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2018 Road Bike Buyer’s Guide

Mavic Ksyrium Pro Exalith Wheelset - Clincher

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Item # MAV00A9

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Subdue the shoulder seasons.

While it isn't always present on race day, Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Exalith Clincher Wheelset certainly sees more than its fair share of the base miles of spring that lead up to the start lines of summer. In addition to the obvious benefits of training on clinchers, the wheelset's key selling point in treacherous shoulder seasons is the Exalith II brake track, which involves a deep-penetrating chemical treatment process akin to anodization that gives the rims their signature, dark pallor and boosts stopping power. Compared to the previous generation of Exalith, Exalith II further increases braking by a claimed 18% in wet conditions, and the new pad/brake track interface reduces engagement noise.

The Ksyrium line has gradually expanded over the years. It includes no fewer than 14 current iterations, but certain elements are constant across the Ksyrium family. The rims are made from Mavic's Maxtal alloy, which is 30% more resistant to fatigue and weighs less than traditional, 6106 aluminum. They're laced to the hubs with Zicral spokes in Mavic's Isopulse pattern, which involves radially lacing on the drive side and crossed two lacing on the non-drive side to account for the inherently asymmetrical power transmission of a bike's drivetrain. The hubs house Mavic's QRM+ bearings and FTS-L freehub in a carbon body (front — a departure from most other Ksyriums) and an aluminum body (rear), and the bearings are adjustable with an Allen key and Mavic's included wrench.

Unlike the standard, non-Exalith Ksyrium Pro, the Ksyrium Pro Exalith maintains the traditional Ksyriums' internal width of 15mm. This amounts to a claimed 80g weight loss in rotational mass, so the wheels spin-up faster out of corners and while punching it on climbs. This weight loss is despite the fact that Mavic gives the Ksyrium Pro Exalith's rim the Inter Spoke Milling 3 Dimensions (ISM 3D) treatment instead of the latest ISM 4D. Still, ISM 3D manages to contribute to the wheelset's low claimed weight by removing excess rim material between spokes, further reducing inertial resistance from each wheel's perimeter mass.

Though the Pro Exalith isn't as wide as other members of the Ksyrium family, Mavic still wraps it in 25mm Yksion Pro tires. This is because 25mm tires mounted on 15mm rims falls within the range of tire/rim combinations approved by the International Organization for Standard (ISO). Mavic also determined that 15mm rims still enjoy the benefits of the smoother, faster rolling ride that comes courtesy of 25mm tires' greater air volume.

Further — and perhaps most surprising — it turns out that the ISO approves 15mm rims for use with tires up to 32mm. Yeah, we were surprised, too. We were also surprised at where the ISO draws the line for 25mm tires: at 17mm internal rim width. So the present trend of 18, 19, and 20mm internal rim widths rocking 25mm tires isn't technically approved by the ISO. Like many cyclists who pore over spec sheets, we initially read the narrow rim widths of Mavic's latest wheels as a refusal to adapt; now, we recognize it as a decision based on sound engineering rather than chasing the latest fads.

The tires themselves are also exemplary specimens of French engineering. Designed by Mavic and built by Hutchinson, the Yksion Pro tires employ different compounds and constructions for the front and rear. The Yksion Pro Griplink on the front wheel features a soft, sticky compound, a tread pattern designed to cut through water, and KEVLAR reinforcement for grippy road feel with extra flat protection. For the rear tire, the Yksion Pro Powerlink features a nylon reinforced casing and a slightly harder compound than the Pro Griplink. The rear tire's tread pattern is designed to increase rolling efficiency while still maintaining a supple road feel.

