Mavic has long been one of the premiere wheelset brands in the industry. As such, they tend to do things a little differently with proprietary parts that ruffle some feathers, but also deliver very high levels of performance. The Ksyrium SLR wheelset is a couple of years old, but still holds its own amongst a growing sea of — mostly carbon — competitors.
Mavic Ksyrium SLR Wheelset Features:
- Maxtal alloy rims
- Exaith 2 coating for durability and all-weather braking
- Carbon non-drive-side spokes on the rear wheel
- FTS-L hubs (carbon front)
- Includes Griplink/Powerlink tires (23mm tested – can fit up to 32mm)
- Requires Exaith brake pads (included)
- Rim depth: 24mm (front) and 26mm (rear)
- Weight: 1355 g
- Price: $1849 pair (includes tires)
Whippy, responsive and sexy hoops
The venerable Ksyrium lineup has a wide selection of wheels to choose from in both carbon and alloy rims. The Ksyrium SLR is made to be as light and responsive as a carbon clincher, but with superior braking performance — thanks to the Exaith 2 treatment. The all-black wheels look fantastic and are even more fetching with the matching Griplink and Powerlink tires. While black frames may be losing their luster, all-black wheels will always be sexy in my book.
I’ve had the Ksyrium SLR’s aboard the Orbea Orca M-Team and have found them to be the perfect match for this mountain-loving all-rounder.
The Exaith 2 treatment features a ribbed brake track for improved performance in all conditions. With this treatment, you must use the included brake pads. These pads ensure the best stopping power and will not harm the finish. Initially, braking will be really loud (think shrieking eels), but don’t worry — it will be reduced to a low hum after about 50 miles of use. I noticed later that Mavic recommends about a 1mm toe-in on the brake pads, which may eliminate the initial shrieking.
As mentioned, these wheels are stunners, and the good looks are backed up by solid performance. Yes, $1849 is expensive for a set of alloy clinchers, but these have carbon clinchers beat in all-weather braking and come in at a competitive weight. If you are a heavy on the brakes or commonly tackle steep descents, going with the SLR’s might be a safer option and you won’t be disappointed.
The FTS-L hubs are stiff and roll extremely well. I’m confident that part of the descending prowess of the Orbea Orca is due to these wheels. I’m knocking 30 seconds or more off some of my longstanding downhill PR’s aboard the SLR’s. They are laterally stiff and extremely responsive. Lay them over and they deliver. Put the power down and they respond — in and out of the saddle.
I tested the SLR’s in wet weather as I got caught in a summer thunderstorm. I will say that braking performance does understandably degrade when riding in a complete deluge, but nowhere near the degradation I’ve experienced with carbon clinchers. If disc brakes are not in your future, then you will certainly be happy with the braking performance here.
Since these wheels are relatively low-profile (24mm/26mm), crosswinds were never an issue. Not once did I feel like I was getting blown around. They are simply unaffected by winds and allowed me to safely ride without worries. I’ve ridden on high alpine passes in Utah and long, lonely farm roads in the Midwest and these wheels are simply great all-rounders.
I’ll say that since these wheels feature such unique spokes, you may need to wait for parts to arrive should you ever need servicing. Luckily, my miles have been trouble-free and these wheels remain as true as they did when they came out of the box.
Since Mavic touts an integrated tire/wheel system, I’ve got to include my thoughts on the Griplink/Powerlink tire combo. As mentioned, I’ve had the 23mm versions aboard the Orca and while I’m typically a 25mm kind of a guy, these have been great overall — with a couple of exceptions. First off, traction is superb — even in wet weather and pushing the limits on endless gravel roads of the Midwest. Yes, wider would have been better on mixed gravel rides, but these weren’t too bad. On the downside, I’ve had the worst luck with flats. One was a shard of glass that caused a puncture, but I had two other stealth flats with no obvious cause. Bad luck or just bad design — three flats in 400 miles is a lot. I’m 170 lbs and have been riding them with 105/110 psi in the front and rear, respectively.
Most of today’s wheels are wider than the 16mm internal / 20mm external widths on the SLR’s. Mavic is widening their Ksyrium lineup for 2016, so keep an eye out for the new models when they arrive at your local shop. And, these wheels look to remain lighter than the 2016 models, so if a lightweight aluminum wheelset is what you’re looking for, you may want to act fast.
- Confident braking performance in all weather and terrain
- Lateral stiffness in and out of the saddle
- Lightweight design won’t slow you down on long climbs
- Roll fast and smooth
- Sexy black-on-black look
- Tires are included for full integration
- Easy-to-use QR levers
- Wicked-loud braking until broken-in (give them about 50 miles)
- Proprietary parts may be hard to come by
- Cost nearly as much as carbon clinchers
- Narrow by today’s standards (16mm internal / 20mm external) — that’s changing for 2016
The Bottom Line: Mavic Ksyrium SLR
I love the integrated look that the SLR’s deliver with their matte black color scheme and matching rubber, but most of all I love the performance of these wheels. They spin up fast, are laterally stiff and extremely responsive at speed. Catch a pair while you still can.
Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com
Mavic does things their own way and that's OK -- especially when it comes to these wheels. The 2015 Ksyrium SLR's are beautiful, fast and light with excellent braking (once broken-in).
- Lateral Stiffness
- Ride Quality