Review: ZIPP 303 Firecrest Wheelset

If you are looking for a wheelset that helps you in sprinting on a flat road and stiff enough that doesn’t flex when going uphill. Look no more. Zipp 303 Firecrest are the wheels that you want as it is pretty much all rounded. Zipp wheels are made in Indianapolis, USA and they are part of SRAM group now. This same wheelset that won two most famous Cobbled Classics – Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders. It was the 1st carbon wheels that won in cobblestone race too.

It has a 45mm deep profile that cut thru air easily and 28.5mm wide. I believe you can fit in any tires with that kind of width but the main purpose is for improving aerodynamics. It is a carbon wheels but not the lightest within its range. Mine is clincher wheelset and the weight as below with rim tape included.

Front wheel          : 720g (published weight 725g)

Rear wheel           : 920g (published weight 900g)

Combine weight : 1640g (published weight 1625g)

Front wheel

Rear wheel

Ride experience

I had these wheels for a year now and my 1st high profile wheels, as my previous 2 were 30 and 34mm deep. With a deeper profile, everything is so much different when your speed is increasing. Once I hit 35km/h my legs were like asking me for more and more speed. With my old wheelset I couldn’t even hold on to 35km/h for a long time but with Zipp wheels I am maintaining 40km/h with no issue.

I think a lot of us will have one common question. Automatically we all will think high profile wheels will suffer when during climb. So, how about the stiffness? These are a pair of very stiff wheels. The wheels didn’t flex at all when I was standing pedaling even with an 8-12 degree gradient climb. Based on my Strava record for a Full 800 Climb (6.5km) in Teluk Bahang, I have improved 2 mins or an average speed of 1.5km/h. I believe I have not extend to my full potential yet. A lot of people may wonder if the wheels are too stiff, will I get fatigue in long ride. Well, I don’t. Probably my frame has absorb most the vibration but I didn’t hear any complaints from my friends who uses the Zipp wheels too.

Since this is the carbon wheel, does it affect the braking when wet or a long descent braking? I didn’t ride during heavy rain but I had no issue with drizzled. It might degraded slightly but I never go fast when the road is wet. How about long descent? On my most recent ride to Genting Sempah, I had descended 528m in 15km and it worked perfectly fine. Of course, I didn’t press on the brake all the time but I had a few hard braked when the oncoming traffic headed towards me.

The rolling of these wheels are superb. The 188/V9 hubs that paired with these wheels have made my cycling like effortless. Again, I am comparing with other high profile wheelsets that cruised down a slope. I noticed my bike can glided down and gained more momentum than other riders. I would said we are about the same body weight or I may be slightly heavier body compared with others. So, weight can be ignore.

They designed the tip of the wheel to be rounded to minimize the crosswinds. Crosswinds not only a drag when cycling and can be dangerous too when going downhill at high speed. I have seen my teammate bike swung left and right when he went thru an area with strong crosswinds. I can’t say I wasn’t affected by it but not as bad as his and I can easily steer back in line.

You may wonder why there are so many dimples on the wheelset. It is their patented technology that smoothen the airflow. It is called Aerodynamic Boundary Layer Control or ABLC in short.

The only thing I haven’t try is to put a 25mm on the wheels as the Continental GP4000SII tire will rub my frame even with my old wheelset. So, I didn’t bother to try with the Zipp since these wheels has wider width.


How much does it cost? Well, a new set is MYR7.8-8k and used is around MYR4-5k. Clincher cost slightly higher. But, it is definitely looks good with the aero frame.


Ride quality is definitely there but need to pay a hefty price for it. So, if money is not a problem for you then this wheelset can put in your bucket list or get a used one like me.


Please take note that  Zipp has made a recalled on its front hub. I have copied the link here but it may be subjected to change. Please do check at their website for more details or contact your local dealer.


Review: Shimano IceTech Disc Rotor

The reason I got this because I suspected the Brakco disc rotor I had was replica version. The Brakco rotor was also a floating rotor and I wasn’t sure how secure were the rivets. I had no choice but to quickly replace it before anything bad happened to me. Since I am using Shimano XT brake set that comes with IceTech technology, I thought of giving the IceTech Disc Rotor a try then. It is also a floating disc with 180mm.

