Actively testing Mavic's growing trail and endure-style apparel in France.

By Seb Kemp

Mavic, known mostly for their wheels, are expanding their range of goods, particularly in the clothing and helmet world.

Mavic already has a big range of clothes so let's break it down for convenience.

The Stratos range is Mavic's most high-tech apparel line, featuring every bell and whistle they could come up with. The Notch range is designed more towards the all-mountain and trail segment; some of the technologies from the Stratos range trickle down into the Notch products, but the principle properties are towards fit and performance. The Redrock range is the versatile and most affordable of the Mavic apparel lines.

We were brought to Peillon, France to spend two days racing Enduro for a scaled down Trans-Provence and to test out the Notch shorts, jersey and helmet, as well as the refined Alpine XL shoe.

The Mavic Notch jersey is loosely cut with lightweight fabrics that allow plenty of breathability. Designed for spring and summer use, the perforated material is something that you are more likely to see on football jerseys than mountain bike jerseys, typically.

The elasticated cuffs allow the sleeves to be pulled up and held on the forearm for riders wanting a bit more exposure.

Style wise, this looks more LA Galaxy than some other brands offerings. The V-neck, athletic but loose cut, and graphics will suit some people's tastes. Others perhaps not. The jersey comes in white/black, yellow/black, and all black, keeping with the Mavic brand identity. If you like these colours, you have to be stoked.

Keeping with the Enduro/all-mountain focus of the range, the Mavic Notch shorts have been optimized for use with kneepads. The cut and length was carefully configured so that the shorts don't bunch up above the pads (leaving the hideous 'gorby gap'), they don't hook under the pads, often hampering knee movement, and they don't stick to the velcro straps of kneepads. In two days riding, including pedaling up and over hill and dale, I never found the shorts/kneepad issue to be a problem. Well done, Mavic.

The shorts feature dual fabrics – a lighter one for the front panels and a slightly heavier, more abrasive resistant, one for the rear.

There are two front pockets (one featuring a bulky zipper) and a zipped rear pocket. There is a large clasp and belt loops to hold the short. As there is no internal form of waist cinch, if you find the shorts a little big at the waist you'll have to use a belt, which I personally try to avoid. Fortunately, the shorts fitted me well, but be careful to find the right size if you try the Notch shorts.

The Mavic Notch helmet is all new. It is well ventilated, features a solid visor, and is a little deeper than traditional cross-country helmets. It also meets both European and US helmet-safety standards.

The helmet shell comes in three sizes (S/M/L) and has a very lightweight and minimal retention system – the Ergo Hold SI. I found I had to adjust the depth setting of the retention system a lot until I found the most comfortable and secure fitment. Other riders loved the fit and retention. I personally think there are better systems out there, but the shape of each head is unique, so it's best to try as many as you can to find the best fit for your own melon.

The pads feature multi-density, microbial (Jerome Clementz referred to this as "doesn't stink material") fabric, which did feel comfortable. I can't comment on the "dripping-forehead-sweat" mopping abilities of the pads because it was so cold that it snowed the days we rode. Yes, Mediterranean, bikini beaches, south coast France.

The visor, although removable, is in a fixed position, something that I wasn't too keen on. In the helmet's most comfortable position (for me), my vision was slightly obscured. Usually a quick tweak of the visor would solve this, but as I was unable to do so, I had to go back to altering the depth setting of the retention system.

The helmet is light (320 grams) when compared with a TLD A1 at 340g, POC Trabec at 380g, and Bell Super at 390g. This is mostly due to the lightweight retention system, but I have felt better, deeper coverage from other helmets.

The Alpine XL has been out for a year and half now, but it is still being refined and improved. With Mavic's design headquarters being in Annecy, France and most of their top riders residing in France, constant feedback and communication between the riders and engineers is possible. Mavic support some of the very best and most discerning of racers. Jerome Clementz, Anne Caroline Chausson and Fabien Barel are renowned for their astute and intelligent assessment of products and technology. Also, Mavic has 650 close-proximity testers on file; riders they can flow product to for field testing and feedback. This means products are validated in the laboratory and on the trails.

Once a product is finalized, produced, and sent out to the shop floor doesn't mark the end of it's development cycle – not for Mavic anyway. The Alpine XL was a product that testers and designers found to be of a high standard, but still not perfect. Which is why Mavic have refined the shoe, addressing tiny issues that were discovered in the field.

1. Good grip is essential for an Enduro-oriented shoe. There is often plenty of hike-a-bike in Enduro races and all-mountain rides, so a compromise between rigidity, grip, and durability of the outsole is required. Mavic found the soft rubber on previous models was wearing out fast, so they changed the composition of the rubber in the front of the shoe under the toe and cleat box. Now the shoe features a Contragrip rubber outsole with a "trail-tested lug pattern."

2. The size of the toecap was increased, creating more protection and increasing the shoe's durability.

3. The fit was improved with the inclusion of a dual-density orthopedic liner. The micro- something or other insole also "keeps the stink away" as Jerome Clementz told us.

4. The mid-ankle height perforated neoprene cuff provides protection as well as keeping dirt, grit, and brown pow out of your socks. This has been cut to give more support and protection than traditional shoes provide. I wish more shoes would use an ankle cuff. Fabulous stuff.

5. The side panels of the shoe have been changed to increase the wear resistance on the parts of the shoe that come into contact with spinning crankarms. Stitches have been hidden to reduce wear, and the Velcro strap and cover (which hides the Quick Lace system) has been trimmed.

These shoes seem to be excellent. For someone looking for great all round shoes that provide protection, comfort, and stability, while not being excessively heavy or flexible like other "casual" clipless shoes, these have to be high on your shopping list.