but still use old technology.

  14. geez, all this techno speak is so convincing, the new Alcoa alloy, the spoke hole forging, sounds awesome. Then I remember that this hub is V9 or V10 because all the other shit broke. So maybe this holds together, but it isn’t a light hub anymore…

  15. For all the comments about ‘cross, which are totally valid, this wheel may be designed more for the new endurance road bike market, which is heading more and more toward disc brakes… It’s certainly an expensive choice, but Zipp (aka SRAM) and Enve have shown that there is a market for the high-end product. For a sportive rider looking to do some serious climbing with a new endurance road bike and cash to spend, these would be a great option.

  16. This is a rather silly set of wheels.

    An alloy, rim with a set of better disc hubs, and more spokes will weigh less, be stronger and cost less than half the price. It will also be tubeless compatible, if that floats your boat.

    For cross, go deep, go tubular or go home.

  17. After having broken 4 (that’s right FOUR) sets of 303s on smooth road courses and one boney CX course in one season, I really wonder why people invest in Zipps in the first place. They’re incredibly fragile and they extort additional money from the owner to re-build them after the fact. For privateers that aren’t sponsored, there are just too many less expensive and technically equivalent (or better) alternatives on the market. I’ll never bother with them again despite being made in the US.

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