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Our amazing visit to Sicily, with one memorable ride after another, finally came to an end. But what an amazing week! Just when it seemed that we had experienced the ultimate ride, another was in view. How could it get any better than riding through the Valley of Temples in Agrigento? Well, riding up Mount Etna and climbing to the village of Taormina were equally stunning. Such is the diverse beauty of the Sicilian landscape—endlessly breathtaking and always surprising.

For our last ride we opt for a more classic coastal ride from Catania toward Taormina and beyond. “It’s almost a classic training ride,” says Thomas, our Danish test rider who now calls Sicily home. “But it is amazing all the same. First we pass through the coastal town of Riposto. And just after Riposto, we hit these wide-open roads along the beach with stunning views of the Ionian Sea.”

Thomas could not be happier riding here than with his Zipp 454 NSW Disc carbon clinchers. “The flat road begs for speed and the Zipp delivers. In the crosswind from the sea, the wheels just sing, riding along the beach in the drops full speed.”

After rolling through Giardini Naxos we then pass by the road that climbs to Taormina and go farther north to one of the most spectacular climbs on the island. Turning up toward the small village of Forza d’Agrò, we immediately understand that we are on a special road. Steep and sinuous, the climb offers one breathtaking view after another, as the repeated switchbacks offer a host of stunning views over the sea. And on a good day you can even see across the water to Calabria.

“For me, this climb incarnates Sicily at its best,” Thomas says. “It is short and hard, and then at the end there is this beautiful medieval village where you can sit down, enjoy a coffee, fill up your bottle with fresh water from the fountain and maybe even have a chat with some of the locals.”

Indeed the wheels attract attention once at the top and more than one passerby asks Thomas about his visibly unique wheels. And what Thomas likes most about the 454 NSW discs is riding them. “Again, the wheels surprise me. In the corners, they feel firm and give the right feedback from the road,” Thomas explains.

“The road to Forza d’Agrò, especially on the last part, does not have a smooth surface. But even with the rough paved road surface I can throw the bike around the corners with confidence. The road to Forza d’Agrò goes nowhere. There is only one way up and one way down. And on the way down I really profited from the wheels combination with the disc brakes. I could just brake much closer to the corners and therefore lose less speed going into the corner.”

Pausing for a moment, he then adds: “Wow! That’s bike riding!”

Images and Words: James Startt

For more on Zipp’s new 454 NSW Disc go to