One of my favorite tools is my air compressor. I got one the same time I got into road tubeless. At the time, a blast of air was a necessity to get the first generation of 700c tubeless to slip into the bead of the rim. And even with the 100 psi blasting out of a hose, it still took some doing– removal of valve cores, soaping the bead, beating on the tire–it wasn’t much fun. Nor was it fast. I still use it during most tubeless setups, mountain or gravel.
So I was anxious to find out (and just a bit skeptical) if Mavic’s Allroad Pro wheel could live up to its promise of easier mounting. That tires with correct specs could pop into place without the assistance of my favorite tool. It didn’t take long to find out.
A set of Allroads comes with almost everything needed to get rolling. Out of the box they have the end cap size of your choice installed, tires, valve stems with removable cores, sealant and an injector. It’s like this cool little tubeless care package. There’s no rim tape because none is needed. Rims are sealed. Simply add cassette, rotors, mount tires, lube the bead and pump. Yes pump, not blast. On the first try, I got the Mavic supplied tires to click in, with a $40 floor pump. I let the air out, removed the cores and added the sealant (made by Hutchinson), then re-inflated. I was rolling in less than a half hour. That’s a PR for me in tubeless install.
One of the things I love about these wheels is the number of ways they can be configured. They come with 12mm, 100/142 end caps installed and QR caps in the care package. 15mm front end caps are available for now. Mavic may do away with those down the road. A Shimano 11spd hub body is stock but a road XD or Campagnolo can be ordered. They come in either six bolt or center lock, buyer chooses. Buyer also picks tires, 30mm or 40mm Yksions, made by Hutchinson. A 35mm version is in the works.
Mavic’s journey to gravel and road tubeless has been a long one. The company was one of the first to bring tubeless to the market with its UST for mountain in 1999. And when the benefits of running without tubes became apparent, Mavic was right there working on the same for 700c. But while others moved forward, in 2005, Mavic hit the brakes in the name of safety and ease of use. A company with 125 years in the bike industry could not risk its reputation on technologies it felt needed further advancement.
It was never a matter of if Mavic’s road wheels could go tubeless. The Ksyrium was always one of the easier wheels to convert to tubeless because the rim is sealed. Conversions maybe OK for the home mechanic, but for a company with a legal department, you gotta do better. Two things got Mavic over the road tubeless hump: contouring of the rim bed so tires mount easier and tires with predictable bead stretch considering the higher pressures of road and gravel. With that, Mavic checked off two big boxes: easier tire mounting and safer. Soon after, the Allroad was born.
Inside the cavity, the rims have little onramps or launching pads that carry the bead out of the center channel and into the bead seat. In Mavic speak they call it Rim Contour Design, I’ll leave the french translation up to you. In the garage, they just work. I mounted four sets of tires: Mavic’s 40mm Yksion Elite Allroad (also made by Hutchinson), Panaracer Gravel King Slicks, WTB TCS Resolutes and WB TCS Nanos. Mavic’s supplied tires and the WTBs seated with ease. Both companies are supporters of ETRTO standards. And while the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization does not set standards for bike tires, both companies make rims that meet their standards and have tires to match. So it’s no wonder those models seated with a floor pump. The Gravel Kings took more convincing. Hello air compressor.
Mavic could have called this wheel the “Dirt Ksyrium.” They look similar and there are shared technologies. ISM 4D, the shaving between spokes is the same thing that Mavic has used on the Ksyrium for years. To anchor spoke to rim, the Allroad has the Ksyrium’s Fore drilling, which really isn’t drilling at all. Mavic instead heats the rim to create spoke hole. On the Pro level, the other Ksyrium similarity is the the Zicral spokes (Elites have stainless).
I talked with Mavic Global Brand Manager Chad Moore about the Allroad, but mostly our conversation centered around tubeless standards. Moore said Mavic believes in building to a standard and that’s why their rims stick to the diameter and bead shape guidelines laid out by the ETRTO. But Moore said what is lacking is a tire standard. We agreed that it’s just plain odd that the body that tests rim designs for safety and consistency does not do the same for tires. At least not bike tires. So Mavic developed its own tires to match its standardized rims and wheels.
