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First Impressions: 2013 Zipp 202 clincher

by Anthony Little |  | 

Last week we had the opportunity to be among a small crowd of cyclists to get a chance to ride Zipps latest wheelset, the 2o2 firecrest clincher.  We only had a week on the wheels due to the fact that there are only a few pairs in the country right now, but even during the first ride we knew we liked them and honestly wished we didn’t have to give them up.  The good news is that we won’t have to wait too long to get another pair on our bike permanently as we will be getting some of the first pairs to arrive in country in early October.

We mounted the wheels to our Baum Corretto with Continental GP4000s clinchers (inflated to 110 front and rear) and Continentals Race tubes with 42mm valve stems.  We would prefer to use Zipps own tube as it has an aluminum valve, but to our knowledge Zipp does not make a valve adapter for the 202’s yet and we think at least that the 37mm valve stem on Zipps tubes could be a little short (and wow, that’s the most thought we’ve ever put into the topic of tubes!).

Zipp says these wheels weigh in at 1375g without rim strips which is plenty light for clinchers, but these actually came in at 1340g, on our scale at least.  The total weight for the bike above was 16.13lbs as seen here, minus the bottles but with the computer and mount.

The wheels that we had on this bike before the Zipp 202’s were the very nice ENVE 3.4 clinchers.  This is not really meant to be a comparison of the two wheels since we didn’t get too much time on the Zipps but we will talk about a few of the differences.

Right off the bat I found the Zipps to be a bit stiffer than the 3.4’s even though they are not as deep.  Nailing it on a few shorter 50-100m rollers delivered zero wheel flex or brake rub w/ the same brake set-up that we had on the ENVE 3.4’s which did have some minor rub, though nothing to be too concerned with.  That being said the Zipp 202’s did have a bit rougher ride, but it was not too much by any means.  These wheels felt fast climbing for sure, and seemed to carry good speed on the flats as well.  As you’d suspect for a wheel with a 32mm rim height they were great in the high wind (which we have in spades here) which has a bit to do with the depth of the rim but even more with the shape of the rim (check out Zipps website for more information on the firecrest shape, we are believers).

Braking was great and feels a bit more powerful than the braking on the ENVE 3.4’s.  Different riders with different braking styles may like one more than the other, but both are easy to adapt to.  I was able to make the brakes squeal just a little, but I had to use the brakes in such a way that I wouldn’t do in normal use which was run down an 18% grade clamping the brakes the entire way.  This could have to do with setup as much as anything and under normal usage was totally silent.

The other change makes us very happy.  Zipp changed it’s graphics package and dropped the “Speed Weaponry” from under the Zipp logo.  It’s a small thing that makes a huge difference in cleaning up the appearance and we may not resort to just peeling the decals off altogether now, though if you wanted to you can do easily.

Again, the new graphics.  This is also available in a simpler white outline but we like the bolder graphics better, at least on the shallower wheels.  Another great thing about Zipp wheels is the external nipples which make truing the wheel so much simpler, though saying that, I don’t recall the last time we’ve really had to do so.  But again, the external nipples don’t affect aerodynamics so why make it harder?  Spokes are Sapim, from Belgium.  These are the CX-Rays, very light, very strong…

Personally, on a purely aesthetic front, I like wheels to be the same depth front and rear except for TT’s. But that’s just me…

This is the new hub with the updated 10/11spd compatible cassette body.  We are still using the 7900 Dura-Ace Di2 group on the Baum (as Shimano is not as cool as Zipp and didn’t get us any early 9000 groups, thanks guys:-)) which is 10spd so all you do is run that spacer btwn the hub and cassette.  For the 11spd group, just take off that spacer.  Easy, no wheel dishing needed.  All the SRAM/Shimano hubs from Zipp will come this way for 2013.

Speaking of the hubs, they have served us well this year.  Very durable and very smooth while being super easy to adjust and maintain if needed.  The hubs, like the rims are handmade in Indianapolis while the bearings are from Switzerland.

We’ll have more information on the durability of these wheels when we have a chance to get more miles on them, but if they are anything like the 303 and 404 clinchers we are not too worried that they will be anything but strong.  But overall, after some riding I can say that these will be my go to wheels when I run clinchers next year.

We’ve got only three sets left coming in Early October that are not spoken for.  So if you are looking to get on some of the best riding low profile clinchers for the last good riding of the year let us know and we’ll set aside a pair for you!

Thanks for reading!