In response to the ever-changing “standards” going around in road disc land, Zipp delivered an update to their 202 and 303 disc wheel sets with a flexible new hub design. At the core, the new 77/177D hubset accommodates all axles so you can rest assured you won’t be obsolete for… hopefully… ever.

2016 Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Disc Wheelset Features:

  • 32mm deep carbon clincher rims
  • 77/177D hubset with no preload adjustment
  • Accommodates all current road axle standards and widths (QR, 12mm and 15mm)
  • Sapim® CX-Ray® bladed spokes and brass nipples
  • XD Driver compatible
  • Swiss-made steel ball bearings
  • Width: 25.4mm outer / 16.25mm inner
  • Max rider weight: 250 lbs
  • Set weight: 1530 grams
  • MSRP: $2400
Skyline Drive in the Wind River Range, WY.

High-altitude road riding on Skyline Drive in the Wind River Range, WY.

The latest 202’s deliver all-road versatility

The first flavor of disc-ready Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers had but one flaw — they were QR only. After a short time, Zipp remedied that by changing to their new 77/177D hubset and subsequently arrived at their latest incarnation of all-road disc wheelsets. The 202’s deliver the classic Zipp performance with a hubset that can work with any road disc bike (except the current Specialized Tarmac Disc — sorry guys).

Installation is easy as all included endcaps are interchangeable without tools. Throughout the duration of my tests, I’ve run them with 15mm front and 142×12 rear axles. Going this route has provided a rock-solid frame connection with worry-free disc performance. Zipp recommends 160mm rotors for road use, so I’ve mated them with SRAM’s ultra-quiet Centerline rotors.

The new Zipp 77/177D hubset with straight-pull Sapim CX-Ray spokes.

The new Zipp 77/177D hubset with straight-pull Sapim CX-Ray spokes.

For my initial testing, I had the Santa Cruz Stigmata set up in road mode with the classic Continental Grand Prix 4000S 25mm tires. Since the 202’s feature a 25.4mm outer width, 25mm tires just look natural and perform flawlessly. Installation is a breeze as the tires securely grab the hooked bead and lock in place. In this configuration, I ran about 100 psi front and 105 psi rear.

The combination of the 202’s aboard the Stigmata were nothing but phenomenal. As expected, these wheels spin up wicked-fast and maintain that speed on flats and climbs. Lateral stiffness is superb — even when pushed hard, which I primarily did on the CX course (more on that later). A quiet ride is the hallmark of carbon clinchers and these stay true to that. Yes, it’s quite an investment to go with a set of carbon hoops, but there’s no other upgrade that pays these kind of dividends.

I’ve had the opportunity to test the rim brake 202 Firecrest Clinchers and these back-to-back. The rim brake and disc brake versions both slice through the wind with ease and climb like they have motors. That’s what I love most about the 202’s — their love of climbing and responsiveness on mountain descents. At my typical speeds and terrain, the only tradeoff with discs is added weight and that’s not the fault of the wheelset.

Crosswinds can still affect steering, but only in extreme cases and not anywhere near what you’d find with other 32mm deep wheels. Zipp just knows how to cheat the wind with their proven Firecrest rim shape and dimpled pattern.

Cyclocross testing the Zipp 202 discs.

The Zipp 202’s taking serious abuse on the cyclocross course.

How about gravel and cyclocross?

Zipp has a history of supporting top cyclocross riders and both the 202 and 303 models are at home on every circuit. For me, I’m a privateer cyclocross racer at best. I hit a couple of races per year just for the heck of it. For a cyclocross hack like me, the 202’s gave me just enough of an edge to stay competitive over 45 minutes of punishment.

And when I say punishment, I’m not just talking about my body, but the bike as well. That said, the 202’s were absolutely phenomenal — even though I wasn’t. I must have nailed hundreds of square-edged rocks, roots, branches, potholes and whatever else was placed in the way, but at the end of the day you’d never guess it by how true the 202’s remained. I will say that the stiffness of the thru-axle setup with the 77/177D hubs can be felt. I’ve ridden road discs with standard QR’s and the difference is night and day. So, bring on all roads and courses.

The Good

  • Still as true as day one
  • Quick get-up-and-to
  • Fast climbers
  • Smooth ride
  • Can take serious abuse
  • Interchangeable axles cover all road/cx standards
  • No more worries about worn brake tracks

The Bad

The Bottom Line: Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc

Road discs are certainly dominant for World Cup cyclocross. And, professional road teams are now in expanded disc brake testing at the World Tour level. For the rest of us, the benefits of discs are enough to warrant a serious look this season and even more in years to come. With the new 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Discs, you get a versatile wheelset that’s just as home on the road as it is on the cyclocross course or fire road.

Buy Now: Available at JensonUSA

The Verdict

9.2 Versatile Disc Hoops

For 2016, Zipp's latest 202's remain in the pole position among wheelsets. These clinchers are ultra-versatile and can take serious abuse -- or just spin along happily on the tarmac.

  • Lateral Stiffness 10
  • Responsiveness 9
  • Durability 10
  • Aerodynamics 9
  • Ride Quality 8

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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