Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Round and Round: Wheel in the Sky Keeps On Failing

A graduate student once observed to me that education is the only industry in which consumers actually prefer shoddy merchandise. In other words, the easier the class, the happier students are-even though they're supposed to be learning, and even though they're often paying top dollar to do so. Well, this particular graduate student was certainly not a cyclist, because when it comes to paying lots of money for crap nobody queues up for the privilege like we do.

By now, many of you have probably read that Ben Delaney of VeloNews was the victim of an exploding Mavic R-Sys front wheel:

The R-Sys was first introduced to the cycling world in 2007, and it featured Mavic's new "Tracomp" technology. This basically meant that, instead of being built with tensioned metal spokes, the R-Sys was built with hollow carbon fiber spokes which operated under compression--like the spokes of a wooden wagon wheel, as many people pointed out at the time. Despite the fact that the wheel essentially relied on 19th century technology, Mavic certainly broke new ground when it came to pricing, since a pair of R-Sys wheels costs about $1,400. One wonders what other outmoded 19th century relics Mavic could resurrect and charge exorbitant amounts of money for; smallpox, racism, and the Napoleonic Wars leap immediately to mind. Certainly building these into a wheelset might pose a bit of a challenge, but I'm pretty sure Mavic's marketing department would be up to the task.

Anyway, the R-Sys proved itself to be garbage in short order, and there were a number of highly visible front wheel failures. As such, they recalled the wheels in January 2009, and began delivering "upgraded" replacements in March. So what makes the failure Ben Delaney experienced particularly noteworthy is the fact that it occurred with one of these new "upgraded" wheels. Naturally, as a member of the cycling press, Delaney contacted Mavic, who sent no less than five representatives to Boulder. Ultimately, these representatives suggested the problem may have been "rider error:"

You've got to admire Mavic's audacity at this point. They design a wheel that is obviously flawed, recall it, issue a replacement, and then when that replacement fails in the same way--under someone from VeloNews!--they tell him he may have been using it wrong. Never mind the fact that it's pretty hard to destroy a bicycle wheel through "rider error," unless that error involves riding into a wall at 30mph. From what I can tell, all Ben Delaney was doing was racing on the wheel and turning left. Of course, it's entirely possible that's where the error lies. Perhaps the R-Sys is directional, and he was using the "right only" version. (Mavic's new directional wheelsets save weight by shaving material from the side opposite the one on which you're turning.)

Given that the R-Sys has a history of failure and Delaney's broke in normal use, it's pretty safe to say the design is fundamentally flawed. Nonetheless, Delaney is instead treating the incident like the Kennedy assassination and "spent more than two weeks tracking down people who had seen the crash and asking them what they saw." These people included fellow racers, course marshalls, and mechanics. Here's the gripping video testimony of one eyewitness:



Here's a conflicting account, which indicates that killer bees may have been involved:



And here's Dennis Hopper's characteristically unique take on the incident:

Certainly, paired spoke technology pioneer Rolf Dietrich does stand to gain financially from Mavic's demise as a company, and it's not completely outside the realm of possibility that he was hiding in a grassy knoll that day with a small-caliber rifle of some kind. (Though given Dietrich's propensity for pairing things a double barrel shotgun seems more appropriate.) Another possibility is serial retrogrouch and uber-curmudgeon Jobst Brandt, who never forgave Mavic for discontinuing his cherished MA2 rim, and who as the world's foremost proponent of wire-spoked wheels may have finally reached the breaking point like a spoke that has not been properly stress-relieved according to his detailed instructions in "The Bicycle Wheel."

But as compelling as these theories are, sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one, and the simple answer here is that the R-Sys, upgraded or not, is an overpriced piece of crap. Still, while Delaney's faith in the R-Sys has obviously been shattered like, well, an R-Sys, he continues to stand by Mavic as a company. While this is in no doubt at least partially owing to his journalistic due diligence, it's also a typical case of roadie congnitive dissonance. In the world of road cycling, components are always "bulletproof" until proven otherwise--and even then, people will still want them. Take this now-ironic Competitivecyclist review of the R-Sys. Not only does it say that "this could be a great criterium wheel" for "bigger riders:"

But it also says that "this is a great all-purpose wheel...particularly those hard on equipment." Why? Because it will "seemingly go for a long, long time with few problems.":

Firstly, you can't determine that something will "go for a long, long time with few problems" until it's actually gone for a long, long time with few problems. Secondly, what is it about a lightweight wheel with hollow carbon fiber spokes that even seems durable? They must have watched this compelling video, in which an R-Sys spoke is able to withstand the punishing forces of one diminutive Frenchman:

Yes, amazingly, it turns out there's a difference between actual durability and the suggestion of durability--which is why you can't actually buy an R-Sys from Competitivecyclist. Incidentally, I think the translation in the video may be incorrect. While the subtitle says the spoke "is able to work both in traction and compression," I think what he was really saying was that when compressed the spoke will put you in traction.

