Roubaix has always been the litmus test for product durability. It has been known to take the latest and greatest straight from the test bench and spit it out in splintered pieces. But succeed at Roubaix and the product can become legendary. Specialized’s Roubaix made a name for itself by conquering the cobbles, Zipp’s 303 spent years in development on the cobbles before reaching the top step of the podium. Both products are now staples at the race and on consumer’s bikes.
For the 2011 Roubaix it was Mavic’s turn. For arguably the strongest classics team in the peloton they created a brand new wheel, dubbed the M40. Emblazoned with Cosmic stickers, the entire Garmin-Cervelo Team rode the new wheel at today’s ‘Hell of the North’. Following the wider-is-better trend spearheaded by Zipp and HED the M40 appears to be at least 24mm wide at the brake track, although this hasn’t been confirmed. They are 40mm deep, a nod to the aero revolution in road cycling that proved so valuable to Cancellara last year as he soloed to victory in both Roubaix and the Ronde.
The aero advantage is obvious, as displayed by Johan VanSummeren when he used the M40 to drop his breakaway companions and hold off even Cancellara himself for a solo victory today. The width creates better cobblestone performance, allowing riders to run low pressure with less risk of a pinch flat. That lower pressure keeps the tire in contact with the stones for traction, while sucking up the worst of the impacts for smoother power transfer.
Judging by the number of Garmin-Cervelo riders that played amajor role deep into the race, Hushovd, Farrar, VanMarcke, Rasch and of course, Johan Van Summeren, the M40 must be seen as a huge success for Mavic.
The wheel essentially took the cobblestones, and spat them out as pebbles. The only question now is, when will the wheel make its way into your local bike shop? With no consumer plans yet, we imagine that will change rapidly with all the success the wheel has seen.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the M40’s prowess under tough conditions was VanSummeren’s rear wheel. With a slow leak robbing him of tire pressure at 5km to go, he still managed to hold off a hard charging Fabian Cancellara.