Mavic's Aero Foray
I had the opportunity to grab lunch with Mavic's Communications Manager Zack Vestal today while he’s in town reaching out to local brand ambassadors to show off the impressive new Mavic Cosmic CXR 80 T. Seeing that Zack was coming out from Haverhill, MA, I had to encourage him to try some fish tacos while he was here since that's what SD is supposedly known for, although I think craft beer brewing is gaining notoriety :). So what's up with these wheels? The innovations aren't the usual vertically compliant laterally stiff piffle and they aren't dimpling their hubs either. This product is a legitimate and aggressive entry into the aero wheel market. No one has any doubts that wide rims are here to stay; the benefits range from better tire/rim matting to better rolling resistance and handling characteristics. Admittedly, Mavic is a few years late to the party, but they've benefited from seeing trends and ultimately unproven technologies come and go.
For every pair of Zipp or Reynolds “race day” wheels an athlete owns they also own a diehard pair of Mavics. This reminds me of a Ford investor call from a few years ago where the CEO voiced his concerns about Ford’s dwindling sedan sales and stated that for every Ford F-150 (America's best selling truck) there was a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord in the garage next to it. Mavic is ready to earn the right to take all your money. So what has Mavic done here that is different? I'll save you all the magazine talk about time they spent in Geneva's windtunnel optimizing profiles (8 sessions in the windtunnel, more than 400 hours in the windtunnel, more than 160 configurations tested); this wheelset has a never before seen feature: The (CX01) blade that removes any gap between the tire and rim creating a completely seamless profile.
I was skeptical at first thinking this was some flimsy piece of plastic that was slapped or glued into place, but as Zack showed me there is a perfectly molded/machined bead that runs along the outer rim lip in which the blade snaps into securely. Another feature was the wheel/tire combo. Mavic wants to take what I think of as an Apple approach (design both the hardware and software) and is ensuring exacting specifications, quality, and functionality making the entire wheel system. A tire represents up to 85% of the total frontal area of a wheel. So, its contribution to the total aerodynamic drag of the system is of critical importance. The Yksion CXR tire is the most aero tire available for sale. There were many fine details that I appreciated; one was the reinforced yet pliable sidewall which could hold up to any damage the blade could cause, another detail was the thread pattern on the outer most sides of the tire that served to disrupt air, priming it to stick and increase laminar flow over the rim profile.
I look forward to Mavic bringing a wider rim to their Ksyrium line.
Here are some quick facts about the wheelset: 2170 g pair > 995 g front / 1175 g rear (1630 g without tire)