Thursday, July 03, 2008

Clydesdale Zipp 808 Review

Ok, this is really a two part review. Sure, the Zipps are part of it. But also, I'm gonna say a few words about

RaceDayWheels suffers from a bit of low technology - they require a the use of a printer and a fax to reserve wheels. No up-to-date web serving "registration" or ability to pay on line to reserve your wheels. With that, I was a bit sceptical when I first contacted them. They were, however, quick to e-mail me back with answers to questions regarding their service and available wheels. I even called once, and talked to an actual person! I was assured that my Zipp Clydesdale 808's would be waiting for me on the Wednesday before the big race, and for $140, which was not taken until I grabbed the wheels at the Ironman Expo, I thought I was getting a good deal.

A large, black trailer emboldened with their logo was setting up on the Wednesday before Ironman. I found Marc, my only point of contact, and he stopped what he was doing and grabbed my wheels. It was effortless. The wheels were not brand new - but they were in great shape. Well, little did I know that the "cassette lockring" was stripped, but a quick trip back and an new hub installed by their mechanics was all it took to be back in business. RaceDayWheels had 2 mechanics on site to change out cassettes and flats for those less mechanically inclined - or if you just didn't feel like doing it yourself. This service was included in the wheel rental.

My wheels came with Continental GP2000 tires - they seemed to be of high quality and could be pumped to 120 psi - which is good for a clincher in my limited experience. The seemed to roll nicely - and they did not flat, which is more important than anything.

808's hold the wind. With the breeze at the beginning of the ride, and then the wind at the end, I could really feel the sailing effects of the wheel - cross winds pushed even me a bit to where I had to make steering adjustments to keep a straight line. At 250lbs, I usually scoff at any and all but gale-force hurricane winds.

808's are the stiffest wheel I've ridden. Again, limited experience, however, I own a deep dish HED Jet 90 front wheel. The difference between HED Jet and Zipp is that the spokes on the HED Jet go from the hub all the way to the rim. On the Zipps, the spoke attaches to the carbon faring - which on the 808 is just a bit smaller than the HED Jet 90. This does not cut the spokes quite in half on the Zipps - but close.

Spokes act as just one of the vibration and shock absorbing devises between you and the road when you are riding. The shorter the spoke, (given that the spokes are all the same thickness, material and tension - oh I can just hear all you vibration engineers socking it to me....) generally the less shock absorption it can provide. It's kinda like a diving board - a longer board, and you get more spring and bounce. Ok, if you've never tried to do a flip off a diving board, then I lost you too. Anyway.

Those Zipp 808's beat me up a bit on that ride. Whenever the road got rough, I felt it in my hands, arms and shoulders. Big bumps in the road really hit the front and rear wheel hard, which translated through my aluminum-framed bike and into me like I was getting slugged with an aluminum baseball bat. On a perfectly smooth road the 808's are no doubt the fastest, bestest things you can ride on -the bumps become a non issue. On a 112 mile ride on mixed surfaced roads - you are gonna feel them.

I've been on a 82 mile ride with my HED Jet 90 on the front - on a mixed surface road and did not even notice the bumps and vibrations like I did, from the start, with the Zipps. Unfortunately, RaceDayWheels seems to sponsored by Zipp (a Zipp rep was present at their display to answer questions and help with sales) and nary a HED was to be found nor available for rental.

Looking forward, as a 2nd choice, the Zipp 808's are certainly within the realm of "tolerable". Without a choice for race wheels another way, I had a great bike (for me) and was happy with the Zipps. They were silky smooth, they looked AWESOME, and I felt like a rock-star riding them. Oh, and I felt fast, which is the most important thing.

I just would have preferred to ride HED Jet 90's. I'm just sayin...

RaceDayWheels were breaking down their site on Monday after the race...a bit problematic for a "weekly" rental. Sure you have the option to mail the wheels back to them, incurring postage costs, or you can Iron-walk back to get your wheels and hurry to catch them before they pulled up the tailgate and left, like I did. I'm sure watching me limp quickly, yet gingerly, with a pair of Zipps in my hands was comical to the citizens of Coeur d' Alene - but at the time I wasn't laughing. I would have liked to know ahead of time when those guys were leaving - it was a bit of luck, really, that I caught them still at the Expo. Just some FYI....


S. Baboo said...

I love my 808s. Usually if I am expecting rough road I will keep my tire pressure a little lower.

bigmike600 said...

I like the way that rolls off the tongue. Real nice job on the IM finish.
I was talking to the guy at the bike shop and his big deal was that the zipps having the short spokes make it so that you can true the wheel without taking it apart. Not sure how hard it is to true the Heds, but he was saying it is a lot harder. He also tried to sell me on the tubular wheels but I think I will always stick with clinchers. Do you think if you had a carbon bike frame that the carbon frame may have soaked up more of the vibrations and bumps and made a difference? Maybe then the zipps would have been a little easier on the hands. I hate it when my hands fall asleep.
I am looking at these wheels as well for next year and all the different brands make it tough to choose. Plus those zipps are freakin big bucks and the Heds are a little cheaper. Might be wise for me to test ride them both. Thanks for the review.

CoachLiz said...

Hey Bigun,

I love my Zipp 404's. It is good to hear that you got pushed around with the 808's by the cross winds. i don't think that at 118 lbs. that I would be heavy enough to ride that deep of a dish on the wheel.

There are plenty of chip and seal roads out here in Texas and the vibrations have not given me a problem yet. I am sure with the amount of climbing that you had on this course you were out of the aerobars more than you were in them.

Bigun said...

1) I'll bet truing a structural carbon faring of that size is way harder than truing a Jet.

2) I was aero much more than not at CdA. Downhills, flats, and even a few of the uphills. The downhills and flats, where the speed was high, was where the bumps were felt the most.

3)404's have a longer spoke - more dampening.

4) I'll still say that 808's would be a close second for my perfered race wheel...I just can tell a difference between the Jet and Zipp.

Brent Buckner said...

Practical review!

21stCenturyMom said...

That was a really great and honest review. And a bit of a cautionary tale. Does Race Day Wheels know about it? They should.

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

Hey Bigun - can we post this report on ATT website????

IronTriTim said...

Great report Bigun, honest and useful on both the wheels and the service.

Anonymous said...

Are they stiffer than yours Jet 90? How stiff are Hed Jet 90?

Unknown said...

Wow. I have a set of the 808 Clydesdales being shipped to me by Marc as we speak for next weekend's IMKansas 70.3. Did you have any trouble getting the wheels set-up on your bike? (Rear cassette, etc?) -DS

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prolix said...

here some of the wheels for the service. i thing so.. Tires Miami

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