Karlee the Mavic rep called the other day and asked if I wanted to see the new R-SYS wheelset, the new top-of-the-line all-around wheels from Mavic. These puppies are slotted to come in above last year’s $1200 Ksyrium ES wheelset (ya know, the black wheels with a
single red spoke). Yeah, bring’em.
When she shows up, she whips out the wheels and asks me if I want to try ‘em out. She even tarted’em up with my favourite Michelins. Of course, I’ll take them for a gentle twirl. I’ll be right back…
I slip the wheels onto my filthy Davidson pave-basher and did a quick circuit of the steep and tortured portions of Blanchard and Lenora and a little brick-pounding slamdance through the Pike Place Market.
A silly riding test? Au contraire!
Blanchard and Lenora are at least 10% grade maybe as much as 15%, and I launched full-sprint up. The big deal about the R-SYS is that they are supposed to be laterally stiff. My impression? They are stiffer than my Bontrager Race Lites, but they don’t beat my high-flanged, 36-spoke track wheels for laterally stiff. These R-SYS are stiff compared to other wheelsets in their light weight class; they wouldn’t win if weight wasn’t a factor.
A quick turn and run down those same streets revealed a unexpectedly smooth ride coming down. I am well familiar with how Lenora feels going down over the broken pavement…because it’s my route to work and being 20 minutes late to work everyday (35min today, bitch!) encourages me to let it rip on the way in.
Then I dove into the Pike Place Market. I thought I might jump up and down off the sidewalks there, but the market is so busy that there’s no clear space on the sidewalk to land. Instead, I used tourists like slalom poles and knifed my way through the crowds and cars. I found the wheels to be vertically compliant and precise in turning.
The R-SYS use 4mm tubular, hollow carbon spokes in front and rear non-drive-side positions, with Zircal alloy spokes from the Ksyrium on the drive-side. The tubular carbon spokes provide resistance to compressive loads on the spoke. You can read elsewhere about what’s so grand about that; I’m not really interested in breaking down the physics of all that. However, I will say that the compression spoke is certainly not a new idea…in fact compression spokes have existed for millennia. This just happens to be a highly engineered re-invention of…well, of the wheel.
Interesting details I noticed: since the 4mm round spokes won’t accept a normal magnet, there is a built-in magnetic for your cyclo-computer. It’s a ring of high-power magnetic material that slides on the spoke on the left side of the front wheel and is held in place by two plastic clips. I don’t see how you can remove the magnet without removing the spoke…so if you have a computer that counts off the rear wheel, I guess you’re screwed. The “nipples” seem to tighten in the same way that the Ksyrium SL and ES do, but R-SYS ones are anodized acid yellow as are the hub-side anchors for the carbon spokes. The rims and hub shells are polished silver. Unlike the ES, there is no carbon used in the hub shells.
I ordered 3 sets of these $1400 wheels, one for the demo program. In about 2-3 weeks you can come down and test these wheels for yourself. But I warn ya, I ain’t so trusting as Karlee. You wanna take these wheels for a spin, as collateral I want your driver’s license, a credit card, and if she’s of age, your daughter. I’ll be gentle if you are.