My first ride at PressCamp ‘14 was in a freak summer mountain snowstorm on a Felt with the all-new, Zipp Firestrikes. I couldn’t tell you at the time what the model was and how they performed in the howling wind, sleet, hail, and snow because Zipp hadn’t officially announced the wheelset yet.
Now, with the embargo over, here are the photos and initial review.
Developed four years after the first Firecrest, these are Zipp’s next-level, aero racing wheel. On the second day in sunny conditions with a strong headwind against my chest, I titled them with confidence along the yellow center line, as it curved into the next turn on the descent. Like a S model iPhone, it’s similar to the phone before it, with a snappier, faster feel.
Basics of bicycle science
Here’s the science Zipp used to focus their development efforts on making a rim deeper than the 303 that handles better thanks to
optimized edges that move the center of pressure nearest the steering axis
and the complex wheel shape that imparts a shedding pattern which achieves a thirty four percent reduction in side force. That means these wheels are exceptionally stable and steerable including when ridden in an unexpected, windy snowstorm. Before the pads froze on that ride, they gripped the new molded-in, textured brake track and provided certainty that the bike was going to stop when I wanted it to. In normal Park City summer temperatures, I grabbed the brakes hard and power slid the bike. I don’t remember ever doing that on 303 Firecrests…
New dimple pattern and an embedded braking surface
I’ll have more observations about the 404 Firestrikes in the 14th issue of our magazine. After the snow and mountain sun, I’ll take them out in the Pacific Northwest rain.
That was cold
The Zipp 404 Firestrike Carbon Clincher is available now for $3,600 USD and ships with
- TI QRs
- Zipp rim tape
- Tangente Tubes
- Tangente Valve Extensions
- Tangente Platinum Pro Evo Brake Pads
- Wheel bags.