Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelset

daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,284
edited 15 September in Road buying advice
Talk to me about these wheels please.

See they have the enhanced braking track, and are pretty light for 45mm deep rims.

Bikeradar rated them 10/10 tail end of last year.

Any real world experiences of the wheelset, or Zipp period?

Much of an upgrade over Mavic Cosmic Exalith (not UST) wheels?

Thanks
Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
Scott CR1 SL 12
Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
Scott Foil 18

Posts

  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,179
    ok. the new ones are lighter (450 vs 485g per rim) than the post 2012 versions and brake better in the dry. they have the 77/177 hub which is not bad but not great. braking in the wet is good for carbon but not really all that great.

    exalith braking is way better in all conditions. compared to the equivalent mavic wheels with exalith braking, there won't be much in it except the mavics are slightly heavier.

    there are a few of us on this forum that had the older version with the 88/188 hubs. they were made of cheese...

    Frankly if I were to wind the clock back the wheels are much of a muchness nowadays. you could get a pair of light bicycle rims, hope hubs, sapim cx-ray spokes and brass nipples and have effectively the same wheels for £600. they just wouldn't have zipp on them.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,284
    Thanks for the detailed reply Phil - noticed Mantel have them and the 404's for circa 70% off I think, but still a huge wedge of cash.

    I will cross them off the list in that case!
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • thegreatdividethegreatdivide Posts: 4,938
    edited 12 September
    A few ramblings from me...

    In front of me right now there are five bikes with a range of wheelsets - Bora Ultra 35 (on a C59) RSYS-SLR (on an Emonda) Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL (on a Cento Uno) Zipp 404 (2017 model on a Foil) and Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith (on an Aeroad).

    I'm a huge fan of Exalith, it's as good as it gets on aluminium wheels and the RSYS-SLRs that I have were bought in Sept 2013 and they still look as good as new. However, the current Bora 35 brake tracks performs flawlessly in the wet or dry and IMO it's just as powerful as Exalith. It's just tremendous and probably the pinnacle of carbon braking (so far). The braking on the all carbon Mavic SLs is also pretty great too, but I've not ridden them in any serious rain yet, they're my blingy, light 'holiday' wheels.

    Yes the Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith wheels have the great stopping power, but they're a 'dead' wheelset compared to the 404s which are more than competent in all weather, I've hammered them in competition and training and the hubs have still not required any maintenance. I've also had the previous 303s and they were fab too - I just wanted a deeper wheel so moved up to the 404. Sure you can buy a knock off version for cheaper - but it's a knock off. Simple as that. I've got mates who take their 404s on holiday to the big climbs and have ridden them confidently in some really nasty weather down long descents.

    I'm about to pull the trigger on a new Cervelo S3 frame and the Cosmics will be getting sold off, the current 404s will be moved to the Aeroad, and I'll be putting a pair of 404 NSWs on the S3.
    #f*ckwit
  • Daniel B wrote:
    Talk to me about these wheels please.

    See they have the enhanced braking track, and are pretty light for 45mm deep rims.

    Bikeradar rated them 10/10 tail end of last year.

    Any real world experiences of the wheelset, or Zipp period?

    Much of an upgrade over Mavic Cosmic Exalith (not UST) wheels?

    Thanks

    I have a set from around 2016. Mine are tubular. I don’t hate them. I think they ride nice enough. They’re not very stiff though. I mean you have to open up the brake callipers a fair bit to avoid brake rub kind of flex. I have 404’s too and I’d pick the 404’s most days. They’re stiffer and obv more aero gain. In fact the 303’s don’t get much use at all these days.

    Are you settled on 45mm? I feel like people get that depth thinking they can have a wheel that does it all. But I’d probably look to get a deeper rim if you want the aero benefit.
    Cannondale caad7 ultegra
    S-works Tarmac sl5 etap
    Colnago c64 etap wifli
    Brother Swift
  • A few ramblings from me...

    In front of me right now there are five bikes with a range of wheelsets - Bora Ultra 35 (on a C59) RSYS-SLR (on an Emonda) Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL (on a Cento Uno) Zipp 404 (2017 model on a Foil) and Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith (on an Aeroad).

    I'm a huge fan of Exalith, it's as good as it gets on aluminium wheels and the RSYS-SLRs that I have were bought in Sept 2013 and they still look as good as new. However, the current Bora 35 brake tracks performs flawlessly in the wet or dry and IMO it's just as powerful as Exalith. It's just tremendous and probably the pinnacle of carbon braking (so far). The braking on the all carbon Mavics is also pretty great too, but I've not ridden them in any serious rain yet, they're my blingy, light 'holiday' wheels.

    Yes the Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith wheels have the great stopping power, but they're a 'dead' wheelset compared to the 404s which are more than competent in all weather, I've hammered them in competition and training and the hubs have still not required any maintenance. I've also had the previous 303s and they were fab too - I just wanted a deeper wheel so moved up to the 404. Sure you can buy a knock off version for cheaper - but it's a knock off. Simple as that. I've got mates who take their 404s on holiday to the big climbs and have ridden them confidently in some really nasty weather down long descents.

    I'm about to pull the trigger on a new Cervelo S3 frame and the Cosmics will be getting sold off, the current 404s will be moved to the Aeroad, and I'll be putting a pair of 404 NSWs on the S3.

