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303 Firecrest® Carbon Clincher
Zipp Firecrest® Firecrest®

Making the industry’s
fastest wheels
even faster.

In the past few years, the 303 has emerged as one of the most formidable wheels in the pro peloton, with wins in the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel Gold Race and more. Its speed, light weight, and utter reliability have been proven in pro cycling’s most demanding races.

The 303 made history by becoming the first carbon wheelset to win cycling’s two most famous Cobbled Classics, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Its wider rim provided extra durability, and improved aerodynamics. That wider rim also led to the development of our revolutionary Firecrest® platform, and now the revolution has come full circle.

The 303 has been completely redesigned with Firecrest® shaping. The Carbon Clincher preserves the aerodynamic advantages of its tubular brother, while adding the convenience of a clincher tire. And at just 1570g, it’s light enough to climb up the steepest gradients with ease.

All of the hallmark characteristics of the 303 have improved with the Firecrest Carbon Clincher. The Firecrest shaping optimizes the aerodynamic profile of both the front half and the back half of the wheel. In addition, Firecrest moves the center of pressure of the wheel backwards, giving the 45 mm-deep rim the crosswind stability a box-section rim. At the same time, the 26.4 mm-wide brake track (at center) allows the clincher tire to take on a wider, more stable shape without compromising rolling resistance. It’s faster, simpler, and more stable. Or as Zipp technical director Josh Poertner puts it, Firecrest is “lightning in a bottle.”

The new wheels retain all the small details that make Zipp wheels what they are. Exposed spoke nipples sit in the aerodynamic shadow of the rims, keeping serviceability simple without compromising speed. And our signature ABLC™ rim dimples squeeze every last second of performance possible. To complete the package, Zipp has refined its venerable 88/188 hubset, reshaping the hub body and pushing the non-drive-side flange and bearing out by 7.5 mm on the rear hub to increase overall stiffness and strength. The wheelsets come with two decal options, the stealthy Beyond Black or the distinctive Classic White decals. Both decal options feature black anodized hubs, black spokes and black nipples. 

New for 2014, the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher is built with a the latest iteration of our 188 rear hub, the V9, along with new spoke-lacing pattern for the rear wheel - refinements that result in improved stiffness and durability. The new hub was developed in cooperation of superstar sprinter Mark Cavendish of the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team and is in use by other top pro cyclists and triathletes including Pete Jacobs and Mirinda Carfrae.

Cavendish received early hub prototypes in January 2013 and logged 13,000 kilometers (8,078 miles) on continually refined variants, including his stage victories at the Giro d’Italia and the 2013 Tour de France. His feedback helped optimize the hub’s flange geometry, stiffness and weight.

The new 188/V9 hub has larger precision Swiss steel bearings for increased durability. Our new “virtual 3 cross” lacing on both sides of rear wheel improves stiffness, achieving 3 cross stiffness in a 2 cross pattern with a new spoke geometry. The 188/V9 has 25 percent more torsional stiffness than a leading competitive hub. This measure of stiffness is crucial for the direct power transfer to the rear wheel for out-of-the saddle sprints and climbs. The new hub also is laterally (side-to-side) stiffer that its rival or predecessor.

New for 2014 wheels, our fully die cut matte White and matte Black rim decals are borderless, thinner and lighter.

11 speed compatible

Retail availability: September 2013

This wheelset is not tubeless compatible.

Use 20mm rim tape with this wheelset.

Product note:

The wide profile of the 303 Firecrest is crucial to Zipp’s revolutionary Firecrest technology used to create wheels with superior aerodynamics as well as improved stability and handling.

The rear 303 Firecrest, however, may present some fitment issues for a small number of road and triathlon frames. The clearance between the chainstay and the rim may not be adequate to avoid contact between each other when ridden under load.

We urge customers who plan on riding the 303 Firecrest to test the wheel within the frame in which they intend to ride it, under normal riding and road conditions, before purchasing. Clearance within individual frames of the same size, from the same manufacturer, may vary. That is why it is imperative that you test the wheel in your frame, or in the frame that you are considering purchasing.

