2012 Mavic – Evolution of the original

Mavic was the first company to produce the modern pre-built wheel. Back in 1996, it introduced the original Crossmax and the Crossride wheels. The first Crossmax was super light, with a shockingly low 28 spoke count and a rim that was literally acid dipped to remove excess material. Suddenly riders could walk into a bike shop and buy the same high-end wheels that the pros were using. You no longer needed to track down the local wheel building guru; these were straight off the shelf.

Now, 15 years on, the Crossmax family has grown and expanded to cater for everything from XC racing, through trail riding and up to enduro racing. The DeeMax is still the downhill wheel de jour, but if your needs are anything less radical, then Mavic probably has a wheel for you. And now it’s time for that range to evolve.

As used by some really quite quick riders. Julien Absalon perhaps?

 

Starting back in 2009, Mavic’s engineers started research for the new round of Crossmax wheels: the SL-R, the ST and SX. They tried different prototypes with their sponsored riders, many in back to back blind tests: Riders would go out on wheel ‘A’, come back and fill a questionnaire out and head out on wheel ‘B’ and so on. Mavic (and the riders) were often surprised with the results – the XC racers didn’t always prefer the lightest wheel and the enduro racers valued freewheel pickup more than you’d think.

Eventually, the new wheels were assembled, sneakily tested in some of the early World Cups and then presented to a bunch of journalists on top of a mountain in France last month.

OK, now go and test those wheels!

 

Dropping in!

 

There are no huge shocks: no carbon rims (Mavic wants to keep the wheels affordable) and no 29er versions (yet) but – refreshingly perhaps there are just some sensible evolutions of wheels that were already pretty well respected.

Here are the highlights of the new range:

ITS-4 freewheel.

Four pawls, that engage two at a time. 60% quicker pickup and only 7.5° between clicks.
Better waterproofing, better seals and two large bearings between axle and freewheel body for reduced flex.
Better and more contemporary axle compatibility.

Spokes

There’s a reduced spoke count (again!) over previous Crossmax wheels.
The SLR wheels now have 20 spokes, the ST has 20/24 and the SX has 24 (2-cross) spokes.

Rims

Good news on the rim front too. Mavic has worked to widen the rims throughout its range to give a better support for the wider tyres that even the XC boys are running these days.The SL-R has a 19mm rim bed, over its previously narrow 17mm and the ST and SX wheels have widened accordingly. As you’ll see from the rim cut pics and diagrams below, there’s more of a rounded shape to the rim (which is based less on the legacy of having a braking surface on the rim wall) and the UST bead bed is more rounded too, which should help seat UST tyres a little better. Mavic actually owns the UST patent, so should be pretty well placed to work out on how to improve it.

Hubs

There’s much better compatibility with different axle standards now.
The SL-R wheels will work with 6bolt and 15mm front and 142mm rear (and there are Lefty versions too)
The ST wheels will work with QR, 15 and 20mm fronts (Lefty version too), QR rear and 142 plus 135×12 standards
The SX wheels will work with 15mm and 20mm and even QR if you’re that way inclined.

New, rounded rim profile. Wider too.

 

Super sculptural SL-R wheels.

 

Mavic engineers have worked to get the spoke bed something like 2mm wider for more rigidity.

 

The new SLR wheels - 1440g a pair

 

Crossmax SX - 1755g a pair

 

Crossmax ST wheels - 1590g a pair.

 

The smart lineup, lines up.

 

And now... I juggle!

 

Magic computer pic of the new ITS-4 ratchet system and four pawls

 

Clever Mavic FORE drilling lets it keep the rim wall airtight. This is the old rim style - see the legacy brake surface design still in there.

 

It seems that Mavic has a pretty airtight patent on inter-spoke bed milling to reduce weight as we've not seen it anywhere else.

The new, wider SX rim.

The ST rim

The old SLR rim profile on the left. The newer, wider rim on the right.

Family portrait - say 'cheese!'

And now a bit of a sum up of the new wheels:
Mavic reckons that the prices will remain unchanged for 2012 for these new wheels over this year’s ones.
Starting with the…

SL-R – Mavic’s all-out race wheelset.
Weight: 1440g – 660gfront, 780g rear
19mm inner rim dimensions
Versions – Front:
6 bolt QR and 15mm
Centrelock QR and 15mm
6 bolt Lefty
Versions – Rear
6 bolt QR and 12×135 and 12×142 (adaptors included)
Centrelock QR 12×135 and 12×142 (adaptors included)

Crossmax ST – Mavic’s trail riding wheel.
1590g – 765g front, 825g rear
19c rim
Versions – Front
6 bolt 15mm (QR and 20mm with optional adaptors)
Centrelock 15mm (QR and 20mm with optional adaptors)
6 bolt Lefty
Versions – Rear
6 bolt QR and 12×135 and 12×142 (adaptors included)
Centrelock QR and 12×135 and 12×142 (adaptors included)

Crossmax SX – Mavic’s Enduro wheelset

1755g – 825g front, 930g rear
21c rim internal
Versions – Front
6 bolt 15mm and 20mm (both supplied, QR with optional adaptors)
Versions – Rear
6 bolt QR and 12x 135 and 12×142

The rear mech muncher
As we mentioned, we had a chance to check out the wheels and got to ride the ST wheels and the SL-Rs on an assortment of steep, French mountain trails. On one such woody track, Chipps managed to hit a hidden root which unceremoniously shoved the (brand new…) XTR derailleur into the wheel, completely muching the derailleur and chain in the process. After removing the offending bits of broken machinery, the wheel seemed fine (apart from some scratched up spokes) and he was able to freewheel to the valley floor. One of the Mavic engineers then took the now-repaired bike out in the afternoon to see if the spokes would hold and, a couple of hours later, the wheel was still fine. Quite an impressive, if unintentional, display of wheel strength.

Wheels will start to become available at the end of this season, so we’d expect to start seeing them from October…

Poor thing, it didn't deserve to go like this. The wheel, however, seemed fine.

 

And the lesson? Never follow Chipps' line...

 

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