Mavic goes all-in on gravel with Allroad wheels, tires, and apparel
PERPIGNAN, France (VN) – Mavic first dipped its toe into the gravel/adventure market in 2015 with the introduction of wider Ksyrium Allroad wheels and tires. This spring the French brand further expands its Allroad line and will add additional products throughout 2018, committing to the burgeoning segment of what it likes to call “all-road” riding.
Known for its wheel-tire systems, Mavic has created a purpose-built gravel wheel line under the Allroad label. This spring it adds wheel sizes as well as tire widths — a diverse lineup for the variable terrain and bike types used in the expanding gravel genre.
Mavic brought a selection of journalists to the Pyrenees-Orientales for a first look at much of this new gear. We rode for two days from the outskirts of Perpignan, up to a mountain refuge near the peak of Le Canigou, then back to Perpignan via dirt, gravel roads, singletrack, pavement, and everything in between, joined by Mavic brand ambassadors Tim Johnson, Mike Cotty, and Kilian Bron. Along the 100-plus mile loop, we rode through vineyards and along twisting canals and irrigation ditches, up and over mountains and through rivers. We were guided by the staff of Caminade, a bespoke frame builder from a village outside of Perpignan. (Their knowledge of the interconnected trails and roads that weave through this part of the world is exceptional.) We were given ample opportunity to test the new gear on nearly every type of surface, wet and dry, fast and slow, from tame climbs to rowdy descents, and vice versa. Here’s what we learned.
Mavic has been designing wheel-tire systems for the road and mountain bike for several years. Now, it has taken this philosophy to its Allroad line. In total, there are four models, three price levels, two diameters, and three tires, all built around the principles of functionality and versatility. The top-of-the-line Allroad Pro UST offers a 22-millimeter wide rim profile (inner width), providing more volume for tires ranging from 28 to 45 millimeters. The rim features ISM4D machining, Mavic’s way of reducing the material between the spokes and providing a lighter rim while maintaining durability. The wheel is built with aluminum Zicral alloy spokes, fore drilled into the rim itself for a solid connection and easier tubeless compatibility — it creates a hollow chamber and negates the use of rim strips on these UST wheels. In the rear, the ID360 freewheel provides fast engagement, low friction, and all the needed axle compatibility, as does the front hub, which is convertible from 12-millimeter thru-axle to QR or 15-millimeter thru-axle. The $1,100 wheelset weighs a claimed 1,610 grams.
For $300 less, you can opt for the Allroad Elite UST wheelset, which only differs in that it is built with steel spokes rather than the Zicral aluminum of the Pro model. This also increases the weight by 110 grams. This is the only wheelset now available in a rim-brake version.
At this same price point is a 650b option, the Elite Road+, available in July. This 25-millimeter wide (inner) rim accepts 45-millimeter tires or above, providing the extra comfort, control, and dampening at the same outer diameter as a 700×30-millimeter system. The wheelset weighs in at a claimed 1,740 grams.
Finally, the base model Allroad UST wheelset sells for $300. No machining of the rims, steel spokes, but UST ready with all the axle compatibility front and back, weighing in at 1,890 grams.
For tires, Mavic introduces the Yksion Allroad XL 40-millimeter tire to expand the Allroad range, which already comprises 30 and 35-millimeter widths. (A new bronze sidewall version of the 35-millimeter width has been introduced.) The XL tire is more robust and the tread pattern is substantially more grooved than with the other models. While the 30- and 35-millimeter versions look like oversized road tires with siping on their shoulders, the XL is a fully fledged off-road tire, designed for rougher, rockier terrain. It has a smooth-center, V-shaped pattern for ample rolling efficiency on hardpack and pavement, and deep grooves on the edges for better water evacuation and extra grip, particularly in wet conditions. The pair is designed to be directionally mounted.
Our test bikes were equipped with the Allroad Pro UST wheels mounted with Yksion Allroad XL tires. It proved a fine combination. From ripping down descents where on other days you might be tempted to ride your mountain bike, to sustained paved climbs, to greasy, rocky singletrack, the tire was more than capable. Diving into water-saturated, muddy hairpins, the bike’s front end never wandered. The same could be said of highspeed tarmac sweepers. While spray wasn’t eliminated completely, the water was channeled over and down the front tire’s crown so you avoided drinking spray and muck. The tire felt confident, robust, and capable across the entire range of terrains and conditions we threw at it. Likewise, the wheels proved durable and capable after two days of hard riding — no tweaks necessary. Engagement was immediate. Acceleration, even with the weight of the big tires, was surprisingly good. In total, this was a stellar combination for this type of highly variable riding.