Ultimately, the big question is: have Mavic finally pushed their reputation to the breaking point along with their wheel technology? Until now, they've had an astonishing run, most recently having convinced legions of roadies that a $1,000 pair of Ksyriums is a logical choice for an all-around training and racing wheelset despite the fact that you could have a more solid yet equally raceable pair of wheels built for less than half that. But this starts to backfire when roadies start considering the Ksyrium just something you train on when you're not riding your $2,000 Zipps, so then Mavic has to introduce something even more proprietary and more exotic, hence the R-Sys. Unfortunately, though, while the "bulletproof" Ksyrium has some expensive aluminum spokes and a hub that tends to start howling at inopportune moments (all of which are easy for the roadie to rationalize), the R-Sys just plain explodes.

Alas, wheels can only get so round, so companies have to start getting creative with all the stuff between the axle and the tire in order to keep selling more of them. But it's a tricky proposition to engineer and market a product that lasts just long enough to be considered "bulletproof," yet not so long that the rider won't need to replace it after a season or two. And when you can't even convince a roadie that something's "bulletproof," then you're in real trouble. In any case, if you want a wagon wheel, you're probably better off just buying an Aerospoke--though I suppose knowing your wheel can blow up at any moment makes every ride that much more epic.

142 comments:

Anquetil's Mother said...

meh.

Slappy said...

FIRST

Slappy said...

Ah so close

OBA said...

Podium

Anonymous said...

up there

ken e. said...

asleep at the wheel!

Hans said...

Top ten?

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Zombie Sheldon Brown said...

Close but no cigar1st

rezado said...

It byrnes when I pee.

Anonymous said...

top ten?

Luck E. Seven said...

Wheel me to death...


A

Slappy said...

Mavic sucks!

Rantwick said...

That guy now has a bullet-proof pile of race-ready drinking straws... Reduce, Re-Use, R-sys.

Slappy said...

Far more fun to lace a set of 28 hole hubs to a 36 hole rim

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are cheaper wheels that explode just as regularly...13th?

rezado said...

Just pointing it out.

"charge exorbitant amounts for money for"

Slappy said...

i wonder if the other slappy wants to be friends

Anquetil's Mother said...

not to mention they're about 20 grams lighter than OTHER drinking straws

hillbilly said...

Anquetil's Mother!!!! Way to go!

Slappy said...

and thats less fun than gettin hi with a PW spoke cutter and make an offset hub so the wheel goes booodDOOpBoooDOOP

Slappy said...

but best of all is 700cs on a 27" wheeled frame with regular pedal strike and no hope

hillbilly said...

once observed to me? i don't know, just seems weird to me, what's wrong with once told me?

doing the unthinkable and reposting a comment, for the sheer epicousness of it...the epicosity of it...the...

i found epic, and it turns out to be moderately paced:

June 20: Brooklyn Waterfront Epic Ride
Ride the Brooklyn & Queens coastline on a moderately-paced 40+ mile ride from Greenpoint to Jamaica Bay and back.

Rantwick said...

Zombie, call me an ass if you want, but I don't like joking about Sheldon Brown being dead.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed these youngsters wearing flip flops while pedaling. Nothing like road rash of the sole.

Anquetil's Mother said...

they could have at least designed the straws to spill oil out onto the road on command. It could be stored in the hub... That at least would have been useful innovation.

Thanks Hillbilly!

Anonymous said...

Being a 200 lb guy, I don't feel safe with carbon stuff or wheels where they are playing Jinga with thespoke count. I do have a yen for expensive, trendy things though, so I hope I can get some
beryllium spokes on a wheel. "BeSpoke" would be a great name and even dead on accurate, too.

Anonymous said...

As a french man I do not understand your silly need to be first to comment nothing. You do not have as they say in America a life.

Anquetil's Mother said...

Maybe you should go get drunk and try to discover the secrets behind these mysteries you don't understand, then write a play.

Anonymous said...

Never understood wheelsets with cool type on it. If you want people to read your rim, you're not using it correctly.

red neckerson said...

aw fuck cant catch a break around here

ant1 said...

As a french man I do not understand how you can sit by and let people of other nationalities comment before us. Have you no pride, you collabo?

