An upgraded wheelset can transform what initially appears to be a sluggish bike into a lively and involving machine.
A popular recommendation in the RCUK Forum is the Mavic Ksyrium range, and we’ve been testing the new, 2013 Ksyrium Elite S since November.
They sit in the middle of Mavic’s range of aluminium clinchers, and at £470 are more wallet-friendly than the Mavic Ksyrium SLR that accompanied us on the Dunwich Dynamo. The price includes tubes and the Yksion Pro Griplink (front) and Powerlink (rear), which at 190g are at the light end of the tyre market.
For a detailed description, including weight, spoke count and type, see our ‘first look’ article. Here, we’ll focus on the performance.
We tried the Elite S in the Test Rig, and they demonstrated their stiffness over the normal DT Swiss lightweight climbing wheels it normally rocks. The radially-laced front, and what Mavic call Isopulse lacing at the rear (essentially, a mild variation on a standard radial drive side, two-cross non-drive side configuration), delivered a firm ride.
The ride quality was due perhaps in no small part to the machined and milled rim which features techniques Mavic have previously reserved for wheels higher up their range. We were pleased to see this mid-range wheelset benefit from a considerable amount of trickle down technology: the Elite S has the same high specification cartridge bearings that feature on models at the top of the range, for example.
We were interested to learn more about the supplied Mavic Yksion Pro tyres, having noticed the addition of a tread from those supplied on prior testing assignments. We found the new tread added grip in corners, even providing a little flex which aided adhesion. (Mavic also make claims for improved air flow following 400 hours in the wind tunnel; an important gain at the bike’s leading edge).
In addition to miles in the Test Rig, we tried the Ksyrium Elite S in the Avanti Corsa DR4 and the Genesis Equilibrium Ti: two significantly different machines – the first an aero-profiled carbon race bike; the latter, a titanium all-rounder.
Their deployment in the Avanti Corsa saw the rear freehub accept an 11-speed Dura Ace cassette without complaint and then deliver a performance above what might be expected from the price to do justice to a machine with a price tag nudging £6,000 (the Corsa DR4 is supplied with Dura Ace C50 carbon-alloy clinchers).
We were impressed by the Genesis Equilibrium Ti in standard trim, but felt the supplied wheelset (Shimano 105 hubs, with 32 spokes front and rear, laced to a DT Swiss R450 rim) failed to ignite the performance of the bike. Enter the Ksyrium Elite S, and a significant step up in performance, upholding the reputation of previous incarnations of this wheel as an ideal upgrade from the hoops typically supplied by manufacturers of entry-level and mid-range bikes.
The Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheelset costs £470, including tyres, and is available in silver and black.