We know you're here to check out Zipp's latest batch of speed weaponry, the 303 NSW Carbon Clincher Road Wheel, but tarry for a bit and follow us back in time. The year is 2010, and the two greatest cobblestone riders of this generation are preparing to lock horns in yet another season of pave monuments. Flanders was first, and when one of the protagonists, Cancellara, rolled to the start line with 45mm carbon rims, we scoffed into our Duvel. Having been witness to the failure of carbon on cobblestones year after year, we thought that there was no way he'd survive to Ninove without those wheels failing. And we were wrong. Resplendent in the Swiss champion's jersey, Spartacus rode away in spectacular fashion on the Kapelmuur and never looked back. Zipp's 303 platform is the wheel that made the carbon/cobbles marriage a reality, and the event is immortalized by images of Cancellara rolling down the finishing straight while defiantly waving a tiny Swiss flag against a backdrop of countless Flandrian and Belgian flags. The combination of aerodynamics and reliability meant that carbon no longer had to fear the stones, and the 303 NSW represents a major update. It's more aerodynamic, brakes better, and is even more reliable than before. And that's just the rim. For the first time in its lifespan, the 303's new hubs are every bit as impressive as its rims. We admit that we haven't always associated Zipp with hub innovation, but the 303 NSW's Cognition rear hub may be the most exciting technology in factory wheels that we've seen since Zipp first introduced its bulging sidewalls. The freehub is centered on Zipp's Axial Clutch mechanism, which features two Metal Injection Molding (MIM) ratcheting rings -- one mated to the freehub body and one mated to the hub body. The two rings are machined like a ratchet, so they ramp off of each other while freewheeling but engage each other during pedal input. Compared to a standard pawl design, which actually resembles a drum brak...
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