Mavic has finally joined the aerodynamic elite with its CXR 80 Tubular wheelset, but its uniquely integrated system comes with a catch.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
The Concept: Design a wheel-tire system that maximizes aerodynamics by unifying the tire and rim into a single wind-cheating shape.
The Execution: The Mavic CXR 80 wheel system uses 80mm deep, 27mm wide (at the braking track), carbon, aero profile rims on the front and rear wheels. The calling card of the CXR 80, though, is that the tire and rim were designed together to minimize drag. Rubber strips called CX01 blades unify the tire and rim by filling the transition area between the two, creating a super-smooth, low-drag shape on both the leading and trailing edges of the wheel. There are 16 aero-bladed spokes in the front and 20 in the back with aero flange hubs on both wheels. The wheelset without tires weighs 1,630 grams and is 2,170 grams with the Mavic CX01 blade and Yksion CXR Griplink front and Powerlink rear tubular tires installed.
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The Result: From an aerodynamics standpoint, Mavic has raised the bar with its integrated wheel-tire system, beating many top wheels in an open wind tunnel test paid for by Mavic. The crosswind stability of the CXR 80 is what you would have historically expected from wheels a fraction of the depth. Crosswind interference feels more typical to many popular 50–60mm deep aero rims. Combining aero performance and predictable stability is a big win for this wheelset.
It’s also quite light for its depth, and the wheels exhibit the lateral stiffness and power transmission expected from Mavic. Its own Yksion CXR tires cornered smoothly, filling the tester with confidence in tight corners.
Mavic has achieved a remarkable feat by blending the otherwise separate pieces of a wheel into an aerodynamically synergistic system while preserving ride quality, but the Yksion CXR tire comes with a catch. Mavic’s own rolling resistance test showed an increase of 10 watts compared to the Vittoria Corsa EVO CX tubular, and one conducted by Inside Triathlon also found a big rolling drag penalty. For a wheel that is totally dedicated to speed (and nails the mark in the wind tunnel), additional rolling resistance is no trifling issue. Although other tires can be used on the wheel, the CX01 blades are only compatible with Mavic’s tire.
The Verdict: An incredibly aerodynamic wheelset that works very well across a wide variety of conditions, Mavic may have created the most aero wheelset in the world. It could be a tire away, however, from clearly being the fastest combination on the road.
Mavic CXR 80, $2,800 (including tires), Mavic.com
Ian Buchanan and Dean Phillips are road and triathlon cycling specialists at Fit Werx.
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