Originally intended for time trial bikes, the Zipp 808 wheelset is increasingly a popular choice for road racing and has been redesigned for 2009.
With the 82mm-deep rims, these are the deepest of the Zipp wheels that can be used for road racing. Made up of the Zipp 420 rim combined with the 188 and 88 hub sets, and laced with 16 DT spokes at the front and 20 at the rear, the Zipp 808 wheelset is an impressive sight before it even gets put onto a bike.
Handling was at least as good as with the lower-profiled 404 or 202 wheelsets. Even on high-speed descents the bike still felt very stable. The wheels really came into their own when riding on the flat or on gently rolling roads. Once they were wound up to a speed of around 45-50kph, they just seemed to be pushing you along with minimal input.
When climbing, the wheels are extremely nimble – 1,462 is not a bad weight for a wheel with such a deep rim. On short steep climbs, there was no noticeable flex or drag, and on long, steadier-gradient climbs, the wheels rolled well and quickly adapted to any changes in speed or gradient.
Initial doubts about handling were forgotten after several hours of riding. The aerodynamic advantages of the deep-section rims were evident as soon as a certain amount of speed was reached on the flat, and even on slight hills. The wheels tested remained true after some battering on poor roads.
Although maybe not ideal for gale-force conditions, simply swapping out the front wheel for one with a lower profile would remedy that while leaving you with a fast rear wheel.
They're not just for time trials – Zipp 808 wheels are versatile enough for road racing. If they're good enough for Fabian Cancellara…