    I agree about 404’s. They wouldn’t be first choice for alpine climbs (or descents). But they are really nice wheels and I think they’re a better choice than 303’s.

    But I’m not sure what you’re calling knock off wheels? Zipp were ahead of the game in terms of rim shape a few years ago but they don’t have that claim now.
    Cannondale caad7 ultegra
    S-works Tarmac sl5 etap
    Colnago c64 etap wifli
    Brother Swift
  • I have a pair of 2016 or so 303s on a C59 and pretty much agree with all the comments.

    They are an ace wheel with a modern, wide profile and perfectly adequate braking.

    Nowadays I ride mainly on the flat so could potentially benefit from 404s but I prefer the look of 303s.

    If I could justify them, I'd love a set of Bora 50s but I just don't ride enough, sadly.
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,179
    see that's something I should have highlighted. the new 404's are great wheels. they are slightly stiffer than 303's, slightly faster on the flat and don't lose out much uphill.

    crosswinds don't really bother me as I'm a bit bulkier than racing snakes, but the 404s are very slightly more noticeable in crosswinds.

    for UK roads though a 38/45mm wheel will probably be the best swiss army knife you can get. it'll do most things well most of the time.
  • TurboTommy wrote:
    But I’m not sure what you’re calling knock off wheels? Zipp were ahead of the game in terms of rim shape a few years ago but they don’t have that claim now.

    That's not what I meant. There are several 'reputable' wheel builders out there that claim their dimpled 303/404 Chinese copies are just as good as the real thing, and according to one builder...better than the real thing. I've still to see evidence of this.
    #f*ckwit
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 921
    The great divide, have you seen evidence to say the Zipps are better?
    I’m with Philbar in this. I’ve had all sorts of wheels, including a set of 404s from about 2014 I think, they weren’t great. Also had £2k bontrager Aeolus wheels through to Planet X £300 50mm wheels. I’ve not noticed much performance difference between them.
    I currently have a set of 62mm Reynolds wheels, they’re very good, but that’s the rim depth that helps and of course the sound from a 60mm wheel makes me go faster.
    All that said, when my Reynolds are a bit older I’ll go back to Zipp. But thats because I’m a fool and go for bling.
    As someone who also had 40mm depth, I wouldn’t bother. No performance benefit and it’s a little bit of dead weight over a lighter shallow rim. But I do think on a non aero bike 303s look the bomb.
  • w00dster wrote:
    The great divide, have you seen evidence to say the Zipps are better?

    Have you seen any evidence that the knock offs are as good as the original?

    As you well know, Zipp can provide the R&D that went into their original design and the wind tunnel data. None of this went into the build of the knock offs. They just tried to copy the original rim.
    #f*ckwit
  • w00dster wrote:
    The great divide, have you seen evidence to say the Zipps are better?

    Have you seen any evidence that the knock offs are as good as the original?

    As you well know, Zipp can provide the R&D that went into their original design and the wind tunnel data. None of this went into the build of the knock offs. They just tried to copy the original rim.

    I did notice that the Wheelsmith ‘dimpled rim’ does have a much lower rider weight limit than Zipp. Read into that what you will.
  • I bought my first carbon wheelset recently they’re Cannondale Hollowgrams 35mm. I know these are at the other end of the scale regarding the Zipps but in comparison with my old Mavic Kysrium there isn’t any notable speed difference, which is more than a bit demoralising after the wait for these alleged faster wheels not to mention the cost.
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 921
    Not denying Zipp did the R&D, nor denying that the Zipps aren’t going to be better. Just wondering if there was any evidence that states? You asked the same question saying you’ve not seen any evidence to state that the clones were in anyway better, I was wondering if the counter evidence existed?
    I don’t recall seeing any charts/tables showing how well the Zipps perform compared to others.
  • w00dsterw00dster Posts: 921
    A link to the Hambini blog, I know it’s been linked to before and if there are other alternatives be good to see them as well.
    https://www.hambini.com/blog/post/bicyc ... s-fastest/

    This shows that the Zipp 404s are performing very similarly to its competitors, better than some of the cheaper makes and worse than others.
    But surely this is expected? There is very little between the wheels for any given rim depth? We can’t say Zipp hubs are so much better, because the evidence doesn’t really point there.
    I will buy Zipp 404s for my next wheelset, but I’ll do it knowing that I’m buying a brand, R&D has been carried out but I’ll accept that it won’t be any better than the competition and that cheaper versions will follow it and perform equally.
    As I’ve said, I’ve got/had some of the more expensive brands who sell on performance, but really they’re much of a muchness and I’m buying into first and foremost the brand and secondly the innovation, which is then copied to equal effect.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 5,250
    pearceygy wrote:
    I bought my first carbon wheelset recently they’re Cannondale Hollowgrams 35mm. I know these are at the other end of the scale regarding the Zipps but in comparison with my old Mavic Kysrium there isn’t any notable speed difference, which is more than a bit demoralising after the wait for these alleged faster wheels not to mention the cost.

    I've been riding shallow Fulcrums Zeros and whilst they feel nice and lively they definitely don't carry speed like some older Corimas (maybe 48mm?) I had 10 or so years ago so maybe it is just the depth?

    I was thinking of replacing the Zeros with some of the Cosmic Carbon Exaliths but comments above about them feeling dead do put me off.
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