I have been using it for almost a year now and I find it subpar. Why? There are 2 reasons behind this:

1) The disc will warp even I pressed the brake for just 1-2 secs but it did get back to shape after it cools down. Even the replica Brakco disc I had did not have this issue unless I pressed the brake for a long time. I have asked some friends who are using 180mm Hope disc to understand if they have the same issue. They replied “NO”. Hmm…. I guessed I need to upgrade again or stuck with this until I replace it.

2) The 2nd issue may or may not due to the rotor disc. It could be a XT brake set that Specialized shop sold to me. I noticed the brake cables are different from original XT set and the braking feel is completely different from my friends’ bikes that uses XT Brake. The braking power is very weak since the day 1 I got them. 😦


Yes, this is cheap comparing with Hope or other brands within the same range but the disc rubbing sound is very annoying. So, definitely I won’t get the 2nd pair again.

Review: Wishbone BBright PF30/BB386 Bottom Bracket

As expected, my Cervelo bottom bracket (BB) didn’t last very long. I had the bike for a little bit more than 2 years and the original BB fell apart. It all started with tuk tuk tuk sound and when the mechanic took apart, the ball bearing just dropped everywhere.

So, I got the Wishbone BBright PF30/BB386 Bottom Bracket and this model is specifically for Rotor 3D+ crank. I bought this in Apr, 2016 for MYR415.

This BB is a bit different from any other BB that I had used before as it comes in 1 piece. According to the guy who installed it, it supposed to have a better power transfer than the 2 separate pieces. The theory behind it is, when you drive with your right foot it will not flex the frame and no impact to the left crank and vice versa. In another words, it has better power transfer than individual BB. Best of all, this is a ceramic BB.


I have put on almost 4,000km (shy of 35km) since I last installed. Honestly? I fine it no significant different between the old and new. It is not super smooth nor super stiff. May be it will have significant different if the frame is aluminum or a softer carbon.


If your frame is aluminum or softer carbon, then I will recommend this as it may have better power transfer. Otherwise, I don’t see any point of spending MYR 400+ for this.

Update: Another important point I left out is that it is pretty much zero maintenance. I had it for more than a year now and it is pretty much work like new still.

Review: SRAM X5 (PG-1030) Cassette for MTB

I just replaced my faithful SRAM X5 cassette as it was worn out after I have put in >6800km on it. I would say it was very long lasting as I had it for 3.5 years and all the abused I had put in. I hardly take care of the chain or cassette as I hardly wash them. I normally got very tired after a ride, so I would just rinsed my bike with water and store it. I would wash them probably once every 2 months (or more :o) but I did lube them occasionally and normally excessively too. But, I always make sure the chain needs to be changed once it is worn out except for once I missed out. That’s when I firstly got my bike. From then onwards, I occasionally check the length using a chain checker. I am sure the cassette will last longer if I take care of the whole drivetrain a little more.

X5 is not the lightest cassette as it weighs 395g but it is strong. I have used it to climb many hills and Penang Hill is one of the list. It is finally gave up on me as it started to jump gears and I had the intention to bring this bike for touring. So, I have no choice but to replace it with another brand new SRAM X7 (PG-1050). X7 is <100g lighter than X5 and it weights 299g. I picked X7 over X5 as the pricing (MYR25) is not much different and it is 100g lighter.

Since I had my chain and cassette replaced, it was no point for me to keep the old chainrings. So, I had them replaced too. I had used the 38T chainring as long as my cassette and the 24T was the 2nd sets. I believe the 24T still usable for another few hundreds kilometers.

Well, my X7 review will probably take some time as it is harder for me to accumulate the mileage now especially I have 2 bikes.

Will I use SRAM again if I have to replace them? The answer is DEFINITELY. It is basically low maintenance and long lasting. Keep up the great work SRAM guys!!!

Review: Magura MTS Brake and Specialized Shop

Magura MTS is actually a Magura MT4 brake that was built for Specialized bike. A few months back, my brake was leaking oil and I thought that’s it. I need a replacement for it which I got a new Shimano XT brake from Specialized shop in Penang. I paid for the new brake then I only found out from the chief mechanic that Magura brakes comes with a 5 years warranty. I felt cheated that the shop manager didn’t inform me until payment was made. But, the chief mechanics did send it in for the claim (Thanks!). So, now I have a spare set of brake.

