Every now and then something lands at La Velocita that makes me so excited that I have to sit down and take a few deep breaths.
That’s exactly what happened when a pair of shiny new Chris King Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher arrived last week.
Words - Mike Boudrie Images - Andrew Clifforth
When the guys at Essendon Cyclery have lent me their freshly landed pair of 404’s with Chris King hubs and titanium spokes... the excitement was almost too much for me to deal with.
Zipp have been in the wheel game for a long long time… since 1988 in fact. In that time they have piled more cash than I want to think about into developing some pretty special wheels.
Over the last few years the market has seen the introduction of many new carbon wheel offerings, some good and some less good. I’ve noticed that when people talk to me about carbon wheels, Zipp seems to be the yardstick that most people and other carbon wheel producers compare products to when thinking about new wheel day.
I’m not going to hide from the fact that I love Zipp’s 404s. For going fast they are just awesome, and riding them on some big rides in changeable conditions I’ve never had any trouble with them. I actually rode from Warrnambool along the Great Ocean Road, taking the boat across to Sorento and up to Melbourne over three days on a pair of 404s and they got the job done brilliantly.
On the Road they are fast. I weigh just on 80kgs…. Slightly less on a good day and had no issues with being blown around on the Zipp 404’s even when there was a fair bit of wind about.
I used the wheels for a few rides including, a beach road session where I grabbed 80 Strava personal bests… and I was not riding in a bunch. I also took them out on a solid hit out around the north east and north west of Melbourne, talking them over lots of nice sharp climbs and through rolling hills, again 78 Strava personal bests. Perhaps it’s psychological but I just felt faster.
The Chris King Hubs in these wheels are beautifully finished… and the sound they make. Well you just have to experience it. The 404’s roll really nicely, take little effort to spin up to speed and have got all the stiffness you’ll need.
On steeper and longer hills I did miss my lighter HED rims but at 1540 grams for the set(without tubes and tyres) they are pretty respectable for a 58mm deep wheel.
I'm not going to go into details of aerodynamics, drag coefficients and all the rest of it, but instead say that in use or real roads that I'd be using these wheels on week in, week out I had a blast with them.
These wheels add some serious bling to your bike, and if you like that these are definitely worth looking at. On the performance side they were almost faultless. If I was getting a set built up I’d opt for some DT Aerolite spokes over the titanium option on my test set.
At $3,600+ these wheels are a serious investment but I’m pretty sure they will make you go fast. Gareth from Essendon Cyclery also tells me that ‘awesome is included’. I’m saving up right now.
LA VELOCITA READER SPECIAL
To celebrate the arrival of these wheels at Essendon Cyclery the guys are offering a special deal of $3,200 for a pair wheels to La Velocita readers, just give them a call on 9370 5679 and say you have seen this article.
Gareth can organise a set of 202, 303 or 404’s with your choice of coloured Chris King hubs.