By our count, there are four big trends in wheel technology that are relevant to cyclocross and gravel cyclists: disc brakes; tubeless; wide rims; and thru axles.
Zipp Speed Weaponry has already embraced disc brakes, with the 303 Firecrest clincher and tubular wheels released in 2013, and the 202 Firecrest clincher wheelset we first saw last June.
As of today, the Indianapolis-based SRAM company embraces thru axles, and has updated the disc brake versions of its 202 Firecrest clincher and 303 Firecrest clincher and tubular carbon wheels with new thru axle hubs that it calls the 77 (front) and 177 (rear).
What’s Missing? The Good
We think the big story here is what’s missing, and it’s likely either great news or a deal breaker for many of you.
The great news is that all three wheelsets have dropped in price, due to what Zipp refers to as “process improvements and efficiencies.”
The Zipp 202 and 303 Firecrest clincher wheelsets drop a whopping $450 from $2850 to $2400 ($1100 front, $1300 rear).
The Zipp 303 Firecrest tubular wheelset, perhaps of most interest to our readership, drops $200 to $2300 ($1050 front, $1250 rear). In an age where the latest components typically jump up in price, the price drops are surprising and refreshing, and may make the high-end wheels more affordable for some cyclists.
While the lower prices will still be out of range for some, it’s worth emphasizing that the actual manufacturing of the carbon rim and the wheel assembly all takes place right here in the US, in Indianapolis, Indiana. How many other wheel companies can say that? And the hubs are already proven by a certain three-time National Champion: