After four years of research and design, the advanced engineers in Zipp’s Nest Speed Weaponry has launched the Zipp 454, a wheel inspired by humpback whales. The issue at hand was how to make a wheel both faster and more stable in cross winds, essentially looking for the Holy Grail of aero wheels. Oddly, their inspiration came from humback whales. Humbacks have small ridges on their pectoral fins, called tubercles, which keep water attached to their flippers when turning, making them more agile. The same concept has been applied in other industries, notably in planes, where these ridges, also called vortex generators, provide both lift and stability.
The new rim shape, termed Sawtooth, undulates between 53 and 58mm. Each ridge, called HyperFoils, create small pressure vortexes, like the humpback whale, to keep the air stuck to the wheel so that it sheds in smaller and more frequent amounts. Zipp has also updated the arrangement of the hexagonal dimples on the rim. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel the crosswind, but it does mean it’ll be more consistent and therefore easier to handle.
Zipp claims the 454’s will provide up to a 15 watt savings at the highest yaw angles compared to a competing 60mm wheel. At a reported 1525g, they are 30g lighter than the 404 NSW Carbon Clinchers.
Will this radical new wheel design be a game changer? What do you think?
Learn more humpback whales: IMAX: Humpback Whales
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