Paraphernalia: Zipp 404 NSW Wheelset

The Paraphernalia pages in each issue of RIDE Cycling Review contain a vast collection of products. Some are reviewed in detail, while for others we let the pictures tell much of the story.

The aim is to provide readers with concise, informed appraisals of what the products are all about.

We list actual weight (not what’s claimed by manufacturers) and pricing information (in Australian dollars – correct at the time of publication) and offer observations on the benefits and relevance to the market.

Once in a while, we’ll delve into our archives and share a product that really caught our attention and publish an online iteration of the review (with a few additional photos).


First up: Zipp 404 NSW wheels…



In RIDE #69, Zipp’s flagship 404 wheels were tested. This was only not that long ago and the tubular ‘Firestrike’ wheelset was incredibly stable and fast, with excellent braking capabilities. Updated ‘ABLC SawTooth’ dimples promised enhanced speed and the ImPress decals printed into the rim provide that stealth aesthetic as well as translating to a significant weight reduction.

Zipp’s latest top-tiered wheels are the NSW range (available in their 404 and 808 sizing options). ‘Nest Speed Weaponry’ refers to the office where Zipp’s brightest minds come together to innovate its best new products. These wheels are the first commercially recognised product from “The Nest” although this office can be credited for many Zipp projects.

The carbon clinchers have a very similar large rim profile to the aforementioned Firestrike wheels (making, for example, Lightweight wheels look extremely narrow) but these rims are laced into a new NSW-exclusive hub. The beefy ‘cognition hubset’ matches the broad and deep rim profile but it’s what can’t be seen that is so impressive. ‘Axial clutch technology’ means that the freehub body’s ratchets disengage as the rider coasts, meaning less friction and faster rolling speed.

Such minor advantages of the axial clutch are difficult to quantify when riding but there’s no doubt these wheels are quick. They also look great and sound terrific.

Like the Firestrikes the NSW wheels are incredibly fast and stable downhill (thanks also to the 25mm Zipp Tangente tyres) but I found them to be most beneficial when starting an ascent. They held speed remarkably well and were suitable for both short powerful climbs and long, steady rises.

Zipp is often credited with popularising carbon clincher wheels – a phenomenon which has changed the way cyclists ride (and spend). The NSW series is the latest chapter in Zipp’s successful history and anyone who rides these wheels will feel the difference.




Here is a close up of the reason Zipp still stands apart from its competitors in a very robust market. We all know about the dimples but Zipp is also at the leading edge of braking surface technology, the NSW’s pulled up quicker than most other carbon rims we’ve tested.

Zipp carbon rims also feature a center stitch of Kevlar not found in other wheels which add longevity and stops the carbon de-laminating in extreme conditions. Branding is handled by printing on the rim as opposed to the traditional decal, reducing weight and the chance of damage when cleaning.















– Photos: Shane Lovejoy –

Author: design@ride

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