Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Carbon Disc Road Wheels: 2021 Zipp 303 Firecrest DB Review

Summary: This XL rider says Zipp 303 Firecrest DB wheels are great.  They are smooth and light, but can be tricky to set up for a large rider. 

With these wheels, the tire width and PSI can really separate an amazingly smooth ride from barely tolerable one. 

Finally, it takes time to figure out the right spin cadence.  Once you do, these wheels hold speed really well and roll pretty effortlessly.

Positives:

  • Light.  Stop and go made easy.  They take off and accelerate fast.
  • Climbs well.  Great for climbing in terms of speed, stiffness, ease of pedaling and to a degree comfort.
  • Love the hub sound.  It is nice and loud, but not obnoxious.
  • Smooth.  Amazingly smooth ride with 30mm TL Schwalbe Pro One tires at recommended pressure of 62 PSI for rear and 55 for front for my weight.  Get them 5 or 10 PSI higher and the ride is pretty harsh.
  • Stable: Barely gets affected by wind


Neutrals:
  • Looks good, but not great.  The graphics don't really stand out, like some of Campagnolo, Zipp, Enve or Roval wheels
  • Holds speed pretty well.  Vision SC 40 DB wheels take less effort to maintain speed.  With these wheels, it took a while to find the right cadence.  But once I did, it felt amazing.
  • Comfort can be tricky.  28mm TL tires turned a smooth Colnago C64 into a rattling experience. Even dropping to 40 PSI did not make a huge difference.  30mm did the trick at the recommended tire pressure, which was 55PSI for front and 62 for rear.  
  • Fork fit.  30mm Schwalbe tires measure close to 32mm on these wheels.  This may be an issue for many road bikes.  It barely fits on my Colnago C64 Disc. As a point of reference, Roval CLX50 DB wheels with the same tires measure below 30mm.



Negatives:
  • Comfort level with 28mm TL tires with any pressure was not good. Even 10PSI makes a huge difference on these wheels.  Much more so than on any other wheelset I have experienced.
  • Cornering can take a little time to get used to.  It is a little twitchy and sensitive, but it os also very responsive on the positive side.


In summary, these are absolutely amazing wheels as they combine low weight, great handling, wider tire fit, and fantastic mixture of comfort, smoothness and road feel.  However, you may need some patience with finding the right tire set, tire size and PSI levels.



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