I should say, from the outset, that Mavic make, in my view, some of the strongest, lightest and durable off-the-peg wheelsets you can buy.
However, I will confess to some confusion regarding the wide range of wheels on offer from the famous yellow brand from Annecy.
Close inspection of these offerings only reveals that Mavic are fond of hiding technology behind a myriad of acronyms and jargon. These are the range-topping Ksyrium SLR hoops with the new Exalith coating. In the weight stakes, they are only pipped by the SL and SLR from the R-SYS range; one manages the weight reduction with more carbon fibre spokes and a changed front hub, the other by adding on top of those tweaks a more sophisticated milled rim and a smattering of titanium.
The Ksyrium wheels are the work horses of the French manufacturer’s stable and offer a range of entry points from the base level Equipe to these dark grey, matte-finished offerings. The ride quality of the Ksyriums comes not only from the milled rims but more noticeably from the zircal aluminum alloy spokes. These bladed spokes are not to be considered as aerodynamic features but more a method of tuning the lateral stiffness and the ride quality.
The packaging is excellent. Out of the box I notice the tiny Mavic SCC logos on the tyres are perfectly alined with the identical logos on the rims.
Having performed a quick change of the pads in the bike to the Exalith-specific models shipped with the wheels, and slid on a new cassette, I slipped them into my standard steel road bike which always provides the base for any initial thoughts and opinions about new components.
Normally rolling on a custom made, DT Swiss set up that comes in at a real world weight of around 1930 grams (weighed with wheels tyre, cassette and quick releases all included), the Ksyrium SLR’s were 30 grams heavier. It seems that, in all likelihood, in spite of all the different construction methods, technologies and materials, the difference is in the tyre (front and rear specific here). Mavic rubber (210 grammes each) wraps the SLR rims, and the favoured tyre-du-jour on our everyday wheels is the superb Schwalbe Ultremo ZX (195 grammes each).
The first visual impression is mildly odd. From looking like a grimpeur’s spindly steel greyhound, our workaday steed seems to have been transformed into some kind of racy thoroughbred that might possibly catch the hare and eat it.
We’ll report back soon.