Interbike 2014 – Zipp

No trip to Interbike would be complete without a stop at the Zipp \ SRAM booth. While there were no new triathlon-related product announcements from Zipp, this was our first chance to see a few products they’d released earlier this year.



At Eurobike, Zipp introduced their updated Tangente tire. The update’s goal was not just to keep enhancing aero, but to optimize rolling resistance as well. There are three choices in the 2015 Tangente line—the Course, Speed and SLSpeed. The Course is Zipp’s training tire and is available in a clincher in 700×23 (205g) and 700×25 (215g). It uses a 120 TPI nylon casing with a nylon puncture protection strip, and like all the 2015 Tangente tires, features a new aero tread. The Speed is the race clincher, and like the Course, is available in 700×23 and 700×25. It features a 220 TPI nylon case and weighs in at just 180g for the 23 (190g for the 25). The SLSpeed is the tubular Tangente and features 320 TPI cotton casing. The 700×24 weighs in at 265g and the 700×27 is 275g.

As we mentioned, the updates to the Tangente line are meant to optimize rolling resistance as compared to the previous iteration. Unfortunately, we were not able to corroborate that, but Tom Anhalt of Blather ‘bout Bikes did. Tom benchmarked the new Tangentes against the previous versions, plus a set of Continental GP4KS and Schwalbe IronMan Tubulars, and the results speak for themselves.


Blather ’bout Bikes Crr measurements


While the Course may be right in line with the GP4KS, the 25C Speed model would save a predicted 4W at 40kph. The tubulars are even more impressive with the new tires saving roughly 7W for the 24C and 10W for the 27C. Head over here to see the full breakdown.


When talking to Zipp, one of the key points they wanted to highlight with the Tangente lineup is that athletes can really benefit from racing with race-day specific tires, which we see Tom’s data validate. By switching to the race-day rubber, (Speed vs Course) you are going to score two to three watts. The flip side of that is that the Speed is really not designed for regular road use—especially in the wet. The Speed is your daytime tire when every watt counts.


We first looked at Firestrike in June, and while we have seen a set at our LBS, Interbike was our first chance to really dive into the new tech. First up was the new braking surface – Showstopper. While Zipp likes to talk about the new Silicon Carbide surface that helps add bite to the brake track, they emphasize that they didn’t go too far with it. Otherwise you’d likely need new pads after every ride. Instead, they worked to create a new brake track pattern that works to pull water away from the track, thus ensuring that the brakes are grabbing on a dry surface.


The revised ABLC (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control), which smooths airflow through more frequent and smaller vortices, is what triathletes should be most excited about. The end result of ABLC is that, in cross winds, the wheels will stay more stable.


Our big question for Zipp was whether this technology is going to be scaled up for the 808 or down to the 303. Unfortunately Zipp wasn’t willing to share, but our money is on the 808. Of course both the 303 and 808 could benefit from the Firestrike technology; specifically the stopping power in the wet for cyclists using the 303 (especially descending) and improved stability and braking for the 808. But we believe triathletes and time trialists alike will benefit most from the 808. And the fact is, Zipp considers the 303 to be one of the finest wheels they have ever created, so don’t feel like they’re in a rush to update it. Either way, we are excited to see where Zipp takes this technology next.

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