Zipp 202 NSW disc review£2,678.00

Meet the new 202 — wider, lighter and now tubeless too

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Zipp’s 202 is the US company’s long-standing lightweight option. It may have fewer aero benefits than the 303 or 404, but its low weight makes it the first choice for plenty of riders when it comes to climb-heavy riding. This latest addition to the NSW (Nest Speed Works, Nest being the company’s test facility) range takes ideas from Zipp’s development labs and applies them to the 32mm-deep rim.

Zipp 202 NSW disc features

It gains the sawtooth pattern dimples on the rim surface, first seen on the radical 454s, and the minimal graphics are directly printed so there are no clumsy stickers to affect the aero surface.

The real work has been done under the skin. On trend, the 202 has broadened, with a wide 21mm internal dimension and a max outside width of 28.9mm. The rim was developed to be at its best aerodynamically when matched with a 28mm tyre, so that’s what I did using Zipp’s own Tangente Speed RT28, measuring up at 29.7mm once fitted.

Tyre fitting has been revamped with the 202 NSW now being tubeless compatible. I was impressed with the ease of the tubeless setup, being a lot easier than plenty of its rivals.

The 202 Firecrest disc wheels weighed over 1500g a pair, and Zipp claims the NSW’s weight to be 1475g. So, I was surprised that our test set, with rim tape and tubeless valves in place, weighed 1460g for the pair (780.4g rear, 679.7g front). It’s a small weight saving for a big jump in price.

Zipp 202 NSW disc ride experience

On the road the 202s are spectacular, the stiffness is impressive and the way they shape the tyres adds a layer of cushioning and comfort to your ride, plus being tubeless you can run lower pressures over rougher roads. 

The hubs run super smoothly and the rear Cognition hub is as brilliant here as it was on the original 404 NSW. The Cognition hub works with an Axial clutch that completely disengages the ratchet in the freehub. 

When you’re coasting it’s pretty much friction free, so more of your speed is retained even when you’re not trying. Standard three-pawl rear hubs have double the friction of the Cognition.

The NSWs are easy to maintain, the hubs are easy to access and Zipp includes special Cognition oil for the freehub. The spokes are standard Sapim CX-Ray (J-bend) and the locking nipples are external and Sapim too.

The big question is whether to opt for these over the standard 202 Firecrest, which for 2018 has gained a wider, tubeless compatible rim, and costs more than £300 less. Usually I’d opt for the savings, but in this instance for the whole package, including those super-smooth hubs, we’d spend the extra on this brilliant wheelset.

The wheels come with tubeless rim tape fitted, standard quick-release end caps, 12mm and 15mm thru-axle caps, QR skewers and wheel bags.

Zipp 202 NSW disc pricing

  • Front: £1,160 / $1,400 / AU$2,050
  • Rear: £1,518 / $1,800 / AU$2,649

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 188cm / 6'2''
  • Weight: 92kg / 203lb
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 112cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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