Tech Specs

Rim Material:
Maxtal aluminum
Wheel Size:
700 c
Tire Type:
Rim Depth:
[front] 22 mm, [rear] 25 mm
Rim Width:
[internal] 15 mm
Brake Compatibility:
QRM+ with FTS-L freehub
Zicral Isopulse
Spoke Nipple:
Spoke Count:
18 / 20
Max Rider Weight:
[including bike] 264 lb
Wheel Bag Included:
Claimed Weight:
[pair w/out tires] 1,395 g, [tire, single, included] 210 g
Recommended Use:
road cycling
Manufacturer Warranty:
2 years

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Purchased these for their durability

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Over the past 10 years I've pretty much used Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. I'll get about 3 seasons (over 10,000 miles) on one set before the rear hub/free hub interface fails or the rim gets a crack in the spoke. I got a little bit tired of the rims cracking at the spoke/nipple and had given up on Mavic until a friend recommended the Exalith wheel set.

I'm now on my 2nd season and so far I am very impressed. They seem very durable, incredibly stiff, and roll very easily. The benefit of the braking surface for wet weather was not a selling point for me, as I live in the high desert. I mainly got these wheels due to the Exalith treatment of the rim surface for durability. I ride about 50/50 dirt/gravel and pavement and find they are holding up very well and still look brand new after about 2,500 miles on them. Due to the price, I swap them out for less expensive Mavic wheels in the winter in hopes I can get a lot of miles out of them.

I'm still on the original brake pad.

I would give them 5 stars but the model I have for 2016 has a 15 mm inner rim width. I would have liked the 17 mm inner rim width on the newer model to gain some extra tire width, but then again the new model has yellow accents and the model I purchased has white accents, which makes them look so much better.

If I had to get another set of wheels, I'd consider a custom build, but then probably get the Exaliths due to how much I like them so far.

Lastly, I got rid of the Mavic tires before my first ride and put on some Clement Strada LGG 25s.

Mavic- THE ultimate training wheel

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

We all know Mavic. We've all been on the couch in July watching the tour watching the Mavic neutral support cars. You can't miss the bright yellow wagons. You may have even been lucky enough to witness the Motorcycles zooming next to Chris Froome as he literally runs the course.

Mavic has been around for a long time....and there are a LOT of other options out there. So, why would one choose Mavic? Well for this particular pair it's almost a no-brainer. First off the wheels are wicked light. And... not the super-fancy-euro-weight-weenie-boutique brands light. Unlike those schmancy boutique wheels: these aren't scary to ride, they don't feel like a round noodle, and they are durable.

These make a wonderful training wheel. They provide a stiff wheel and I would venture to call them snappy. One of the greatest things that I really enjoy about this wheel is the Exalith Brake track.

What the Exalith brake track does is A. provide a more durable brake track- so great for putting miles and miles and miles on them, and B. Stop better! Especially noticeable in less than ideal conditions. Bombing down a mountain in wet conditions is a lot more confidence inspiring with these wheels.

A longer lasting wheel with better stopping in wet conditions, to go along with being stiff, snappy, and lightweight give these wheels a big nod for an excellent all around training wheel.

It's almost 2017. There are lots of wheel options. Mavic is still pumping out some awesome stuff! Did someone say Mavic Cosmic Ultimates for your super-wheel on your dreambuild, or perhaps the XA Pro Carbon option for your off-road machine?

Mavic- THE ultimate training wheel

Can you use Swiss Stop brake pads with these? Or are you bound to using Mavic pads?

Hi Byron,
You must use the Mavic Exalith pads. They are a tad spendy, but well worth it- excellent braking.

If I'm still on a 10sp SRAM will these wheels be compatible (it indicates they are 11-speed)? If not, how can I make them compatible?

they come with a spacer for 10 speed compatibility

10sp or 11sp. I started with 10, then upgraded this past winter to 11sp (spacer was removed). I love this wheelset! I shifted over from Cosmic Carbone's SLE to the Ksyrium's and probably won't go back. They are an excellent all around wheelset!

10sp or 11sp.  I started with 10, then upgraded this past winter to 11sp (spacer was removed).  I love this wheelset!  I shifted over from Cosmic Carbone's SLE to the Ksyrium's and probably won't go back.  They are an excellent all around wheelset!

Yes - I have these wheels and have 10 speed SRAM. Everything works just fine.

I have 10 speed SRAM on my bike with these wheels - no problem.