Howling Wagon Wheels that Look Sexy Cool

Mavic is a company known for doing it differently, just to be different. They launch products with hard-to-pronounce, curious names and promoted their latest technology as a modern wagon wheel.

“They’re French, waddya expect!,” is a bike shop refrain. So it’s quite creative and very French to market brake howl as a feature and that’s what they’ve done with their new R-Sys SLRs. While the rest of the Cross industry focuses on reducing brake howl and fork shudder, Mavic has doubled-down on rims that sound like a monster effects real from Jurassic Park.

Sounds Like

I’ve talked to product mangers that slump on the bike and sigh when you mention how their fork shudders like Charlie Sheen in rehab. Then release a fix next season.

Marketing from the opposite position, Mavic ships the R-Sys SLR with a surface developed for Formula 1 and developed-for-them, Swisstop brake pads. I’ve spent about 2 hours on the R-Sys; with the Special FMBs and the wheels are covered in green dust. They howl so loudly that joggers on the bike path turn and pull their headphones off their heads, in a flight-or-fight-or-freeze response.

Good thing I train mostly alone, cause the sound is worse than a road bike with disc brakes on a team ride. You’d never hear the end of it from the wheels, or your Bros asking you, “WTF was going on with your setup?!!” The howl is supposed to lessen after a few 100km and the tone changes.

I know why Mavic released these, it’s because they’re like a sexy model with a gap-toothed smile and squeaky voice. They look smoking hot! Stealthy and sleek too, like they’d roll down a runway with Karl Lagerfeld.

These wheels are the most Rock ‘n Roll thing Mavic has ever done.

Exalith Sexy, Karl Lagerfeld Sexy Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Curious about the surface treatment named Exalith, I asked the Google and it returned a review from thewashingmachinepost and the Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation process developed by Keronite. The process is a high-tech contrast to the hand-sewn, old-school tires Molly glued onto the wheels.

keronite, however, is rocket science. unlike anodising, keronite is not a deposited coating. it is grown from the parent metal, in this case, aluminium. technically, it is a peo; plasma electrolytic oxidation. the process was developed for the 1960s space programme to perpetrate lightweight, strong and corrosion resistant components for space travel and satellites. the keronite process can make the surface of soft metals much harder and more wear resistant than steel or glass; a defect-free layer of dense, ceramic material that sticks hard to the base metal, four times harder than hard anodising and up to seven times more wear resistant.

A ride to the shop, scaring joggers on the bike path, and bombing the single track near Hugga HQ, is ok for an initial test. This weekend, I’m racing the R-Sys SLRS. I can say now, that the FMB stick-to-the-ground effect I noticed was enhanced by these high-tech “wagon” wheels. These maybe the perfect Cross wheels.

A Stylish Fall Commute


Brenda rides her bike to work in downtown Seattle as a stylist and looks quite stylish herself.

Meanwhile, Leon overhauled his headset on the bike path.

These Tires are Special So Special

These tubular Cross tires are special. +Molly Cameron Special Edition FMBs and the, “best Cross tires I’ve ridden.” Why? Check this G+ thread from earlier today with +Chandler Snyder and +Geoff Williams. I’ll summarize it:

The cotton sidewall is extra supple with latex tubes inside. The tread is soft and pliable so it sticks to the ground and follows it better than other tires because the casing isn’t pushing and pulling the tread around.

I use lots of body english and the tires tracked true to where I pointed the bike. Other tubulars, especially at low pressures, squish around and can get bouncy on tight corners. I notice how well these tires stuck in mud tracks I was following or wanted to get out of and into a better line.

The initial “wow” happened when I arrived on the single track near Hugga HQ. Later, I was intrigued to learn that only 3 people work at FMB and everything is hand sewn.

I’ll post more about the tires after I race them. Also, as I said on Twitter earlier today.

Previously dismissed Mavic’s R-SYS as some weird French wagon wheel thing. Revisiting that opinion after riding them on dirt with FMBs.

Hot Coffee for Your Commute



Just as important as my bicycle to my morning commute, is my travel mug full of coffee.

with this image

fmb bitcghes

Agreed and that’s a Biologic Stainless Vacuum thermos. It fits bottles cages. Warning, that thermos works so well, I burned the F out of my with it once. Poured the coffee in and took a sip hours later and immediately regretted it. Pop the lid for a few minutes to let the coffee cool.

Sidi Surgery to Replace Cleats

It takes 3, maybe 4 years, for cleats to fuse into the Sidi cleat receptacle plates. When that happens, no matter how careful you are, you’ll strip the threads of the screw heads. The infographic explains what happens, which is a matter for material scientists to solve, while shop mechanics provide the fix.

These grainy photos were shot in a garage and are of a process that’s not pretty and seldom seen. Mark V was in a good mood, so he let the iPhone camera near him while performing the extraction

Note: seeing a frame get straightened or a seized post removed from a seat tube is even uglier.

The process is simple:

  1. Dremel a slot in the cleat/screw
  2. Use a large screwdriver to unscrew it
  3. Clean, lube the plate, and replace the cleats with new ones

Dremel cuts a slot

Medieval methods

A few seasons of Cross and the cleat on the right shoe required additional, medieval methods. The huge crescent wrench attached to the screwdriver gave Mark more leverage. Blame the goose poop on that one. Racing along the shoreline of City parks that waterfowl frequent means you’ve got poop-imbued mud. Combine that with sweat, tears, plus other bodily fluids. and that’s one toxic, cleat-corroding substance.

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