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First Ride: Mavic CXR 80 Aero Wheels

June 28, 2012
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In case you missed the first report of Mavic’s wheel launch, the French wheel company invited a gaggle of journos to their headquarters in Annecy, France to introduce their latest CXR 80 aero wheel (see the report: Mavic Wheel Intro). Although very similar to the current Cosmic Carbone 80 aero wheel, it is in fact a brand new wheel made special by virtue of it’s CX01 “aero strip” which is a simple plastic strip that fits into a special groove in the rim. The strip basically acts as an interface between the tire and rim to provide a quantifiable aero enhancement.
Not just a new wheel, the CXR also advances Mavic’s move into a complete wheel system: rim, strip and a specific Mavic branded tire.

Over 25 sets of Mavic wheels were mounted up on a pack of Canyon Aeroads. One cool part of the Mavic cosmetics are the “flash” reflective graphics that spring to life when hit with oncoming headlights (or camera flash). The rims measure out at 28mmm wide at their widest and 27mm wide at the tire well. Mavic engineers said they found a happy balance between the traditional sharp edge of the carbon fairing and the newer blunt edge trend popularized by ENVE.

There’s more newness to the CXR 80 wheels than just the aero plastic strip. You’ll also find new small diameter carbon hubs with narrower flanges that have rounder edges for more aero efficiency.

A day after he finished the week long Criterium Dauphine, Garmin-Barracuda rider David Millar took a day out of his Tour de France/Olympics training schedule to pull a group of journos around the lake of Aix Les Bains, France for two hours. When asked for his best rain riding advice before we headed out, David replied in a very straight-forward manner, “Avoid it!”

Despite a steady stream of rain both the night before and the morning of the ride, the clouds cleared for our departure out of the lakeside town of Aix Les Bains.

Things were going smoothly with the new wheels, the most immediate and noticeable feature being the giant wooshing sound created by the pack of aero wheels rolling up to speed. Yeah, going smoothly until we hit the first of three train tracks…

Then it was mayhem with bikes and bodies splayed across the road. Millar rode back shaking his head, “yeah, I knew something like that was going to happen.”

Once we got collected, repaired and swapped broken bikes, the ride was back on and when we got to one particularly long and slightly uphill straight stretch of road, Millar opened things up and the true benefits of the 80mm deep wheels came into play. They felt fast, but also collected a fair amount of wind force when passed by a semi-truck.

Less than an hour into the ride Mavic and the weather allowed us a brief respite with a small, sun drenched feed zone. However, just minutes after the rest stop (where many of us shed our rain gear) the clouds opened up and it started pouring.

Yeah, rain, something like this.

Even with the rain, the scenery rated still rated a 10. However, the carbon hoops’ wet weather braking performance shot straight down from a high (dry) level of around a 7-8 to a 4-5. You had to clench the brake lever tight to really slow/stop the bike.

At a retail price of $2799, the CXR 80 wheels are priced $100 over the standard Cosmic Carbone 80 wheels. External nipples on the bladed, double butted, stainless steel spokes (16F/20R) will make maintenance much easier. Claimed weights for the wheels: 2170 grams w/ tires and 1630 grams w/o tires. Retail price will be $2799 (includes brake pads, wheel bags and skewers. That’s about $100 more than the current Cosmic Carbone wheels that have a claimed weight of 2330 grams w/ tires.

When we asked Mavic about any new product info that would be a tad more relevant for everyday road riders, they said there will in fact be a lot of new product coming that will be introduced later this year at the Eurobike show – stay tuned.

For more info: Mavic Wheels.


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