First Look: Mavic XA Pro Carbon & XA Elite Alloy Wheels

by
April 12, 2017

If you tuned in to last week’s installation of Fresh Goods Friday, you would have spotted two rather suave wheelsets from French brand Mavic. Well, not just wheels, but wheels with tyres installed. Or as the French brand likes to call it; “Roue Pneu Système”. Though because they understand that not all of the world speaks en français, it’s kindly referred to as “Wheel Tyre System”. They even have a fancy acronym for it and everything (WTS, not RPS).

Yes, Mavic has been into the whole WTS thingo for a wee while now. In fact, Mavic was one of the first brands to really commit to designing wheels with proprietary rims, spokes and hubs, and many of you reading this will be familiar with some form of the Crossmax or Crossride wheelsets from over the years. Lately Mavic has taken the WTS concept to the next level, having also started designing specific tyres to be used with its wheels too. That might sound a bit odd given that tyres are somewhat condition-specific, but when you consider all the different standards for rim widths, tyre widths, and tubeless beads on the market, the idea of having a rim and tyre designed specifically to work with one another is somewhat appealing.

There are some other reasons behind the rim and tyre integration that I’ll touch on further down, but before going down that rabbit hole, lets have a bit of a closer look at the new XA Pro Carbon and XA Elite wheels themselves.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Mavic now offers its high-end mountain bike wheels with tyres included too.

Our main man up in the Lake District, James Vincent, has already spent a good bit of trail time aboard the new Mavic XA Pro Carbon wheels. He went to the launch last year that was held in the Basque region, where he got the full rundown from Mavic. Now we’ve got some wheels in for some follow-up testing, with the opportunity to put these wheels through the wringer on British soil.

Not familiar with the XA wheels? Ok, so basically Mavic splits it’s wheel range into three categories. There’s Cross Country (Crossmax), Trail (XA & Crossride), and All Mountain (Deemax).

So the XA series wheels sit in the middle of the riding spectrum. A little tougher and wider than a set of XC hoops, but lighter and quicker than a set of full-blown downhill wheels. Got it?

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
The XA Pro Carbon is Mavic’s top-end carbon trail wheelset.

Own your line and the climb. Dynamic with the best balance of lateral stiffness and vertical compliance” – Mavic.

Mavic XA Pro Carbon Wheel Specifications

  • 100% unidirectional carbon fibre rims
  • Hookless tubeless compatible rim profile
  • 26mm internal rim width
  • Available in 27.5in and 29in diameters
  • 24 x stainless steel straight bladed double butted spokes per wheel
  • Adjustable sealed cartridge bearings
  • 6-bolt disc brake
  • ITS-4 freehub mechanism
  • Available with Shimano or SRAM XD freehub bodies
  • Front axle: Available in Boost (110x15mm) or non-Boost (100x15mm & 100mm quick release)
  • Rear axle: Available in Boost (148x12mm) or non-Boost (142x12mm & 135mm quick release)
  • Includes: wheelset, tyres, inner tubes, tubeless rim tape & valves, QR hub adapters (for non-Boost version), quick release skewers, tubeless sealant & spoke nipple wrench.
  • Claimed weight: 1490 grams (pair of 27.5in wheels without tyres)
  • RRP: £1400
mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Mavic was keen to avoid making the XA Pro Carbon rims too stiff.

The XA Pro Carbon is Mavic’s top-of-the-line carbon trail wheelset. It features a full 100% unidirectional carbon fibre rim that’s drilled 24 times and uses hookless sidewalls. That’s a big departure from Mavic’s previous alloy wheels, which featured pronounced bead hooks, a solid internal rim bed and funky threaded nipple inserts. In order to be setup tubeless, the drilled rims come setup with tubeless tape out of the box, and also supplied are tubeless valves and Mavic’s own tubeless sealant.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
26mm internal rim width and hookless sidewalls.

On the note of tubeless, the rims are labelled with the ‘UST Ready’ moniker, which is an updated version of the original UST (Universal Standard Tubeless) standard that Mavic and Hutchinson originally came up with many moons ago. ‘UST Ready’ essentially refers to the same certification, but ditches the requirement for the tyre to be airtight on its own, instead relying on a liquid sealant inside the tyre to provide that airtight seal. This is good – UST tyres were overly heavy, and everyone would run a liquid sealant inside the tyre anyway, so it was all kind of overkill.

