Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mavic R-Sys Deathwatch


It's been a rough week for Mavic as the R-sys explodes under the many of the nation's prominent tech editors. First we had bikehugger's David Schloss, whose first generation, non-recalled R-sys rear wheel lost all it's non-drive spokes. He points out that these spokes are the same as the ones on the front wheel that were recalled and wonders why the rear wasn't replaced under the program as well. The sad truth, of course, is that these recalls only happen when something catastrophic (like having your front wheel dissolve without warning) is likely to occur. Since the rear wheel did use metal spokes for the drive side, even if all the non-drive spokes were to fail, the wheel would not collapse. You might still crash, and the wheel would, of course, be ruined, but the consequences would be less dire. Still, the argument that the rear wheel should have been included in the recall was a valid one.

Then, yesterday, Velonews editor Ben Delaney renders the point moot when his post recall R-sys front wheel explodes while making a left turn. He includes lots of damning pictures and eyewitness accounts to refute Mavic's claim that it was most likely "user error." The fact that a prominent publication would post to their site such an indictment of a major advertiser should give anyone pause before plunking down $1400 for a set of wheels that is more likely than most to break one's scapula.

Today, others have joined in. Dan Seaton at gearratios.org expresses the frustration of many current R-sys owners who wonder what the hell they are going to do with their wheels at this point. BSNYC adds his trademark wit and turn of phrase to the topic and also points out that Competitive Cyclist has already stopped selling the things. I'm sure others have voiced opinions as well, but that was just a sampling of what came across my rss reader in the last 48 hours.

My guess is that the R-sys will not be around much longer. They haven't been selling well to begin with and the constant stream of bad publicity certainly doesn't help. The question is whether they will be recalled again or just left to die. This does leave current owners in a bind. On the one hand, they may benefit if there is another recall and Mavic ponies up with something useful. The more likely scenario is that the wheel will be discontinued, and the current ones, no longer inspiring the confidence required of race wheels, will languish on Ebay. It's not a good sign that you can already get a brand new set of the premium version at $600 below retail.

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