Customers who run into this fitment issue may select any other spoked wheel within the Zipp lineup as an alternative,including the 404 Firecrest with its narrower aero-width profile.

Below is a list of known frames that may present this issue. This list will be updated if this fitment issue is discovered elsewhere.

  • 2012 Specialized Tarmac SL4
  • Specialized S-Works McLaren Venge


Front wheel $1,227 / €1,138
Rear wheel  $1,498 / €1,387

Set Weight 1570g
Max recommended rider weight 250lbs
Front Wheel
Weight 700g
Hub Used 88
Rim Depth 45mm
Brake Track Width (center) 26.40mm
Max Width 28.50mm
Clincher Bead Width 17.25mm
Spokes Sapim® CX-Ray
Spoke Count 18
Spoke Pattern Radial
Spoke Length 260mm
Max Tire Pressure 125psi
Max Tire Pressure 8.62bars
Track Adaptable Yes
Dimpled Surface Yes
Ceramic Bearing Aftermarket
Nipples Sapim®
External Nipples Yes
Rear Wheel
Weight 870g
Hub Used 188/V9
Rim Depth 45mm
Brake Track Width (center) 26.40mm
Max Width 28.50mm
Clincher Bead Width 17.25mm
Spokes Sapim® CX-Ray
Spoke Count 24
Spoke Length Non-Drive 264mm
Spoke Pattern Non-Drive 2 cross
Spoke Pattern Drive 2 cross
Spoke Length Drive 262mm
Max Tire Pressure 125psi
Max Tire Pressure 8.62 bars
11-speed compatible hub Yes
Track Adaptable No
Dimpled Surface Yes
Ceramic Bearing Aftermarket
Nipples Sapim®
External Nipples Yes
303 Firecrest Tops All Challengers in Velo Test  September 2014 [pdf]

The Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon won the Velo Editors’ Choice Award for the best of eight leading carbon clinchers tested. These tests included wind-tunnel tests, where the 303 Firecrest won handily against rivals including Enve, Reynolds and Mavic.

Quote from Velo — September 2014 Issue
“Spending our own cash, we’d buy the Zipp 303s every time. The wind tunnel told the story best: The 303s were far and away the fastest of the bunch across the wind angles that matter most…. The fat Firecrest shape worked some sort of magic in crosswinds, remaining utterly controllable even in nasty, gusty conditions.”


Remarkable Speed Feelings  February 2014

Ciclismo a Fundo (Portugal) tested the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher in its February 2014 issue. 

Below are translated excerpts:

Developed in partnership with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Team and the sprinter Mark Cavendish, the new Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher has already proven its robustness and speed in races such as Tour de France, Amstel Gold Race or Paris Roubaix and became the first carbon wheel to win a Classic "pavé".

During the first ride, the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher that we had received for test, provided comfort and remarkable speed feelings. Uneven surfaces were effectively damped by the carbon “structure”. With 45mm depth and 26.4mm width, they are ideal for wider tires. Even with 1.54kg on the scale (685g for the front and 855g for the rear wheel), these Zipp wheels have a really good rolling sensation, making them ideal for all types of usages. Unlike other wide profiled wheels previously tested by Ciclismo a Fundo, the 303 Firecrest effectively go through the wind, taking all the advantages of the new bearings mounted on the new "188/V9" hub. Supplied with specific carbon rims brake pads, Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro Evo pads, the Zipp 303 have a remarkable braking power, both in dry and in wet conditions. You quickly notice their characteristic sound as soon as you reach the optimum braking temperature. For Triathlon and Time Trial specialists, Zipp has the option to equip the 303 Firecrest with ceramic bearings. Announcing a saving of 0.8 Watts at a speed of 50 km/h compared to regular bearings, this is nonetheless an expensive choice, adding 308 euros per wheel to the final price.

In Portugal, the total amount for a set of Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher is 2,525 euros, 1,138 euros for the front and 1,387 euros for the rear wheel. In addition to the brake pads, the Zipp 303 are sold with valves extenders and tools, rim tapes and quick releases. But for that price, the brand doesn't offer carry bags.
New for 2014, two types of decals: white "Classic White" or black "Beyond Black".

