The perfect wheel set – does it exist or is it just an urban legend? We tend to believe that finding a truly “perfect” wheel set will come down to the rider and the ride conditions at that moment. For example, for a day in the mountains you’ll want an extremely lite wheel set that handles well and brakes hard. Spending a day on the Queen K? Aero properties and cross-wind handling abilities are going to be more important than weight. This past Sunday we spent the morning in a charity group ride, which meant 25+ mph in a peloton with riders that were not 100% familiar with the area or each other. We alternated from riding flat out to panic braking at a moment’s notice, which is where the Mavic CXR60s really shined. They could help us lead out the group when we were out front and keep us under control when we needed to stop fast. But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, so let’s recap.
The CXR 60 C
Mavic isn’t out to sell you just a wheelset, they’re looking for you to purchase their entire wheel\tire system. The CXR system starts with a carbon fairing bonded to an aluminum rim. Going with an aluminum rim tends to mean two things – increased weight and incredible braking performance. The wheels measure in at 1986g (886g/1082g respectively). Comparatively, an all-carbon set of Zipp 404s weigh in at a claimed 1615g, and carbon Reynolds Aero 58s weigh in at a claimed 1580g. Now if we look at a set of FLO60s, which also use an aluminum rim bonded to carbon, they weigh in at 2049g.
Weight aside, these wheels have some serious stopping power. While we weren’t able to measure, we feel safe in saying that these are the best stopping wheels we have ever tested. Mavic’s Exalith braking surface lives up to the hype. These wheels’ stopping power will blow your mind. And in some situations, it’s actually too good. Therefore if you have someone riding behind you, keep in mind that you’ll likely stop much faster than they can. More than once we were almost run over by our training partners. Another thing to be aware of is that these wheels are loud when they brake. The surface is textured, so let’s just say you’ll know the brakes are working. It’s so loud that some of our riding partners actually thought we had a wheel issue when they heard it for the very first time.
But when you think of the CXR name, you’re not thinking about weight or braking, you are thinking about the CX01 Blades. The blades serve to eliminate the generation of turbulent air from the gap that forms between the lip of the brake track and the curve of the tire as it comes in to hook on the inside of the rim. The blades themselves are built from a solid plastic strip covered by flexible rubber and weigh in at 22g a piece. With the Blades are attached, the wheels have shown some credible aero results. As we mentioned in our First Ride article, Mavic brought in SlowTwitch to monitor the results of an aero shootout. At the end of the day, Mavic walked away claiming a 3.2 watt savings against their closest competitor (with a claimed 9-second improvement over 40km and 40 seconds over 112 miles).
Mavic ships the CXRs with their GripLink\PowerLink tires. Up front you find GripLink, intended to give you the most control possible. While out back, PowerLink is meant to help you put the power down. Both feature a dual compound construction, where the contact patch and sidewalls use different rubber compounds. GripLink utilizes a softer compound on the contact patch for control and PowerLink utilizes stiffer rubber. Both tires feature patterning on the sidewall meant to create a boundary layer to keep the laminar airflow around the wheel.
During our testing we found the tires to be excellent in dry conditions. We were able to corner hard and come out under full power. However, on our one wet ride, we suddenly started losing traction at around the 40-mile mark. We pulled over and found no oil, dirt, or debris that we could attribute to the sudden loss of control. However, we did find that the transition between rubber compounds (from the contact patch to the sidewall) is very aggressive on the CXRs. And that combined with road grime could have caused our issues. During the next month of testing we never again encountered the issue.
Following our First Ride, Cornelius, one of our AG readers, reached out regarding mounting Continental GP4000S versus the included rubber. While we never got a chance to ride the CXRs with the Conti tires, we did mount them and got some shots of them with and without the Blades attached. We measured a 23.5mm width with the Continentals versus a 22.5mm width with the Mavics. Without the Blades, the gap between the tires and wheels appears a bit larger than with the Mavic tires. With the Blades attached, the GP400s show the extra width and appear to balloon out a bit more than the Mavics. While we cannot guess what the aerodynamic effect is, we do believe there would be some negative effect as the wheel\tire combination does not have as clean of a profile as it does with the Mavics. By the way, we are unsure how running a different set of tires with the Blades effects the rideability and\or warranty on the wheels\Blades. If you are planning on riding this combination you may want to reach out to Mavic with any specific concerns.
From the first time we hit the roads on the CXRs, we quickly forgot about their weight. While a 400g difference versus their competitors is something we didn’t think would be easily ignored, after many rides with the CXRs we can say that it wasn’t a big deal. The wheels spun up effortlessly and we never felt like we were carrying extra weight around. We suspect this is due in no small part to Mavic’s hubs that helped eliminate friction and hide the weight.
Being that we are triathletes, the weight is also going to be less of a factor since we are not starting and stopping all that frequently. However, when we do stop, these wheels just cannot be beat. Any athletes riding a set of CXRs is going to slow down much closer to any turn-around point or hard turn–this is your new passing zone. To be honest, this was our favorite attribute of the wheels. Having such high confidence in your stopping power is a great feeling to have.
On the other hand, our least favorite attribute had to be the skewers. On a $2,700+ set of wheels you expect a lighter, aerodynamic skewer. Just take a look at Zipp and Reynolds to know what I mean. On the Mavics, you get an extremely bulky skewer that, while it works great and holds the wheels tight, is just not in the same league as these wheels. This is a small fix for Mavic but one we think will be noticed by any potential buyers.
As we mentioned at the start, a wheelset is specific to every rider’s needs. For riders spending all day in the mountains, or looking to conquer Ironman France or SavageMan, these are probably not the wheels for you. But for someone looking to conquer a flat or rolling course, be as aero as possible, and out stop the competition, the CXRs should be on your shortlist for any new wheel purchase.