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A Whale of a Good Time.
Zipp made a splash with its release of the 454 wheelset. After all, the brand did use biomimicry and looked to the sea when seeking new aerodynamic properties for this wheelset. The 454 NSW Carbon Clincher Disc Brake Road Wheels features a unique, alternating rim shape inspired by whales. Zipp looked at the tubercles found on the edges of humpbacks' fins for a rim profile that would maximize aero benefits at all yaw angles and increase crosswind stability.
Right off the bat, the 454 looks different and any other rim shape, as the depth varies between 58mm at its peaks and 53mm in the valleys on a mountain range that Zipp refers to as Hyperfoils. This patented rim shape achieves something conventional aero wheels cannot; it simultaneously reduces both aerodynamic drag and side forces for the ultimate in AeroBalance. Sawtooth accomplishes this with a series of patented fin-shaped Hyperfoil nodes along the inner diameter of the rim that work together with the HexFin ABLC dimples for improved airflow. Meant to mimic the tubercles on the fins of humpback whales in nature, they manage water resistance and allow the huge aquatic animal the ability to make quick turns. While riding, this translates to confident handling on 50mph+ descents down canyon roads with variable winds and an added aero benefit while in an all-day break or keeping your powder dry in the pack, waiting for the final field gallop.
The 454 is part of Zipp's NSW lineup, meaning it sees the most advanced technology it knows in crafting wheels. Zipp's signature dimpling is traded from the standard ABLC design to HexFin ABLC. HexFin ABLC dimples differ from their traditional round versions to better manage the boundary layer of air against the rim and create more stable aerodynamic benefits. The HexFin dimples are strategically placed in small, fin-shaped clumps above the deepest edge of each Hyperfoil where Zipp found them to most benefit.
Outside of the 808 and its disc wheels, the 454 is the fastest wheel Zipp has ever created. The 404 NSW dethroned 404 Firestrike as a faster and more stable wheel and it appears that the 454 is upping the ante. Team Katusha, and the likes of Tony Martin and Alexander Kristoff, have put these wheels through the ringer in all kinds of condition in the classics and grand tours which speak volumes for the durability and versatility of the wheels. The 454 NSW's unique looks alone are good for some free watts and should strike some fear in all of your riding partners.
With all that speed on tap, we are happy to know that Zipp now offers the 454 NSW in a disc brake version. We're pretty confident we'll see disc brakes take over in the professional peloton in the next few years as some pretty big races wins have been captured on disc wheels. The better braking in all conditions cannot be denied and the weight just keeps coming down. And aerodynamics, well we feel these wheels don't give up anything to the rim brake versions. Kudos go to Zipp for spec'ing Centerlock hubs which offer a lighter, stiffer, and easier solution than 6-bolt hubs. The confidence on offer squeezing a dedicated braking surface as well as the peace of mind knowing that a heat related tire blow out from overzealous braking is a thing of the past, is reassuring.
Zipp's Cognition hubset finds a home as the centerpiece of the 454 NSW and packs some interesting tech. The Cognition features Zipp's Axial Clutch freehub mechanism, which engages two Metal Injection Molding (MIM) rings. One ring is mated to the freehub body and the other inside the hub shell, and the two rings are machined to engage quickly but when coasting, magnets pull the rings away from one another reducing drag. Compared to a standard 3-pawl design, which operates like a drum brake on coast-down, the Axial Clutch's MIM rings have half the drag of traditional systems.
Zipp address all the details on their NSW wheels and something as small as a decal doesn't get overlooked. Zipp uses its ImPress graphics process for applying the decals so as not to disrupt the aerodynamic properties or aesthetics of the wheels. The effects might be negligible but this kind of attention to detail and marginal gains is nice on a wheelset of this caliber. An added bonus is the decals will not peel over time and keep the wheels looking sharp.
Each Zipp 454 NSW Carbon Clincher Disc Road Wheelset includes Tangente titanium skewers, valve extenders, individual wheel bags, Tangente tubes, rim tape, thru-axle end caps to fit 12x100, 15x100, and 12x142 dropouts. Please note that Zipp recommends a maximum rider weight of 250lb for this wheelset.
- An aerodynamic wheelset inspired by nature
- Alternating rim depth improves cross winds and aerodynamics
- New ABLC dimples improve air flow and stability
- Carbon fiber rims are light, stiff, and fast
- Centerlock hubs ushers in legit disc aero wheels
- Cognition Axial Clutch engages quickly with little drag
- ImPress graphics provide clean and aero decals
- Zipp Speed Weaponry redefine the boundaries of functional, aerodynamic design
- Item #ZIP005U