Overview: With the abundance of features and perfect fit found on the Zxellium, one would never expect it to be part of Mavic’s first generation of shoes. The platform for the Zxellium came from the line of Adidas cycling shoes, but Mavic refined the shoe to make it one of their most popular models, and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to increase in popularity as more people discover all it has to offer. I had a chance to test these flashy kicks out for myself to see if Mavic really can make more than just wheels.
First impressions: I’m not a very flashy guy, but the all yellow Zxellium is Sa-weet! I’ve never seen anything like it, which gives it infinite style points in my review. I can see how this color scheme may polarize potential buyers – I’m guessing people will either love it or hate it. Mavic probably thought the same thing, which is why it comes in a more modest color design that is mostly white with some black and yellow accents.
Slipping your feet into the Zxellium is like putting on your favorite pair of slippers. I was amazed at how “broken in” these shoes felt right out of the box. A pre-shaped, 3-density composite insole is likely to thank for the initial step-in bliss. But this insole serves a purpose other than a comfy feel – it also absorbs road vibrations while you ride and is anti-bacterial to combat stink. The padding in the overlapping tongue, heel and insole will actually mold to your foot over time, creating a custom-like fit.
The fit in the heel is snug, but not restrictive. The Energy Lock carbon heel counter prevents stretch in this area while minimizing weight. I found the toe box volume and width to be average. I have a very narrow foot, so it was too wide for me, but I think it has an accommodating fit that will work for most people. Another one of our employees who purchased these shoes said it was the only shoe he has ever owned that didn’t give him hot spots while riding.
The Features: Where to begin…How about the ridiculously light and stiff full carbon outsole? If it’s stiff enough to handle the force Thor Hushovd creates when he’s sprinting to victory, I trust it can handle just about anything. I thought the shoe felt as stiff or stiffer than my S-Works Road shoes that I had been wearing previously. The sole on the Zxellium is super thin at 5.5 mm, putting your foot 7.5 mm from the top of the cleat, ensuring maximum energy transfer.
Two Velcro straps and a buckle serve as the closure system, but these are no ordinary straps and buckles. The Ergo SL Straps are lighter, more precise and 25% stronger than traditional straps with better ventilation. The Ergo Light Ratchet is a low profile, lightweight ratchet that is ergonomically designed to allow precise adjustment. I thought the straps looked a little flimsy at first, but after riding with them, my midfoot felt fully secured thanks to these minimalist straps.
Mavic’s Energy Frame is a TPU-injected exoskeleton that wraps around the ankle, for a snug fit without pinching. The upper is totally seamless with no stitching, making the inside of the shoe feel plush, yet supportive.
Final Score: I rate the Zxellium with a 9 out of 10. The style, fit, performance and bling factor are all there. The only reason I didn’t give it a 10 is because they were a little too wide, but anyone with a normal foot will find these to fit perfect.
I was a bit concerned about the durability of the shoe, so I asked our Mavic rep, Bill Archibald, if he had seen any returns due to faulty parts. He said he had only seen one or two instances where a shoe had to be replaced because a part broke. I know people who have ridden in the same pair of Sidi shoes for years because they just keep replacing the heel pads and buckles. Only time will tell how well the Zxellium holds up.
Mavic has some real momentum going with their shoes right now and the Zxellium is the flagship model. If you’re looking for a new performance-oriented shoe, they are at least worth trying on.