. 11spd compatibility
. Comfort in bad conditions/roads
. Braking performance in wet conditions/roads

Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher wheelset: the PEAK Performer  September 2013 [pdf]

Triathlon Plus/Tri Radar tested 15 mid-section wheelsets (September 2013)


The Zipp 303 Firecrest CCL got two Awards which is very rare. The Peak Performer Award* and the Gold Award***.

Verdict: “Outstanding handling in a tough, lightweight and comfortable all-rounder.” “Zipp’s distinctive Firecrests came into the test as the benchmark all-rounders.”


The Use Road 4.5 Clinchers got the Top Value Award**.

Verdict: “Efficiently fast, friendly-handling and eagerly responsive wheel at an excellent price.”


*Peak Performer Award: A product that does a truly stunning job, regardless of its price.

**Top Value Award: An outstanding deal – you’re getting an excellent product for the money.

***Gold Award: The winning product in our group tests, based on both performance and value.

Zipp called leader in carbon clinchers  January 2013 [pdf]

Great Britain's Cycling Plus magazine reports Zipp at forefront of testing and developing carbon clinchers.

220 Triathlon praises 303 Firecrest  August 2012 [pdf]

In an article that includes comments from Zipp development engineer Michael Hall, UK magazine 220 Triathlon praises the 303 Firecrest. The magazine writes, "The Firecrest 303s make riding faster easier. Unlike most aero wheels they do so without compromising comfort or controllability." 

Cycle Sport magazine touts 303 Firecrest  July 2012 [pdf]

Cycle Sport magazine's Window Shop feature includes a summary of the 303 Firecrest wheelset. 

Five stars for 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher  May 2012 [pdf]

The UK's Cycling Plus magazine rated the Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher five stars, its highest possible mark. Click to read full review.

Cycling Weekly sees all around versatility  April 2012 [pdf]

The UK's Cycling Weekly trumpets the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher's aero attributes and proven toughness. Click to read full item. versatility.

BikeRadar gives five stars to 303 Firecrest  April 2012 called the Zipp 303 Firecrest "the 303 Firecrest is the best all-round road wheelset we've tested." Full review here

Road Reviews 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher  April 2012 [pdf]

"Road: The Journal of Road Cycling and Culture" concluded that the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher wheels "clearly have a special feel to them." Click on PDF to read the complete review. 

Long Distance Runner  March 2012 [pdf]

Germany's RoadBike Magazine  reviewed Zipp®'s 303 Firecrest® Carbon Clincher.

Click PDF for original article in German.  

Lighter, More Aero, Easier to Handle  March 2012 [pdf]

UK magazine Triathlon Plus reviewed the 303 Firecrest® Carbon Clincher and asked, is this the ultimate all-around wheelset?

Long Distance Runner  February 2012 [pdf]

Germany's RoadBike Magazine  reviewed Zipp®'s 303 Firecrest® Carbon Clincher.

Click PDF for English highlights of German article.  


Road Tested  February 2012 [pdf]

The UK magazine Pro Cycling called the 303 Firecrest® Carbon Clincher one of the very best and fastest all-around wheelsets available. 



303 Firecrest called most versatile wheel set around  January 2012 [pdf]

Triathlon & Multi Sports magazine of Australia reviews the Firecrest® 303 Zipp®'s answer to the any wheel questions: "The 303s are still the standard of what a great all-round aero wheel set should be."

303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher review  January 2012

Spain's Ciclismo a Fondo magazine reviewed the 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher wheelset. Click to right for article; see English translation below.

