click any photo to view gallery
Some time ago I was lured into a conversation about carbon clincher wheelsets. Having spent time on the ENVE SES 3.4, which we refer to as the Moka Parlour Ascent wheelset, I was coming around to the idea. I'm primarily over my fear of heat-induced failure, partly because I don't descend much and partly because I feel the research has been done to get it right, at least with the top brands.
So when Mavic came out with the "first reliable carbon clincher" I was curious. I've long been a custom wheel kind of guy, eschewing the "wheel systems" and more recently "wheel-tire systems" for something I piece together on my own. But, what if I could really get something from a single box that had the performance to match my custom wheels with a much shorter turnaround and the durability Mavic is known for?
A few emails go out, a week goes by, and a set of Mavic's new Cosmic Cabrone 40c wheels are at my doorstep. Out of the box I gathered the usual bits: brake pads, skewers, and Mavic's proprietary tools. I tossed my wheels onto the scale: 672g front and 877g rear. That's within 4 grams of claimed weight, so we're right on.
Mavic's 40c include myriad different technologies, they're a full-on alphabet soup. TGMax, FTS-L, FORE, QRM+, and MAXTAL. What does all this mean? Who cares. I'm much more worried about how the wheels perform than bragging about their technology. If you're curious, check here.
My first qualm came with the tires. The GripLink front and PowerLink rear tires are labeled as 23mm, mine measured a scant 22.4mm. I was assured by those inside Mavic the issue is being addressed. I did a handful of rides on the stock tires, and the narrow width was noticeable but not enough to warrant getting too upset. Regardless, I swapped to my Veloflex Corsa tires so I could have a better apples-to-apples with my ENVE wheels.
Now that I have the "right" tires mounted, what have I noticed? First, the 40c wheelset rides better than any carbon clincher wheelset has any business deserves. Only slightly stiffer vertically than a typical box-section wheels, it's hard to believe really. Laterally, there is plenty of stiffness to go around. I never noticed any brake pad rub during any level of sprint.
Braking is where oh-so-many carbon wheels really suffer, and while these wheels are better than most, you'll never confuse them with aluminum rims. I did have a bit of a squeal when first mounted, but a quick adjustment of the pads and that was eliminated. The provided yellow pads also left some residue when new, but quickly wore off and the yellowing was gone, 2-3 rides max.
I have yet to attempt to dodge anything in my path with these wheels mounted. Mavic is known for building wheel that will withstand anything, and I plan to put that to the test. Currently the wheels are just as true as when pulled from the box, but I'll be keeping an eye on that.
More miles to come from these, but initial thoughts are very positive. Wet weather, cold, gravel? Let's see what these things can handle.
photos and words by Brandon Elliott