The Mavic Ksyrium Elite are one of the ‘old guards’ of the Mavic lineup, with the first wheels to bear the ‘Ksyrium’ name dating back to 2000. 16 years later the Ksyrium Elite rims have gotten lighter and wider, with the current iteration featuring 17mm internal rims and a wheelset weight of 1583g.
1583g for an alloy clincher is hardly impressive these days, and I suspect that heavy spokes and hubs are to blame. With a recommended retail price of 639 euros these wheels are hardly cheap, especially considering the custom build options available. They can generally be bought a bit cheaper online. However unless you find a super crazy clearance deal, they’ll at best be on par (price wise) with a custom build.
The supplied skewers came in at 60g (front) and 63g (rear), considering that you can get a skewer set for around 50g these are quite heavy, but they do clamp the wheels well. The supplied tubes were 82g and 87g, not superlight but lighter than what I was expecting (100g). The tyres were 211g (front) and 217g (rear) which I consider respectable, given that they’re 25mm wide. It’s interesting to note Mavic recommend a tyre width of at least 25mm for these wheels.
In terms of serviceability, the bearings are user adjustable and the tool (Mavic M40123) is provided. This tool also doubles as a tyre lever and a spoke key, so it’s a handy addition to the package. It’s certainly a good tool to have in the back of your pocket as it’ll cover most adjustments you’ll want to make on the road. Speaking of spokes, Mavic’s proprietary spokes can be sourced from your local dealer, or some online stores. However, they are very expensive, costing quite a few times more than either Sapim CX-Ray or DT Swiss Aerolight spokes. This does detract from the overall appeal of these wheels, but if you rarely break spokes it’ll only be a minor annoyance now and then. If you are hard on your equipment I would keep this in mind before buying.
The first thing I noticed about these wheels was how well they roll. I wasn’t expecting anything special from the Mavic hubs, but they rolled incredibly well. The freehub engagement isn’t as quick as some other hubs, but out on the road I didn’t notice this too much. On this test sample, a few of the aero spokes were wound up. Untwisting the spokes with an aero spoke holder didn’t result in the wheels going out of true so it was an easy fix. Still, something like this should be picked up in the quality control.
I was quite disappointed with the tyres and tubes which make up the WTS. Put bluntly, the tyres were pretty average. They were decently supple, but I had a sensation that the tyres were a little ‘dead’ under acceleration. Perhaps these tyres were designed to be more of a durable, high mileage tyre, rather than a super soft and light race tyre but I do think there are better tyres for either market. In essence, I wouldn’t describe the tyres as something that adds value to the package, rather they’re something to be replaced when the opportunity arises.
When I did replace the tyres with something nicer (24mm Vittoria Open Corsa SR) and swapped the butyl tubes out to latex, the wheels felt much better. I no longer had the ‘dead under acceleration’ sensation, and this package responded much better to surges in power. As noted before, these wheels do roll well with the stock rubber, but there was a sensation of ‘rolling forever’ with the above tyre/tube changes. On flatter rides, while these wheels won’t offer an aerodynamic advantage, they don’t feel slow. However, these wheels felt most at home in hillier terrain.
From a weightweenie perspective, these wheels are disappointingly heavy – it isn’t hard to build a 1350~1400g wheelset for this price (and even lower if you’re willing to buy carbon tubulars), but never once did these wheels feel sluggish on the climbs. They certainly feel much lighter than their (almost) 1600g weight might suggest. When climbing, these wheels were stiff under power and accelerated well. Coming down the other side there was no flex when cornering, and the bike never felt skittish with these wheels. The braking surface was well machined, and the braking was always smooth and consistent with the stock Shimano pads – they’re certainly a step above rims made by Kinlin. When I was just riding along I didn’t notice this, but down some steep, technical descents I really appreciated the consistent braking on offer, leading to greater confidence and (marginally) faster descending.
Summing up, these wheels performed solidly in a variety of conditions, particularly in hilly terrain. The tyres might suffice for solo training or commuting, but are less suitable for racing or harder group rides. For the price, the frugal shopper might be a bit underwhelmed with the on paper specs, but they don’t disappoint out on the road. Still, I wouldn’t pay the RRP for these wheels – shop around for a discount.