Trends for road wheels at the moment? Wide and tubeless. Ok then, what do mavic do? Jump on it.
My experience of Mavic’s new wide rims comes in the form of a pair of Open Pro UST for the winter bike. Although a fair few of Mavics new road wheel sets now come with 19mm inner rim width so off the peg items are readily available.
The winter bikes wheels were getting a little old, they needed a bit of a refresh so I started hunting around for some new ones. Quickly finding that getting a decent set of singlespeed wheels was pretty difficult. I needed some with a track hub rear spacing that had decent sealed bearings suitable for riding somewhere other than a velodrome, ie living up to winter use in the new forest. No one seems to make a lightweight set, they all seem to be cheap and heavy Fixie wheels. So no good for open road riding with hills!
Giving up on that I decided a rebuild on mine was the best option. The hubs I have are profile racing so it would have been a shame to replace them……..despite their purple colourway! A new set of bearings were drifted in and the hubs were like new, although retaining them limited me to 32 hole rims. So I set about the internet searching for hoops. Various brands were ticking a few boxes but only one had the whole lot covered. The Open Pro. It was lightweight at 430g, wide at 19mm internal, Tubeless ready, and 32 hole. The other that almost made the grade was the H Plus son Archetype, it lost out only by not being tubeless ready.
I had the wheels build by The Woods Cyclery in Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, using Sapim Laser spokes and they have done a great job. The complete build came in weighing circa 1.6kg, not bad for a 32 spokes and track hubs, perfect for winter training wheels.
How do these rims ride then? The first thing I noticed was how sure footed the bike felt. I hadn’t changed the tyres or tubes at that point, it was just down to the wider rim giving a squarer profile tyre. By this I mean stouter, the sidewalls of the tyre are extended outward and made more dome shaped as a cross section rather than balloon shaped. This reduces tyre roll and gives a larger tyre footprint, increasing grip. The profile is also more aerodynamic as change of shape between sidewall and rim is less pronounced (although jury is on on how much of a benefit this is with a shallow rim). It also gives the ability to run larger tyres with less roll, larger tyres and lower pressures being proven to be able to absorb more road noise and reduce rolling resistance. So the benefits are definitely there.
Weight wise I can feel the difference, I’m shaving circa 150g per rim against the previous. They climb really well and are stiff. The profile isn’t particularly aero but they don’t seem to require extra effort to keep them up to speed on the flat.
I have now changed to tubeless and I can say it’s almost a revelation. The wider profile with the drag free nature of tubeless tyres is awesome. I can’t fault them.
Setting up the tubeless wasn’t easy mind, tolerance was very tight will all manner of trouble trying to get the tyre over the bead without spraying sealant everywhere was a nightmare. I ended up having to zip tie the tyre on the rim to stop it slipping from the bead at one point!
So in summary a great rim for a custom build or replacement of old. Lightweight, stiff, and tubeless compatible. Mavic, well done. If you are looking for rim to modernise an older bike or to build some winter training wheels you should look no further.