Mavic Speedcity Wheelset
I confess I’ve never quite understood the point of the Mavic Speedcity wheelset. A road wheel for a mountain bike? I don’t know many riders who – if they are content to ride their mountain bike on the road – are concerned enough about efficiency to try and fit road tires to it. Most of the mountain bikers I know who concede to ride on the road at all (most seem quite happy to slog it out in winter mud, rain and snow) – will have a cross bike or a road bike in the garage as well. But I hear there’s a growing market for these ultimate hybrids, so I agreed to give them a try.
A strange idea
These wheels are all about versatility. Disc brakes or V brakes. Just about any size tire. Just about any bike. Just about any cassette. You name it, these wheels will probably fit it. So, I took them out on a cross bike and on a mountain bike, just to see how they rolled. When I commute, the cross bike is always my first choice, and these wheels really added nothing over the Mavic Aksiums I usually use, and the Speedcity wheelset even felt a little sluggish, difficult to corner, and heavy. On the mountain bike I still didn’t get it. Sure, the bike rolled smoothly along the asphalt, but I never felt entirely stable on them – they were just too narrow. Why not just put racing slick tires on my regular MTB rims?
To figure it out I had to ask around. I was surprised to find quite a lot of serious, die hard mountain bikers talking about hybrid wheels – not necessarily the Speedcity – as a remarkably practical choice. They put on these rims and some road tires, lock out their suspension, and get training. For them, when it isn’t practical – or even possible given Northwest weather – to get on the trails, these wheels meant they could ride and train in a MTB position without damaging their best trail rims or wearing out race tires.
What makes the Speedcity special?
The short answer is not much. In the past, Mavic’s Speedcity wheelsets did little more than their Shimano counterparts and they were twice the price. Mavic has brought the price down a bit, and at $449 for the wheelset it’s not bad, but there isn’t much to lure my MTB buddies away from cheaper versions. After all, these wheels are for the most undesirable of rides for a mountain biker – that is, any ride on the road. It’s a very cold or wet day that gets a mountain biker to train on the road, and they don’t want to spend a lot of money for the privilege.
Sure, the Speedcity looks – and is – extremely robust and will probably last a lifetime. As a commuter wheel they make some sense, but at 1950g there are tough wheels out there that are lighter and just about as durable. Unless you really are restricted to one bike – and it’s a mountain bike – then these wheels won’t make much sense. And if you do want, or need, to ride your MTB on the road, there are cheaper options. If you don’t really need all the versatility of the Speedcity wheelset, then shop around. Maybe some slick tires will do the job too.
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