The company has entire lab setup for tire and rim testing and tolerances. They have a booth dedicated to blowing up tires. There’s a workstation for measuring rim width and diameter. They test for what the company believe is the most important spec in the entire tubeless debate and that is bead stretch. Their goal is to achieve a tire and wheel that is within 1mm of its specification.
The Allroad has a 22mm internal width. While it took longer than most, this puts Mavic in line with what’s happening in this category: wider rims for wider tires. Moore says Mavic was late to the party because again, the company has stood by standardization and waited for the ETRTO to approve the spec before moving forward.
In addition to rim diameter and width, ETRTO also sets tire size recommendations based on how wide a rim is. In the case of the Allroad and its 22mm bead to bead distance, the minimum tire width is 28mm. Could you put on something skinnier? Sure. But that could create improper bead contact and a risk of the tire coming unseated during a puncture. The maximum width recommended is more than a gravel fork or seat stays could clear, over 2 inches. The largest tire I ran was 42mm. I can’t imagine going much bigger. Maybe 45mm.
Anyhow, I’ve probably gone way too technical with this review. And if you’ve skipped ahead, I can’t blame you. Because in the end, what you want to know is how these things ride. I’ll just say that if tubeless safety is a priority, then Mavic is a company worth consideration.
When I rolled away for the first test ride, the first thing I noticed was the rear hub: the Instant Drive 360. Ok, it’s not instant, but the engagement is quick. From coast to crank it’s nine degrees of pedal turn. That’s a seven degrees upgrade from Mavic’s previous generation of rear hubs. Quick hub engagement is particularly useful on my trails where strewn rocks and quick pitches call for leveling of pedals followed by quick accelerations.
The Allroad set weighs 1610 grams, without tires. If you’re a gram counter then you’re probably moving on. And I’ll admit, when it came to what to ride at the Crusher in the Tushar and its two, two hour climbs, I swapped out the the Allroads for a set of carbon 29ers. The weight savings was about 200 grams but it came with a pretty hefty price tag. The carbons cost twice as much as the Allroads which has a much lighter tag of $1100. And while it was never Maic’s intention to create a light, aero gravel wheel, it does have its eye on the high performance end of the segment and sees an opportunity for a gravel-race wheel which could translate into a carbon version. Stay tuned.
During test rides the Mavics did a great job soaking up the rough stuff. They had less bounce back than a carbon wheel. I ripped down some of my favorite descents on the Allroads: Sullivan ridge, Eagle Rock into Trippett Ranch and Garden Land. These and other Santa Monica Mountain fire roads are tooth chattering affairs. The Allroads mellowed out some the madness that comes with a 30 mph fire road descent.
On the road, over mostly flat tarmac, there’s not much to say. But jump in a group, especially a group dashing down a canyon road, and then you’ve got something. During a mixed surface ride, six of us came off Summit to Summit motorway (funny name because there are no cars on this dirt road) and onto Old Topanga Canyon. Now I know as well as anyone that there’s a lot more at play besides rim material when it comes to rollout on a descent, but I had no problem keeping up with my carbon hooped partners. As they let if fly, so did I, and Mavic and I were right there next to Mr. Zipp, Mr. Roval and Mr. Enve.
I am not going to tell you these are the fastest multi surface wheel I have ever ridden. First, I don’t care for superlatives. Second, it wouldn’t be honest. I have ridden faster wheels. I own faster wheels. But what I am willing to say is that so far, these are the easiest (qualified superlative) wheels to mount tubeless. And if I could only have one set of wheels, the Mavic Allroad would definitely be a finalist. Two sets of wheels is nice to have but with the Allroad’s contoured rim design and “no tape needed” channel, changing tires is pretty quick. Merci Mavic.
Final thought: No more wasting CO2 cartridges
Action photo: Carey Downs