Thoughts on new Zipp 303 Firecrest
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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on new Zipp 303 Firecrest

    I have never ridden Zipp wheels before. In general, I have been a fan of ENVE, which may have to do with my MTB beginnings. I also have been a fan of Light Bicycle wheels. I also have had many sets of Mavic wheels both mtb and road cycling. The new Firecrest 303 Firecrest has intrigued me for its weight, brand reputation and new lower overall price.
    Iím considering them for my new road bike.
    What are all your thoughts? Supposedly there were concerns with older model hubs?? Premature failure??
    Appreciate your input

  2. #2
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    yep their previous models had hub reliability issue, in addition to flexy.

    But... if you're considering Zipp 303, you seriously need to consider Reynolds Aero 45. Reynolds Aero 45 is better than Zipp 303 in every way, period. DT Swiss internals, CX-ray spokes, NACA profile (ie, it's better), lighter overall.

  3. #3
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    Forget Zipp or any other carbon clincher as braking will NEVER be as good as on aluminum (assuming rim brakes).

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    Lots of options showing up that are lower priced now for carbon wheels and most have lifetime warranties. Bontrager and Enve both have new wheels lower priced you might want to look at too for road wheelsets. I picked up a set of Enve's new Foundation series wheels under $1300 a month or so ago and their weight is inline with the lower weight end of the current options for their depth on the market today.

    That Zipp 303 sure has a wide internal / external - make sure your frame has room for your tires with those. Looks like they are optimized for 28 - 30mm tires.
    Last edited by Srode; 2 Weeks Ago at 01:34 AM.
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    I will look into them. Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    yep their previous models had hub reliability issue, in addition to flexy.

    But... if you're considering Zipp 303, you seriously need to consider Reynolds Aero 45. Reynolds Aero 45 is better than Zipp 303 in every way, period. DT Swiss internals, CX-ray spokes, NACA profile (ie, it's better), lighter overall.

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    Valid point and totally Agreed with the braking of carbon clinchers...... My new bike is disc, so this will not be a factor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Notvintage View Post
    Forget Zipp or any other carbon clincher as braking will NEVER be as good as on aluminum (assuming rim brakes).

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    There are many options for sure. I was looking at he ENVE 3.4 SES wheelset which is more expensive and seems to be the set more closely compared to the Zipp 303 Firecrest. I believe the ENVE Foundation series is more comparable to the new Zipp 303s wheels as far as weight and pricing.
    I had also considered Black Inc. and DT Swiss options. DT Swiss I believe was much more expensive.
    What intrigued me was the sub $2k price for the Zipp 303 Firecrest Some of my friends have had older sets for years and absolutely love them.

    If the bearing issues have been sorted.....I think I may give them a chance. On previous setups I ran Mavic wheels. Canít say I have been to happy with overall build quality as of recent years. Bearing failures, finicky tubular setup with Carbone Ultimates.....failed spokes on some wheels (mtb wheels).

    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Lots of options showing up that are lower priced now for carbon wheels and most have lifetime warranties. Bontrager and Enve both have new wheels lower priced you might want to look at too for road wheelsets. I picked up a set of Enve's new Foundation series wheels under $1300 a month or so ago and their weight is inline with the lower weight end of the current options for their depth on the market today.

    That Zipp 303 sure has a wide internal / external - make sure your frame has room for your tires with those. Looks like they are optimized for 28 - 30mm tires.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    yep their previous models had hub reliability issue, in addition to flexy.

    But... if you're considering Zipp 303, you seriously need to consider Reynolds Aero 45. Reynolds Aero 45 is better than Zipp 303 in every way, period. DT Swiss internals, CX-ray spokes, NACA profile (ie, it's better), lighter overall.
    Don't know if they're past the 'heat' issue or not, but I'm forever ruined when it comes to Reynolds. I have never seen another brand w/ the number of heat damaged rims (brake tracks).
    #promechaniclife

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Don't know if they're past the 'heat' issue or not, but I'm forever ruined when it comes to Reynolds. I have never seen another brand w/ the number of heat damaged rims (brake tracks).
    yep I've had friends with older Reynolds with this issue. Problem was their rims were just too damn light and particularly too thin at the brake track. But their latest gen are much better.

    Today, IMO, their best "value" wheelsets are the Aero (Black label) series if you could get them on sale (or, from an authorized builder). I'm very impressed with their Aero 65 both in terms of aero performance and quality.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    Today, IMO, their best "value" wheelsets are the Aero (Black label) series if you could get them on sale (or, from an authorized builder). I'm very impressed with their Aero 65 both in terms of aero performance and quality.
    Curious what you see in them as preferred vs the comparably priced and weight Zipp 303 or Enve Foundation series 65 for $400 less MSRP with similar weight?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Curious what you see in them as preferred vs the comparably priced and weight Zipp 303 or Enve Foundation series 65 for $400 less MSRP with similar weight?
    To me, when I go with an aero wheelset, then the number 1 factor is performance. The Zipp 303 is not that aero with a wide 25mm internal width and 30mm external wide. That's just crazy wide to be an effective aero road wheelset (that's wider than my mtb wheelset), and 40mm deep isn't all that deep either. With those dimensions, Zipp 303 is more likely optimized for 28mm tires, and I woldn't want to ride anything less than a 28mm tire for these rims because in a catastrophic flat, those rims are gonna eat pavement if using 25mm tires. But using 28mm tires aren't aero, not to mention the options for fast rolling 28mm tires aren't all that much.

