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Get all the details from the Zipp product manager and design engineer.

In this episode of the Zipp Speed Podcast, Zipp product Manager Nathan Schickel and Senior Design Engineer John Leachman explain what’s new with the new Zipp Super-9 tubeless disc-brake road and clincher track disc wheels. Here are edited excerpts. Listen to full podcast below:

The Zippcast · Introducing New Super-9 Disc Wheels
Why did Zipp develop a new disc wheel?

Nathan: We have the new Super-9 road and track disc wheels. Zipp started with disc wheels back in 1987 and this was a product that doesn’t get touched often. It’s not an easy project to work on. We’ve consistently had a very high performing disc wheel and its hard to improve on something that is that good already.

Part of what spurred this is massive changes within the industry. From time trial and triathlon, tubular has fallen aside, rim brake has fallen aside. It’s now disc brake and tubeless. So, we wanted to build a wheel around what riders are riding. That lead to the new Super-9 road disc.

On the track, tubulars, again, are falling away for clinchers: Very fast clincher tires with tubes, latex and sometimes TPE. You see whole new tire systems, so we need to build the wheels that support those tire systems.

What was the approach in designing the new Super-9 road disc?

John: Thelast disc we did was to make the Super-9 compatible with tubeless tires. So, it was a bit of an evolution. For this, we wanted to start with a clean sheet but not get away from what we’ve known and the wisdom we’ve acquired through the years. With everything going straight side (hookless), wider tires, lower pressure… lighter weight, stronger… We started with the wind tunnel. We said, let’s make it fast. We cannot make a new disc wheel that is fast, but now we need to incorporate the TSE (Total System Efficiency), the lower pressures, wider tires.

We took what we know with our product line with the straight side (hookless) and just evolved that around the disc, many hours in the wind tunnel and many prototypes in the wind tunnel.

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Zipp's John Leachman, right, in the wind tunnel

This is by far the stiffest disc I have seen us produce here in Indy.

–Zipp Senior Design Engineer John Leachman

What was thinking around the actual shape of the disc?

John: With the wider tire and the straight side, we needed to have a clean interface. With clincher hooks, there’s a little pocket that the wind sees especially as your yaw angles increase. How can we make that interface more seamless to create less drag and let that air stay laminar as it flows across that disc. That’s where the shape came from. … Lots of testing went into finding a laminate that would withstand impact resistance, to make that wheel stronger, and shed some weight. … This is by far the stiffest disc I have seen us produce here in Indy.

In what specific ways is this disc designed to be fast?

Nathan: In testing, we tested five different bike frames. We did wheel alone, wheels on bike no rider, and then wheels on bike with rider. That gave us a lot of information. We were able to parse it out in a way that we understood what was going on. It’s great when you can design a wheel to be fast with a single frame, but when you design a wheel to be fast with every frame, that’s the harder problem. Secondly, losing the weight. We’ve had this wheel under athletes since the men’s and women’s Tour de France in 2023. Just after the Tour de France was Super Worlds in Scotland. We won the Women’s U23 and Elite world championship time trials under two of our athletes with this disc. That time trial finished atop a massive climb. … Everybody was searching for the lightest weight setup. We offered them a disc that is almost 100 grams lighter than almost anything else on the market. That was part today of Total System Efficiency. Part three is being able to go to a wider tire and not having aerodynamic deficit and run lower tire pressures.

Some of the feedback we received from pro triathletes in age-group athletes is being able to ride a slightly wider tire is helpful because it saves them energy for the run. For triathlon, you want to go as fast as possible on the bike without costing you on the run, because the run is where the race is finished.

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Nathan Schickel preps a bike for wind tunnel testing

How is the pump-interface and valve access different on the new Super-9? 

John: No more stickers. No more decals to cover up the valve hole. We spent a lot of time to create a cover that is easily removed, light weight, and has a nice visual appeal.

The new road Super-9 disc also comes installed with TyreWiz 2.0 tire-pressure monitoring system. Why is that important?

Nathan: Having something like TyreWiz 2.0 is useful. It enables you to be able to understand exactly what happens with your tire during the ride. It also can give you a warning if you have a flat or slow leak so you can figure out the best time to deal with that on a triathlon course. One of the cool things is, when you walk up to your bike in transition you can give your bike a quick shake (to activate TyreWiz 2.0) it will give you a flashing green light, you know your tires at pressure, and you don’t have to worry about it.

What about tire widths for the new road disc?

Nathan: For the road disc, the optimal tire width is 28mm. You can use 28 to 32 mm for the road disc.

Now, let’s talk about the Super-9 track disc. Why did Zipp go with a clincher model?

Nathan: On the track, the assumption has always been that the tubular is the fastest tire, especially at that Olympic level. What national teams and professional teams are finding out is, no, there are actually clincher tires that are faster. The other added benefit with clinchers is that you can tune the transition between the tire and the wheel to make the system a little more aerodynamically efficient. We’re seeing very fast clincher tires mated with a latex or sometimes some of the new thermoplastic innertubes pumped to 100 to 125 psi. Our new track disc has a max pressure of 125 psi. For the track disc, the optimal tire width is 23 or 25mm.

Talking data in the wind tunnel