I spec these on my largest 3 rental bikes and after a full year, I have not seen one single spoke failure on any of them. Know that some of these people measure 2.00m plus. They go out training all over Tenerife for up to two weeks. I’d estimate they climb 10,000 cumulative metres or more and descend around the same amount. The last thing cyclists want to do is true wheels while they’re on vacation. So I get the bike back, check these wheels, and find that they still run almost perfectly straight! Other wheelsets would surely need re-tensioning after this kind of abuse. Mavic aksiums barely even need a few 1/4 turns of the spoke wrench on a couple of spoke nipples. Incredible.
I attribute their strength to numerous factors:
2) A sturdy rim that’s not too light.
3) Self-locking nipples, which maintain an even spoke tension.
4) Straight spokes reduce the likelihood of metal fatigue.
5) A radially laced non-driveside rear wheel also helps to even out the tension caused by the wheel’s dish.
Apart from durability, one of the best features of the aksium wheels is that they are compatible with Shimano/Sram and Campagnolo cassettes. All you need to get is the appropriate freehub body. Mavic parts are stocked by any decent bike shop, so they’re easily available and not too expensive. At this price level, freehub interchangeability is almost unheard of.
Mavic claims a weight reduction of 140g for 2008 bringing the total weight down to 1855 grams per pair. I’d say that half of that weight comes off the non-existent hub flanges compared to last year’s 2006 / 2007 model. Mavic also says that “unique aesthetics will make any bike look better”. While they certainly don’t look bad, I wouldn’t quite go that far.
Braking surface is excellent because it is machined after the joining operation. Because of that, I don’t notice any inconsistency when braking for extended periods. With other wheels, sometimes you can feel where the rim is joined, but not with these. I’m not the biggest cyclist and I don’t ever mash big gears when riding so I can’t really comment on their lateral stiffness (that’s a quality better measured in a laboratory anyway under the right test conditions). The noise level that the freehub makes lies somewhere in between Shimano’s eerily quiet hubs and Campagnolo’s super loud ones – it’s reassuring without being annoying.
Mavic needs to stop telling fibs about the materials used in their wheelsets. They started with the introduction of their “Cosmic Carbone” wheels close to a decade ago. Technically it was a polymer fairing which contained carbon. People assumed it was made of a carbon fibre composite but in reality it provided no structural support to the wheel, only aiding the aerodynamics (and possibly the looks). I used to be a Materials Scientist, so it took me a long while before I forgave them for that.
With their Mavic aksium wheels, it seems they’ve gone and done it again. The spokes aren’t be made of stainless steel; they look more like black-oxidised plain old low carbon steel to these well-trained eyes. I’ve never witnessed common brown surface rust appear with such regularity on any stainless steel spoke (yes even black ones). Either this is blatant false advertising or someone hasn’t double-checked the specification sheet. I won’t hold that against them though.
They come with rim tape, traditional aluminum quick releases and a plastic doodad that helps you to keep the aero-shaped spokes aligned if you should ever need to re-true them. All in all, I think these are an ideal training wheelset for heavier riders and offer unbeatable value for money.