French wheel masters, Mavic, and Italian big hitters, Fulcrum, a division of Campagnolo, account for a large sector of the cycle wheel market.
The relative merits of the various offerings of either company make for a popular topic of debate in the RCUK Forum, often among those considering an upgrade to the wheels supplied with their bike.
With this in mind, we called in the model year 2013 incarnation of Mavic’s Ksyrium Elite S, and Fulcrum’s new Racing Quattro.
Mavic’s offering boasts a weight saving over its previous incarnation, and now has a 700g front wheel and 900g rear. Quick releases add a further 130g.
Fulcrum’s offering, the new to the range Racing Quattro, includes a front wheel at 835g and a rear at 1020g. Quick releases add a further 120g.
The Mavic wheels cost £470; the Fulcrums, £270. An additional £200 saves you ‘only’ 245g. Note our use of inverted commas, however. In the world of wheels, weight is a critical factor. The reduction of revolving weight offers greater performance gains than savings from any other part of the bike. Let’s see what the testing brings.
Mavic throw into the mix their newly revised in-house tyres: the Powerlink rear and Griplink front; impressively tacky but durable rubber in our previous experience. The winter weather may well be harsh on the new rubber, but the tread pattern should help shed some moisture from the road surface.
Some technical specifications to whet the appetites of those so inclined.
The Ksyrium Elite S has a front rim 22mm deep, radially laced to the aluminium-bodied hub with 18 straight pull, double butted steel spokes. At the rear, a 25mm rim is laced with the same spokes, but 20 of them on this occasion. The driveside is radially laced; the non-driveside in a two-cross pattern.
Natty black and silver graphics with the distinctive yellow rectangle will suit the vast majority of machines. Logos on tyres and rims are aligned; a small detail, but one we think shows care and attention, and of which we approve.
Over in the Italian corner, a newly designed 35mm deep, aero profiled rim is used front and rear with 16 radial spokes up front. The rear wheel is laced with 21 spokes: radially on the non-driveside, and in a two-cross pattern on the driveside. The spokes are steel, double butted and bladed. They are slimmer than Mavic’s offerings, as are the hub bodies.
The smooth profile of the Quattro’s hubs make them look altogether more slippery than the crisp, sharply machined lines of the Ksyriums. Additionally, the Quattro’s rear hub has an oversized flange on the driveside, intended to improve torsional stiffness.
Naturally, both manufacturers have covered the wheels in all sorts of marketing speak and acronyms, but we can get stuck into those details in the review. In the meantime, we’ll begin the testing miles.