Disgruntl Ed. said...

My goodness. You misspelled crabon throughout this post.

Bobbo said...

really...carbon spokes not a good idea...who wouldah thought?

and yes, it was rider error...to have bought them in the first place...sheesh

red neckerson said...

hey frenchy dont worry about antiqueers mama hes some guy in dacron ohio beeting off

by the way i dont like french peple they smell funny and talk stoopid

so fuck you

rezado said...

I am in the market for some new wheels. What wont explode with a rider that weights 220 and doesnt cost a thousand dollars? Maybe something around four hundred.

ant1 said...

rezado - I think most people's moms would fit your criteria.

Mr. Donkey said...

"Never mind the fact that it's pretty hard to destroy a bicycle wheel through "rider error," unless that error involves riding into a wall at 30mph."

I would add... cornering on a downhill will a woman on your saddle. The wheel failed, we flailed, and our love died.

I still blame that stupid schwinn wheel!

Anonymous said...

This french man notices that as an american you do not know how to spell the words you use in your own language. Is it supposed to be funny? I do not understand what or if you call this humor. Or is it humerus like the bone like your head? No?

Ahh-Phew said...

The true "rider error" was Delaney's decision to race Mavic's upgraded R-Sys wheelset in the first place.

More interesting to me, however, is VeloNews' disclaimer at the top of the article. VeloNews should've just written this: "Mavic is an epic advertiser and we don't want to alienate them by printing a negative, albeit, newsworthy piece about the quality, or lack thereof, of their products. After reading the following article, please continue to buy Mavic products early and often. And remember, go epic or go home."

mhandsco said...

Ah... the venerable MA2. I too mourn thee.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else think it was strange to see A-rod on a tri-ride pretending to be Jamaican.

Anonymous said...

Because naming something that's a homophone with "arses" wasn't good enough, we now need "exploding arses" instead...

rezado said...

ant1,

Most peoples moms could be had for the price of a drink, a smile and a compliment down at the local bar. You know the one I am talking about. She will probably have on an animal print shirt.

MEEE OOOW

ken e. said...

you guys are on dope. open 4CD all the way!

(hopefully my 80's memory is intact)

rezado said...

BONE HEAD

Yes?

Dacron Ohioan said...

Red, there's no Frenchmen here and not many Canadians, but we got plenty of hilljacks. You'd fit right in.

sufferist said...

Go Huffy or go home....ride on team Huffy....

Anonymous said...

The Mavic Smallpox wheel would be used only for the rear. It would really "kill" the competition.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Mr. Hillbilly and observe to you that something is wrong there.

NYTimes has a good article about the hipsters' getting their funds cut off/seeking "self-sufficiency cred"

Once known as The Badger said...

I just sold my Ksyrium/Delirium wheels on eBay. What a pair of crappy wheels! I just built a pair of 32 hole Dura Ace hubs into a wheelset, and believe me, they really are bullet proof. I even referred to Jobst's book, but only in passing...

d. fofonov said...

Pretending for to be French is liking to saying you are from Minsk even though you are being from Pinsk.

Just speaking.

Andy Reimer said...

This sort of story makes me proud of each of my 36 metal spokes on my wheel. (even if they are laced to a mavic rim)

Norman said...

Shadenfreude is die beste Freude & I hope that mavic chokes to death on Obama's stumpy cock in these trying ecognomic times that try men's souls since the spring of the winter of our discontent (etc etc). Like toadally, these hucksters need to go the way of drunkcyclist and make bad fat-chick snuff porn.

Luck E. Seven said...

We need graphs!

Plot the Crabon Denti-factor, that is, the inverse relationship between money and sense.

Detail the Arc de Triumph, that is, the effect that money has on performance up to and beyond certain price points.

Demonstrate the Rule of Cadel, that is, the rise in ego and fall of performance relative to the cost of components.


A

Luck E. Seven said...

Oh yeah,

Sounds like a new personal best for Mavic.


A

Ronsonic said...

ken e. said...
you guys are on dope. open 4CD all the way!

(hopefully my 80's memory is intact)


Not only is your memory intact, but so are my 20 year old Open 4CD rims on Ultegra hubs with DT spokes. They've done cyclocross, thousands of road miles and they're still true and solid. When they do finally fail, it won't be fragmentation and hospital visits either.

Isolation Helmet said...

I just went out a bought me some wagon wheels.

That's it hollow crabon spokes laced to a wooden rim! Bomb proof!

Anonymous said...

