Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE
Like many industries the technologies and flavors of cycling are ever-evolving. If you follow cycling and cycling equipment even in the slightest then you're no stranger to the concept of trickle-down. New technologies are constantly being introduced and thus rendering the once top-tier products to second-tier status. Such is the case with the Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLE wheelset. Just a couple years ago, this wheel (minus a few key features, plus a lot of dollars) would have been at the top end of the Cosmic lineup, the latest in a long succession of Cosmic Carbone products that have been among the winningest single line of wheels ever. Now, for 2013 it sits just below the Cosmic Carbone SLR in the Mavic line.
So, the natural first question is, what are the differences between the SLR and the SLE and why such a significant difference in price? Let's first start with what these two wheels share: The SLR and the SLE wheels have the same rim structure - Mavic's proprietary Maxtal aluminum rims with the Carbone carbon fiber fairing mated to it, to provide the 52mm depth for aerodynamics while having the durability and reliability of an aluminum rim. Also, like the SLR the SLE rim has Mavic's exclusive Exalith braking surface, which greatly improves braking performance in all weather conditions and greatly prolongs rim life. The hub internals on the two wheels are the same as well, using Mavic's fully adjustable and serviceable sealed cartridge bearings.
The only difference between the SLR and the SLE wheels are the spokes. The SLE uses the time-tested and easily serviceable bladed steel spokes in place of the SLR's R2R integrated carbon fiber spoke system. There are advantages and disadvantages to the more traditional steel spokes. The most immediately noticeable difference is the weight, which increases marginally versus the lighter carbon spokes on the SLR. Chances are, though, if you're looking at using a wheel in the Cosmic lineup, you're more interested in speed on flat and rolling courses than you are in counting grams. In this case, the addition of a little weight isn't the worst thing in the world.
The steel spokes of the SLE offer a more easily serviceable wheel. While the carbon spokes of the SLR can be repaired if the worst should happen, this is a procedure that must be handled by Mavic in one of their facilities. The spokes of the SLE, by comparison, can be replaced by any competent bicycle mechanic with the appropriate tools. The difference in spoke material also gives the SLE wheels a feeling distinctly different from the floaty, smooth ride of the SLR. The SLE wheels have more road feedback than their carbon-spoked brethren - they feel more like a traditional wheel because they ARE more like a traditional wheel. For some, this increased level of feedback may be good, for some it may not be, but it's a difference worth nothing. Like all Cosmic Carbone wheels, the SLE excels at high speeds - the mass and aerodynamic properties of the rims take over at speeds above 20mph where the wheels seem to carry speed and react immediately to accelerations. These are wheels for powerful flat-landers and rouleurs who want the performance of the Cosmic Carbone SLR, but time-tested ride quality and durability of classic steel spokes, and who don't mind paying a small weight penalty for this increase in serviceability.
The 2013 Cosmic Carbone SLR wheelset has the singular dark grey Exalith brake surface mated to a black carbon fairing. This has classic white Cosmic decals. The SLE come in either HG or Campy freehubs that can easily be swapped. Mavic supplies this wheelset as a complete system, which includes their front and rear-specific Yksion clincher tires already mounted on the rims. The SLR also come with Mavic's quick release skewers, hub tools and 2 pair of the required Exalith brake pads.
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