Zipp Firestrike 404 clincher review

Zipp Firestrike 404 clinchers tested and rated by our expert reviewer

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
Zipp Firestrike 404 Clincher review

Zipp Firestrike 404 clincher review

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The big noise Zipp has made about their new Firestrike 404s – a refinement of the incumbent Firecrests – centres on their improved braking performance in the wet thanks to the ‘Showstopper’ brake track. 

They claim that wet weather performance is now equal or better to alloy rims, which is a bold shout. But the 404s live up to the hype, braking noticeably better than almost any other set of carbon rims we’ve used in the rain. 

There’s also a better feel to the brakes. Previously, braking on carbon in the wet resulted in almost nothing for a few seconds then a noticeable bite when the surface water had been scrubbed off the rim. 

The 1,620g Firestrikes offer a bit more sensitivity and a more progressive feel when you’re slowing down gradually. While we’d say they’re not quite at the level of the best alu rim/brake pad combos we’ve used, they’re definitely the best-braking carbon surfaces we’ve ridden. 

The other big claim was the stability of the slightly modified rim profile. The Firestrikes are 1mm wider at the brake track than their predecessors, and Zipp claim that they’re 34% more stable in crosswinds. 

Once again, it’s difficult to precisely quantify that sort of assertion without wind tunnel tests, but in some blustery conditions we found them to be very stable, more so than the Vision Metron 55s we tested recently, and we had no nasty moments even when the wind really picked up. 

All that considered, and the fact that they’re as fast on the road as anything we’ve ridden, the Firestrikes are one of the best wheelsets we’ve ever used.

Verdict: Light, fast wheels with superior braking performance in the wet, 92%

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