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Mavic Cosmic Carbone CXR 60 Wheelset announced.

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Mavic claims its new Cosmic Carbone CXR 60 wheels can beat out aero titans like the Zipp 404 in the wind tunnel at certain yaw angles. The CXR 60 follows on the design of the Mavic’s first aero wheel, the CXR 80, which was introduced last year as part of a wheel-tyre system.

As with the CXR 80s, the 60mm-tall CXR 60 wheels feature snap-in ‘blades’ that smooth the transition between the tyre and the wheel. The blades’ function is purely aerodynamic. However, while the 80s are tubular-only, the 60s come in clincher and tubular options.

Mavic-Cosmic-wheels launched

The first wheels are expected to begin shipping in July with full availability by September.

The €2,000 CXR 60 clincher set will include including the wheels, Mavic tyres, blades, skewers and bags. Claimed weight is 1,800g with another 195g for the tyres. The €2,200 CXR 60 tubulars have a claimed weight of 1,600g for the pair, and the tyres are 240g a piece.

Mavic’s wind tunnel

Mavic do their wind tunnel testing in the cmefe-hepia aerodynamics wind tunnel in Geneva. The University of Geneva operates the tunnel for a variety of tests, from optimising the French downhill skiing team to modelling pollution fallout across cities. Mavic are the only cycling company with access though, and provide their own engineers, aerodynamicists and even a force measuring balance to keep costs down. As a result, they were able to spend 18 days in the tunnel in 2011 and 28 in 2012 – around 1,000 hours of tunnel time – to develop and test their wheels.

Mavic also used a bicycle mounted weather vane to measure and record wind direction during any given ride. The wind direction changes a lot and Mavic wanted to get an idea of the distribution of yaw angles. They gathered plenty of data and came up with a weighting law in order to clump the aero savings at the various yaw angles into a single number that’s easier to understand, and hopefully realistic.

We have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from Mavic in future as they have quickly closed the gap to their competition thanks to the convenience of having a wind tunnel almost on their doorstep.

Some top-line figures and judgements

While Mavic claims the CXR 80s outperform every wheel they have tested, the CXR clinchers and tubulars are close to each other. Like many wheel makers, Mavic measured the drag of the wheel at a variety of yaw angles. Interestingly, the CXR 60 C (clincher) is better than the CXR 60 T (tubular) from 0 yaw (head-on wind) to about 10 degrees. This is due to the slightly different tyre and rim shapes of the clincher and tubular.

When considering a weighted average of yaw angles based on what a rider will typically experience, all three wheels within 1.5 watts of each other.

Mavic found that the Zipp 404 Firecrest wheel did bit better than CXR 60 at 5 degrees but not at 0 or at 10 degrees.

At a glance, we think the CXR 60 C seems like a good bet over the CXR 60 T because:

  • The metal Exalith braking is better than the carbon surface on tubulars
  • They are cheaper by 200 euros
  • The tyres have better rolling resistance by 3-4w with a standard butyl (not lightweight latex) tube. Rolling resistance savings could be even greater with the latter
  • They are about the same weight as tubulars when you include the tyres
  • They have slightly better aerodynamics between 0 and 10 degrees
  • No glue required!

A pro triathlete’s perspective

Mavic had Ironman World Championship bronze medalist Frederik Van Lierde on hand for the wheel launch to talk about his experience on the CXR 80s, which he rode at Kona last year to his best-ever bike split (4:35) and position (4th) last year on a windy day.

“Last year in September I was here [in the Geneva wind tunnel] to do some testing with Mavic,” Van Lierde said. “I tested a couple of things, including position. One thing convinced me when I did the setup with only one wheel, the CXR80, at a certain yaw angle into a headwind: the wheel kept spinning. That was good technically and mentally.”

Van Lierde choose to ride the CXR 80 front and back at Kona, which can be notoriously windy. “I could stay in the bars the whole time, something I didn’t have with other wheels,” he said. “For a course like Hawaii these are great wheels for all those kind of windy conditions. Previously I was 10th-15th in the bike; now I was fourth.”

Van Lierde said that while he will always race a set of 80s, the CXR 60 is a great alternative for “people who are not sure about 80s.”

Aside from the handling aspects of a 80mm wheel, there is also the fact that the 80s are tubular-only.

The numbers and the claims

When considering resistive forces acting on the rider and bike, aerodynamics is quite important. While rolling resistance doesn’t increase with speed, aerodynamic drag goes up with the square of speed. The power you need to overcome rolling resistance increases linearly with speed but goes up with speed cubed for aerodynamic drag.

For their comparisons, Mavic ramped up the speed to 50km/h. For reference, the fastest-ever stage of the Tour de France was won by Mario Cipollini at an average speed of 50.355km/h, and David Millar won the fastest-ever Tour de France time trial longer than 40km with an average speed of 54.361km/h over 49km.

Taking into account a weighted average of yaw angles, Mavic say their CXR 60s save 6.3 watts, or 19 seconds, over 40km when going 50km/h, when compared on average to the Zipp 404s, the HED Stinger 6 and the Enve 6.7.

Tyres and NACA profiles

Mavic considered tyre and rim in developing their wheels because the tyre is what sees the air first and affects the airflow.

The CXR 60 C and T use different sets of NACA airfoils. There are two profiles because each wheel hits the air twice, once in front (60% of drag) once at trailing edge (40%). The CXR 80 uses NACA profiles 0024 and 0011; the CXR 60 T uses 0029 and 0017; and the CXR 60 C uses 0027 and 0012.

The tyre tread pattern is also optimised for aerodynamics to help keep flow laminar around the rim and tyre.

While the spokes and hubs are as slender as possible while maintaining high stiffness, Mavic use their normal hubs, and didn’t try to optimise them for aerodynamics.

What’s next: First ride review

BikeRadar will be test riding the CXR 60s Wednesday, and will post a first ride review following that. is the online home of Triathlon Plus – the best source of triathlon training advice, triathlon gear reviews and triathlon news.

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