Zipp 303 Firecrest Disc wheels
When describing its tubeless-ready 303 Firecrest Carbon Disc Brake Road Wheel, Zipp rather drily notes that, when you’re challenging the ever-expanding terrain available courtesy of the new generation of gravel grinders, the wheel will “go the distance. It’ll just take less time.” It’s based on the same 303 depth that we first saw storm to multi-surface success under Spartacus at Flanders in 2010, but the latest 303 platform combines strength, stability, and the aerodynamic features the brand is known for in a body that, if Cancellara had it those seven years ago, may well have pushed the final gap out to two minutes or more.
The “takes less time” part of Zipp’s claim is obvious: the brand was one of the early adapters of the bullet-shaped rim cross section that’s swept the industry in recent years, and it’s of course synonymous with Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) dimpling. When compared to smooth-sided rims, Zipp credits those dimples with reducing drag across all yaw angles; however, the largest gains occur between 10 and 20 degrees, a range that Zipp claims encompasses 50% of the time we spend on the bike. By combining the gains of ABLC with the natural tendency for 45mm rims to want to hold speed in the low- to high-20s, Zipp maximizes aerodynamics.