Coming off of the great success of the 808 NSW (ridden by Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle in Kona), it was only a matter of time before Zipp brought the expertise of the “nest” to its 404s. Nest refers to Zipp’s top secret lab where their most advanced design engineers spend their days developing new technologies. This idea has proven to be very effective given all of the improvements of the wheels: aerodynamics, stability, braking, hub design and graphics.
Aerodynamics and Stability
For once, Zipp has come out with a new iteration of wheels that are not any “faster” aerodynamically, but overall they are a faster set. How? Through over 40 different CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) concept studies and many weeks spent in the wind tunnel, the new 404 NSW wheels offer up to 34% reduction in crosswind side force (compared to the Firecrest 404). This increase of stability allows the rider to focus on holding position and power without worrying about wind gusts, which will in turn save watts.
Zipp has also added new dimples to the NSWs. The ABLC (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control) Sawtooth dimples in essence help to better control turbulent air in order to add to the stability of the wheels in crosswinds.
Zipp’s design engineers created an entirely new braking technology known as Showstopper for the NSW line. Showstopper is essentially the grooves in the brake track of the rims that helps to shed water in wet weather. Zipp claims that not only does this technology deliver greater stopping power in wet weather than any carbon wheel ever, it makes braking on par with industry leading alloy rims.
Zipp has been designing their own hubs for years, but for the NSW they wanted to bring something completely new. Their new hubs, named Cognition, have an interesting design that sets them apart from the competition. The rear hub has what Zipp calls AxialClutch technology, that disengages that ratchet mechanism while coasting, and re-engages it with magnets when pedaling begins again. With traditional hubs, the drag of the ratchet in the hub is an efficiency loss, and essentially acts as a drum brake that robs speed. With its 36 points of engagement that interlock simultaneously, the Cognition hubs will allow you to enter and exit corners with the fastest speeds possible.
The NSWs also use Zipp’s new Impress graphics, which print the graphics straight onto the rim. This allows the dimples to do what they’re made to do, while also decreasing weight (1550g for the set). The graphics also give the 404s a stealthy look, which will match most bikes.
The process to build just one set of 404 NSW wheels is quite lengthy and involves parts from around the world. The rims are laid up, molded, drilled, and built in Indianapolis by Zipp technicians. They then are hand laced to their (European-manufactured) Cognition hubset using Belgian Sapim CX-Ray spokes and Sapim Secure-Lock nipples. With the $3100 price tag, Zipp includes a myriad of accessories: Tangente titanium black skewers, Silca valve extenders, wheel bags, Tangente Platinum Pro Evo brake pads, Tangente tubes (700c x 20-28mm) and rim tape (700c x 20mm). With release set for this month (February), the 404 NSW wheels are a great choice for a rewarding tax-return expenditure.