Cycling

Mavic warns against the dangers of counterfeit wheels

Mavic has a long history of creating quality wheelsets backed up by in-house design, engineering, manufacturing, and quality control. Just recently, the French wheel manufacturing powerhouse launched a new range of wheels, all back by a new lifetime guarantee. But it appears not every wheel that bears that distinctive yellow label is in fact a Mavic wheel or meets the same standards as genuine Mavic products.

After a wheel failure on a small descent that almost resulted in a crash last year, a French cyclist decided to report the incident to his local bike shop. A subsequent investigation by Mavic concluded the wheels in question were counterfeit products from Asia, with vastly different design elements and manufacturing standards than the real thing.

At this point, Mavic launched a more thorough investigation and legal action against the counterfeit suppliers. Mavic also decided to purchase a pair of counterfeit wheels for testing and analysis.

Mavic has now announced several findings from the tests on the fake wheels, and the results are startling, if not somewhat unsurprising.

Firstly, Mavic found clear visual differences between the fake wheels and genuine Mavic products. Mavic reported finding poor design quality, including, “basic quality stickers”, “no Mavic logo on the hubs”, and the “wrong corporate logo”.

Mavic also found the rim height, widths, the spoke type (J-bend instead of straight-pull), the number of spokes used, and the hubs were not in line with any genuine Mavic wheels, past or present.

Mavic then ran a series of lab tests to evaluate the safety of the fake wheels, testing the braking efficiency, braking power, and lateral strength.

The first test, which Mavic described as a “Basic ISO test of braking efficiency (ISO 4210 NORM)” was not intended to be destructive, but to prepare the rim for subsequent testing. The test involved applying ten braking cycles to the rim at a speed of 35 km/h with a total rider and bike weight of 130 kg, and a force of 200 N on the brakes.

According to Mavic, this is normally meant to be merely a preparatory cycle ahead of the actual tests in Mavic’s testing protocol, and the loads applied represent entirely realistic conditions. Still, the results of the test were staggering, with a complete failure of the fake rim.

The second test involved applying up to 50 braking cycles to evaluate the fake rim’s real braking power. Again, the results were alarming with another complete failure of the rim, including rim deformation and delamination.

Lastly, Mavic tested the fake rim’s “lateral endurance” by applying 30 kg of load to the rim’s sidewall at 45 km/h. In testing of its genuine wheels, Mavic sets a lower limit of 200 km for spokes and 300 km for hub flanges before damage occurs. In testing the fake wheels, the tests resulted in broken spokes after just 50% of the distance and broken hubs at 90% of the target distance.

After completing all tests and analysing the results, Mavic has concluded the counterfeit wheels are “dangerous and will lead to serious injury or death”.

Mavic has vowed it will begin legal action against the sellers every time it is alerted to a counterfeit Mavic product. Mavic encourages anyone who finds a fake Mavic product to contact their local dealer, distributor, or Mavic directly. Mavic also had some advice for customers concerned about inadvertently purchasing fake products.

“When you buy a product, ask yourself: do the price reflect the quality and finish of this product? A cheap carbon wheelset should ring a bell in your brain saying: take care and verify, for your own safety”.

Given that most of the fake wheels are sold online through non-specialist retailers, Mavic was unable to speculate how many fake wheels could be in circulation (pardon the pun). However, Mavic did confirm it is “regularly entering into legal actions.”

If you are unsure about a wheelset’s authenticity, Mavic advises registering the wheels’ serial number on www.tech-mavic.com or Mavic Care for a warranty case analysis. If the system rejects the serial number, the wheels are potentially counterfeit, and you should contact Mavic as soon as possible.

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