A Case for Mavic Wheels

by John Satory October 08, 2021


A Case for Mavic Wheels.

Mont Mavic is undoubtedly not the hill that I am willing to die upon, but it is one that I am inclined to put up a proper fight in defense of. The past year or so has been a challenge, to say the least, for the Mavic loyalists globally. Much more challenging than usual. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
When Regent, a US private equity firm based in California, acquired Mavic from Amer Sports back around March of 2019, I was hoping for the best. Unfortunately, just about everything associated with that transaction was nothing short of a shitshow. I'll spare you most of the ugly details, but I'll at least mention a few of the highlights. Regent not doing their homework regarding French labor laws. Mavic was placed in receivership by a commercial court in Grenoble. A new French owner determined by the commercial courts and Regent deciding not to play nice by essentially locking everything down in North America. With most of this going down in 2020, along with that other thing that was happening globally and radio silence from the newest owners (besides some recent IG posts), there were more than a few of us wondering what was up with Mavic.

Mavic Spokes, Rims, and Tool

Fast forward to now. Mavic has distribution up and running in Canada, and it's my understanding that they are in the process of setting up distribution here in the US. Truth be told, I haven't been able to source anything from Mavic for over a year. Fortunately, because of my sizable inventory of Mavic parts, I have been able to keep a good amount of Mavic wheels rolling during Mavics' hiatus here.
Now that I filled you in with a few of the details, I'll move on to my defense of Mavic wheels. If you ever had the chance in the past to talk with me regarding Mavic, you more than likely would have heard me say, "If Mavic didn't make a damn good wheel, they would have been out of business a long time ago." I still stand by that statement. Yes, historically, they have been challenging in the communication department. Yes, most of their wheel components are proprietary. Yes, it can be frustrating that they only support their wheels for five years, and yes, it is frustrating that it is difficult to find a drive-side spoke for your 14+-year-old Ksyrium SL wheel (and it's the first broken spoke in this wheel none the less...). A few of the above scenarios would be crippling to most wheel manufacturers. Still, Mavic has held on for over 130 years, and I believe that their outstanding design and manufacturing have contributed to this more than anything else.

Mavic Freehub BodyNow, I am not saying that everything that Mavic produces is without flaw. Far from it. But if you compare Mavic's core line of wheels with any other brand out there, you would be hard-pressed to find wheels that last longer and are more reliable. I can count on more than one hand the local clients that I have who are still rolling on first generation (1999-2000) Ksyrium SL's. Those are over 20-year-old wheels. Twenty. Years. Old. I can attest that these local wheels I mentioned have seen at least 2K annual miles (do the math) and most miles logged here in northeastern Ohio, where we have four very distinct seasons. Far from fair-weather riding conditions year around. I believe that any other brand of wheels would have had to be rebuilt at least once for one reason or another or retired altogether because of a compatibility issue.  The example that comes to mind predominantly is Mavic road wheels back to 2000 being 11 speed compatible by simply removing the spacer behind the 9/10 speed cassette.  No need to swap out the freehub body and other parts to be able to run Shimano or SRAM 11 speed.  If I had to narrow down the biggest complaint that I hear about regarding Mavic wheels, it would have to be the difficulty and or inability to get replacement parts for 10+-year-old wheels.  That says a lot about the quality and longevity of a pair of race-weight, pro-level wheels that you can ride year-round.  In the current throw-away culture, It's nice to have something that you can keep for a while.  I appreciate that about most Mavic wheels and I think that you should too.


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