Mavic's Cosmic wheels have been around for what seems like yonks now. The Cosmic Carbon SLRs here get the same carbon fibre spokes as the more expensive wheels in the range but by using an aluminium hub and aluminium clincher rim with a carbon fairing, Mavic can keep the price down
The technology in the wheels is looking a little dated against some of the latest crop of aero wheels, but they still work exceptionally well. The rim, the most interesting part of these wheels, is constructed by adding a 52mm 12k carbon fairing to an aluminium rim. It's something Mavic have been doing for some years, and they've pretty much perfected it now.
Mavic have continued to fettle the the Cosmics though, and the most recent addition is the Exalith treatment to the aluminium braking surface. The aim here is to decrease braking distances by a claimed 18% in wet conditions, with a combination of high-friction coating and a file-like texture machined into the rim. You have to used specific pads, supplied with the wheels.
First impressions are impressive. In the dry braking is excellent, you can stop rapidly with pretty good modulation. In the wet though they really shine, offering a touch more braking power than a regular alloy rim, and a whole heap more than any carbon rim. They whizzy sound that accompanies every pull of the brake lever is something you'll never tire of.
The shape of the rim is classic V-shape stuff, offering reasonable aerodynamic gains over a regular box section rim but paling compared to the latest rim shapes. In a straight line they pull well, once you've got the 1.62kg combined weight up to speed. Rolling along at 30kph+ they show good momentum, they just want to pound along. In blustery conditions, with a lot of cross-winds, they can be a handful, especially if you're a reasonably light cyclist like I am. It's fine if you're expecting it, but can occasionally catch you off-guard.
The rims are laced to the hubs with bladed carbon spokes. These give the tyres a very smart appearance, and the wheels slotted into any bike instantly lifts its visual impact. The spokes run continuously from rim to rim and pass over the hub with a special fitting holding them in place. Mavic call this 'R2R'. An aluminium anchor holds the spoke securely in place on the hub, but you can't see this as it's concealed by the hub flanges. This approach is designed to produce a stronger and stiffer wheelset. The spokes are replaceable should one become damaged.
Part of Mavic's recent change has been to provide wheel and tyre systems. The wheels came with a pair of GripLink / PowerLink 23mm tyres already fitted in place. That means it's a cinch to get up and running, just fit a cassette, inflate the tyres and you're off.
The tyres are reasonably impressive but lack a little in the speed department. They're made with a dual compound construction, so you get more grip when you lean over and less rolling resistance when straight up. They're front and rear specific; the PowerLink rear tyre uses a harder 70a compound so it shouldn't wear out faster than the front tyre.
In testing that has proven to be the case, with equal wear rates front and rear. They're nicely matched tyres too and make a good pairing. People will likely have tyre preferences, a favourite brand, but if you don't then the Mavic tyres are fine performers.
I pounded these wheels over many miles, through winter training rides (yes I know what you're thinking), in road races and commuting, and they've proved thoroughly dependable. I didn't have a single problem with them at all. The bearings were still running smoothly in the hubs when it came time to send them back. At 1,595g they're clearly not the lightest, but for the price they offer a good balance of performance, price and weight.
The rate of development in carbon clinchers is fast making these wheels seem redundant, but you're getting a proper aluminium rim which is supremely better than any carbon braking surface. Their reliability is well proven too. They won't be for everyone, but if you want a good all-round deep-section wheel with an alloy braking surface, the Cosmics are still a good choice.
Decent aero performance & good braking rain or shine, but a bit heavy and pricey compared to some of the competition.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Mavic Cosmic SLR wheels
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Cosmic Carbone SLR is the first aerodynamic clincher Wheel-Tyre System. Aerodynamics, light weight and rolling efficiency are its proven benefits. The exclusive Exalith technology enhances the braking efficiency and the overall look of this Wheel-Tyre System. Consistent SSC graphics.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SSC Wheel-Tyre System: the pros choice
Optimized Wheel-Tyre System: GripLink / PowerLink
Superior endurance: Exalith
Distinctive full black - SSC graphics
Get the most aerodynamic!
52 mm elliptical rims
Integrated aero spokes: R2R
Profiled hub caps: low frontal drag
Aerodynamics sub-1600 grams
12 K carbon flanges on superlight alloy rims
Extra light hub design
Weight (pair of wheels): 1595 grams
front wheel: 725 grams
pair of wheels with tyre - WTS: 2165 grams
front wheel with tyre - WTS: 1010 grams
They're packed with features and the construction is excellent, combining carbon spokes with a alloy rim and carbon fairing.
They're not the fastest deep-section wheels and lack stability in cross-winds. They're on the heavy side too, which stunts their initial acceleration, better for time trial than crit racing.
Oh they're fabulously bombproof. The design has been well-proven over the years and that shows, they're utterly dependable.
The latest carbon clinchers are at least 100g or more lighter
They're not as uncomfortable as you might expect, but they're far from smooth over rough roads.
A tricky one this: it's easy to write them off as overpriced old technology, but in the durability and braking performance they have a lot going for them. They're easy to live with
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're showing their age, but they still put up a good argument. It's hard not to ignore the fact their days are numbered though, especially as Mavic is now moving to carbon clincher tech (though based on the Cosmic Carbone in a way) with their new CC40 wheels.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good braking performance and easy to live with.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Weighty and not that fast.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.