If dude was using an R-sys in a predominently left turning criterium he fucked up! Shoulda used the L-sys. You can get a full complement of one R-sys front, one R-sys rear, one L-sys front and one L-sys rear for a little under 5 G's. Just don't mix 'em up! And don't think you can just flip that front wheel around either - these bitches are rotationally specific as well as lean directionally specific!

wishiwasmerckx said...

I hate to be one of those guys who enjoys pointing out every little error in spelling, grammer or syntax in these posts, but when you write "diminutive" and "Frenchman," aren't you just repeating yourself?

bike einstein said...

my new square wheel design is going to make round wheels a thing of the past. hand built with beautiful dove-tail joints they're available in maple or ash. be a trend setter and the envy of your posse as you 'rock' the square wheels. the revolution starts now!! retail=$9,999.00. normal delivery time 3-5 years.

Surly Bastard said...

This post was so damn funny you could almost overlook the fact that it's also a very good piece of journalism. Way to nail it Snob.

bikesgonewild said...

...i hate to be so rashly opportunistic at this time but i am offering hand carved solid oak replacement spokes for mavic r-sys wheel sets...

...why mess around w/ new & failing forms of crabon technology based on 19th century tradition, when you can have the real thing...

...OAK-SPOKES tm, for those times when "what goes around" just doesn't "come around"...

...contact:- bgw @ OAK-SPOKES...

Fred Clydesdale said...

Angela Dybdahl has super-cute hair. If anybody's looking for me, I'll be over here watching her videos.

db said...

The revolution will not be carbon-spoked. Eh?

wishiwasmerckx said...

Now I'm starting to get paranoid. First, Snob makes relentless fun of my NYC Taxicab Langster, and now he goes after my Mavic Ksyriums. Sure, they were expensive, but they compliment my bike's colorway like is nobody's business. Hey, when the spoke busted, it threw the rim so far out of true that I had to limp home with the brake rubbing every revolution despite opening up the calipers all the way. But hey, a new spoke laced in was only $35.00 at the lbs, and I got a nifty red 25th anniversary spoke as a souvenir. I now use it as a bookmark.

Anonymous said...

"19th century technology"?

No, more like 14th century design philosophy.

CommieCanuck said...

Mavic pushed their reputation? what reputation? They have a quite a recent history of shitty hubs.

French cycling parts manufacturing has been obsessed with profit enhancement by making stuff using cheaper and cheaper methods.

LOOK plastic pedals are the biggest joke started by the French since bottled water. Remember Simplex? ...oye.

Har,har,har..zee americahns..zey hate us, buy zey by our sheet.

southpole said...

can't see your problems with french components. i rock a zefal swan french fender/mudguard, its awesome.

Anonymous said...

Angela Dybdahl has had seven kids. That shit would be like fucking a glass of water...

CommieCanuck said...

oh yes, fenders, very high-tech.

grog said...

20th Century BC: Fred rocks wheels of granite with excellent results. No flats, no explosions, no broken spokes. Fred says he will rock on with the new marble wheels as soon as they are released, but would never consider that old crabon junk which went out of production back in the mezolithic age.

Anonymous said...

"One wonders what other outmoded 19th century relics Mavic could ressurrect and charge exorbitant amounts of money for; smallpox, racism, and the Napoleonic Wars leap immediately to mind."

Snobby, why can't you be this snarky in Bicycling mag? Your articles in Bicycling are tame by comparison.

Chris said...

In a properly designed bicycle wheel, the spokes should never see compression. The whole point is to tension them such that when they get compressed, they never completely lose tension. If Mavic is relying on carbon spokes in compression to carry the loads, they're idiots. Carbon generally fails catastrophically when it does fail. They've essentially created a column under compression. Columns under compression generally fail catastrophically and unpredictably. Sounds like someone needs to go back to college and learn structural analysis again.

MINGUStheMECHANIC said...

Anon 3:26- fucking a glass of water.
Truly most memorable comment in a while.

Fred Clydesdale said...

Okay, ick with the seven kids & the glass of water. But still, cute hair.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Ressurrect? All that carbon made me miss this egregious error.

bikesgonewild said...

...re:---OAK-SPOKES tm, for those times when "what goes around" just doesn't "come around"...

...contact:- bgw @ OAK-SPOKES...

...***disclaimer***...
...any occurrence of splinters to the fingers during wheel truing is considered to not be the fault of the manufacturer...
...any & all claims that "my dog chewed my spokes" is not considered valid...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Disgruntl Ed.,

Funny how lots of carbon distracts people from defects, isn't it?

