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AIX LES BAINS, France (VN) — By its own admission, Mavic is fashionably late to the aero wheel party. They showed up a decade ago before the chips and dip had even been set out, fled in embarrassment, and have now returned to join a party that’s in full swing.
After helping to lead the charge towards aero wheels in the mid-90’s, the French wheel giant all but fell off the bandwagon, leaving its hallmark aluminum/carbon hybrid rims virtually unchanged for a decade and adding only climbing-oriented, lower-profile wheels to the range. Four years ago, though, internal research and development into wheel aerodynamics ramped back up.
The result is the new CXR80: Mavic’s purple suit, its splashy re-entry into the top of the aero wheel game. It may have stepped away from the top end of the aero world for nearly a decade, but Mavic has returned with a vengeance, claiming that its new 80mm aero tubulars beat the best available — faster than Zipp’s 808 Firecrest and faster than Hed’s Stinger 9.
Basics first: with a claimed weight of 1,630 grams without tires, and 2,170 grams with, the CXR80 is competitive with other wheels of similar depth — 60 grams lighter than the Hed Stinger 9 and about 90 grams heavier than Zipp’s 808 Firecrest.
The rims are fat, 28mm at their widest point, which falls about a third of the way down the rim from the brake track. The brake track itself is 27mm wide, necessitating narrow pads with certain brakes, just as most of today’s wide wheels do. Between the brake track and tire are grooves for a removable rubber strip designed to improve airflow.
The 16 stainless steel, double-butted, bladed spokes used in the front wheel are matched to 20 of the same on the rear. The hubs use a carbon shell, aluminum axles, and large, fully adjustable bearings. The flanges are thin and smooth, set wide in an effort to increase stiffness, and spoke nipples are external to aid in serviceability.
The wheels are available as tubulars only, with no immediate plans for a clincher version.