    The Reynolds Aero series use a true NACA airfoil; it's a teardrop. The NACA shape is the only proven and well researched shape in the aero world. But to accomplish this, Reynolds uses internal nipples (which is well acceptable to me). Nobody in the aerodynamics world talks about "U shape" or "bulbous" airfoils except for Zipp.

    Enve 65 rim shape is a little better than Zipp, but it's still not as aero as the Reynolds.

    I've ridden Zipp 303 and 404 Firecrest, Enve Ses 4.5 and 6.7, and while realize these series are not the current Zipp 303 and Enve 65, but they are close enough for me to make a comparison to the Reynolds, and I can state with no ambiguity that the Reynolds 65 are far.. far.. superior in the aero performance, at all yaw angles. Mavic top series come close to Reynolds because they also use the NACA rim profile. Bontragger XXX 6 series also try to make their 60mm wheels like NACA too but they can't because their spoke nipples are external so they can't truely make the trailing edge of the rim to be teardrop. I'm only 123 lb but I can sustain 25+ mph for miles on at 270w-300+w, but I need to be in "doggie paws on bar" to sustain this pace, and when in this position, the front wheel is prone to be slapped by the wind, but with the Reynolds 65, I'm completely confident in my position and can focus on hammering and not the wind.

    Now if we talk about material build and parts, then here i think they're all similar. Reyolds uses i9 hubs (US made) and sapim cx ray spokes, that's good stuff.

    Reynolds wheels come with a lifetime warranty.

    And I got mine for $1200 (with a bike purchase). I've seen Reynolds put a sale on these for something like under $1600 for a set last December.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    To me, when I go with an aero wheelset, then the number 1 factor is performance. The Zipp 303 is not that aero with a wide 25mm internal width and 30mm external wide. That's just crazy wide to be an effective aero road wheelset (that's wider than my mtb wheelset), and 40mm deep isn't all that deep either. With those dimensions, Zipp 303 is more likely optimized for 28mm tires, and I woldn't want to ride anything less than a 28mm tire for these rims because in a catastrophic flat, those rims are gonna eat pavement if using 25mm tires. But using 28mm tires aren't aero, not to mention the options for fast rolling 28mm tires aren't all that much.

    The Reynolds Aero series use a true NACA airfoil; it's a teardrop. The NACA shape is the only proven and well researched shape in the aero world. But to accomplish this, Reynolds uses internal nipples (which is well acceptable to me). Nobody in the aerodynamics world talks about "U shape" or "bulbous" airfoils except for Zipp.

    Enve 65 rim shape is a little better than Zipp, but it's still not as aero as the Reynolds.

    I've ridden Zipp 303 and 404 Firecrest, Enve Ses 4.5 and 6.7, and while realize these series are not the current Zipp 303 and Enve 65, but they are close enough for me to make a comparison to the Reynolds, and I can state with no ambiguity that the Reynolds 65 are far.. far.. superior in the aero performance, at all yaw angles. Mavic top series come close to Reynolds because they also use the NACA rim profile. Bontragger XXX 6 series also try to make their 60mm wheels like NACA too but they can't because their spoke nipples are external so they can't truely make the trailing edge of the rim to be teardrop. I'm only 123 lb but I can sustain 25+ mph for miles on at 270w-300+w, but I need to be in "doggie paws on bar" to sustain this pace, and when in this position, the front wheel is prone to be slapped by the wind, but with the Reynolds 65, I'm completely confident in my position and can focus on hammering and not the wind.

    Now if we talk about material build and parts, then here i think they're all similar. Reyolds uses i9 hubs (US made) and sapim cx ray spokes, that's good stuff.

    Reynolds wheels come with a lifetime warranty.

    And I got mine for $1200 (with a bike purchase). I've seen Reynolds put a sale on these for something like under $1600 for a set last December.
    thanks, good write up, I got my Enve 65's a bit over 1200 on sale not with a bike purchase, but have been happy with them. They've proved to be stable enough to use aerobars comfortably in descent cross winds. I like that lifetime warranty has become the industry norm now days across all brands and prices are coming down as well. It would be nice to see some objective comparisons between wheels of different brands with similar depths, but anything narrower like the Reynolds will likely perform the best as far as the aero numbers, perhaps not across all areas of wheel performance (comfort, stability, flexing etc).
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  13. #13
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    I've had these zipp 303 firecrest for 5 years and it hasn't had a single issue. I haven't had to do any maintenance either. I can't compare to any other wheels except my Corima lightweight set which are a completely diff type of wheel.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by coresare View Post
    I've had these zipp 303 firecrest for 5 years and it hasn't had a single issue.
    You're bike must have a nice spot hanging in your house. Zipp is crap if used over four hours a week OUTDOORS.

  15. #15
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    I dunno man. I've ridden them quite a lot. My friends who have them haven't had issues either. Not saying it doesn't occur.

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