Zipp’s 303 Firecrest wheelset is one of the best-loved and most highly regarded all-rounder road models on the market – and the updated version of the wheelset is set to win more accolades with its mix of light weight, aero efficiency and stability.
I’ve been riding Zipp’s 202 Firecrest carbon clincher wheels for the past couple of years, and they’ve seen me through hundreds of happy miles, so I was excited to put the updated Zipp 303s to the test. After a quick cassette swap and the installation of a new pair of Michelin Power Competition tyres I was ready to roll.
So how have Zipp improved what was already a best-in-class pair of wheels? The first big difference with the new Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels is the trickle-down technology borrowed from the higher-end NSW collection. The new Zipp 303 Firecrest now uses the same rim as the previous version of the NSW, which is optimised for low aerodynamic drag, incredible handling in crosswinds and is lighter than the previous version too – saving 145g in total for the wheelset.
I don’t have the luxury of a wind tunnel to scientifically quantify the difference in aerodynamics but god these things feel fast! Cranking out the miles on the remote roads and lanes with only the hum of the wheels and sound of speed in my head. While we haven’t had the blustery winds of the winter yet, the 303s have navigated the spring breeze with no issue.
The one thing you need with a light, fast carbon wheelset is the confidence in braking – and these updated 303s deliver excellent stopping power in all conditions. With a textured ShowStopper™ brake track, again borrowed from the higher end NSW range, they benefit from improved modulation and braking ability – whether you’re taking on a sun-soaked sportive or the drizzle drenched country roads on your post-work loop, an all-too-familiar scenario for myself!
Other notable features of the new Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelset includes their tried and tested 77/177 hubset paired with Sapim® CX Sprint spokes to improve torsional and lateral stiffness and robustness.
For their performance, lightweight and aero benefits, there’s very little out there that comes close to the new Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels if you’re looking for a do-it-all carbon road wheelset.