Our friends at Mavic certainly hit a homerun with the introduction of their Ksyrium wheelset in 2002. The trickle-down effect of technology came into play in 2003, as the $499 Ksyrium Elite wheelset brought many of the benefits of Mavic’s high-end technology to a mid-range price point. For 2004, the theme will remain the same – Ksyrium technology will make its way down to even lower priced wheels as their top end wheels largely go unchanged.
1. Ksyrium SL The only noticeable change for 2004 in Mavic’s top-dog wheelset is the color. Instead of black rims and spokes, the 2004 SL has a silver rim, silver hub, and silver spokes, exactly like the Special Edition Tour de France Ksyrium SL you saw on so many pro bikes during the Tour. (Unlike the Tour wheelset, though, you won’t get titanium skewers, the titanium rear axle, or wheelbags). We like them a lot, as the machined rim surface in between the spokes doesn’t look anywhere near as ostentatious. In fact, the machined areas are completely camouflaged amidst the silver surface of everything else on the wheel. If something silver can be considered stealthy, this wheelset is it. Very sharp. The only structural change between the ’03 and the ’04 SL is in the front hub. Say goodbye to aluminum, and hello to carbon fiber. The composite hub shell is painted silver to match the rest of the wheel. Interestingly, the spoke heads are exposed. At first glance you might think the hub bearings are exposed to the elements, but they’re just as well-sealed as their predecessors. The price of the SL wheelset went up $50 to $850 retail. Given how miserably the dollar has performed against the Euro in the last year, such a modest price increase is less than expected.
2. Ksyrium Elite Mavic’s bread-and-butter $500 race wheelset stays the same. No changes whatsoever.
3. Ksyrium Equipe Mavic is throwing a full frontal assault on the rest of the wheel-making world with the Equipe (pronounced ‘A-keep’). It’s the same rim as the Ksyrium Elite, but it uses conventional stainless spokes (unlike the bladed steel spokes of the Elite), and the same hub as the Cosmos. It replaces the now-discontinued Cosmic Elite, and is well-positioned to steal a ton of market share from the Shimano R540 wheel that proved so popular on Ultegra and 105-equipped bikes.. At $349, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat its value.
4. Cosmos The name Cosmos has been around for awhile for Mavic, but for 2004 it has a completely different look. Remember the good ol’ Classics Pro wheel – the bomber wheelset for the cobblestones Mavic discontinued about 4 years ago, but still used peloton-wide in the Spring Classics? It’s basically the same wheel. The same FTS hub as the Classics Pro, with the rock-solid aluminum rim Mavic perfected on the Reflex rim in the late 90’s. At 1800g, it’s sufficiently light, and it’s strong enough for mountain biking. Available in silver for $299, or black for $329.
5. Win-Tech Computer You heard it here first – Mavic is introducing a 9-function cordless computer, including wireless cadence. Instead of a required a pick-up to be zip-tied to your fork leg, the pickup is integrated into a composite front skewer. I kid you not. $150 or so retail. Potentially very cool.
We’ll be selling the complete line of 2004 Mavic wheels here on Competitive Cyclist in a few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, we hope to have some good quality pics of the upcoming 2004 wheels ASAP.