[photo: brad kaminski]
i am not sure how many people are following the velonews article "a shattering experience" about the failure of the mavic R-SYS front wheel. the article and incident happened to a seasoned velonews writer. today velonews published online the mavic response [gee i wonder what their going to say?].
i can not speak of what happened or if the mavic wheel was at fault, but this does bring me to a subject very dear to me about my beloved sport of cycling and the equipment we spend our hard earned money on. i am constantly amazed when people new to the sport lay out extremely large sums of money for a bike that is way beyond their means to ride the way it was intended to ride. think lightweight carbon bike, top of the line gruppo, race specific wheels with 18 spokes and lighter than a musset bag full of tiny pies. you know the kind of bike that would be standard issue if you were in contention for winning the alpe d'huez stage in the tour, but not for the overweight +185lb ego driven rider. they do countless hours of research on the web, view hours of tour videos, look at what the pro-tour guys are riding and than go to a local shop and get talked into a bike from one of the big name bike companies that probably forced out the other big name companies from the shop, and thus the selection is weak, ill fitted to the real task at hand and small car expensive.
i don't have space to write about carbon frames and why in the end we, non-protour team riders can't afford to ride them [i did not say afford to buy them] or why most component makers make their top of the line gruppos too light and in turn the key components bend under the weight of anything over 1000 watts [or why pro tour teams don't actually use them]. i will speak however of lightweight, over [or under] engineered wheels that cost more than a european vacation.
why do people insist on buying the latest, greatest, lightest wheels possible when they are not racing professionally and weigh more than 155lbs? first off if they do race professionally on a anything higher up the food chain than a local team, they get their wheels free and free often. the guys riding in a club or just starting out have to fork over all the money, even with a shop discount, they are expensive and in the end useless. thats right useless. a set of lightweight, top of the line wheels are useless to the average non-pro rider, for the simple fact that they will brake and will have to be replaced.
i am sure that the R-SYS is a marvel of design and engineering, but wether or not the wheel failed in said incident, it still has to be replaced, which is the simple point i am trying to make in this bloviated post. the rider has to replace the expensive wheelset and the expensive carbon frame that can not last through one crash or tumble. pro-tour guys talk about how great their frame [custom built for them] is and how great it rides, while in the background you can see a team mechanic building up another new bike for him after a race. in other words he gets a free bike and wheels every couple of races and the consumer gets to replace his or her carbon frame and wheels if they lay it down or hit a curb or knock it over or half wheel someone on a club ride and go down.
i am not amazed that the wheels exploded apart due to a tire failure or frame failure or whatever failure is not mavic's fault. the real question should be if a wheel can catastrophically fail due to a bad tire or broken carbon frame, is it a good value for the money? i don't personally ride mavic prebuilt wheels anymore, for the simple fact that every friend that has owned a pair of high-end mavic wheels, has been stranded due to the aluminum spokes braking and or rims cracking. they usually on average brake 10 - 30 miles from home or our local shop. i had a pair of steel spoked equipe's that latest a few years, but in the end did not ride well compared to other training [everyday] wheels. mavic's open-pro is still one of the standards for building quality custom wheels, although after years of using them i now build my everyday wheels with newer DTswiss rims and ether campy hubs or DTswiss hubs. i would also say that anyone riding CAT 5 - 3, a good pair of training wheels will be just as fast as a pair of expensive carbon hoops, especially if you lose 2 extra lbs. granted their is nothing like a great pair of tubular wheels, they feel better, roll better. but than again i dread the day i have to replace the tubulars on my carbon hoops, once a year i have nightmares of doing something to the carbon rim when i remove the old glue, that may cause it fail as i descend at 50mph in a group of 100. or is it the image of watching live when joseba beloki goes down in the tour in front of lance. oh, by the way ask christian vande velde why his tour may be in jeopardy.
so ask yourself before you handover your future to the cashier, are these wheels right for me, will they really make me a faster better rider and can i afford to replace them next week if i get a flat tire or someone half-wheels me. do yourself a favor, have a set of good quality 28 spoke everyday wheels built for you and enjoy your long rides with the knowledge that at least your wheels will make it home. want to go fast and be able to keep up with those old guys in your club that have 20+ years of base, than put in more miles each week, lose some weight, and more importantly just ride.
to recap, will expensive high-tech incredibly light wheels make you a faster better rider or are a custom built pair of 28 spoke, alloy rimed, steel spoked wheels more value for your money? i am going to stick to the wheels that day in and day out get me home and can put me in the lead group if i have the legs that day.
Labels: CARBON, FRAME, PARTS, value, wheels