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Aero disc-brake road frames deserve a wheelset that is fast and stable. Zipp’s 454 NSW Carbon Clincher Disc-Brake Wheelset is super-fast in a straight line and super-stable in crosswinds.
the 454 shape does this thanks to that wavy pattern in the rim shape you can’t help but notice. These are HyperFoil nodes in the SawTooth pattern on the spoke side of the rim, giving the rim a wavy appearance when seen from the side. It’s unlike anything else Zipp has done. But before we go there, we should cover the rest of the wheel.
You’re probably familiar with the depth of the Zipp 404. It’s 58mm, what has been established as the heart of mid-depth wheels. You’re also probably familiar with their 404 NSW wheelset, which is chock full of innovations. The 454 starts with the cutting-edge 404 NSW, and takes it beyond.
The disc-mounting method is Centerlock only. The hubs come with titanium-shafted quick release skewers as well as hand-removable end caps to fit 100x12mm and 100x15mm thru-axles in front and 142x12mm rear thru-axles.
Where the 454 diverges from the 404 is in the rim shape. Zipp started with the 58mm depth, 26.4mm width at the brake track, and 27.8mm max width of the 404 NSW. But they wanted the wheel to be faster. It needed to be faster both with no wind, and with crosswinds. There, they looked into ways to better work with the wind. And that took them away from industrial machines and to the natural world. They saw that some wavy shapes do a better shop of dealing with flow than constant shapes. Basically, what they found though extensive modeling and simulation is that the waves help reduce drag by shedding air more quickly and preventing side loads to develop on the wheel. More little disturbances are faster than fewer, bigger bigger disturbances. Where it works best is in side winds, and most of the time you’re riding into moderate side winds, where those gusts can potentially push your wheels, and your bike around. The waves dissipate the wind faster and will push you around much less.
As a result, you’ll find 24 HyperFoil nodes front and rear. The top of the nodes are 58mm deep, just like a regular 404, while the bottom of the nodes are 53mm deep. That 5mm difference explains the “5” in 454. By timing the nodes with the spokes, the airflow is better, and the rim lighter and even stronger.
Also clocked with the nodes are the new Hexfin dimple pattern molded into the rim. You’re familiar with the golf-ball style round dimples of rims past. These are hexagonal to create a sharper air break and improve the boundary layer between the rim and the air, keeping the airflow staying closer to the rim for longer. The hexagonal dimples are formed into fin-shaped clusters to further increase the benefits of the HyperFoil nodes.
Putting all the pieces together, the new 454 NSW is lighter and laterally stiffer, and far more aero than its predecessor. The front wheel weighs 765g, the rear 850g for a 1615g wheelset. Think faster than the 404, as stable as the 303. With less side force felt than on the 404 NSW, which itself was great in crosswinds.
The finishing touch to the wheels are the ImPress graphics. They print the Zipp logos and the fine stripes directly onto the rim. Thinner, lighter, and don’t interfere with the rim’s aerodynamics.
As should be expected, you can choose between a Campagnolo-compatible 9/10/11-speed cassette body, and a Shimano/SRAM body. You can also pull these bodies and install a SRAM XD cassette body for even more diversity of applications.
The wheels, sold individually, come in a Zipp wheel bag (which can be secured to a second such bag), a Zipp valve extender, a Zipp Tangente tube, and Zipp rim tape. The disc-mounting method is Centerlock only. As of this writing, the Zipp 454 NSW Carbon Clincher Disc-Brake wheelset will be clincher only.