Mavic and Me

The Mavic brand meant a lot more in simpler times.

Like a lot of folks, I guess I fell off the Mavic wagon somewhere after the MA40 and before the Helium… but the ride was already getting pretty bumpy years earlier. As a junior, I raced exclusively on a pair of hand-me-down 36h GEL280/330s. They were crashed and taco’d repeatedly, rebuilt a half dozen times, and eventually passed on to another junior for further abuse. They even won a few races along the way. And so from the beginning, the Mavic name represented the kind of grit and glamour that I’d associated with my heros: Coppi, Anquetil, Hinault. While not wholly indestructible, Mavic’s products were at the pinnacle of performance, while being durable, at least in the right hands.

Things changed.

I grew up and rode for teams with sponsored equipment. Even raced a little on clinchers. Watched in horror as Mavic released Zap, MTB components, and eventually: prebuilt wheels. It was during that I admittedly strayed from my Europhilic roots, discovering the joys of J-Disc, American Classic, HED: the cycling equivalent of glam rock. My closet full of seasonally rotated GP4s began to accumulate cobwebs.

The estrangement has lasted a couple of decades, but over the past few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about my old friend and wondering what he’s been up to. I almost picked up the phone back in 2008, but then the whole R-SYS debacle happened, and I thought it better to give it some more time. But then things started to look up. Adidas discontinued some of my favorite kicks of all time, disappeared, and then resurfaced as rebranded Mavic shoes. Last year, Mavic sponsored the Garmin squad, and was reminded that tubulars matter. And an unoffensive clothing line was launched.

And so it follows that over the coming weeks, with much trepidation, I’ll be revisiting and reviewing, testing and thinking about all sorts of new and old Mavic. The known good: Reflex CD, Open Pro CD, iO/Comete, Cosmic Carbones (SRs mainly), the non-yellow shoes. The unknown: The Vittoria-made tubulars, the new pedals, the entire clothing line. Could care less: Ksyrium & R-SYS, anything MTB, Wintech.

It wasn’t long ago that I viewed Mavic as an entirely diluted, wan and desiccated brand. Please prove me wrong.