There are few component manufacturers with a more storied history in pro cycling than Mavic, whose yellow logo is inextricably linked to races like the Tour de France. Its designs are at times incredibly innovative, at others bizarrely conservative. Mavic isn’t one to be left behind though, so like every other wheel maker on the planet it’s facing up to the demand for disc brakes on the road.
Highs: Weight, stiffness, looks
Lows: Narrow rims, skinny rubber, proprietary everything
The original Ksyrium set the trend for factory built wheelsets and was arguably responsible for the death (or at least the anaesthetising) of the handbuilt wheel market. The current Elite variant is a benchmark for wheel upgrades, offering a combination of light weight, durability and stiffness rarely equalled. In price and construction, the Ksyrium Pro Disc is an analogue to the Elite’s big brother, the lighter and more expensive SLS.
For many years a boxy, squared-off design, this latest Ksyrium’s rim profile is smoothly sculpted using the ‘4D’ machining technique we first saw on the Ksyrium 125 special edition wheels released in 2014. As well as looking good, it’s got to be an improvement on the old design’s blocky aerodynamics.
What hasn’t changed is the width – at just 19.5mm wide, the Ksyriums are narrow by modern standards, and they don’t get the best out of the 25mm-plus rubber most people fit to their disc road bikes. Mavic supplies its own fairly decent Yksions with the wheels incidentally, both of which measured up noticeably narrower than their nominal 25mm width when mounted.
The wheels are constructed using Mavic’s proprietary system of nipples threaded into the rim, which does away with the need for spoke holes in the rim bed, and hence the need for rim tape. The hubs rolls on decent sized bearings while the spokes themselves (20 front and rear) are made from Zicral, Mavic’s aluminium alloy; it’s their large cross section that helps create the classic Ksyrium feel: ultra stiff, and fairly firm with it.
Our wheels were evenly tensioned and straight, weighing a total of just 1524g in a Centerlock hub configuration (plus 127g for skewers). That’s respectably light, and it shows; they’re a rewarding ride when you feel like pushing, offering snappy, instantaneous acceleration and a lively all-round feel. Just don’t expect to be cossetted – this is a wheelset for staying in touch with the road surface, not being shielded from it, and as such it’s not the best choice for lighter riders.
In all, the Ksyriums offer good looks, robust build quality and an exciting ride, along with a slightly puzzling spec and Mavic’s usual heavy reliance on proprietary parts that will be special-order items at your local bike shop. If you’re looking for a racy, road-focused low-profile wheelset and you favour stiffness over comfort, they’re worth a look.