2012 Mavic – Evolution of the original

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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.


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.


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.


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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Comments (19)

    ****. I just bought some 2011 SX’s. Have Mavic addressed the hub reliability issue?

    Now if they can take all this and revise the standalone rims, that’d be great

    2011 stuff all had the ITS-4 hub, which is the same as the diagram above. Had no issues with mine, looks a sound design, very similar to Hope’s.

    are they going to make spares available?

    Also, no 10mm rear axles?

    …how to overcome some notable embarrassment at very publicly stuffing up expensive brand-new demo kit: make sure the manufacture gets appreciation nodded in their direction.

    Looks like nice stuff though, but I can’t quite get over how goppingly joyless it all looks. Functional and fast – yes. Droolingly shiny and desirable – no. Couldn’t they at least produce a version with some silly bit of pointless carbon fibre somewhere, or maybe polish up those hubs a bit?

    Just makes me want a set of ST’s more, but Hopes are better value non?

    Just got some 2011 Crossmax SX’s 2 months ago. Glad I did; hate the new graphics!

    I do like the look of some of those wheels, but the prices and previous issues with lack of spares won’t tempt me away from Hope. I’m hoping that Stans will update their Arch rim with new BST soon, as I want something a little stronger than the Crest (I have them on my SS), but the Flow is completely overkill for me.

    The Fulcrum (campag) wheels I have on my cx bike have material removed from between the spoke holes in a similar fashion.

    Northwind – I reckon they’ll leave the 10mm thru axle stuff to the DeeMax range. No 150s either.
    n_e_d – I thought the wheels were pretty smart looking – and I was very impressed how my one coped with eating a mech and still not break a spoke. I wasn’t that embarrassed – these things happen…

    “very similar to Hope’s.”
    Just twice the pickup speed with the mavic

    Those top photos of the trails look like the kind of place I would like to go this summer. Where is it? Cheers.

    ukmax – I’d expect it to be somewhere around the Semnoz, overlooking Annecy, where the head office is.

    Surprised they haven’t got a proper weight weenie wheel. aren’t AC/Revs/ZTR podiums about 1250g a pair? (and cheaper) I guess most people will want stronger wheels* sl, st, sx but the “all out racing wheels”…?

    *not that I think the AC/ZTRs will fall apart at the first sign of rocks

    They do/did make a carbon spoked team-race only MTB tubular wheel, but they admit that this is a really small market.

    Also, Mavic is committed to UST (on non tubs anyway) and it’d be hard to get to that weight without carbon rims. The new Easton wheels are UST and 1250g, but over £2K a pair…

    I like ust, pain free setup and very good for tyre swappers but stans + sealent seems so good now that the weight (and price) penalty of ust is looking pretty bad.

    I hope the crossmax st wheels come in a colour other then white

    in my experience (opinion) the mavic ust has always been faultless and very simple. stans is ok but a little bit of a faff and not perfectly relieble.

    it still bemuses me that people (nor manufacturers as oem – cost?) have not embraced tubeless, especially when buying a new set of wheels.

    the mavic wheelsets are good but previously have had problems trying to source replacement spokes. I have done a lot of miles on both crossmax slr and crosstrail without any hub problems. I could also say the same of the hope/819s that were half the price though.

    Northwind you can convert the ITS4 hubs to 10mm with spacers found here http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=40569
    That’s how I run mine with a DT Swiss 10mm axle.

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