The all-around wheel, cycling’s version of Sasquatch. Many claim to have seen it, some claim to have evidence – fur, photos, footprints. It’s always a let down. It’s dog hair, a blurry shot of a guy in a suit, some joker with an 18” plywood foot. It’s the same with the all-around bike wheel. Everyone claims to make one, but the wheels always end up falling short. We want them fast, stiff, light, durable and convenient, we want to race them on the weekend, flat or hilly, TT or mass start, then train on them all week.
It’s a tall order and totally unrealistic… until now.
When Zipp decided the time had come to take their climbing specific wheel, the 202, a wheel that’s won more mountain stages than Michele Ferrari’s address book, and make it in a new Firecrest carbon clincher something unexpected popped out of the mold. Sure, they were only 1375 grams and the new resin made them essentially immune to heat build up under heavy braking, but they were so much more. Once the testing began this climbing wheel turned out to be something special, it was stiff enough for big sprinters, it was tough enough for cyclo-cross and according to their wind tunnel data faster than a traditional 60mm deep airfoil aero rim. All of this from a 32mm deep, 1375 gram climbing wheel.
These numbers pay off on the road. Yes, they climb like the proverbial bat out of hell, changing tempo instantly and easily handling big attacks, but the wheels are stiff enough to handle power numbers pure climbers can only dream of. Sprinters that rely on a big jump to get a gap have much to gain from the lighting fast acceleration of 202 carbon clinchers. Even a crit lead out man, forced to jump out of corner after corner, will be fresher for his the last kilometer dig and still have a big aero weapon up his sleeve. On gusty days and technical circuits the 202’s shallow depth and sculpted profile actually see less wind interference than a box section Ksyrium with the aero numbers of a much deeper wheel. The wide 25.4mm cross section works its magic as well, helping your tire’s sidewall absorb impact and create comfort with confident handling.
But these are all race day features that can be had with a tubular. It’s the clincher convenience and durability that makes these wheels transition so seamlessly to a training wheel, and it is here that a true all-around wheel is tested. We have a over 500 miles on the 202. Long days and rough roads haven’t marred these wheels yet, and knowing the new resin is actually tougher than the resin used in the 303 gives us incredible confidence. In fact, we put some Vittoria Cross XG tires on them for cross season. When we say all-around, we mean it.
These wheels have a livelier feel than the 303 clincher, thanks to the lower weight and what we would imagine are stiffness numbers so close it makes no difference. Short of a few watts of drag, they really are a superior wheel and closer to the all-around target, in fact, the closest we have ever ridden. Sure they’re expensive, but remember you’ll only be buying the one set. But we’re greedy, very greedy and the honeymoon is over. We want a tubeless version. Now that, would be something special.
Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher – Weight: 1375 grams Price: $2725 More: Zipp.com