Mavic Ksyrium Elite 2015 wheelset - review - Road Cycling UK

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Mavic Ksyrium Elite 2015 wheelset – review

Mavic have made quite a few tweaks from the previous design to make the £500 Ksyrium Elites. But have they kept the quality we've come to expect?

Among high-end wheel companies, Mavic are somewhat of a rarity. That is, not only do they focus on the top end of the market with wheels like the Cosmic Carbone Ultimates, they also specialise in entry-level wheelsets like the widely specced Aksiums. 

And they offer quality at both ends too, not just throwing a load of cheap wheels out there for the sake of it; everything Mavic produce is comparable with the contenders in its respective class. All of which brings us to the new Ksyrium Elites.

Superficially, the first thing you’ve likely noticed is that these come with red hubs and spoke nipples. Except, of course, when they don’t. And what I mean by that is that you have three choices of hub/nipple colour, either the red we have here, and equally shiny electric blue or a classic black.

If you have a red or a blue bike, or fancy something a little different, the first two might appeal, but if old school cool is what you’re after, the classic look will suit just fine. It’s far from a deal breaker, but it is always nice to have options.

Mavic offer quality throughout their wheel line-up, including these Ksyrium Elites

Outside of the aesthetics, Mavic have widened the rims on the new Ksyriums, upping internal width by 2mm to 17mm. What this means is greater comfort.

Widening the rim means the bead of the tyre is opened up allowing for a greater volume of air in the tyre. That larger volume of air (Mavic say these hold 18 percent more than their stablemates) allows you to run the tyres at lower pressures without the worry of bottoming the wheel out when you hit a bump, making for a more comfortable ride.

Mavic actually claim you can run these at 20psi lower pressure and maintain the same rolling resistance, or, at the same pressure get a 13 per cent increase in rolling resistance. While those claims are difficult to test, the other point – that a wider rim decreases the chance of pinch flats – is certainly true, and thankfully received.

Impressively, that increase in rim width doesn’t come with a huge increase in wheel weight. Mavic claim 1,520g for a set of Ksyrium Elite S wheels, and the new Ksyrium Elites weighed in on our scales at 1,608g, noticeably above their claimed 1,550g.

The French company are also continuing their recent trend of supplying the wheels as wheel/tyre systems, so with these you get two inner tubes as well as a set of 25mm Yksion Pro tyres (Griplink for the front and Powerlink for the back) and the whole system weighs in at 2,204g.

On the subject of the tyres, they’re decent rather than high performance, and although the Kevlar bead and 127tpi casing provide a decent level of puncture protection, if you’re main aim is flat prevention you’ll want to find something a little more dedicated.

Of course, they are included in the price, so you’re effectively getting a free set of tyres which isn’t to be sniffed at.

Mavic offer a choice of red or electric blue for the hub and spoke nipples, alongside classic black for traditionalists

Part of the reason Mavic have been able to keep the weight down is what they’re calling the ISM 4D rim shape. It stands for Inter Spoke Milling 4 Dimensions, a Mavic patented technique, which reduces the weight of the rim and lowers inertia without compromising on strength and durability.

Mavic also say the rim shape improves aerodynamics, but it’s also worth remembering, with such a shallow rim, aero gains will be marginal, so don’t go out for a ride on these and expect a 3kph improvement in riding speed. Having said that, marginal gains are marginal gains, and even a small increase in aerodynamics will pay off over the course of a four-hour ride.

And ultimately all of the above translate into a really nice ride. It’s always difficult with wheels to figure out exactly which of the manufacturer’s claims really make a difference, but in all honestly as long as a wheel rides well it very rarely matters too much.

At £500 these are well worth the money to add a little more quality to bike and they’ll provide a really nice balance between performance and durability.

I’ve ridden their predecessors – the Ksyrium Elite S wheelset – a lot on various bikes over the last few years, and the added ability with these to run them at lower pressures really smooths out the ride especially if you live somewhere the road surfaces aren’t brilliant.

General ride quality is good, and they accelerate nicely suggesting what Mavic says about the low 405g rim weight definitely makes a difference. They climb well too, and are tensioned very nicely so there’s no flex from the wheel even when out of the saddle.

In the hubs you’ll find the same QRM+ bearings as in the £2,000 Cosmic Carbone Ultimates which is another of the great things about Mavic wheels – there are plenty of trickle down technologies in the lower end wheels. Consequently they roll as well as anything Mavic have to offer.

Conclusion

Performance-wise, these are very close to the Elite S, but if comfort is high up on your list of wants, the extra width will let you run these at lower pressures without the increased risk of pinch flats.

But don’t let that concession to comfort fool you – these are definitely equal to the Elite S when it comes to rolling quality too.

Mavic have widened the rims on the new Ksyriums, upping internal width by 2mm to 17mm.

These are basically an upgrade wheelset, the sort of rims you’d buy to replace the OEM or basic level wheels that came if you bought an off-the-peg bike. Most bikes, even those between £2,000-£3,000 are downspecced when it comes to wheels, because it helps the manufacturer keep the price down, and wheel quality is something you’ll notice makes a big difference.

At £500 these are well worth the money to add a little more quality to bike and they’ll provide a really nice balance between performance and durability.

Pros

– Well priced, very nice ride quality for your money
– Wider rims offer the ability to run tyres at lower pressure and increase comfort
– Trickle down tech means the bearings in the hubs are top notch

Cons

– Supplied tyres are solid rather than spectacular
– Not quite as light as claimed

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