--BSNYC

Wes said...

wishiwasmercx

This was my bike shop experience after a broken spoke which also Pringled (TM) my rear wheel.

At my local bike shop, one look at the wheel elicited the response “Shimano 105s? Yea, them are shit wheels.” Said twice more, once to the underling out back, I got the impression they may not be worth repairing but I was quoted £25 and £2 a spoke anyway. “What are they on?” “A Nigel Dean Reynolds 531.” “Gas pipe. That’s gas pipe that is. I’ve got that in my house. It’s gas pipe.” I sensed a downer on my gear so decided to leave but couldn’t get out of the shop before “I used to have a bag like that. Didn’t realise they still made it in those awful colours”. He managed to squeeze this in another couple of times before I broke free. Maybe at times such as this, shops could be encouraged to display a sign stating that as the owner is on his period, unless the customer is willing to buy something a. brand new, b. very expensive and c. made from crabon fibre then they should fuck off or beware abuse from the staff.

Wes said...

Fred

Are you Anon Goucher lover?

HS dropout said...

finally a boring BSNYC post.

Surly Bastard said...

MAVI CRAP

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ben Delaney was not "carbon worthy" to paraphrase Seinfeld's Elaine.
"When you can make corner on the rice paper without collapsing the wheel,
then you will be ready, grasshopper."

Fred Clydesdale said...

you mean that "KARA GOUCHER WOOHOO! YESSIREEBOB!" guy?

no. i am (as kwai chang caine used to say) just a man. a man like any man, who can watch a youtube video and click on a link for related videos, in the way that any man might, and i am a man who appreciates the cute hair.

but for real laughs, you need to watch her sprinting demo. because (1) sprinting, all by yourself, in the street. it's just silly. also (2) she covers up all that hair with her helmet. WHY WOULD YOU COVER UP ALL THAT HAIR? isn't that why they invented the hairmet?

balaenoptera said...

Looks like Ben had an axe to grind after the incident. That’s a lot of bad PR at once for Mavic.

And the editor couldn’t resist the buzz and let it go online.

Privately posting is one thing, but using a paid publication to sell a personal incident as journalism is something different altogether.



If I remember correctly, a hollow soda can will likely collapse when stood upon. It is rather the pressurized filling and rigid skeleton mimicking a solid barrel that keeps it from collapsing.

Just fiddy cents of non-engineering journalism.


C minus

- for blatant sensationalism and a clear case of sticking the poodle into the microwave then blaming the manufacturer.
anonymous cycling industry employee

Anonymous said...

Perhaps those were not carbon spokes after all but rather bucatini pasta made
with spinach flour. Sounds like a Rapha sort of product to me.

J i m s t e r said...

Carbon wheels... pffft! I wouldn't trust 'em as far as I could throw 'em... Er.. Or something. Shit though, 1000 dollars for wheels is cwazy unless your career depends on beating the next guy by 1/100th.

I bought an old cyclocrosser for £80 and it's got Mavic MA2s on Campag hubs. And I recently rode it (slowly) about 8 miles to a bike shop with 2 flats. The wheels are still perfectly true.

After a nucleal war/end of the Mayan calendar, all that will remain are cockroaches and MA2 rims.

Surly Bastard said...

balaenoptera: I've got a real problem with your community college inspired ethics-in-journalism 101 way of thinking. Ben from Velonews was way too kind here. He didn't have an axe to grind in this case, he had an axe that needed burying in the skulls of the dopes from Mavic who implied this was "rider error." I also think the VN editor had a duty to publish the story since it was about safety issues with a product that had previously failed. If VN sat on the story and somebody else broke their neck on these "pieces of crap" the next day then could they also be considered as culpable as Mavic in the accident? It's wasn't like it was second-hand news either, it was their dude on the floor. Duh.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Balaenoptera, what is the analogy here for the poodle in the microwave? Seems that Mavic was hasty to come up with a diagnosis of "rider error" without a clear and specific explanation of what the rider did wrong. None is indicated in the article.

Perhaps you have some private knowledge you can share?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Surly Bastard and Disgrunt Ed.,

Ben Delaney put the poodle in the microwave the second he removed the frontal pie plate from his R-Sys.

--RTMS

Wes said...

balaenoptera

Which is worse, a structurally sound full can of soda in the microwave, or the empty tin? I reckon the full one will go off bang better.

But wtf has that got to do with the spokes? Did Ben's wheels have a leak and lose their Dr Pepper filling?

Caley said...

balaenoptera - I was the rider right behind Ben during that crash. There was no rider error. We were single file in a break of 4, nobody hit him, he didn't hit anything, and the wheel was new. I am surprised Ben wasn't even harsher in his article, I would have been.

michael said...

