The bike industry has a habit of quickly making its best technology seem obsolete with each new product release, and while wheels with the current standard of bullet-nosed rims don't seem to be going anywhere, Zipp is stepping up with a decidedly different approach to the shape of aerodynamics. The Zipp 454 NSW Carbon Clincher Road Wheelset features a unique, variable rim shape inspired by majestic maritime Mammalia. The fearlessly innovative brand draws inspiration from the tubercles found on the edges of humpback whale fins for a rim profile that oscillates depth, a striking shape that Zipp claims of increases aerodynamic benefits and boosts the brand's already notable crosswind stability. The most immediately obvious difference between the 454 and any other wheel is in the rim shape, whose depth varies between 58mm at its deepest point and 53mm at its shallowest in a series of wavy swells Zipp refers to as Hyperfoils. The overall design is known as SawTooth, which takes on a shape not dissimilar to the ABLC SawTooth dimple patterning found on the 404 NSW. These bumps, designated as Hyperfoils, are meant to mimic the nodes or tubercles found on the fins of humpback whales that manage water resistance and contribute to the massive animals' ability to swiftly maneuver despite their size. Compared to standard, consistent depth rims, Zipp claims that wind tunnel testing shows that this SawTooth design significantly reduces both side force and aerodynamic drag, which in combination should translate to more confident handling when riding on exposed roads in variable winds and an easier time pushing the pedals any given speed compared to even the 404 NSW. The 454 NSW also marks a departure from Zipp's signature dimpling, upgrading the ABLC design to HexFin ABLC. The HexFin ABLC dimples take inspiration from their round predecessors' claimed ability to better manage the boundary layer of air against the rim, but Zipp tells us that the updated, hexagonal shape enjoys ...
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