Behind the scenes at Mavic

A glimpse into the R&D behind Mavic's new 29er wheels

By Vernon Felton

Back in April, Mavic announced that they were greatly expanding their 29er line–a good thing since they had just one wagon wheel in the line up for 2012 (the 1,755 gram C29ssmaxx). For 2013, Mavic will have three new 29er models that span the cost-performance spectrum from chi-chi racer fare (that’d be the Crossmax SLR 29er) to the I-can’t-even-afford-to-eat-Top Ramen budget model (the Crossride 29).

I won’t bore you with the details about weight, spokes and rim extrusions. Suffice to say, if you want to geek out on that minutia, check out this article right here.

Nope, today I thought it worth spending a few minutes exploring the thought process behind the new wheels. When I went to the launch, I was actually a bit skeptical–Mavic seemed more than a bit behind the ball on the whole 29er thing. Interestingly, I walked away impressed that they’d held off on issuing a comprehensive line up of 29er hoops because they clearly hadn’t spent the previous years eating cheese and ignoring everything outside the 26er purview. Instead, the protractor and pointy-headed folks were flogging brain cells while attempting to figure out how to make a lightweight 29er wheelset that was not only lightweight, but also held up to abuse and tracked worth a damn in the rough stuff.

The video below is worth clicking because it goes a long way towards showing the trade offs that engineers face when building the perfect wheel. Cut out a few spokes, ramp up the tension and you get a stiff and light wheel, but also a wheel that’s a bit unforgiving. Add spokes, lower tension and you get a more comfortable wheel, but at a greater weight…. I’m just skimming the surface here, but you get the idea: you gain one thing, you lose another. If you are a nerd for engineering or industrial design, you’ll dig this. Yes, there are subtitles and folks wearing yellow shoes (Mavic is French, so that kind of goes without saying), but it’s worth checking out, even for those who despise subtitles.

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Twenty-niner testing with Cannondale riders from Mavic on Vimeo.