Tech News May 8, 2009
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Mavic unveils its ultimate climbing wheel
R-Sys Ultimate debuts at Giro d'Italia
By James Huang in Cison di Valmarino, Italy
Mavic's new R-Sys Ultimate wheelset
is their most climbing-specific model to date
Photo ©: James Huang
Mavic will supply a limited number of sponsored riders at this year's
Giro d'Italia with its most climbing-specific wheel to date - the new
As the name suggests, the R-Sys Ultimate employs the same TraComp concept
as the original R-Sys with low-tension tubular carbon fibre spokes that
operate in both tension and compression for what Mavic claims is a stiffer,
lighter, and more responsive wheel.
The 'lighter' part of that equation was somewhat debatable before but
certainly not now as the R-Sys Ultimate is said to weigh just 950g for
the pair (410g front, 540g rear, without skewers). The shallow 22mm-deep
carbon tubular rims are just 230g each, both front and rear hub shells
are nearly 100 percent carbon fibre, and every spoke - not just half and
half as on the current R-Sys rear - is tubular carbon fibre at a paltry
In lieu of weight-adding mechanical connections, the entire structure
is co-moulded together so the only metallic bits left are the oversized
alloy axles, titanium freehub body, Mavic's familiar ratchet system, and
the cartridge bearings. Granted, this leaves no provision for at-home
truing or repair but unless something actually breaks, there is no reason
these should go out of true anyway.
According to Mavic product manager Maxim Brunard, the new R-Sys Ultimate
offers 18 percent lower inertia than the company's already-light Cosmic
Carbone Ultimate but also manages to deliver the same lateral stiffness
thanks in part to widely-spaced hub flanges.
The front hub shell is all carbon
Photo ©: James Huang
Durability issues highlighted by the original R-Sys have been addressed
with new nine-layer spokes augmented with four spirally wound outer layers
plus an extra pin inserted at the nipple end for additional shear strength.
Mavic claims impact resistance has gone up five-fold as a result and
torsional strength more than three-fold, bringing the once-fragile carbon
spokes more in-line with the bladed Zircal spokes used in its Ksyrium
range. Moreover, Mavic says the new wheel has also passed the UCI's stringent
- and highly unrealistic - impact test.
Either way, interested buyers shouldn't hold their breath. As of right
now, only 10 sets of these wheels are currently in service and all of
them are slated for the Liquigas, Ag2r and Silence-Lotto teams. Estimated
cost is also yet to be determined but based on the construction, we would
place it even a tad higher than the current Cosmic Carbon Ultimate, thus
putting them around the US$3,000 mark - or more than US$3 per gram.
Those kinds of numbers wlll be hard to justify to average consumers but
that hasn't limited sales of other wheel exotica like Lightweight and
Lew in the past. Pros such as Liquigas' Ivan Basso will only care about
the new wheels' improved performance, though, and we'll see over the next
few weeks just how much difference that will really make.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here