Mavic has a long history in cycling, and specifically in manufacturing wheels. At races all over the world, the yellow and black of Mavic can be seen on racers and as the neutral support provider. They’ve long been at the forefront of aerodynamics, weight, construction and performance of wheels. The Cosmic Carbone SLR sits at the top of Mavic’s line of clincher wheels and gets the special SSC (Special Service Course) designation.
On paper they are impressive, and on the road they deliver even more. I rode these wheels up passes to 11,000 plus feet, descended back down, sprinted in crit races, hammered time trials and raced along the road. In each scenario the Carbone SLR proved up to the task. The Carbone is a bit on the heavy side for climbing, but the smooth bearings and stiff spokes helped put the power down. On the descents that same stiffness provided me with predictable handling. During a crit race, where accelerating out of corners is key, the wheels were solid and spun up to speed quickly for a deep section wheel. During finish line sprints in crits and road races, there was no lateral movement or flex at all. I chalk this up to the R2R (Rim2Rim) construction. With fewer attachments points and more material through the hub this keeps the wheel laterally stiff. Of course the 52 mm rim did grab more wind than others, but it wasn’t to a degree that made me worry. I raced a short time trial and I can say they are as fast as any aero wheel I’ve ridden.
The Carbone SLR’s provide good road feel while keeping you from bearing the brunt of a bad road surface. I didn’t feel totally isolated from the road, which is good, but on cracked roads and chip and seal surfaces I wasn’t beaten up either. This is a great balance and one that is hard to achieve.
Breaking performance was solid and unnoticeable, which is a good thing. During one rainy crit race I found the SLR’s braking to be predictable and strong. On long descents where you may have to ride the brakes for longer, there was little fade as I put on the binders.
I won’t lie and tell you that the look of the Carbone’s didn’t put a grin on my face. I am a sucker for deep section wheels, and the black spokes, hubs and rim just look menacingly fast. When I put these on my black carbon Litespeed it transformed the look of the bike completely.
The Mavic Carbone SLR wheels are some of the best overall wheels I’ve ridden. Simply put, they are fast, smooth, handle well and can be ridden as a daily wheel set then put to the test on race day. At an M.S.R.P. of just under 2,000.00 they certainly aren’t cheap, but there is a lot of great technology in the wheel and I would consider it money well spent.