Zipp 202 Firecrest Wheelset

If you are all about road racing, and are looking for the perfect wheelset, chances are you are looking at Zipp wheels. You’ll want lightness, responsiveness, climbing agility, and aerodynamics, and you’ll be ready to pay for it. With the 202 Firecrest, Zipp has put together the perfect package for you, and it won’t cost as much as you think.

Racing credentials

The Zipp Firecrest 202 wheelset will catch the eye of the serious racer first when it gets on the scales. At only 1140 grams for the pair (1380g if you have to go clincher), these wheels are amazingly light, and therefore they won’t slow you down when the gradient ramps up. Take a look at the mountain stages of the Grand Tours, and chances are you’ll see a few pros skipping up the slopes on a set of Zipp 202 Firecrests. These wheels have won Olympic Golds, and even found their pilots to the Giro podium. So, we aren’t talking about anything but top quality racing performance. Don’t think that these wheels are to be molly-coddled though – these wheels have survived a pro’s ride over the cobbles in the Paris-Roubaix. That said, the main selling point of the Zipp 202 Firecrest is always going to be that they are feather light, and so are a racing climber’s dream wheelset.

Even on the flat, Zipp has made these wheels to perform. After all, it helps to get to the bottom of the hill first, right? The 32mm rim depth is enough to slice the air without being so deep you’ll need to worry about cross winds. The traditional Zipp ‘bulge’ – or to the more technical wheel aficionados, the ‘toroidal’ shape – means that the air is smoothed over the rims, making these wheels as aerodynamic as many rival brands’ 40 or 50 mm rims. The 2014 version even has edgeless decals, so there is no turbulence to slow you down.

Getting the most from your engine

The downside of going light for many rims is that they end up thin, and ‘flexy’. Not so with the 202 Firecrest wheels. These wheels capitalize on the toroid shape to give you a little more lateral stiffness when you are out of the saddle powering up a steep climb, and to keep you stuck to the road when cornering and coming down the other side. The 2014 version also sports the best of Zipp’s 188 rear hubs – the V9 - to ensure every watt of output gets through to the road. In fact, the 188/V9 is 25% stiffer and more responsive than many rivals, giving you smooth and fluid power transfer. A refinement to the rear spoke lacing pattern adds some more stability, so not only can you dance up the hills, when you power down in a sprint for the line, you won’t find this set-up letting you down. Best of all, these wheels enjoy Zipp’s carbon clincher technology, so you get a solid braking surface and the convenience of clinchers.

So, you get the picture, the Zipp 202 Firecrest wheelset is for serious racers, and it is priced accordingly. At around $2500 for the wheelset, you need to want to win to be shopping for these wheels. That said, even at that price, given their durability and versatility, the Zipp 202 Firecrests are very competitive in the top-end race wheel market.

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