Making a climbing wheel used to be simple. All that mattered was reducing spoke count, milling the hell out of the shallowest, narrowest rim possible, and pumping your sub-23mm tires up to 140psi. Zipp's 202 NSW Carbon Clincher Wheelset is indicative of how much the industry approach to climbing wheels has changed. It privileges aerodynamics as much as reducing circumference mass because we now know that--even on climbs--drag is as much of an impediment as the inertial resistance of rim weight. Through the application of Zipp's aerodynamic shaping and texturing, the 202 NSW actually aids climbing so much more than the lightweight climbing hoops of old because it's, well, so much more than the lightweight climbing hoops of old. We're always excited about free speed gains, but we're actually a little more stoked about the improved braking. The rims are equipped with an updated version of Zipp's Showstopper brake track, which enjoyed an impressive debut on the Firestrike 404 but has already been improved for the NSW line of wheels. It's still imbued with the same silicon carbide particles, which increase the bite into the brake pads for increased modulation and control in wet conditions, but the brake track's direction-specific grooves have increased in number and changed in depth. The tweaked grooves are credited with even more improvements in braking, and--though Zipp doesn't specifically make this assertion--it does stand to reason that the grooves clear intervening material and help keep the pads on the rims where the silicon carbide can get a hold of them. The original Showstopper netted some pretty impressive stopping across all conditions, but Zipp assures us that the new version is even better. The upshot is you can hold speed longer while approaching a corner, braking later and gaining tiny increments of time with each bend or switchback, helping you protect the gains you made during the climb by preserving your advantage on the descent. You can also feel tha.
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