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.
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.