Oct 29, 2014 – When Christophe Riblon climbed from his bicycle atop Alpe d’Huez after a double ascent of the famed mountain to win stage 18 of the 2013 Tour de France, the only thing between his feet and French soil were two slivers of prototype French carbon – the all new MAVIC Zxellium Ultimate.

Ben Edwards/Photos courtesy MAVIC

MAVIC has done extensive research on what added weight at your feet means. Heavy shoes make riding a high and efficient cadence more difficult and MAVIC found negatives associated with rolling resistance as well, heavy shoes and pedals create more side to side action at the tire as legs piston up and down. Its response was the 190gram Huez aimed at the mountain goats. The 2014 Zxellium Ultimate is MAVIC’s offering for riders searching for a more structured, stable upper yet still at a very low weight – 250grams.

The Zxellium Ultimate’s foundation is the same as the Huez, the 5.5mm thick Energy Full Carbon SLR outsole and the Energy Lock Carbon heel retention. The outsole is one of the thinnest on the market and while not the stiffest available it is certainly race worthy. Where the shoes begin to differ is the carbon frame used to reinforce the upper, the Zxellium Ultimate’s Energy Frame Carbon extends across the entire mid-foot and is anchored by a ratchet rather than the Huez’s third Velcro. The upper itself, while it appears to be lightweight mesh actually has a substantial backing material. When combined with the wrap-around ergo tongue the shoe is very comfortable even when worn tight. The fit itself may be the one limiting factor for big riders wanting a more stable shoe. It is a narrow shoe with a tapered toe box and the insole offers little in the way of arch support. Riders with wide feet will need to look elsewhere.

MAVIC’s belief in lightweight led it to partner with TIME and offer the Xpresso line of pedals branded as MAVIC Zxellium’s with the SLR Ti at the top of the heap. At 155grams, they are almost 100grams lighter than a pair of Dura Ace pedals. With a set of Zxellium Ultimate shoes and SLR Ti pedals you could be saving up to half a pound over other top of the line pairings, and that is weight where it truly counts. Of course, shaving grams without loosing performance costs – Zxellium Ultimates are $475. Add $400 for the SLR Ti pedals and you have one of the costliest combos in the peloton.

Zxellium Ultimate Weight: 250grams Sizes: 6-13.5 Price: $475 More: MAVIC.com