Kona 2015 – Zipp 808 NSW Carbon clincher

When we first saw the Zipp 404 Firestrike our biggest question was when would we see the technology scaled up to the 808 series of wheels? To us it just made sense. The technology of Firestrike was intended to help improve crosswind stability and decrease stopping distance both of which would be even more helpful when paired to the deeper rim diameter of the 808. Turns out that 10/6/2015 was the day and the new wheel would be the first in a new line of wheels that Zipp calls NSW.


Within the NSW Series, Zipp will develop and refine halo-level products with their most advanced technologies on an ongoing basis. The focus is on transforming innovative ideas into tangible gains in speed. NSW – for Nest Speed Weaponry – comes from the nickname “The Nest” Zipp engineers gave to the windowless, high-security advanced-development lab in the corner of the Zipp factory. “Zipp NSW is basically the most advanced technology that Zipp has at that time.” – Michael Hall, Zipp Director of Advanced Development

The Zipp 808 NSW Carbon Clincher

The 808 NSW retains the 82mm depth of the 808 Firecrest but pairs it with a new rim shape. The new wheel has a max width of 27.8mm and a brake track width of 26.44 mm. The complete wheelset weighs in at 1810g (830g/980g).


The ABLC (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control) Sawtooth dimple design consists of 12 nodes that are specifically clocked to start aerodynamic shearing at a rate of 50hz at a rider speed of 20mph. Sawtooth accomplishes this by inducing small sheet vortices that shed at a low magnitude, but at a higher natural frequency, thus decreasing the laminar bubble effect on the aerodynamically shielded side of the rim’s profile to further reduce high yaw drag and improve crosswind stability.


To ensure that not even the graphics interfere with the aerodynamics of the wheel, Zipp is using their ImPress graphics technology, which prints graphics directly on the wheel. This helps to allow the dimples to do what they were design to do – help control vortex shedding, the rate at which air sheds off the wheel.


Zipp has also designed a new hubset for the 808 NSW. The Cognition hubset with Axial Clutch technology reduces drag by disengaging the ratchet mechanism when coasting. A star-flanged straight-pull hubshell design on the rear hub distributes the load placed on the hub flange away from the bearings.


To help you stop faster Zipp equipped the 808 NSW with their Showstopper brake track. Showstopper’s power resides in directional, molded-in, texture paired with silicon carbide (SiC) particles suspended in the surface resin. SiC is nearly three-times harder than hardened steel, which helps ensure a strong and consistent braking experience. The grooves on the wheel also help to wipe water away and act as cooling vanes. Zipp claims that the net results of its Showstopper technology is a braking force in wet conditions equal to that of industry leading aluminum rims – a lofty claim that we are eager to verify.


“The big revolution is the Showstopper brake track. It’s no longer ‘as good as aluminum.’ It is better. Paired with hydraulic brakes, I’d say the braking quality is equivalent to disc brakes. You can carry more speed into turns and dump it faster. It’s a palpably better wheel but also one that’s just more fun to ride.” – Jordan Rapp


So what does all of this get you? Zipp tells us that the benefits of the 808 NSW versus the multi championship winning 808 Firecrest is a 3-4 watt savings which they calculate to be an estimated 90 seconds at 40km per hour over 112 mile. In addition they found an 8% – 10% reduction in side force.


Zipp 808 NSW technology already has been ridden to 1-2 finishes in two world championship events. In triathlon, Jan Frodeno of Germany won 70.3 World Championships in Austria while fellow German Sebastian Kienle was second. In cycling, Velocio-SRAM Pro Cycling captured gold at the Elite Women’s Team Time Trial and Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team the silver at the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.


Unfortunately this world championship pedigree won’t come cheap. A complete 808 NSW wheelset will set you back $3,400. But if you are someone that wants to ride the very best Zipp has to offer, head on over to your LBS in December when it should be available. For everyone else pay attention this weekend as Zipp looks to add a third world championship to the NSW’s already impressive tally.


2 responses to “Kona 2015 – Zipp 808 NSW Carbon clincher

Leave a Reply