Zipp Super 9 Carbon Clincher Disc Wheel

Zipp Super 9 Zipp Super 9 Carbon Clincher Disc Wheel

Zipp Super 9 Carbon Clincher Disc Wheel

The Zipp Super 9 disc wheel is not new, and it already has a solid reputation. But Zipp has brought a game changer to the aero market by discontinuing the tubular model, and offering only the new, carbon clincher – that’s right carbon clincher – model for 2013.  They’ve added almost 200g to the weight for this, but they say it’s worth it. In fact, Zipp says the Super 9 carbon cl9incher is the fastest wheel ever.

Tough talk!

Well, let’s give Zipp the benefit of the doubt. After all, this is a disc wheel, and top class disc wheels were Zipp’s first products, and where they built their reputation. If anyone is going to produce the fastest disc ever, chances are it would be Zipp. But is it true? And if it is, how did they do it while adding weight? Disc wheels are all about aerodynamics. If you are a weight weenie, you won’t be riding a disc, never mind that they are getting pretty light these days. And when it comes to aerodynamics, Zipp are the experts. They’ve spared nothing in the design and engineering of the Super 9 carbon clincher disc wheel.

First of all, the carbon clincher brake track utilizes an offset design that smoothes the airflow from the tire to the wheel surface. Don’t worry about stopping though. First of all, if you are a time trialist you shouldn’t be braking anyway, and if you really have to (like if a dog runs in front of you), Zipp’s exclusive own resin coating keeps everything cool until you have safely come to a stop.  That said, carbon braking surfaces are never as sharp as aluminum, so keep that in mind as you race around blind corners. A parallel wheel wall is the same width from hub to rim – or just about, there’s less than a millimeter’s variation – and that makes a knife edge through the wind.

But what about the weight?

At 1175g, we aren’t talking about dragging a tire behind you, but it is significantly more weight than the previous, tubular Super 9. That hasn’t stopped the pros from taking advantage of the improved aerodynamics. They just pair it up with one of Zipp’s superlight and super aero front wheels, like the 808 Firecrest or the 404 Firecrest. They’ll take on the extra grams for the speed of the Super 9 Carbon clincher disc, and so should you.

There’s another benefit to the clincher design, and that’s convenience. If you are a triathlete, especially over the longer (and unsupported) distances like Ironman, then riding a clincher means something important to you. No-tools set up, and no glue, means that if you have to fix a flat on course, you need nothing more than a tube and a canister and you are back on the road. A down side is that to accommodate the clincher rim and the parallel wall, the Super 9 is a little wider than most disc wheels. That means if you ride a super-narrow frame like a Cervelo, it might not fit. Best to call Zipp and check before you buy if you are in any doubt.

Pro’s choice

 So is it the fastest wheel around? Quite possible. The advantage of the clincher design over tubular is the smoother surface between tire and rim, and that matters. This is certainly a ferociously aerodynamic wheel, and it is certainly very fast. Zipp spends a lot on wind tunnel and virtual fluid dynamic testing, and if it comes down to aerodynamics alone, clinchers  - and this clincher in particular – are going to outperform tubular in the disc market every time. Lighten up the front wheel, and you won’t notice the difference.

The Zipp Super 9 carbon clincher has already made it onto the Olympic podium, and picked up national championships in triathlon. For that kind of quality, you should expect to pay. At $2375, this is not a cheap wheel, but somebody has to pay for all that research and design! If you think of it as about two bucks a gram, it doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

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