Zipp 1080 Wheelset

Zipp 1080 Wheelset 300x200 Zipp 1080 Wheelset

Zipp 1080 Wheelset

There comes a time when time trialists, stage racers, and triathletes all find themselves searching for the perfect wheel.  One that is light, aerodynamic, and just plain fast.  And they all take a look at the Zipp range of wheelsets expecting to find their dream wheel – and they aren’t often disappointed. Sure, everyone equates disc wheels with the super fast, super tough and lonely world of against the clock racing.  But a disc is just for the back – you still need a front wheel – and that’s the wheel that cuts the air first so you don’t want to get it wrong.  And of course, if you are faced with a hilly course or strong cross winds, a disc can be a liability. So what’s the solution?

Fast in all conditions

Enter the Zipp 1080 wheel. This super deep section – 1080mm, hence the name – gives you just about as much aerodynamic effect as a full disc in the rear, and it won’t throw you around in a cross wind. The deep section front slices through still air, and Zipp’s trademark toriodal shape and surface dimpling gets the air flowing over the wheel surface and along the rear wheel for – and this is the really amazing part – negative drag. That’s right, these wheels actually turn the wind to your advantage and push you along. Never mind the 1699g weight – these wheels ride like they weigh half that.  Seriously, if you’re against the clock, what more could you want?

The Zipp 1080 is the deeper, faster cousin of the trusted Zipp 808 wheelset, and it’s possible that the Zipp 1080 wheelset is the fastest non-disc combination available. It’s no wonder it’s the choice of Fabian Cancellara. Zipp claims that the 1080s take 30 seconds off a tri-spoke wheelset over 40 kilometers, with no additional wobble in side winds.

But can it go the distance?

Once a wheel gets this light and this fast, questions always come up about strength. Zipp uses a ‘carbon bridge’ technology to give the wheels some impact resistance – I’m sure I can share with many triathletes the frustration of finding a dent in my disc wheel from someone clumsy in transition.  Of course, the Zipp 1080, like all of Zipps super-deep section and disc wheels, is not designed for the rigors of winter riding, potholes, and rough group rides. But, major impacts aside, these wheels are remarkably strong. That said, heavier riders (and Zipp defines ‘heavier’ at 175 lbs or more) might be better off with a more robust wheel or one with a higher spoke count.

Super deep section wheels are also notoriously difficult to maintain, so you want them to stay true. Thankfully, Zipp have added external spoke nipples – not the annoying recessed kind found on most aero wheels – to make spoke replacement and wheel truing convenient. Best of all, it’s possible to find these wheels for under $1500.

Is there a down side?

To get this fast, the Zipp 1080 has some pretty complicated technology. That creates a few problems.  The Zipp 1080 isn’t compatible with PowerTap hubs, which might rule it out for riders who rely on PowerTaps for race information. If you chance it and use a PowerTap, expect spoke breakage and a void warranty. If you really need the PowerTap, try the Zipp Sub-9 or the Zipp 900 disc.

If that wasn’t enough, if you ride a Cervelo P3 or P4 (and many speedsters do), or even a Ridley, a Scott Plasma, some Giants or some Argons, then you might want to look for another wheel. The Zipp 1080s don’t agree with the chainstay dimensions on these bikes, especially under heavier – and again we mean 175 lbs or more – riders. Hopefully Zipp will be able to solve this problem in the next year or so, because for all too many riders it rules them out of riding the fastest wheels around – unless of course you keep the Zipp 1080s and just buy yourself a different bike. It might just be worth it.

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