Zipp 303 Firecrest Wheelset

Zipp 303 Firecrest Wheelset 300x300 Zipp 303 Firecrest Wheelset

Zipp 303 Firecrest Wheel

Zipp’s Firecrest technology was designed to give its already popular mid section 404 wheelset, and deep section aero masterpiece 808 wheelset, some world beating aerodynamics. That was great news for time trialists and triathletes who want those deep section bad boys, or for pros with a stable of wheels for every occasion. But what about the rest of us? Weekend warriors and cat-climbers who need one wheelset that can go from winning the Sunday sprint to the coffee house to a start line in the local criterium, and not let us down on speed – or looks? Or those who are really stepping up their game and want a top end set of road race wheels that can climb, corner, and sprint, but which can also slice the air if we are successful in dropping the peloton? Well, Zipp hasn’t waited long to bring their celebrated Firecrest design to the wider market, and now we can all have it on a versatile set of Zipp 303 wheels.

What’s so special about Firecrest?

First of all, the rim width is actually wider than most other race wheels. You might not think that would make them faster, but it really does. That extra base gives the tire a deeper bed, making these wheels amazingly stable around corners, even at speed. The Zipp 303 Firecrest also applies that wide rim to stiffness, meaning you don’t lose an ounce of power when you are out of the saddle hammering out a sprint or dancing up a climb. The wide rim allows for Zipp’s trademark ‘toroidal’ shape, which comprises a gentle bulge to the rim wall – and that’s what makes these wheels aerodynamic too. Even die-hard triathletes could do with giving the 303 a look if they have any risk of racing on a windy day, even if they can only bear to have a shallow rim as a front wheel. And, if it’s going to carry the Firecrest tag, Zipp makes sure it deserves it – notice the same super responsive hub sported by the Zipp 808s. Is there a downside to Firecrest? Only that some frames don’t have the clearance for the wider rim. If you’re in doubt, Zipp will be happy to help and let you know if you have one of the frames affected.

Race class, but versatile

The Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelset really is the best of all worlds. Not only is it about as aero as you can get at the shallow end of the rim spectrum, but by being a little less built it is also lighter, tipping the scales at just over 1300g. That makes the Zipp 303 wheelset a better choice when weight matters. If you need to climb, are a smaller rider, put out less power, or need to be able to leap into a sprint, then shed a few grams and opt for the 303s over its flashier 404 cousins. If you need to race regardless of the conditions or want a top end training wheel, then with the 303s you’ll be knocked about a lot less if the crosswinds pick up.

Can a wheelset really be this versatile and this fast? Well, take a look at who is rolling over the line at tough races in harsh weather like Paris-Roubaix – it’s the Zipp 303. In fact, they are so tough they were the first carbon wheel to win on the cobbles, picking up not only the Paris-Roubaix, but the Tour of Flanders, and that was before Zipp added the Firecrest rim shape. Now, they are even faster – and with a clincher version (slightly heavier at around 1475g) you don’t need to be afraid to head out on the roads alone. For a race wheel, Zipp has given the 303s every hallmark of a wheelset for anyone. The wide rim accommodates solid and stable braking for those that feel the need to slow down, and external spoke nipples make truing easy enough that you don’t need to fear a few bumps (or even cobbles). At around $2600 for the pair, these wheels aren’t cheap, but you are getting a lot for your money. If you’re at a point where winning matters but you can’t shell out that kind of money for more than one set of wheels, then Zipp has the perfect solution with the 303 Firecrest wheelset.

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