Mavic Zircal Spoke and M7 Nipple...Up close

If you have been an owner of any Mavic wheel that has Zircal spokes and their FORE rim design there’s a good chance that you have had to deal with the issue of the spokes seizing to the nipple, the nipple seizing in the rim, or both.  When this happens, the wheel is still safe to ride but doesn’t allow you to true the wheel if the area of the rim that needs to be aligned is at or near the spoke(s) that are seized.  For several years I’ve been trying to come up with a way to prevent this from happening and/or a process to break the seized parts free without damage to the spoke, nipple, or the rim.  For some reason, I just can’t let this go.

Besides the proactive approach of turning every spoke nipple (while holding the spoke stationary) and adding a drop of penetrating oil between each spoke and nipple every time I have a Mavic wheel of this design in my shop, there really isn’t much else that I could come up with.  As a side note,  in defense of Mavic and this design, I believe that one of the biggest contributing factors why this happens is because these wheels tend to stay true longer than the typical wheels, mechanics and folks that work on their own bikes tend to not put a spoke wrench to the nipples for an extended period of time...thus allowing this “seizing” to happen (at least this is my theory).  Take a minute to google Mavic Ksyrium SL and Crossmax SL wheels and you will see how durable and long-lasting this design is.

If one is honest with oneself, there comes a time when you know that you’re really far into the weeds and you need to reach out to someone who knows a lot more then you about the subject.  So, I tossed some new Zircal spokes and a few spokes with seized nipples to someone who’s in my inner circle who has spent more years in school and in a lab than I can remember.  I asked him to figure out what’s going on.  Here’s what he sent me...

Yes...it’s a SEM image.

Yes...it’s a SEM image.

Let’s see where this goes... -John