It took them about 2-3 weeks for the claim and Magura did a very good job to make their customer happy. They changed everything new except for the lever only. I have yet to try it as I am going to keep them as my spare now.


Review: Shimano XT Brakes

I got this new set of Shimano XT brake set was because my Magura MTS brake keep leaking oil and of all time my brake failed when I went downhill. Luckily it was the front brake and I still had 1 working rear brake. The Specialized shop didn’t tell me the Magura brake has a 5 years warranty on leaking oil until I purchased the XT brake. 😦 So now, I have a spare set at home.

IMG_6061 IMG_6058 IMG_6059

I got this set from Specialized shop in Penang with a bargain as it was a 2015 model and 2016 model was already out. I didn’t see any differences in between these 2 brakes. I got this for RM550 but I have to pay additional RM80 for the clamp ring for my shifter which I think it is a bit overpriced.

The brake pads are Ice-Tech design which it has extra heat sink to dissipate the heat when it is hot. I believe it helps a lot as I was coming down from Penang Hill with 20-30% gradient hill, it was not super-hot and my rotor didn’t turn black like my previous brake.

I really can’t tell if the Specialized shop has swapped out the cable housing from the original packaging as mine is shown Shimano SM-BH90 whereas my friend cable is Shimano High Power Brake Hose. The BH90 is a lower grade cable which is Shimano Deore range. The High Power brake hose cost about RM100 each.

IMG_6046 IMG_6049

I pair this brake with my Brakco 180mm rotor in front and Magura Storm SL 160mm rotor for the rear.

This brake is setup for easy maintenance or adjustment with minimal tools required. I heard from a bike shop, the brake bleeding is so easy with just unscrewing 1 nut only. Also, the brake lever pressure can be adjusted with just tightening the nuts with 2 fingers. Some can argue that it is not important if you have the setup done in the 1st place which is correct. But this helps when during your 1st setup and on some routes I probably don’t need to have hard pressure on my lever.

Most importantly, it doesn’t squeak when I pressed on the brake. I have experienced some other brands like Tektro squeaks a lot when pressing on the break hard.

Oh, 1 final thing. The XT brake lever is very suitable for 1 finger braking as it tuck in nicely with just 1 finger. Also, it given a nice pressure for braking with just 1 finger. Mine previous Magura MTS brake lever need 2 fingers for braking. If not, the bike will not stop. -_-‘

All these while my perception for XT brakes were very powerful in braking and not so in modulation but not the set I have. Somehow I need to press the brake harder and longer to slow down my bike in steep descent. I have been using this brake for a month now and it should have break in already. But, the braking surface is so much different from my friend XT. Could it be the brake pads (not original)? Rotor? Or the brake housing (not high grade housing)? I have no idea. I am going to give it another month to try it before I make a formal complain to Specialized.

Review: Brakco 180mm Rotor

I wanted to get a 180mm rotor for long time already and I just can’t find what I want and the price I am willing to pay for it. When it comes to bike or bike parts spending, I tend to be careful about it. I have friends that I know would just buy anything they see or like. Then, when they find it not useful or suits them, they will just sell it off at a lost. But, I will do my review carefully by reading forums, review like “this” or getting inputs from my friend/s.

IMG_6057 IMG_6061

I got this rotor for RM125 and RM25 for a bracket which I think is a good buy for a floating disc. If it is Hope disc, it will cost at least RM200 for it.

This is a floating disc rotor which it can dissipate heat much better than non-floating disc. There are many designs from Brakco and each design will have their own purpose. Weight, brake surface for strong grip or better modulation. It all goes back to user preferences. For me, I would like to have a balance of both. I prefer to have good modulation yet didn’t forgo the grip because I am doing off road and single track cemented riding.

I tried to install this rotor with my Magura brake initially but no luck as it kept rubbing the pads when turning the wheel. The seller and I tried to align it many times but no luck. Eventually, we gave up. Until I replaced my Magura brake with Shimano XT (for some other reason) and all problems solved. So, my whole brake systems is pretty new except for my rear rotor which I am still using Magura Storm SL. If it doesn’t break don’t change it. 🙂

I have used this rotor for Penang Hill, Pearl Hill and Mount Erskine and I so far it has not given me any trouble. One thing to note here is 180mm will tend to rub the pads when doing hard cornering. I am not sure if that was because of my wheelset which probably a softer kind or 180mm behavior. I will find out more and update.

