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The Zipp 303 solidified its place at the top of the carbon-rimmed world by proving its versatility on the harsh terrain and grueling cobbles of the spring classics, earning the distinction of the first carbon wheelset to win both Flanders and Roubaix. For 2016, the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Tubular Road Wheelset is back with updated hubs and the same signature aerodynamic and stabilizing features that made its 45mm rim a peloton staple on even the windiest days.
Zipp built these wheels for aerodynamic advantages on everything from flat roads to big inclines. An updated version of Zipp's signature Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) dimpling uses strategically placed and sized dimples across the rim's surface to smooth airflow, allowing the wheel to slice deftly through the air with less drag-inducing wake. Compared to many wheels that experience minimum drag numbers at yaw angles that rarely occur outside of a wind tunnel, ABLC boasts aerodynamic advantages in conditions you'll actually encounter on the road.
In addition to ABLC, we're pretty jazzed about the Visco-Elastic Constrained Layer Control (VCLC) and Carbon Bridge technologies that Zipp is including in the new 303 Firecrests. VCLC is similar to a construction model that we're seeing more and more in high-end frame manufacturing. It involves sandwiching a visco-elastic layer between the rim's carbon fiber layers in order to increase the structure's ability to absorb impacts and control road noise. As mentioned above, we're accustomed to seeing this process in racing frames, but Zipp may be the only manufacturer to bring it to wheels.
The Carbon Bridge design involves incorporating Kevlar threads in the carbon lay-up to take advantage of Kevlar's 350% greater resistance to impact. The benefits throughout the wheel are obvious, but higher durability is especially welcome at the tire mounting surface, which is often the first area to take a hit, and Zipp claims that the 303's durability under duress jumps by almost 40%. Zipp even goes so far as to make the joke that the wheels are practically bulletproof.
Zipp laces the 303 rims to its updated 77/177 hubset for improved stiffness and durability over its predecessor. Featuring a new platform and graphics for 2016, these hubs boast increased bearing protection and are ready to roll without any pre-load adjustment. The rear hub is compatible with a separately sold XD driver body, opening up options for a larger cassette range that includes a 10-42 if you're ready to try SRAM's new one-by road kit. Each wheel includes Zipp's new quick-release skewer with a widened handle for better leverage when setting and a more streamlined look as it sits close to the frame when closed.
Please note that the included Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads are designed specifically for use with Zipp's carbon rims. Zipp also recommends a maximum rider weight of 250lb.
- Item #ZIP003D