R-sys-t

Wes said...

BRST SYST

Anonymous said...

Another Brilliant expose complete with "caught on tape" video that the big news agencies missed !!!!

urchin said...

Thanks Snob, I was really hoping you would jump on this one. What surprises me most in that article is not the wheel failure as much as the amount of customer service he was able to squeeze out of Mavic. I spent a chunk of time trying to find out basic chainline specs on a Mavic wheelset (yes, I have a set of Ellipses and yes, I finally found a way to get the f'in lockring to snug up...). If the answer was on their website at all, it was drowned in insipid flash effects.

I do believe the unlucky author, by being a VeloNews person, probably blew through Mavic's entire North American customer service budget for the quarter, if not the year just by getting them to answer the phone.

Ah, but bashing Mavic is just too easy. You have to admire the ingenuity of a company that figured out how to make a hub that cannot outlast the rim it's laced to.

NPJ

urchin said...

BJW, surely you must rub/rock/run/palp/destroy a pair of Mavic Ellipses--there's a pair mounted on all your comments...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Urchin,

You've got to give Mavic credit for managing to make even a track wheelset quirky.

--BSNYC

Mauvaises roues said...

FROG FUCK

Anonymous said...

Peter White says:

Let's be very clear about something. Rims for racing bikes, such as the Mavic Open Pro and Velocity Aerohead, are made for people who use bicycles in races. That's why they're called racing bikes; because people actually race with them! To be a competitive road racer, you will not want to weigh much more than about 160 lbs. Even at that weight, you'll find yourself at a significant disadvantage in many road races, at least those with any hills. Since the manufacturers of racing rims are aware of this fact, they don't bother making these rims strong enough for 230 lb cyclists, regardless of whether those 230 lb cyclists have the curious notion that it would be a good idea to ride a bike with "racing rims" and 23mm tires.

Remember, reality is what it is, regardless of what you read in the cycling magazines.

So, when you call and tell me you weigh as much as the typical NFL running back and you're just tickled pink with your Campy Record 10 speed equipped bike but you want a set of wheels that are light weight and "bomb proof" (I love that one!) don't be surprised when I suggest you go on a diet and call me back in a few years. I'm not writing this because I don't want your business, it's because I hate feeding on misconceptions spread by the marketing departments of various cycling companies and the moronic magazine scribes.

I can build a very strong wheel that will hold 23mm or 25mm tires so that the wheel with tire mounted will fit in your "racing" frame. And even if you weigh 250 pounds, the wheel will be strong enough. But that doesn't mean that the bike is suitable for you. Since most "racing" bikes can't accept tires larger than 25mm, you'll need to inflate those tires to very high pressure in order not to pinch flat. The ridiculous pressure ratings you see on tire sidewalls are best ignored since they result in a harsh ride and no actual performance improvement.

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/wheels.asp

mono_vs_stereo said...

Who still rides Mavic anyway? Custom wheels, kids. That's what you get for buying machine-shopped shyte.

Wickham said...

I wrote about the Mavic/VeloNews debacle yesterday, I could not believe their reaction. Glad BSNYC was on the same page.
http://wickhamsbiking.blogspot.com

Asshammer Jackson said...

A good marketing technique is to assume your customers are idiots.

g said...

I hope I am not spoiling the surprise for tomorrow, but why didn't anyone give ol' Lemond a hard time? Especially this bit of crap:
"when I could take a sip of water – my sport drink"
What a pompous douche.
I like how everything that is wrong with cycling happened only after he retired. Oh, wait...

urchin said...

As a man who would need a tapeworm, tuberculosis, or cancer to get under 170 pounds, I suspect I'm not alone in taking exception to Mr. White/anonymous's comment. Sure, I'll never be a major climbing threat on the road, but if 'no weight limit' really carries the unspoken limit of 180 pounds for a pair of wheels, I can't help but feel a tad miffed. Chuckle all you want until one of those horribly obese types whips you silly on a sprint or time trial.

I've had good luck so far racing on Kyseriums (my disparaging comments on Mavic aside--hell, I've already paid for the damn things...) but otherwise I'll ride on wheels I built myself, thanks. I absolutely agree that the $2000 gossamer wheelset is not made for heavy people, and a little honesty in marketing is due, but I always resent the assumption that 'serious' cyclists cannot exist over 160 lbs.

whew. okay. got that out of my system. Now for another slice of pie...

hillbilly said...

right on urchin, i happen to be around the 160 mark and i still took offense at that assinine comment, not least of all because i am frequently, no, often, passed by the bigger folk on races as if i was standing still. granted, my race pace is not too different than standing still...

