Zipp 858 NSW wheelset first ride review - Wheelsets - Wheels

Zipp 858 NSW wheelset first ride review – Wheelsets – Wheels

Zipp 858 NSW wheelset


Our review

Fast and lightweight wheels for flat-out riding, at a cost

Extremely light for such a deep rim; drag-free Cognition V2 hubset; graphic printed directly on carbon; lifetime warranty

Inevitably, the cost is high

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Zipp’s redesigned 858 NSW has the potential to challenge the perception of what an 80mm+ wheelset is capable of.

Zipp launched the latest incarnation of the 858 NSW alongside the revamped 808, which has an 80mm-deep rim compared to the variable Sawtooth profile of the 82/85mm 858.

In their latest guise, both wheelsets place a greater emphasis on all-round performance, with aero gains amounting to a single watt over the previous generation, but with reduced weight and 23mm-wide (internal) hookless rims designed for wider tires and, Zipp claims, improved comfort.

There are few surprises when it comes to the speed of this wheelset. With rims that vary in depth between 82mm and 85mm – thanks to the Zipp’s Sawtooth profile – the 858 NSW is, without a doubt, a ‘fast’ wheelset. The way in which a rim of this depth holds onto high speeds is always impressive.

There are typically three caveats, though. The first is they can be a handful in the wind. The second is that a deep front wheel doesn’t feel as nimble reacting to changes in direction compared to a shallower-depth wheel. Finally, the extra weight of those deep rims means a wheelset such as the 858 is usually restricted to flatter rides. It’s not something you’d want to ride up a mountain pass, for instance.

Zipp 858 NSW performance

The Zipp 858 NSW rim depth varies between 82mm and 85mm.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The 858 challenges the above perception, however. With a claimed weight of 1,530g for the wheelset (the 808s weigh a claimed 1,635g), these wheels don’t come with the weight penalty associated with most deep-section wheels.

I’ve ridden the 858s on a few test loops in Indianapolis, home of SRAM/Zipp HQ, and back in the UK. While the terrain where I live is best described as rolling with a few longer ascents thrown in, I’ve been more than happy riding them as a standard option.

Fast? You bet!
Russell Burton / Our Media

The biggest difference, in terms of feel, and compared to the previous deep-section wheels I’ve tried, is with the front wheel. It doesn’t exhibit the weighted feel of a comparably deep rim when pushing the bike through turns.

In fact, it feels perceptibly quick to steer and react, and closer to the 58mm-deep Zipp 404s I’ve tested recently, as opposed to a much deeper wheel (you can read my Zipp 404 review).

The Sawtooth profile is complemented by Zipp’s HexFin ABLC dimple pattern.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The wheels are undoubtedly rigid, but they don’t feel harsh or overly stiff when riding. Running the right tire pressures no doubt helps. I’d say these ride smoother than other wheels of this depth I’ve ridden over the years.

Unlike the new Zipp 808 launched alongside the 858 NSW, which uses Zipp’s ZR1 DB hubset, the 858s get the Cognition V2 hub. The rear hub disengages the ratchet mechanism when coasting, and then uses magnets to re-engage once you’re back on the pedals.

The wheels use Zipp’s Cognition hubs.
Russell Burton / Our Media

So, when you stop pedaling – for instance, diving into a corner – the release of the freehub and the freedom from any sort of drag feels as if the rear wheel is giving you a little acceleration. That makes the 858s a wheelset that feels easy to maintain speed, even when hitting the bends.

It’s early days for me and this wheelset but, in terms of long-term use, the 858s use standard spokes and standard nipples, so should be easy to care for. The graphics are printed directly onto the carbon in the manufacturing process, so they look good and there aren’t any stickers to peel, wear or fade.

Zipp 858 NSW early verdict

The Zipp 858 NSW is an impressive wheelset that, on my early impressions, should be remarkably easy to live with for such a deep set of rims.

The price is, of course, high, but, while the best road bike wheels are often shallower all-rounders, this may just be the first wheel of this depth that you could use pretty much day in, day out (within reason…) .

I’ll reserve final judgment until after a full test of the 858s, when I’ve had more chances to ride them on a wider range of terrain, for longer, and in more varied conditions.