Zipp 454 NSW Wheelset
Zipp and carbon wheels. It's like referencing McDonald's and fast food, or Nike and sneakers. Zipp is ubiquitous, an early tech innovator that’s often sat at the forefront of cycling technology. Amongst the first to use carbon in wheels, they’ve consistently pushed the envelope of what’s possible when it comes to aerodynamics and weight. Now, they've broken the mold (literally) with the new 454 NSW wheel. Aesthetically, it's a striking departure from traditional carbon wheel shaping, with a buzzsaw-looking variable inner diameter, actually inspired by the fins of humpback whales, an engineering trend known as biomimicry. The long story made short? It allows the 454s to dump the vortexes that cause a wheel to become unstable faster, making them slightly quicker than a Zipp 404, with the stability of a 303. It also gives them a surprisingly lithe cornering feel, when most deep carbon requires focus and muscling, especially at speed going downhill. The ride feel of the 454 can be described in one phrase: Ludicrously fast. They move forward with an extremely planted, driving feeling, holding that speed with tangible ease. They're easily the stiffest stock Zipps we've ridden, and the complete lack of flex contributed to joyous.
At the hub, Zipp has ditched their stock set in exchange for the NSW Cognition. An all-new design originally used with the NSW line of Zipp wheels, the trick rear hub has a near-mountain bike level of instant engagement, but without the immense amount of drag a system usually offers. How? Science. Specifically, magnets that disengage the drive ring during coasting, giving them a ceramic bearing feel. The rapid hub engagement gives acceleration a kind of drive-by-wire feeling. They also employ Zipp's ridiculously-named Showstopper braketrack, which have some of the best rim braking feel we've experienced. While the clincher-only rims aren't tubeless compatible, they are still Zipp-wide: 17mm internally.
The Zipp 454 NSW ships as a complete set with Shimano/SRAM 11 or Campagnolo freehub bodies, including wheelbags, skewers, and Zipp Platinum Pro brakepads. The complete set weighs 1520g (actual), with 18H front spoke count, and 24H rear.