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Zipp 808 Firecrest Track Tubulars are probably the fastest practical choice for the banked oval. Double discs on the track might be faster, but they’re harder to control, and much heavier.
The 808 Firecrest Tubular rim you see here is the same as you’ll find on the road. The great thing about the 808s is they handle like much shallower wheels. The Firecrest shape is the secret. The blunt end and flattish profile not only reduce low pressure zones on the leeward side of the wheels, but through smart tuning, Zipp was able to move the focal point back, so that steering would be easier-which means less attention needs to be paid to riding fast and less arm strength needs to be used to hold the wheels in the direction you want them to go.
The rim depth is 82mm deep with a max width of 27.5mm. The cross-section looks very much like a super-long U, with a blunt edge on the spoke side. And, with a tire installed, the leading and trailing edges seem nearly identical. This overall shape, and further enhanced by the ABLC dimple pattern means that even though the wheel appears very deep when slicing through a pure headwind (zero yaw), it appears relatively shallow when getting hit by a crosswind (higher yaw angles), which happens twice a lap on a tack. The result is that the wind almost sees the 808’s as disc wheels when you’re going straight, and sees 404’s or shallower when you go through the turns.
Not only does this mean added speed overall, but it also means less arm strength and less focus to pilot the bike exactly where you want it to go. And accelerating wheels that weigh only 1805g per set is easier, all things being equal, than most of the commercially-available track hoops.
Cool note: The exposed spoke nipples, which are liked because you can true the wheel without special tools and with the tire still glued on, are totally hidden from the wind when the tire is the leading edge. Those spokes are the fastest available, Sapim CX-Ray, which are thin blades capable of holding high spoke tension. Twenty radial spokes in front and 24 two-cross in back.
The spokes are J-bends are laced to Zipp’s 333 track hub. The name is for a standard track length. The shells are made of 7075 aluminum alloy and feature solid flanges for stiffness and strength. Axles are 15mm in diameter and made from stainless steel. The axles run on sealed cartridge bearings, which are easy to service thanks to the wide wrench flats. Likewise, the axle nuts are tightened by a 6mm Allen key The rear hub has a larger drive-side flange. This allows Zipp to achieve equal tension on both the drive- and non-drive-side spokes, making the wheel stronger and stiffer. Weights are low, with the front weighing in at 215g and the rear 270g.
The wheel is delivered with a Zipp valve extender designed to thread into valve stems that are at least 37mm long and feature a removable valve core.
The Zipp 808 improves any bike its on. It can be paired with an 808, or with a shallower wheel in the front or a deeper wheel in the back, depending on your strengths, how you ride, and the conditions you ride in. There’s a slight chance that the 808 rear won’t fit between super-narrow chainstays found on some pursuit bikes. Check first.
The Zipp 808 Firecrest Track Tubular is like having climbing wheels that outperform discs.