This article originally published on BikeRadar
French wheel manufacturer Mavic designs its wheels as 'systems', which, since the launch of the manufacturer's Ksyrium K10 in 2009, have come to include tires.
Mavic recently put out a video chronicling field-testing for tires, which includes the WorldTour racing exploits of the Garmin-Barracuda squad.
Mavic says they've sunk three years of R&D, encompassing upwards of 60 prototypes and over 400 hours of lab and field-testing, to design and prove their top-range Yksion GripLink and PowerLink model tires.
"The GripLink and PowerLink, the most advanced of our tires definitely required 2-3 years of development time [since Mavic launched tires in 2009] to come up with rubber compound and casing densities things like that, to find the optimum blend of rolling resistance versus grip," Zack Vestal, Mavic's communications manager told Cyclingnews. "Part of the prototype process is not only the tires that make it to market, but the tires that are in the pipeline for the future. We're determining how to maximize other aspects, like aerodynamics and tire shape versus tread compound and casing material. What we see now with GripLink and PowerLink is just the beginning and meant to be the launching pad for a broader range of tire options."
While the Mavic-produced video is obviously meant to highlight the brand, we're still impressed by the methods used by the manufacturer. We especially like the moto-leather clad tester putting the Yksion tubulars and clinchers through their paces on a wet cone course in Rumilly, France.
"Mavic has the advantage of an extensive testing platform for wheels and now we have the ability to integrate tires into that program as well, so we can squeeze the most performance out of the system as a whole," said Vestal. "Everyone is going to wider wheels, well, we've got the potential to go to wide wheels and tires; if you're looking at aerodynamics, it's a matter of matching the tire profile to the wheel profile, and at every step of the way you've got to test the tires to make sure they're still meeting the performance demand."
The tire featured is still in the prototype phase, however, its size and tread pattern lead us to believe it may be put into action over the next few months as Garmin-Barracuda's new weapon for the spring classics. "With specialty applications like that Mavic's number one priority is the success of the team," said Vestal. "So if the team feels like that's what they need to be successful, and if they don't feel like we have the right product for them at this moment, then there's an agreement between Mavic and the team to ensure the team's best performance.
"Our tire designers are working as fast as they can to develop tires for every application, and that's part of what's going on in the testing [in the video]."
Stay tuned to our upcoming tech coverage from the pits in France and Belgium to see which way the team goes — in terms of tires — for the most important races: high-tech or with tires sourced from Europe's old-fashioned tire artisans.