We’re calling this a ride without the Zipp 858 NSW. We know that sounds odd, being that it this is a feature about testing the Zipp 858 NSW. Read on. It will make sense.
The excitement of unboxing the Zipp 858 NSW reminded us of Christmas past, when as a young kid there was nothing better than ripping into presents as fast as our little hands would let us. With more care and the help of a utility knife, we carefully opened this ‘gift’ (which will sadly be returned at the end of this test) and were not disappointed. With the all the thoughtfulness of a present wrapped by grandma, Zipp has created a complete luxury wheel purchase. The Zipp 858 NSW come with three things we wish every luxury wheel set included: 1) A nice set of padded wheel bags; 2) Two tubes and the best valve extenders we’ve have ever seen 3) Nice quick release and conversion options for thru-axle.
We’re not going to get into the technology behind the 858’s Hyperfoils, the biomimicry, cross wind handling, Cognition hubs or dissect wind tunnel data in this test. There has been plenty of that already. This is about our testing experience. For the tech background on these wheels and insight on crosswind handling check out our previous features on these wheels and this technology.
RELATED: The 858 Launch in Kona
The Zipp 858 NSW came set-up for a quick release and we were slightly disappointed, “Oh great, how much will we need to wrestle with these to swap them out?” Not at all, as it turns out. We simply used our hands to remove the quick release end caps and then gently pressed on the thru-axle end caps. What we love about this is that if you are currently riding a disc equipped bike with quick release you can still upgrade to these wheel and should you decide down the road to update your disc frame to thru-axel, your Zipp 858 NSW will seamlessly make the upgrade with you, there is no reason to hold off on your wheel upgrade.
The Zipp 858 NSW have a clean look with the simple white Zipp logo printed on the hubs and rims. The wheels look stealthy and on the road as you glance down at the spinning wheel it looks like pure speed. Of course, standing still, the undulating rim shape gets plenty of attention.
Our test was not a quick spin around a lunch loop with a few sprints and some hard cornering. No, we crushed the Zipp 858 NSW for over 32 hours of Pacific NW winter riding. These Zipp 858 NSW were put through the ringer. During our 32 hours of testing, the Zipp 858 NSW were used in over 30 max sprint efforts, hours of sub-Lactate and Lactate efforts, countless hills and descents, windy and raining conditions, three gravel rides, and they performed beautifully.
During the sprint efforts there was zero noise, thanks to a strong and well-built wheel, and also because of those amazing valve extenders. Zipp has put a thin rubber sheath around the valve extender where it comes through the rim whole. No more do you need to use electrical tape on your luxury wheels to prevent the horrible valve chatter. Without brake pads there was no chance of brake pad rub as we have experienced with some Zipp’s of old at high power. But is was more than just the removal of the rim brakes. These wheels are laterally stiff, as no disc rotor ‘ting-ting’ greeted us at max wattage. The Zipp NSW spun up quickly and at full flight were a joy to ride. As much as one can enjoy max sprint efforts, we did. Max Power was repeatedly over 1600 watts for 10 second efforts.
During the sub-lactate and lactate efforts we came to love these wheels. No one enjoys the prolonged pain of spending between 20 to 30 minutes in this effort range over several efforts on a single ride, but with the Zipp 858 NSW we enjoyed the extra speed, the soundless ride, and admittedly the way the front wheel looked as we buried our head in pain. Our gripe? Unlike almost every other wheel in the Zipp line up, these are not tubeless.
So why call this, “The ride without the Zipp 858 NSW”? Well, like many new bike components and especially high-end carbon wheels, there is the newness and excitement that can cloud the judgement of whether the wheels truly are faster and better. So to make sure we were not on a romantic cloud, we put back on our personal wheel set, the ones we paid for, good wheels – deep, aero ENVE’s. We realized our love for the Zipp 858 NSW was real and that they truly are faster and better. Like all great romances, we don’t have the empirical data to explain the love, but what we do have is the experience of sharing over 32 hours of saddle time with an amazing set of wheels.
Like the 454 NSW before it, the 858 NSW is also expensive – $4400. It features a 17mm internal, 23.7mm max external width, with 24/24 spokes on the disc wheel and 18/24 on the rim brake wheel. The 858 NSW weighs 1750grams in the rim brake version and 1834grams in the disc brake version we tested. The 858 NSW rim brake version sheds 60 grams versus the 808 NSW.