Erol Otus said...

GL330
GP4
MA40

GL280 for the TT crazies on their funny bikes...

Surly Bastard said...

So the new SCREWING THE POOCH is PUTTING THE POODLE IN THE MICROWAVE. I like it.

Anonymous said...

Saw this article about MAthew Modine and his not wearing helmets. Thought you might enjoy it Mr Bike Snob:

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/06/get-yer-torches-its-bike-helmet.html

Anonymous said...

I like how the article talks about all the tests they did to prove the durability of the R-Sys. I suggest that all carbon spoke wheels be crashed head-on into a guard rail. If the wheel breaks, fail. If the frame explodes, pass.

http://lagunacycleryshop.blogspot.com/search?q=colnago

Anonymous said...

And not one use of "hoops" the whole time...

(golf clap)

broomie said...

The funniest line in this post was "Journalistic due diligence"

Jasper said...

Yesterday I was concerned about my carbon footprint; today it’s my carbon face plant. I have a set of R-sys bought thru my LBS. Yes the cost was high but my wheels have to last me eight years or so of racing and training. Before plunking down the cash I auditioned a pair for a week and I beat the crap out them, launching into every Boston pothole I came across and some single track to boot. The wheels are light; they accelerate like a jackrabbit on crack, and are fairly compliant with my 160lbs. and coat hanger arms.
About 300 miles into them I noticed a slight clicking noise from the front. First I thought my computer magnet was hitting the sensor but no. I got used to it as my previous wheels, Spinergy Xaeros, always sounded like I was rolling over bubble wrap—the small version, not the large cell Uber-gratifying size.
The wheels went with me to Italy last year and I guess I feel lucky to survive my trip to the Dolomites (read 50+mph descents with both R-sys and L-sys turns. Including 7 miles of Swiss gravel hairpins coming down the Stelvio) but now it seems downright miraculous. Cleaning my ride a week after returning I noticed a front spoke was slightly crushed. But the wheel was rock solid and was as true as the Hubble scope mirror (after the fix). Dummy lucky me, I guess I was riding for 800 miles with broken spoke but avoided the catastrophic failure Brian Delaney experienced.
My LBS fixed the spoke, took care of the January recall, and supplied a free set of Askiums. I have 150 miles into the replacement wheel now, no issues, but after reading the VeloNews post, the R-sys are Off-sys.

Brian Miller said...

Wow what wrong headed engineering on this wheel design. The tension wheel is one of the best simple elegant designs made by humans. All of the weight is held by a few spokes hanging from the top of the wheel.

Tension is strong and light, compression is dumb and heavy; like an adobe house.

Carbon fiber only has strength in tension. Like the engineers say, you can't push a string.

Pillettelawoffice said...

Anyone interested in serving as a class representative please contact me

Anquetil's Mother said...

Anon 7:44


tell Mr. White to explain that to Mr. Backstedt, or better yet ask Mr. White how Mr. Backstedt still managed to win Paris Roubaix. Or is Paris Roubaix not a race because it needs some kind of special heavier duty cycling equipment??

-----

All this lightweight crap is great for setting the hour record or, um, setting the hour record, but even Merckx was sensible enough to insist that his bikes were never the lightest on the market. Heavier often performs better. My man is certainly a bit over 160lbs so I should know...

There's a reason "style over substance" doesn't have positive connotations.


meh!

Andy Pandy said...

As for Mavic, you sneeze at them and they go out of true. Solution... Campag wheels.
And give the banished R Sys to the Fixie crew as they never actually ride anywhere and looks are all important but spoke cards may, and only may, cause a slight deflection in the spoke which, could and only could, cause a catastrophic failure if and only if the bike is being actually ridden

Kapitan said...

I agree that it's uncool to joke about Sheldon Brown being dead and reanimated by some houngan. I often check his site for info on all things bicycling; his experienced, unbiased and no-bullshit articles have no equal on the inter nets, as far as I know. There are probably persons with as much or more cycling savvy, but he made his available to n00bs and 1337 riders worldwide.

bikesgonewild said...

...mavic r-sys (old) = fail...recalled...
...mavic r-sys (new) = fail-ing...???...

...that being said, mavic has been building great products for a long damn time...all this sudden denigrating hyperbole by the great unwashed is a little sad...
...velonews & ben delaney handled the situation remarkably fairly, all things considered...

