Zipp ZEDTECH: Addressing Freud’s Model of the Psyche
...As cool as they look, the true advancement in the new wheels (not just ZedTech but all wheels) comes in the details. First, Zipp re-designed the rim shape, with a slightly more blunt and rounded apex to the rim. The brake track has been angled a bit more as well.
The biggest advance from a functional standpoint comes in the new 88 front hub and the 188 rear hub, which are 276 grams a pair. Gone is the somewhat flimsy carbon fiber dust cap on the non-drive side. In comes a bearing shield, and a clinch nut on the non-drive side of the rear hub.
The bearings are now a fair bit more protected from the elements with that dust-cap replaced by the bearing shield. But more importantly you and I now have the ability to set the pre-load on the bearings. There is a factory setting of .08 Nm, but if you feel like you want it a bit looser for a more free run, you have that option. Using a 2 mm hex key, all it takes is a quick release. Of course, it's your onus to be sure they're not too loose, so as not to allow too much play and risk damage to your bearings.
The big, stiff 17mm axle is larger than that found in cross-country mountain bike version, and you have the choice of either ceramic bearings, or Swiss-made steel bearings that Zipp says are rounder than many other subpar ceramic bearing offerings on the market- 10 millionths of an inch of tolerance, which is 2.5 times tighter a tolerance than the other guys. So, the wheel will roll better and faster with less friction and drag with a smooth bearing.
Hub manufacturing has other proprietaries that make the flanges more crack-resistant. And, each front and rear hub has its spoke holes cut specific to a rim, for the most direct, optimal travel of spoke from hub to rim-reducing stress risers. Boring stuff on its face, but when your high-strung wheel has a weak hub and it fails it will matter, especially on race day.
About two weeks later, the box showed up at our office, and for your spend, they deliver with a showroom-floor perfect polish. The hubs are gorgeous and with the color option really set off the complete complimentary look of your bike. They're also a fair bit more silent than their predecessor.
I got to take a maiden test voyage up the Coast Highway from Encinitas to Carlsbad. Are they fast? Does a bear.... ok, I'll just say they are hella fast, unreal light. Braking was great, but no better than it was ever before; maybe I need a screaming descent to test that re-design. Nothing quantitative here, but I've been on lots of wheels, and the sturdy build, the engineering, the testing I've seen them do, all lead me to have a hell of a lot of faith in the fact that they have proven the wheels to be fast. So it's the wheelset I often default to when I am packing my bike away for a race.
As a tinkerer, I love, love, love the ability to adjust my own preload. For those who like to know every facet of the bike, you can really tailor your bike for race day, making sure that you are getting as much resistance-free play with the wheel in the dropouts as you want-the wheels will be fast, and you have the ability to ensure that's so....