Zipp 808 Wheelset Review

Zipp 808 300x300 Zipp 808 Wheelset ReviewThe Zipp 808 is one of Zipp’s main time trial rims, and has also seen a good deal of success in world class triathlon events.  Boasting wins in major stage races and in World Championship Triathlon, the Zipp 808 will come onto your radar if you are considering investing in the best equipment for the greatest competitive advantage.  However, the success of the 808 has not been restricted to time trial cycling and non-draft triathlon courses.  As aerodynamic technology in cycling develops, with newer, lightweight materials consistently being adjusted and improved, it has been less unusual to see wheels like the 808 in conventional stage and one day races.

Technical Specs of the 808s

The 808 rim has the standard Zipp toroidal profile and is 81mm deep.  And at a mere 1462 grams for the tubular version, it is no wonder that cyclists and mechanics are experimenting with 808s in road races and criteriums.  If you want to succeed in a solo break, aerodynamics become even more important than usual and if the wheel is strong enough to withstand the other rigors a race throws at it, why not?

And the strength of the wheel certainly does not seem to be in issue.  It has four times the dimples of the 2008 model and Zipp’s Carbon Bridge technology employs Kevlar reinforced rim edges that ensure that impact forces are distributed evenly, whilst increasing lateral stiffness.  In fact, Zipp’s own research confirms that their 808s have the greatest impact resistance of all their wheelsets.
The acceleration you can achieve with Zipp 808’s is almost scary – and the momentum they maintain will also take some getting used to.   When compared with conventional wheels the 808’s are incredibly responsive and with remarkable amount of response for the power that you put in.  If you are concerned about the stiffness of the wheel, don’t be.  In the sprint, there was no detectable flex, but with the far stronger legs of riders like Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd having ridden these wheels in stage races, we didn’t think that we were going to experience too many problems.

Riding the Zipp 808s

On steady ascents the 808s are again a delight, although if steep gradients are a big part of the race or event you are entering, these wheels might not be the best choice, and you might look to a lighter wheel.  In windier conditions, you can feel the push against the 81mm rim, but this detriment is far less than that felt on a trispoke wheel, making the 808 suitable for all but the windiest courses.  It is also available also in a clincher version (but at 1921 grams).

Final Thoughts

The 808 has caused us to re-think our wheel configurations, certainly provides a very interesting option, and deserves to move out of the time trial arsenal and get some regular use in road races and criteriums too.

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