Coming down from Penang Hill also didn’t have any burnt mark on the rotor and it was not extremely hot like my previous set. That probably explains why my Magura break leaks.

Well, so far I am happy with this rotor.

Review: Mavic Cosmic Elite S

These wheels came along with my Cervelo bike and it is an entry level of Mavic aero wheels. It is the most affordable range for rider who wants deep profile wheels yet does not have deep pocket. It is priced at USD 600 for full aluminum wheels.



Height      : 30mm

Weight     : 1770g (815g/955g; Front/Rear)

Spokes     : 20 on each wheel and steel spokes

Since the height is only 30mm, so it is just a medium profile wheels which are neither good for flat nor bad for climb. So, it is an all rounded wheels. This suits my ride in Penang very well.

The spokes are bladed to have more aerodynamic but probably insignificant for riders who are just enjoying cycling or in training. You probably wouldn’t be using these wheels during the race day.

Weight is 1770g which are not light wheels but that doesn’t make any different on flat. This is also good for heavy rider.

These wheels have all the technology like FTS-L, QRM, SUP and UB control from its more expensive siblings.

The ride

I am neither heavy rider nor light as I weight about 75kg and I have these wheels for 2 months now. It has not been giving me any problem so far as it is still stay true.

As said, these are pretty heavy wheels but on the flat road I feel no different from my previous wheels. It was sprinting pretty well once you have the momentum going on. Ahh… from stop-start, I do feel a bit of lacking power to get it moving. Also, by going up 3 degree gradient hill it is slightly slower than my previous wheels. I am not sure if 1-2km/h slower has any significant value for you if it is during training. Actually, during training heavier wheels are good for your legs as during the race day you will fly with the lighter wheels.

Does it really flex? I would say it is pretty stiff as I was observing it again yesterday during my ride and I can see it slightly closing to my brake pads during a steep climb and out of my saddle. So, it is not that bad at all.

The wheels come with Yksion Comp tires and it is highly recommended changing it out. I had flat tires in 2 consecutive weeks. I got frustrated and changed it to Continental.


If you are looking for a pair of good and reasonable price training wheels for your bike, then these are the wheels that you want to get. Or you can add a little bit more for American Classic 420 Aero 3 wheels.


Review: American Classic 420 Aero 3 Wheels

I got this set of wheels for my Cervelo road bike. I always think the wheel is 1 of the most important part of the bike which comes after the rider and frame. So, I invested fair amount of money for these wheels. The 420 Aero 3 is a race wheels or can be used as casual riding. And, since my bike is an aero frame yet I don’t want to spend so much for a full profile carbon rim. So, that was my best choice.



I got a 2014 model and it can cater for 11 speed sprockets. I would say this is mid profile aluminum wheels with 34mm deep section and they are very light wheels with a combine weight of 1520 grams (660 grams front and 860 grams rear). It is actually 10 grams lesser than they published in their website. With the skewers the total weight is 1618 grams which I still think is very light! But light weight wheels come with limitation. Rider weight must be less than 100kg. Previously I weight about 78kg and I have no issue with it.


The brain behind this wheel is actually the Three Group Spoke System. You can see the drive side has 16 spokes vs the non-drive side has 8 spokes. By making right calculation of the hub flange width, spoke angle and choosing right material has created an equal tension for both side. This explains why the wheel is stiff and lightweight.

In addition, they used bladed spokes to improve aerodynamic to cut through the wind when you are speeding down the road.

Lastly, there is a distinct spoke color which point to the valve hole. You will never have to hunt for the valve.


I paired these wheels with the Continental Grand Prix 4000s tires and it runs real smooth. Since it is neither low nor high profile wheels, it is perfect for me during climb or riding on a flat road. I don’t feel the lagging during the climbed and on a flat road I did about 38-42km/h average.

Anyone may think light wheels will lose out the stiffness. Things have changed since then. The acceleration is always there when I needed them. Even my friends noticed it when I was out of saddle as the bike just sprint.

The American Classic engineers has balance it very well in their design in terms of weight and stiffness. I would definitely recommend this wheel to anyone who is looking for a new set of wheels.