French brand Mavic have made moves to cater for an ever growing gravel market in the past year, with a full ‘Allroad’ clothing range and ‘Allroad’ wheel options for avid cycle explorers. The wheel experts have now announced the Allroad Elite Road+, a 650b adventure wheelset to add to their existing range; for those that want to take the full advantage of larger volume tyres while maintaining similar external circumference to a 700c wheel.
During testing, Mavic found a 650b wheelset, with a 47c tyre, consistently performed better in compliance, lateral stiffness, wet traction and handling over all of their current Allroad offerings.
The compliance and wet traction capabilities come down to the increased tyre volume and ability to run lower pressure, meaning the tyre can conform more easily to the profile of the road; it absorbs many of the small bumps but maybe more importantly keeps more rubber in contact with the ground at any one time.
The lateral stiffness is increased thanks to the shorter spoke length used in 650b wheels, meaning they are likely to be a little more robust when taking things off road.
Finally, the better handling; while most bikes are designed around a 700c wheel platform, we must remember 700c is a measurement of a rim size and does not take into account the increase of circumference thanks to numerous options of tyre mounted upon it. Product Manager Maxime Brunand explained during testing the best perceived handling came not from the largest tyre size, but from the smallest - 700x30c. This is down to its smaller external circumference when combining both rim and tyre together.
Riding offroad with a 30mm tyre is entirely achievable, but with the reduced volume comes increased risk of punctures and decreased grip, not to mention it might be a little uncomfortable in places. The 650b option provides the great handling characteristics of the 30mm tyre mounted on a 700c rim, thanks to its almost identical external circumference, and all the while solves all the problems that come with the larger and lower volume wheel option.
"we ran through the process, selecting our comfort level, and inputting the forecasted weather along with other data such as rider weight and wheel specifications. Based on this data the app produces a pressure recommendation"
A very useful addition to the wheelset is the My Mavic app. In the app, the user inputs various data to help calculate the ideal tyre pressure for both the front and the rear wheel. While riding these wheels in the south of France recently we ran through the process, selecting our comfort level, and inputting the forecasted weather along with other data such as rider weight and wheel specifications. Based on this data the app produces a pressure recommendation.
We inflated our tyres accordingly and were impressed with how reliable it was, the tyres rode well, with adequate grip and good comfort levels. The app is free to all, so there’s no stopping some experimentation with your current wheel setup should you so wish.
So, what about the details?
The rim on Mavic’s new Allroad Elite Road+ wheelset offers up a whopping 25mm of internal width. This is a step up from the 22mm specced on the rest of the Allroad range and is a measure to cater for the larger possible tyre volumes.
Allroad wheel pricing
Allroad Po UST 700c - £859 (including tyre)
Allroad Elite UST 700c - £659 (including tyre)
Allroad Elite Road+ 650b - £629
Allroad UST 700c - £225 (including tyre)
It is also UST-certified meaning that going tubeless - for reduced risk of punctures - is easy and safe. Mavic also employs their ISM4D rim machining technique, a process specific to the brand and much coveted in the industry. The machining ensures rim thickness is increased where the spokes join the rim, for reinforcement, and decreased everywhere else to marginally save on weight. It is this machining that give the Mavic rims their notably wavy appearance.
The hubs employ Mavic’s tried and tested Instant Drive 360 technology, featured across the rest of the Allroad range and in some of the highest end carbon wheels Mavic produce. The ID360 ratchet system allows just nine degrees of dead space between engagement, converted to real world feel - that’s lightning fast transmission of power from pedal to wheel.
All of the Allroad hubs are easily adaptable between quick release and thru axle too (with adapters sold separately) so no matter your setup; the wheels will be compatible. One thing of note, going forward, all hubs will be centre-lock disc comptable only, a feature worth factoring in to any purchasing decision.
Connecting the hub to the rim in this instance is a set of standard steel spokes; when questioned on why the Road+ wheels do not feature the Zicral (7075 aluminium) spokes of the 700c Allroad Pro wheels, Brunand said the steel spokes ensure enough vertical compliance is maintained in the wheel; the aluminium spokes would make the smaller diameter wheel just too stiff to ride.
Mavic have long been champions of what they call WST, or a wheel-tyre system - the process of combining both tyre and wheel in one package. While all 700c options are available with three selections of tyre, the widest - the 40c - was our favourite. The increased volume gives great confidence when on loose terrain, and the somewhat conservative looking tread pattern provides ample grip.
When mounted correctly the front tyre appears backward but I am reassured by Brunand that this is deliberate, the reasoning behind the orientation is all about water evacuation, most importantly during cornering for the front tyre and in straight line acceleration for the rear, and when thinking on this it seems obvious. One wonders how many wet weather crashes I could have avoided had I mounted my front tyre in reverse.
When pushed for Mavic’s tyre offerings for the new 650b platform, however, Brunand regretfully informs they have nothing to market just yet, but that developments in the future have not been ruled out.
The extended Allroad wheel range consists of three levels to suit every price point, all wheels share the ID360 hubs and a wide 22mm internal rim diameter though the standard Allroad UST misses out on the ISM4D rim machining in favour of a slightly more cost effective rim.
Both the Allroad Elite and the Allroad Pro offer the upgraded rim with fore drilling - a stronger and more secure spoke junction that also aids the tubeless compatibility of the rim. The Allroad Pro uses premium Zicral spokes over the Elite’s steel bladed option; the Zicral spokes are both lighter and stiffer for improved wheel dynamics.
The new Mavic Allroad Road+ wheels will be available from this July, with all other options available now.