...& while the industry is about sales & thus "pushing the envelop" in regard to providing product, generally research uncovers colossal & dangerous screw ups like the r-sys before they become problems...

...& i've been riding ksyrium es's (now called sl's) for years now on some pretty chewed up mountain roads w/ ne're a problem & i'm no 160lb euro bike racer...

Anonymous said...

"Brian Miller said...
Wow what wrong headed engineering on this wheel design. The tension wheel is one of the best simple elegant designs made by humans. All of the weight is held by a few spokes hanging from the top of the wheel.

Tension is strong and light, compression is dumb and heavy; like an adobe house."

Wrong - The wheel is supported by spokes at the bottom in compression. The tension is there to keep the spokes straight and therefore strong in compression. This is backed up by measureing the stress in the spokes, in an unloaded wheel they are all equal, load the wheel and the spokes on top remain at the unloaded tension and the spokes at the bottom decrease in tension as they are compressed.

Jeff said...

Coming late to this one...

This is why fixedgearfever has some credibility to me. Dude gets sent a cane creek volos wheelset and waits two years to give a product review.

Anonymous said...

G.E.L 280. Not "GL280"
learn it, live it, love it, true it.
Often.

endo-king said...

"A graduate student once observed to me . . . "?

WTF?

Anonymous said...

That's funny the way you say that it will put you into traction. That part was funny.

Ted

Anonymous said...

Peter White is a deuchebaguette. He is also not much of a wheelbuilder if he only sells "light" wheels to <160lb riders. I wouldn't trust this guy's work.

Anonymous said...

yep. Campag is the way to go. And they're even ahead of the curve on this crabon overload. They just introduced an Athena gruppo

"the first 11-speed groupset in alu-style"


"alu-style" !! goodbye crabon. hello alu-style.

bikesgonewild said...

...btw, urchin...i used to run a mavic 'ellipsis' wheelset but if your wheels aren't in sync, instead of just the pleasant up n' down motion, there is a whole up n' down n' back n' forth thingy to deal with...

...very disconcerting...

wishiwasmerckx said...

Diminutive Frenchman = ATM machine.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that crash was indeed caused by "loss of control". Like an addict unable to say 'no' to one more hit: "It will probably kill me, but I just _have_ to ride Mavic wheels!"

This suggests a new product line for Mavic: helmets with hollow carbon fiber
compression reinforcements. "If you ride on Mavic, you definitely need our helmets!"

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the red hubs/single spoke attract some visual buyers, but I've had Kyseriums for a couple of years and banged them around NYC. Building a comparable set wasn't much cheaper for similar weight/aero properties.

Never had any breakage and only had to true them once. So, they're probably like most products, you can get a few lemons, but mostly, if you're an out of shape or over 180lb rider, you're going to be putting a lot of stress on them.

The HED wheels I had were much worse in the durability dept.

Cycle Ninja said...

"...most recently having convinced legions of roadies that a $1,000 pair of Ksyriums is a logical choice for an all-around training and racing wheelset despite the fact that you could have a more solid yet equally raceable pair of wheels built for less than half that."

Snob, my LBS mechanic did just that for me for my new custom bike. Mavic rims, sure, but Dura-Ace hubs, 32-spoke, 3-cross pattern. $600 for the smoothest wheels you'll find that aren't tubular. His advice about being suspicious of proprietary technology rang true, and I have appreciated it ever since.

Anonymous said...

I have a set of Mavic Ksyriurmammmm SLs and the spokes explode all the time.

This is French Engineering at its best. Point the Maginot line towards Belgium, not Germany, then get all miffed when the Germans go around it. Blame them.

BigJulie said...

R-sys may well suck...but one man's experience - I have 10,000 miles on a pair of Ksyrium SLs. Not a mm out of true.
Previous wheels were Open4CD w/ Mavic 501s. only about 15k on those with no issues.
jus' sayn'........

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous...
Anything feels like a glass of water to a guy with two inch pencil dick. Quit yanking yourself to her videos and get a fucking life...

Anonymous said...

Poor article, you are obviously bitter that Mavic doesn't maasage your ego. Mavic seems to asks pertinant questions but not draw any conclusion until they have been able to reproduce the problem. They seem to be pretty cooperative. Excellent standard procedure in product management. You should take advantage of this. To exactly find out what happen and not look like a prick and loose the little authority you had.

Anonymous said...

wild, even by your standards:
http://pipeline.refinery29.com/pipeline_feature/different_spokes.php

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Anonymous said...

Mavic should call their next experimental carbon-spoked wheelset "The Explosion" a la "Led Zeppelin." That would should the naysayers, for sure!