First Rides: Zipp 808 Firecrest wheelset is more versatile than ever, much lighter & cheaper too!

The new Zipp 808s are much lighter, much cheaper, much wider, even faster, and more versatile than ever.

If you’re looking for the full details on some fast wheels, you’ve come to the right place. The Zipp 808 Firecrest wheelset was redesigned to match its shallower counterparts’ wider, hookless tubeless design — with a huge drop in weight and price as an added bonus!

Lighter, faster Zipp 808 aero wheels

all photos c. Jordan Villella

The new design for the hookless 808 NSW and 808 Firecrest introduces two faster, more versatile wheelsets that can bring you speed on the time trial course and now also on the road, too. If you missed the whole story, check out our 808/858 news piece here, detailing everything new and how they will make you faster!

First Impressions Review: Setup and dial in

We’ve had just a few weeks on the new hookless-tubeless 808s, but are already enamored with their newfound versatility.

Though our test set of wheels came with Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, we took them off to get an accurate weight of the wheels.

The Zipp 808 Fire Crests dropped about 200g from its predecessor, taking most of the weight off of the rim, but the extra bits like the valves and lock rings are also light.

Zipp 808 Wheels lockring

Zipp 808 Wheels valve weight

The 28mm Goodyear Eagle F1 tires took some convincing to get off the rim. A tire lever was needed to complete the process. The newly updated hookless design created an excellent seal, confidence-inspiring for hard cornering.

The Eagle F1 tires slid into place with little to no popping and have a supple hand and a ride sensation for a nylon tubeless tire. This was my first time on the Goodyear Eagle F1 tubeless, and my first impressions were very positive.

Installation was slightly more manageable (than removal), but a tire lever was part of the process. I had no problem seating and inflating the tires with my standard (non-tubeless specific) floor pump.

Much as we suspected, the 28c tire on the newly 23mm internal hookless rim measured wider than labeld – 29.32mm when pumped up to 65psi based on the Zipp chart.

Lower tubeless tire pressure recommendations

I found the tire pressure recommendations spot-on and an excellent guide to getting the most from the wheelset. The lower PSI recommendations could surprise some triathletes and time trial specialists, but follow the guide, and you’ll be faster and more efficient.

For tire pressure, Zipp has a nice tire pressure chart that corresponds with the rider’s weight for maximum comfort and performance. I settled on 61psi up front, 65psi in the rear. Surprisingly low sounding.

Zipp 808 ZR1 hub – Quick freehub change

Our test wheels came with an SRAM XDR-12 speed driver, and my test ride is a Shimano 11-speed. Luckily we had a pair of Zipp 303 Firecrest from another review ride handy to swap over.

The freehub body for the Zipp ZR1 hubs is straightforward to service and swap. The design allows the user to quickly pull off the freehub and replace it with another driver style.

The endcaps are proprietary to the free hub body you’re using, so if you plan on swapping out or around, make sure you swap out everything.

First Rides Review: On the road and at the races

My first rides on the Zipp 808 Firecrest wheels were on my local roads, ones that I know like the back of my hand.

The 808s replaced a 50mm deep wheelset I use for most of my all-around riding and racing. The first notable sensation is weight. I expected a heavier feeling wheelset that wouldn’t be so close to the equally performance-driven wheelset they replaced.

Yet, the Zipp 808s felt similar to my 50mm all-around wheels on the rolling hills and more sustained efforts, but with the tangible aero benefits.

The 808s feel like an extra gear in the wind, cutting smoothly through the air and efficiently rolling over the undulating terrain.

They are also refreshingly silent. The 80mm deep rim paired with the ZR1 hubs create a pleasant but not overpowering freewheeling sound.

In the crosswinds and more technical terrain, the Zipp 808 wheels show their depth but not as fiercely, as expected. On similarly deep wheels, crossing a bridge or riding through windy sectors, an unfamiliar rider can be easily pulled from their line, or worse.

Riding the updated 808s in technical rolling terrain, the bike is stable with only slight undulations when more significant gusts appear.

In my local crit series, again the Zipp 808s felt like having an extra gear. I felt faster both coasting through the pack and pushing ahead on the straightaways.

All-new Zipp 808 – Lasting First Impressions

photo: SRAM

I’m excited to get more time on the Zipp 808 Firecrest wheels as the remainder of the road and crit season closes in. So far, they give an impression of light weight and extra speed. They also feel more like a crit wheel than a TT-only wheel, a pleasant surprise in this new iteration. That’s a solid starting point for a great set of wheels.

Read our detailed Zipp 808 tech coverage here. And stay tuned for a full long-term review of the $2300 deep aero carbon wheelset.

SRAM.com

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rodegeek
rodegeek
1 month ago

That’s a very tempting wheelset and I’ve been very happy with my Zipp 202s. But I live in an area with frequent really strong gusty winds. Jordan, can you provide an estimate of the speed of the strongest gusts in which you rode these wheels?

Rick
Rick
1 month ago

My experience with Zipp: Wheel rim cracked in 3 weeks. Still waiting on replacement 2 months later.