Mavic has also created the “My Mavic” app to help riders dial in their tire pressure for a given day’s riding conditions and terrain. Just answer a few questions — rider and bike weight, trail conditions, rim and tire widths, whether you’re looking for performance, comfort, or versatility, and so forth — and a front and rear tire pressure is delivered. For those new to this style of adventurous riding, or for those who just don’t know how low they can go, the app is a welcome educational tool for novice and advanced cyclists alike.
To set the tone of what the adventure/gravel/all-road genre should look like, Mavic has created a line of clothing that blends outdoor and urban fashion into its Allroad aesthetic. It includes a jersey, thermal long-sleeve jersey, insulated vest, and fitted baggy short.
The vest (or gilet in cycling parlance) is lightly insulated with Primaloft, offering a bit of extra protection against the elements. It easily packs into its own zippered pocket, which just happens to make it the size of the center pocket on either of the jerseys. It’s also reversible, featuring a bright orange side for low-light conditions, and a dark grey side for casual wear. The weather-resistant surface treatment effectively sheds water, mud spatter, and tire spray.
The short-sleeve jersey is made from Merino wool and blended with woven synthetic materials. The collared jersey is designed with a regular fit, with three snaps at the neck and raglan sleeves, giving riders a more casual look. Subtle hi-vis hits of color are stylish and functional, as is the taped chest pocket. Three pockets in the rear, in addition to a small zippered pocket, give this style-forward piece as much functionality as any jersey in your collection.
Similarly, the mid-weight, long-sleeve jersey is designed with both functionality and a new all-road aesthetic in mind. Perfect for cool, crisp rides, the soft Merino wool regulates body temperature and dries quickly. It features a regular fit — not too tight, nor too loose, for freedom of movement without the bulk. A snap-closure ergonomic collar prevents flapping, adds style, and can be used to keep the jersey from becoming loose while allowing you to regulate heat with the zipper. A large rear zip pocket, bonded chest pocket, and subtle reflective strips complete this versatile jersey.
Finally, in another step to set a new aesthetic for adventure/gravel/all-road riding, Mavic has introduced a fitted baggy short. The concept? Blend cycling with life. Built for the rigors of off-road riding, the durable shorts can also function as commuting or lifestyle apparel. In reality, think of it as a technical over-short in the spirit of MTB baggies. The subtle twist is that these have a tailored fit — these baggies aren’t baggy. A water-repellent fabric adds a second protective layer if you’re sloshing through mud puddles, and the mechanical stretch means you won’t even notice you’re wearing them.
All U.S. prices for apparel are yet to be determined.
During our two-day excursion into the Pyrenees, we experienced a multitude of weather and trail conditions, as well as temperatures. The four pieces worked seamlessly together — which speaks both to the quality of the design of each individual piece as well as the overall design of the line as a whole. The packability meant you never had to overstuff any jersey pockets when you shed layers, nor were you left sweating or soggy from a lack of breathability of any of the pieces. Because of the nature of Merino wool, we didn’t smell after two long days in the saddle. In fact, after our first day of riding, many of us kept wearing some of the gear, not only because it was so comfortable, but because it had the look and feel of casual, off-the-bike clothing. Mavic has established a new aesthetic with its Allroad line.
And it doesn’t end there. In September, Mavic will introduce its Allroad Pro shoe. From the prototypes being worn by the brand ambassadors and staff that joined us, the shoe looks equally well crafted and designed as the aforementioned apparel. We’re excited to test it when it becomes available.
Built with Matryx fabric, a patented polyamide material woven with Kevlar yarns (said to stretch less than three percent), Mavic claims the material is five times more abrasion resistant than other synthetic materials and 10 times more so than knit shoe fabrics. The material provides for an extremely light and minimalist design. Reflective yarns in the Matryx add low-light visibility. Mavic claims the entire one-piece Matryx upper weighs just 16 grams, with a total weight of 280 grams per shoe. Mavic also notes that they have a three-year exclusive partnership with the manufacturer, meaning no other cycling shoe company in the world will be able to use the fabric in its shoes until 2022. The Energy Carbon Comp Allroad outsole offers a less rigid platform for the gravel world, with lower rubber profile for ease of walking. A softer rubber compound also provides anti-slip traction when off the bike.