(Brief intro: those who follow this blog know of the Mandem. It’s an amazing bike, but was built up with the wheels that we had available at the time. Of late, I had an opportunity to pick up a set of Zipp Firecrest 202s, set up for disc brakes. They’re amazing wheels, but do not have a weight rating to support the Mandem with 2 riders. Accordingly, my plan was to move my set of ENVE 29XC wheels from the Moots to the Mandem, and put the Zipps on the Moots. But in order to do so happily, I wanted to run the Zipps tubeless.)
Zipp 202s are supposed to be amazing wheels. Light, aero, durable, disc-compatible…all good things. But they’re not tubeless compatible–or they’re not supposed to be. I wanted to run a set, but I wanted to run them tubeless. They’re going on the Moots (linked above), which is an all-purpose, all-terrain, gravel, mixed-surface, crappy-pavement, whatever you throw at it bike. I wanted 202s because they’re light, surprisingly aero (according to tests) and because the narrow depth is supposed to be cross-wind resistant. I’ve had conditions on gravel roads in DeKalb where the cross-wind is so strong that I have a hard time keeping a straight-ish line on loose surfaces…so I need all the help I can get.
Jumping to the lead: Zipp Firecrest 202s can be set up tubeless. I am not responsible for your warranty claims.
The setup was pretty simple. I took some Stan’s 25mm tubeless setup tape and used 2 wraps around the wheels. 2 wraps covered the inside of the rim, almost from bead to bead. I then mounted up some tires with tubes, inflated them, and let the whole setup sit overnight with 80 psi in it.
After 24 hours, I pulled the tires and tubes off, and the tape was nice and firmly adhered, like so:
You can see that it does a really nice job of going up to the bead, without impinging on the bead.
For comparison’s sake, I did a little weigh-off between the ENVEs and the Zipps. The Zipps are stock build–the “77/177D” hub, which is convertible from QR to 2 different thru-axle specs, Sapim brass nipples, and 24/24 Sapim CX Ray spokes. The ENVEs feature DT Swiss 240 hubs (also convertible), ENVE nipples, and 32/32 CX Ray spokes–so a heavier build. Both wheels (front and rear) are weighed with just the built wheel, plus tubeless tape (ENVE tape on the ENVEs, Stan’s tape on the Zipps). No rotors, no cassette, no valve stem.
ENVE front weighed out at 780 grams.
ZIPP front weighed out at 734–a little under 50 grams lighter. Since the spokes each weigh 4.5 grams, plus something for the nipples, I’d guess that all of the weight difference is just in the extra spokes on the ENVEs.
Just for fun, the fully built, taped, stem’d, tire’d and sealant’d Zipp front comes in at 1414 grams (with 2.5 ounces of sealant).
The rear ENVE comes in at 852 grams…
Versus 840 grams for the Zipp.
Accounting for the spoke difference, my guess is that the rear DT240 is lighter than the Zipp hub. Both hubs are set up for 11 speed. (And of note, the Zipps were perfectly clean, and the ENVEs had a couple grams of dried sealant on the inside). I was pretty surprised by how close the weights were.
Those weights include 2 wraps of Stan’s tape on the Zipps, versus one wrap of ENVE tape on the ENVEs. The ENVE tape is more like Gorilla tape, and I like it better.
Here’s the finished product:
Tubeless setup was a breeze. Slapped the tire on, removed the valve core, and one hit with the compressor–the tire instantly seated. I let the air out, put some Stan’s in, put the valve core back in, and pumped them up to 60 psi. The Stan’s shake and roll ensued, and everything sealed tight as a drum. 48 hours later, almost no pressure loss.
I don’t have enough time on the Zipps to comment on their durability. I have a lot of confidence in the ENVEs, based on the abuse I’ve given them on gravel and on the Fuel. I’m hopeful that the Zipps serve just as well. One feature I really do like about the Zipps is the external nipples. While the ENVEs have not needed attention in terms of truing, if they ever do, it will require stripping the tire off, pulling off the tubeless tape, and getting at the internal nipples. The Zipps are a far simpler enterprise.
In early riding, the Zipps are…well, Zippy. They roll just as fast, if not faster, than the ENVEs. They seem a bit snappier under acceleration, but I don’t think they’re quite as rigid. From what I’ve read, they’re intended to have some more vertical compliance for better riding on hard surfaces. That may be what I’m feeling. Nothing weird (they go where they’re pointed), but noticeably different from the ENVEs.
As far as aero goes, I’m trying to decide if it’s in my head or not…but they seem more aerodynamic. Crosswinds are less noticeable, headwinds are more bearable. That’s all subjective, but subjective is important when you’re the rider.
In terms of tubeless setup, I didn’t encounter any roadblock that made me second-guess proceeding forward. The Zipps have a nice bead that made setup easy, and the tape worked like a charm. I hope to get a lot of life out of them.