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2016 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc-Brake Rear Wheel

  • 2016 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc-Brake Rear Wheel
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2016 Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc-Brake Rear Wheel

Product Description

General Information

When disc-brake-equipped bikes started permeating the ranks of road and cross and that new category of gravel-grinder, Zipp knew they had to have something to be part of it. In many respects, they were ahead of the curve: they had test riders like cyclocross star Jeremy Powers already riding their wheels, and riders like him could test gear out for them. A fruit of that work is the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc-Brake wheel.

The 303 rim was a natural for disc-brake applications. The rim hits the sweet spot of strong, light, and aero. Wheelset weight is 1645g, 760g for the front, 885g for the rear. It comes in a tubular version as well if the benefit of lighter weight and greater strength is more than offset by the drag of gluing tires to your wheels.

The rim possesses Zipp’s Firecrest shape. 45mm deep, 26.4mm wide at the brake track but 28.5mm a bit below, and the blunt end on the spoke side, not only cuts through the wind, but also handles cross-winds like few wheels out there. And the wide shape also decreases rolling resistance, improves grip, and even gives you more of an air cushion over rough roads. The width adds comfort and reduces rolling resistance by increasing air volume inside the tire. It’s not only a bigger cushion, but at a given tire width and pressure, deformation over bumps and surface imperfections happens more easily.

The 303 Firecrest Clincher rim is the same you'll find on the rim-brake versions for an important reason. The rims were already light, and removing material would reduce strength and stiffness. The rim has to contain the tire, which is being pushed outward by the tube. And it also has to be strong enough to survive a vertical hit to the sidewalls of the rim.

The hubs are where most of the differences occur. Zipp employs their 77/177D hub set, which was purpose-built for disc braking. There are 24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes, both front and rear. A cross pattern is necessary in front to counter the forces of braking. The flanges are slightly taller to work around the six-hole rotor mounts and the 17mm axle. While you can see that the spokes have a two-cross pattern, it actually possesses the lateral stiffness of a three-cross thanks to the size of the flanges and the orientation of the spokes. The benefits of the design are more aero and shorter spokes.

While finding a disc-brake equipped road frame with narrow chain stays is unlikely, we're duty-bound to inform you that on some rim brake-equipped road bikes, the Zipp 303 rim is too wide to fit between the stays. Measure first.

For rear wheels, Zipp offers both a Campagnolo-compatible, and Shimano/SRAM-compatible cassette body. The latter comes with a spacer for 8/9/10-speed cassettes. In both cases, the 177D hub body allows you to install a SRAM XD-cassette body for super-wide range gearing.

The wheel comes with quick release, endcaps to convert the hub for thru-axle use (endcaps are hand swappable), rim strip, valve extender, and Zipp Tangente tube. Zipp has taken innovation in their system to a new level with these tubes, which feature an aluminum, rather than brass, stem. Lighter, better machined, and possessing a removable valve core. It also improves the balance of the spinning wheel. The wheels are not designed for compatibility with tubeless systems.

The Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc is adventure, is strength, is racing. It’s what a disc-brake wheel should be.

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