Straightforward reviews and tests of cycling, travel and related products I use on the road

Mavic Kysirium wheels 2013

2013 Mavic Kysrium Elite S wheels, reviewed

Following a long lived “hate-hate” relationship with several sets of wheels from a leading Japanese component manufacturer I finally gave up and got hold of a set of Mavic Kysrium Elite S wheels.

It was the third time in as many weeks that I’d had a pair of the “ex-wheels” go sloppy on me – spokes coming lose. This time I had no inclination to crouch beside a busy main road in 34 decrees of dusty heat trying to re-tension things. In a frustrated lash I turned around and headed home, hoping that they wouldn’t collapse on me. My day was done.

The wheels were then added to a pile of similar branded wheels – which had all either befallen the same fate, or which had overly frustrated me with their oddball diameters, meaning many a blooded knuckle afternoon had been spent at the roadside, mainly because they were so harsh that impact punctures were a near daily occurrence.

I’ve never really been a fan of factory wheelsets – apart from mountain bike wheels that is, with discs, which are pretty much standard issue these days, and I dare say that the top end version of the “ex-wheels” would be a whole lot better but it was past the point by now.

Nice hubs and 3 crossed spokes with regular Mavic rims are my preferred choice of weapon, but given the lack of rims, hubs, spokes and builders, such a quirk is a toughie in these parts, hence the new factory set up.

Ok, so they were not my first Mavic factory wheels – about 10 years ago I had an old set of cheaper wheels – and they’re still rolling strong, all be it with chipped hubs. To me, at least, Mavic have always been the doyenne of wheel makers; reliable, bombproof, and Frenchly chic – so what about the new rollers?

The first thing to note is that the Kysrium wheels, in all of their top to bottom end incarnations, have been around for a long time now. They were serious game changer when they first appeared, real high-end no-nonsense yet well priced stunners, and little has changed in that department – apart from the fact that they have constantly evolved and improved.

Straight off they look great, and they weight in at a lightly nice 1500 grams for the pair. The rims are Mavic’s ISM mid section depth jobs – light and strong, very strong. Double butted radial spokes hold them to the aluminium hubs (Mavic have been a world leader in aluminium rim development for almost as long such things have been around). The wheels also come shod with Mavic’s own tyres – which I’ll look at in a separate review.

In use they run smooth and true, silky smooth, and very responsive, yet supple enough to handle a little rough and tumble. What may sound strange is that they sound great too, you can hear that rumbling hum, they feel like real racing wheels, a far cry form the tinny and grinding slugs I’d been using over the past few years.

There are a lot of rough and really holy, roads here, and I’m no racing snake, so impact punctures can be an issue. With the standard issue 23mm tyres on the wheels are sharp and very racing like reactive. In a month of riding I suffered just one impact puncture, when overtaking a lorry on a very bad road sector, so no surprises there.

Normally I ride 25mm tyres, both for comfort and for saving puncture time, so I swapped tyres a few days ago. Immediately I could feel the security of that extra 2mm, who say’s size doesn’t matter? The wheels have a whole different feel now; they are just as fast and responsive, yet that extra padding means that I can rattle along the dirt roads without constant fear of the dreaded “pssssss”.

The bottom line

Despite my reluctance to use factory wheels I have been pleasantly wooed by the Kysrium’s. They look great, have a very respectable weigh in, are smooth, robust, very responsive and seem like top notch durable racing beasts, which can handle just about anything you can throw at them – within reason.

Top marks to the men with the moustaches in Annecy.