The *aero* performance is the same. That may be all that matters, and the other differences may be "unnecessary" from the standpoint of the consumer and are also - generally - speaking, harder to measure. And maybe, in many cases, "good enough" actually is plenty good enough. Taking the Jets (fairing bonded onto a structurally complete/sound wheel) vs. Zipp's aluminum-rimmed (co-molded with a structurally essentially carbon section) clinchers as an example, what end benefit does the customer really see? I think that's very debatable. And it's definitely a debate I love to have, but I'll save having that. Keep in mind that according to UCI regs, the Jets *should* be illegal - but because the UCI is so weird, they aren't. But if you read the letter of the UCI rules - and want to make sure your product is allowed - then *technically,* you'd have to build clinchers the way Zipp does.
I don't think anyone would say that Chinese carbon fiber is of lower quality than American - certainly I wouldn't. The reason that Zipp sources and manufactures the way that they do is because they believe it gives them more strict control over quality and, yes, they believe in supporting American businesses. The Chinese make fantastic products out of fantastic materials. But there is also a lot of IT stealing - another very major reason Zipp keeps everything in house. And, having dealt extensively with sourcing product from China in my previous job, there's also other reasons - perhaps ethical ones that don't particularly matter to some people - to manufacture here. If the end product is the same, that's all people care about. But some people also may care about how workers are treated, safety of the environment, etc. That's probably a discussion for the Lavender Room though. And please do not imply that I am saying that quality of the end product is the overwhelming concern. It's more that Zipp wishes to be able to exert day-to-day oversight of their quality. That's important to them.
I realize that it's inevitable that this will be seen as "mud slinging," but that's certainly not my intent. My intent is for there to be simple and clear discussions about the wheels. For example, as I stated in my first post - the wheel was tested with a tire that would void the warranty. The reason for voiding the warranty is never really covered by HED, who simply says that a wider tire is recommended for optimal performance. But if you read the Velonews article, you'll see that the wheel they tested - mounted with a 21mm tire - already showed signs of impact damage to the rim. That's not "mud slinging," that's fact. The reason for that is the excessively deep tire bed on that rim, which is also a major part of why it's fast. Of course, every time I try to have a simple discussion about those sort of things, it inevitably ends up looking like an attack on HED, so then an attack is made on Zipp, and I feel obliged to correct certain mis-statements, like the notion of Zipp's massive advert budget. But keep in mind, we still haven't been able to get a clear answer on the fact that there seem to be two different versions of the S9 - not the S90 vs S9 - but two very different shapes of the S9, at least based on the measurements that have been provided by different folks here and also provided by Josh. So, yes, it appeared like mud slinging, but if you re-read this now very lengthy thread, I was simply pointing out some very relevant issues that I think are very real and factual differences that the end consumer will care about.
Secondly, in terms of the increased expenditure not producing faster wheels, why don't you look at the release timeline of the fastest wheels that have been released lately. The 900 clincher disc - the first bulged disc, the Sub9 - the first wheel to generate negative drag in the tunnel, the 404 carbon clincher & new Firecrest rim shape. Zipp has been ahead of HED in terms of major design breakthroughs every single time. This latest iteration of the Stinger 9 is the first time that HED has come out with a faster wheel before Zipp, and it's rife with problems - not fitting certain frames, not fitting certain brakes, can't be run with narrower tires, etc. All of which are detailed in the Velonews article. Does being first to market - and actually coming up with ideas - cost a lot? Yes. It's a lot more expensive to do the R&D to create a bulged disc than to simply see that it's faster and make one.
As Josh's statements regarding Cav, that's what Cav told him. Cav thanks Zipp in his book. The fact that sometimes the team puts HEDs under him should not be interpreted as Josh giving misinformation. Maybe he needed to swap bikes? Maybe he got a flat? Who knows. When HED sponsors a team, I can imagine plenty of scenarios where a particular rider who requires special personal equipment ends up on team equipment.
At the end of the day, HED makes pretty much equally fast wheels that are a lot cheaper than Zipps. If that's what matters to you, fine. But that's not - in my opinion - the whole story.
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