Ciclismo a Fondo – Sergio Palomar (Jan 2012)

Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels

Last year they have revolutionized the Aerodynamic wheelset concept with their Firecrest rim design for the 808 and 404 high depth rim models. We have been surprised by the Carbon Clincher models due to their very good handling which also offers a light wheelset without requesting a Tubular set on a day to day basis. Now, the most versatile model of the Zipp range, benefits from the same advantages. With a 45mm profile, the 303s behave as some “conventional” higher depth rim profiles wheelsets thanks to their Firecrest design which considers not only the front of the wheel as a wind impact zone but also the interior of the rim. Regarding the tire it stays “inside” the main width of the rim which generates collateral effects and plays a major role in the riding comfort. This is due to the fact that the tire is more open and is acting such as there is more air which spreads the impacts on a bigger rim surface. To end with the technical aspects, we need to mention that Zipp redesign their hubs in order to insure stiffness by moving the non-driveside bearing outward by 7.5mm and canting the non-driveside flange which aline the spokes and provides a better stability to the wheel.

After testing them during few hundred kilometers, we can give you more praises. They have the right rim depth: the inertia does not influence too much and makes it easy to accelerate. As for the lack of lateral stiffness, which has been noticed for similar rims, sincerely we haven’t felt that in any circumstance. Due to the Firecrest rim width combined with the new brake pads; these stay very close to the frame, be careful if you have a thin space to insert your wheel, but for us the wheel never rubbed the frame even during heavy brake.

The pleasant riding feeling comes from the vertical compliance as we explained above, a higher pressure of the tire and a more efficient design which allows the vertical deformation of the wheel face to holes. Their effectiveness on rough roads is pretty quickly perceived compared to other wheelsets with the same rim profile.
Another critical point about carbon wheels is the braking performance. Zipp solves it in an exceptional manner. The 303s are supplied with a specific set of brake pads, Tangent Platinum Pro, developed with SwissStop. We could enjoy the strong braking quality as soon as we began to press the lever. Finally, we cannot forget the aero theme, in which the Firecrest concept brings a really advantage. We went out once with a very strong wind and could noticed how stable they are. If you plan to upgrade the quality of your bike and have few grams less, no doubt, these 303s have powerful arguments to be part of your equipment, including your everyday wheels.


With the new proprietary Firecrest rim shape in our 202, 303, 404 and 808 Firecrest wheels, Zipp wheels make a bigger difference in more ways than ever. Not only is Firecrest more aerodynamic than any other rim design, it improves handling in crosswinds and overall ride quality.

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Carbon Clincher

Our superior Carbon Clincher technology is the culmination of two years of intensive prototyping and testing. We worked with our composites supplier to develop an exclusive heat-resistant resin based on the materials used in motorsports brake systems. This proprietary technology improves heat management so substantially that all Zipp Carbon Clinchers pass stringent CEN safety standards.

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ABLC™  (Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control)

Advanced Boundary Layer Control (ABLC) refers to the patented and instantly recognizable dimpled pattern found on all of our carbon rims. ABLC smoothes airflow across the rim's surface and is tailored to every model from the 202 to the Super-9 Disc. The third-generation of ABLC has up to four times more dimples than before.

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VCLC™  (Visco-Elastic Constrained Layer Control)

Visco-Elastic Constrained Layer Control (VCLC) uses a vibration-absorbing material sandwiched between layers of rigid carbon laminate in the rim. When the wheel receives an impact from the road, much of the shock is absorbed by the VCLC system, delivering a 10% reduction in vibration.

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88/188 Hub Technology

Every aspect of our 88 and 188 hubs sets a new benchmark. The standard steel bearings are the roundest in the industry. The 17mm axle is the stiffest of any road hub we've tested. The wire EDM-cut hub internals are the most precise. When it comes to precision and performance, there's really no comparison.

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Wire EDM

Electron Discharge Machining allows us to cut the materials for our rear hub drive internals after they’ve been hardened through heat treating, negating the warping and imprecision caused by the heat-treating process.

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Steel Bearings

Zipp is the only company specifying Swiss made highly specialized ball bearing cartridges. Working with a family owned Swiss bearing manufacturer, Zipp is able to attain a superior level of bearing smoothness and long life. Zipp ball bearings are specified to 10 millionths of an inch tolerance, guaranteeing that they are at least 2.5 times rounder and better matched than most company’s “high precision” balls, and more than five times tighter than most “precision” balls.

Read More on Zipp hub technology