UST Ready still heavily guards the specifications of the rim and tyre interface, which should in theory provide a more secure seal that fits properly, and hopefully with less swearing on the side of the trail.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Trick hubs.

It’s taken Mavic some time to get into the carbon rim movement. While other brands have gone head first into that pool, Mavic has been a little more trepidatious – both with road and mountain bike wheels. Given Mavic’s system-approach to mountain bike wheels, it became apparent that you couldn’t just swap in a carbon fibre rim into an existing Crossmax wheelset and hope for the best. In fact, Mavic did and tested that, and found the wheels were just waaaay too stiff. And as many experienced mountain bikers will know, waaaay too stiff wheels are not actually a good thing.

And so the design was tweaked accordingly. Mavic wanted to produce a set of wheels that would offer compliance for a comfortable and smooth ride quality, whilst delivering lower weight and improved lateral rigidity over its alloy wheelsets. As such, the carbon rims are laced with 24 x double butted and bladed stainless steel spokes. Mavic went with steel spokes and a 2x lacing pattern to help offer a little more ‘give’ to the wheelset.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
48t engagement from the ITS-4 freehub mechanism.

The hubs at the centre of the wheels are absolutely stunning. Made from forged and CNC machined alloy, the hubshells are slotted to hold onto the nail-head bladed spokes, and house sealed cartridge bearings within. On that note, the bearings can be user-adjusted to take up any side-to-side play that might develop over time.

The rear hub is available with a Shimano or SRAM XD freehub body. Inside is the ITS-4 mechanism that uses 4-pawls that operate in dual-phased offset. Combined with a 24 ratchet ring, that gets you 48 engagement points per revolution, or a 7.5° lag between each ‘click’.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Lovely forged, CNC machined and polished alloy hubshells.

The front hub is equally lovely, and features the same adjustable cartridge bearing system as the rear hub.

Mavic offers the XA Pro Carbon wheelset in both 27.5in and 29in diameters. You can also get the wheels in a Boost version (that’s with a 110x15mm front hub and a 148x12mm rear hub), or in a non-Boost version. The non-Boost version is what we’re testing, and it comes ready to roll with a 100x15mm front hub and a 142x12mm rear hub setup. However, the non-Boost hubs can also be adapted for quick releases, and Mavic includes both the end caps and skewers in the box with the wheels.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
685gm for the XA Pro Carbon wheel in 27.5in size.

Before we get the wheels mounted up, we peeled off the tyres and inner tubes to see what kind of weight the bare wheels came in at. 685 grams for the front 27.5in wheel with a 100x15mm hub.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
The rear XA Pro Carbon in 27.5in size came in at 807gm.

And 807 grams for the rear 27.5in wheel with a 142x12mm hub and a SRAM XD driver. In total, that’s 1492 grams – or 2 grams over the claimed weight. Pretty darn impressive we reckon, especially when you consider that this is a wheelset that’s destined for use on 5-6in travel all mountain and enduro bikes.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Matching UST Ready Quest Pro tyres .

Onto the tyres. These are Mavic’s own Quest Pro tyres, and they come included with every set of XA Pro Carbon wheels. Measuring at 2.4in wide (or 2.35in wide on the 29er version), they’re made in France and use a supple 127 TPI casing.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
En Francais.

Like the rims, the Quest Pro tyres are ‘UST Ready’, which means they’re equipped with a fat square-ish UST-style bead, but have to be run with liquid sealant to be setup airtight. They come on the rims with inner tubes installed, so if you’re afraid of tubeless goo, then you’re welcome to run them as they are.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
High volume 2.4in wide rubber.
mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Fast rolling dual-compound rubber.

The tread pattern is an intermediate style that’s got a bias towards dry conditions and fast rolling. Mavic claims the Quest Pro tyres use a dual rubber compound, and from Jame’s earlier reports, they’re surprisingly grippy in loose conditions too. However, the chunkier Mavic Charge tyre would be the better option for when it gets wet, loose, and a little bit hectic.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Nearly 1/3rd of the price, the XA Elite wheels use alloy rims instead.

Also up for testin’ is a set of XA Elite wheels. Sitting alongside the XA Pro Carbons, these are essentially the alloy versions. They’re a bit heavier (1695gm claimed vs 1490gm), they’re a fraction narrower (25mm internally vs 26mm), but they’re a helluva lot cheaper (£490 vs £1400). And that makes them pretty darn attractive on paper.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
A suitably wide, alloy trail wheelset.

