Zipp Sub-9 Disc Wheel

Zipp Sub 9 Disc Wheel Zipp Sub 9 Disc Wheel

Zipp Sub 9 Disc Wheel

Zipp’s disc wheels have – for years – needed no introduction.  The Zipp disc was every time trialist’s and triathlete’s dream wheel. If you told me I’d find a better disc than my trusty old Zipp, I’d never have believed you. Unless you told me it would be a better Zipp.

Enter the Sub-9 disc wheel. Already seen under Ironman champions, and carrying Fabian Cancellara to a yellow jersey in time trail stages, this has to be a great wheel. I had to give it a try.

As good as it gets

I’m not a particularly powerful rider, and I’m not all that big and strong. A disc is always a big question for me. If there’s even the hint of a hill, the weight becomes a liability, and a cross wind can really throw me about. I was a little apprehensive to take out such a pricey wheel on what was a pretty wet and windy day, and where I live you can’t help but climb.

I needn’t have worried. The Zipp Sub-9 uses the same toroidal technology as the ultra-fast Zipp 1080 wheelset, and the Sub-9 was the first ever wheel to create ‘negative drag’. That’s right, in the right conditions this wheel will actually push you along! The toroidal (to us neophytes, ‘toroid’ means ‘bulged’) shape not only pulls the air around the wheel, but like a spoiler on a race car it pushes the wheel down into the road.  That means that despite the wind – and the weight inherent in a disc wheel, even one a light as this at less than 1000g – I felt amazingly stable and secure on corners, and the wheel felt like it was even absorbing small bumps and lumps in the road. After racing around for over an hour, my legs felt pretty fresh. That makes me think this would be a great wheel for long-distance triathletes.

Not all good news

The downside of these wheels – just like several other wheelsets in Zipp’s super-fast collection, is poor compatibility. Like the 1080 wheelset, riders over 175 lbs are advised not to try and match them up with certain Ridley, Giant, and Argon frames.  Even the ubiquitous Scott Plasma and Cervelo’s P3 and P4 have chainstay issues that can interfere with the Zipp Sub-9.  Since it seems like at least every other triathlete rides a Cervelo P-series, this is a real problem. And it won’t work on track bikes either. At $2075, this may be a very good wheel, but it’s costly, and those compatibility issues mean it simply can’t be for everyone. That’s a shame, because it really is very fast indeed.

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