Zipp has launched its most radical wheel to date, the 454 NSW, taking its inspiration from sea-faring mammals we know as whales.
Indeed, Zipp’s new 454 NSW Carbon Clincher is radical by design, evolutionary by nature. In the natural world, creatures are honed over generations to achieve a competitive edge within their environment. The result of this natural design process is adaptation − new shapes and forms that achieve a higher degree of efficiency and control.
Utilizing the principles of the emerging science of biomimicry, Zipp engineers studied the environment around them for instances of how nature solved similar problems of speed, control, and efficiency for the next generation of Zipp wheels. Think of a humpback whale’s fast but graceful movements thanks to the special features on the leading edge of its pectoral fins, or the unique micro texture of a shark’s skin, which gives it the ability to glide effortlessly through the water. These structures inspired Zipp advanced development engineers to, for the first time, systematically apply biomimicry to solve the complex challenge of designing a wheel that reduces both aerodynamic drag and side force.
Using nature as a roadmap, Zipp began the rigorous aero development process of the 454 NSW utilizing the wind tunnel, CFD, and real-world testing. The result is an undulating 53/58mm-deep rim shape that takes nature’s most elegant design solutions and combines engineering precision to deliver a wheel that performs unlike any made before.
The most visually striking and functionally important innovation in the handcrafted 454 NSW is SawTooth. This patented new rim shape achieves something conventional aero wheels cannot; it simultaneously reduces both aerodynamic drag and side force for the ultimate in AeroBalance. SawTooth accomplishes this with a series of patented fin-shaped HyperFoik nodes along the inner diameter of the rim that work together with our new HexFin ABLC dimples for improved airflow. The result is Zipp’s highest performing wheelset ever realized with both aero-drag reduction and reduced side force at all wind yaw angles. This is important because higher wind yaw angles are where bike handling is most affected by the wind.
The 454 NSW’s undulating SawTooth rim architecture with HyperFoils represents the next evolution of the SawTooth ABLC dimple technology found on all of Zipp’s NSW wheels. The HyperFoils and HexFin ABLC dimples help to stabilize handling in gusting wind by increasing wind vortex shedding frequency. Lower frequency shedding produces larger, more powerful vortices. In cycling terms, this unstable situation is often referred to as “buffeting.” The higher frequency vortex shedding produced by SawTooth creates a greater number of smaller, less powerful, yet more predictable vortices leading to greater wheel stability.
This added stability translates into greater rider control, thereby saving energy that is typically expended trying to hold a line in gusting wind. The result is a faster, more confident riding experience whether you are laying down power or descending sinuous mountain roads. Providing extra confidence, Zipp’s industry leading Carbon Clincher technology is durable and reliable, with no heat-related failures.
A New Approach
Engineers in “The Nest”, the lab where all Zipp advanced development projects start, began the design process for the 454 NSW with a simple thought: How can we emulate structures in nature to develop a faster wheel? Inspired by the irregular shape of the leading edge of humpback whale pectoral fins, which help provide this giant creature with speed and maneuverability, our engineers tested 36 distinct biomimetic rim shapes in search of one with superior AeroBalance and structural performance.
Prototype iterations included different rim depths, shapes, and number of HyperFoils along with numerous rim lay-up patterns. The 454 NSW arrived at its final shape after a barrage of simulations using computational fluid dynamics and 252 test hours at Indianapolis’ ARC wind tunnel. That was followed by hundreds of hours of on-road aero-data collection using sophisticated wind sensors to ensure that the 454 NSW delivered on its promise of crosswind stability in real riding conditions. The result is a wheelset with aerodynamic efficiency and crosswind stability that far surpasses conventionally shaped wheels.
The 454 NSW also features our industry leading silicon carbide Showstopper brake track that allows you to brake later with more stopping power and greater control regardless of weather conditions or the length of the descent. Zipp’s ImPress NSW graphics technology, which prints graphics directly onto the rim, reduces weight and helps the HexFin ABLC dimples to do their aerodynamic job while elevating the wheel’s visual allure to new heights.
Beyond the Rim Shape
Making use of our NSW-exclusive Cognition subset, 454 NSW rolls efficiently whether you are pedaling or coasting. Our Axial Clutch technology allows the free hub’s ratcheting mechanism to deliver half the mechanical drag of conventional three pawl hubs. Assembled with Swiss bearings made to our exacting specifications, the Cognition hubset is as robust as it is fast.
Each American made 454 NSW rim requires 12 hours to create and represents a true blending of hand craftsmanship and advanced manufacturing techniques. After each rim is laid up, molded, drilled, printed, and inspected, every wheel is assembled and tensioned entirely by hand in Indianapolis. 454 NSW rims are laced to our Portuguese-made Cognition hubs using Belgian Sapim CX-Ray spokes and Secure Lock nipples for unmatched performance and reliability that is made to last.
According to Zipp, the new 454 NSW will retail for $4000, with availability starting in November.
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