High technology, simplicity and fun in a strong, light, tubeless-ready wheel-tyre system. Available in 3 different colors: black, green or blue” – Mavic.

Mavic XA Elite Wheel Specifications

  • Maxtal alloy rims
  • Hookless tubeless compatible rim profile
  • 25mm internal rim width
  • Available in 27.5in and 29in diameters
  • 24 x stainless steel straight bladed double butted spokes per wheel
  • Adjustable sealed cartridge bearings
  • 6-bolt disc brake
  • ITS-4 freehub mechanism
  • Available with Shimano or SRAM XD freehub bodies
  • Front axle: Available in Boost (110x15mm) or non-Boost (100x15mm & 100mm quick release)
  • Rear axle: Available in Boost (148x12mm) or non-Boost (142x12mm & 135mm quick release)
  • Includes: wheelset, tyres, inner tubes, tubeless rim tape & valves, QR hub adapters (for non-Boost version), quick release skewers, tubeless sealant & spoke nipple wrench.
  • Claimed weight: 1695 grams (pair of 27.5in wheels without tyres)
  • RRP: £450
mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Wider and tougher than the Crossmax series, but lighter and faster than the Deemax series.

In terms of design, the XA Elite wheels offer similar specifications to the XA Pro Carbon rims, albeit with that smooth sculpted rim shape that we’ve seen with Mavic’s other high-end alloy Crossmax rims. The XA Elite is still designed as a trail/all mountain wheelset, with a 25mm internal rim width providing enough girth for tyres in the 2.2-2.4in wide realm.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Also drilled and setup with tubeless tape. Hookless sidewalls and a 25mm internal rim width.

Like the carbon versions, the XA Elite rims are hookless and are also drilled conventionally. That means they require tubeless tape to be sealed airtight for tubeless setup. This is in contrast to Mavic’s previous alloy wheels, which used a solid rim bed that was airtight without any need for tape. While I quite liked the foolproof tubeless setup of that design, it’s no secret that the solid rim bed created more complexity and more expense from a manufacturing perspective. And that’s part of the reason why the XA Elite wheels are such good value on paper relative to Mavic’s previous high-end alloy hoops.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Trick externally relieved rim profile.

To help shave weight where possible, the alloy rim is scalloped in between each spoke hole. It’s a subtle feature, but one that gives the shiny black rims a little more texture for a unique look.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Same guts inside, with the ITS-4 freehub mechanism and adjustable cartridge bearings.

While the XA Elite wheels don’t get those fancy polished hubshelss found on the higher end XA Pro Carbon wheelset, essentially the guts are the same – and that’s what counts. Same ITS-4 freehub mechanism, and same dual-compatibility with fitting a SRAM XD freehub driver, or a conventional Shimano freehub driver.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
Hubs are available in Boost and non-Boost versions.

The hubshells are a little more industrial, but otherwise fit the same bladed steel spokes that are used on the carbon wheels. 2x lacing pattern with 24 spokes per wheel. Oh, and did I mention regular nipples too?

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
A front XA Elite wheel in 27.5in size.

There is definitely more mass in the XA Elite wheels, with some of that being in the heavier alloy rim, and some of it coming from the chunkier hubs. The front XA Elite Wheel in 27.5in size with a 100x15mm hub comes in at 795 grams.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
922 grams for the matching rear wheel.

And for the matching rear wheel with a SRAM XD freehub body and 142x12mm setup, 922 grams. That’s a total of 1717 grams for the XA Elite wheelset, making it 225 grams heavier than the carbon wheels.

mavic xa pro carbon elite tubeless wheels
You get wheels, tyres, valves, tape, sealant, hub adapters and skewers all together.

Like the XA Pro Carbons, the XA Elite wheels come setup with Mavic Quest Pro tyres included in the price. You also get a goody bag with hub adapters, skewers, tubeless valves, sealant and a spoke tool as well, which is quite nice to see.

We shall be finding out exactly how the Mavic XA wheels fare in our wet and gritty riding conditions, and will report back in the future with our findings. In the meantime, you get yourself over to Mavic.com for any more information you need about the Mavic range.

Premier Partners

Categorised as:

News