Zipp 404 Firecrest Review

Zipp 404 Firecrest Review

A fast road wheel is only as good as its ability to maintain speed and traction in a variety of conditions. Today’s review is all about the Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher V3 Road Wheel, one that promises to give you a competitive edge in your next race or triathlon.

Overall Rating

  • Consistent speed in wind
  • Maintains structural integrity under heat
  • Accelerates quickly
  • Reliable and stiff handling
  • Can get significant heat buildup when braking, which can affect reliability of brakes
  • The braking tends to be touchy and may squeal in wet conditions

Key Features

The Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel is just one of several on the market. However, like most road wheels, this one has a few stand-out features that set it apart from some of its competition, including:

58mm Rim Depth

Generally, the deeper the rim of your road wheel, the faster you can expect to go (Source: CyclingWeekly). The Zipp 404 Firecrests have a depth of 58mm, which is one of the widest depths for road wheels. But, this depth also lends to the wheels’ ability to give you the top speeds you’d expect from a racing wheel.

In fact, Zipp created the Firecrest series as the first deep-profile wheels to have incredible aerodynamics and speed while not compromising their ability to be responsive and handle reliably. 

Zipp 77/177 Hubs

The Zipp 77 front and 177 rear hubs are what the 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel uses to improve its spin and performance. This hubset is one of Zipp's newest technologies that places on some of its newer wheelsets to improve everything from stiffness to durability.

This hubset is one that Zipp also considers to be a more simplified option for cyclists, meaning that it requires little maintenance and upgrades. 

Zipp also uses its Wire-EDM technology on the hubset, allowing them to go through a heat-treating process before they are cut to their precise measurements using the technology. This process ensures that they don’t become misshapen during the heating process. This can prevent inaccuracies in parts that can affect the overall performance of your bike.

ABLC Texturing

The Zipp 404s have ABLC, or Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control, texturing, which is Zipp’s technology that shapes the rim to an ideal standard that increases its performance. Zipp uses a mathematical construction to create a curved design that enhances the aerodynamics of your wheels (Source: Zipp).

Review of the Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel

For our full review of the Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel, we’re going to focus on a few of the most important things to look for in a road wheel and explain how the Zipp stands up in each category. We hope that this review will give you a better understanding of this wheel’s abilities and will help inform your purchase decision.

Performance in a Variety of Conditions

The Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel is one that promises riders a seamless ride in a variety of conditions. One area that this road wheel shines is in its performance in windy conditions.

The wheel tends to stay stable and stiff when you need it to the most, whether the wind is with you, against you, or catching you in its crosswinds. As you’d expect from a road wheel, the Zipp 404 also maintains a consistent speed and flight path in calm winds.

However, some users have noted that this wheel doesn’t perform the best in rain, which is mostly due to its braking system that becomes inhibited in wet conditions. This can be an issue for carbon fiber road wheels, and the Zipp 404 is no exception.

Braking

It’s crucial to have a road wheel that’s as reliable with its braking as it is with its speed and aerodynamics. In most dry conditions, the Zipp 404 can be a top performer when it comes to braking. You should expect to be able to brake quickly and rely on your brakes to stop the wheels when you need them to, which you can do with these wheels in dry conditions.

However, wet conditions may not display the best side of these wheels. The braking mechanism may be less reliable when your wheels get wet, which can lead to a slower stop. Several users have also noted that the brakes squeal loudly when they’re wet.

Weight

The Zipp 404 isn’t heavy, considering its depth of 58mm. The wheel weighs in at 1690 g, which is a respectable weight for a road wheel and definitely light enough to keep you moving and accelerating fast (Source: Zipp).

Although these wheels are a bit heavier than some comparable road wheels, you probably won’t be able to tell during your ride. They still accelerate fast and stay speedy on the move, so you’re not likely to feel weighed down by the wheels.

Stiffness and Handling

The Zipp 404s may be one of the best as far as their stiffness and handling abilities. Other wheels that are as deep as these tend to feel a bit clunky and not as responsive as narrower road wheels. However, the Zipp 404s can respond quickly to your movements and provide a stiff ride so that your moves are crisp and responsive.

Heat Buildup

Heat buildup is a significant concern for carbon fiber wheels (Source: Road.cc). Carbon fiber road wheels may be better for aerodynamics than some other options, but they can also be more prone to heat buildup from rubbing brakes than other wheels.

Your brake pads can gain some serious friction when you’re on the road, and the manufacturing process can’t help. Your brakes may suffer in performance under high heat and can cause loud squealing and even insufficient braking using these wheels.

How Does the Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel Compare to Similar Products?

There are a lot of competitors for the Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel, and we’re going to show you a few of them here. In doing so, we hope to give you a more accurate picture of where the Zipp stands so that you can find the perfect road wheel for your needs.

Sunrise Bike Carbon Fiber Road Wheelset Clincher

The Sunrise Bike Carbon Fiber Road Wheelset Clincher is a 50-mm road wheel that sits at a much lower price point than the Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher. Although not quite as deep as the Zipp, the Sunrise can pack a lot of power and speed into your rides.

These are also carbon fiber rims, but use the Toray T700 material, which is known as a stiff and strong material that also keeps the rims lightweight. These wheels weigh in at 1540 g, which is less than the Zipp, so you might feel that they let you reach top speeds a little faster.

Hunt 3650 Carbon Wide Aero Wheels

The Hunt 3650 Carbon Wide Aero Wheels may be a good option for people who want the speed and aerodynamics that the Zipp provides but at a lower price point. These wheels have a rim depth of 50 mm at the rear and 36 mm at the front, which might even improve your aerodynamics and ride in several weather conditions.

One of the biggest benefits of this wheelset is the hubs, which is a 48-tooth ratchet ring. This design helps your bike pick up instantly and accelerate quickly, catching and moving the wheels as soon as you begin to move. It’s possible that you find these wheels to pick up even quicker than the Zipp 404s.

Reynolds Aero 58 Clincher Wheels

The Reynolds Aero 58 Clincher Wheels have a 58-mm rim depth, which is just slightly deeper than the Zipp. These also come in at a high price point like the Zipp 404s, so they may be the most comparable to the wheelset.

These wheels can keep you stable in high crosswinds almost as well as calm winds. However, they are at risk for the same problem as the Zipp 404s: delayed braking in wet conditions that could impact your bike’s responsiveness.

However, these wheels might be a good option for someone looking for a very smooth ride, as these wheels are some of the stiffest and most responsive, helping to absorb shock and keep you comfortable during short or long rides.

Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher Wheelset

The Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher Wheelset is not as deep as the Zipp 404s, at 30 mm, but we think it's a good alternative to consider if you're more concerned with having a lightweight and quick-accelerating wheel than an aerodynamic one.

These wheels may not cut through the wind like the Zipp 404s, but they should pick up and maintain speed just as well. The Fast Forward F3Rs are also known for reducing heat quickly from brake rubbing, which can be a benefit to those who don’t find the Zipp 404’s braking power sufficient in high heat conditions. 

Conclusion

The Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher v3 Road Wheel is one of the toughest wind-cutting wheels that can handle top speeds. The Zipp hubset helps these wheels pick up quickly with less effort from you. Its downfall, however, is its braking system, which leaves a bit to be desired in wet conditions.

However, if you’re top concerns are speed and handling, these wheels likely won’t disappoint you. With fast acceleration and consistent speeds regardless of wind, you’ll stay moving with some help from the Zipp 404’s power.

About the Author James

Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been doing Triathlons for a while now and am competing in 70.3 Ironman's as well come this year. I created this site to help those new to the sport and to share my journey with other athletes.

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