Colnago Con Brio Interviews Alex Coventry from Mavic UK

13 Jun

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A few days ago, Colnago Con Brio caught up with Alex Coventry who looks after the operations/marketing for Mavic UK. We wanted to find out about the new Mavic 2011 wheel range. Alex very kindly took some time out from his hectic schedule to answer a selection of questions for our viewers. Alex, thanks for talking to Colnago Con Brio…………

CCB) Mavic appear to be going from strength to strength with their  2011 wheel range, what’s the secret?
AC) Mavic is always trying to develop, but remains fiercely independent so does not follow the crowd. Exalith is a perfect recent example of this, and it all started with the first Dura rim in 1934 helping Anton Magne to his Tour de France win saving almost 1kg on his wheels!

CCB) Since writing my article, I have received quite a few emails regarding the RSYS – SLR wheels, what were the thoughts from the R/D guys behind the new Mavic RSYS – SLR wheels

AC) The aim was to provide the look of an ‘all carbon’ black wheel with-out the negative usability issues with carbon, such as braking, impact resistance, and tyre versatility. The Exalith treatment means the overall look of the 3 SLR wheels (Ksyrium SLR, R-SYS SLR, Cosmic Carbon SLR) is fantastic and the braking performance in wet and dry is also greatly improved.

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CCB) Its a nice touch to offer tyres to accompany selected wheel-sets within the Mavic range, is this for sales purposes or does the tyre range really  work hand in hand with the wheels.
AC) In order to develop a wheel you need to understand how tyres work, in terms of their interaction with the wheel and their performance. Mavic possessed a lot of knowledge without realising the value of that knowledge. A very small change in the tyre can dramatically change how a wheel performs (and looks) and we wanted to start to remove those variables for our consumers. We have began this process with our SSC wheels and will drip feed this down through our range over the next few seasons.

CCB) The Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate are the flagship wheel of the company, are you planning any changes to these wheels?
AC) We work really closely with our Pro teams (Garmin Cervelo, Liquigas and Loto) on the wheels and range, to provide them with the best product possible. The Cosmic Carbon Ultimate was in development for 3 years, and when it was launched, pushed the limits of carbon manufacturing. The wheel remains the ‘go to’ wheel for our pro teams and continues to win, sprint stages, brake away and mountain stages. Until our Pro teams feel out gunned we won’t touch perfection!

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 CCB) We have heard and seen quite a lot of information about the new Mavic M40 wheels. Could you please tell us a little more about these wheels and when will they be introduced to the range?
AC) The M40 is a development name for a group of prototype wheels where we are testing various options for a 40mm depth multi use wheel with various possibilities for range applications. It has enabled us to learn an enormous amount about the limits of what is possible, in terms of a strength / weight ratio, and that came to perfect fruition with Johan Van Summeren giving Mavic their first  Roubaix victory for 20 years! 
Consumers should expect to see a M40 related product in the 2013 range.

CCB) I must say, the behind the scenes filming of the pro team and Mavic working together has been a great insight for the viewer and potential customer. Will you be doing more filming in the future?
AC) Keep watching our you-tube site and there will be more videos on the way!

CCB) Regarding production, where are Mavic wheels made and where do you source the carbon fiber from? 
AC) We do most of our manufacturing at our own sites within Europe, with some specific OE production in Asia. Our Carbon comes from various sources depending on the quality needed and the application, but all our carbon manufacturing is in house.
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CCB) Could you see Mavic developing a deep section pure carbon fibre clincher in the future or would it be too expensive?
AC)  Our R&D teams have been exploring many options for a long time.
 Developing a reliable carbon clincher presents a lot of challenges for very little gain.
 If you want to ride the highest performance wheels possible in terms of weight, you should be on a Cosmic Carbon Ultimate tubular – if you want the versatility of a clincher, you should accept the versatility of an aluminium breaking surface. The Cosmic Carbon SLR is a perfect compromise with the Exalith ‘all black’ look, and clincher reliability and aluminium breaking surface.

CCB)  Where do you see Mavic within the industry of wheel building and design? Also, what are you thoughts on the wheel building industry in general.
AC)  I firmly believe Mavic is one of the leading wheel manufacturers globally (and one of the leading P&A brands globally) which is why I love working for the brand.
For sure in certain tiny niches there are artisan builders who can offer something specific, but our size allows us the benefits of high R&D and development investment that allows us to improve, and ensure that everything we offer meets our very high quality standards.
There will always be a market for true ‘hand builds’ but there are a lot of myths about ‘factory build’ wheels. Our wheels are hand finished and checked on 3 separate occasions before delivery.

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 CCB)  What are Mavic’s plans for the coming years. Could you please inform us about any future developments or strategies.
AC) I can’t let you in to any trade secrets but we have an exciting new range being introduced in September as part of our Riders Equipment product line.

CCB) What bike are you riding at the moment?
AC) A Specialized Tarmac SL3 (with Mavic Ksyrium SLR wheels)

CCB) Have you ever owned or ridden a Colnago bicycle ?
AC) No – but I am lusting after a mat carbon C59 having seen a build last year with R-SYS Exalith in matching matt black!

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