Starting back in 2009, Mavic went to work redesigning the venerable Crossmax line of wheels. The 2012 models shown here and earlier in the week represent the end product of two years of testing and refinement with sponsored riders like Julien Absalon and Jeff Lenosky.
The goal, as always, was to reduce weight but also to make the overall ride experience better. This involved reworking the hubs, freewheel, rims and even the construction of the complete wheel. Lots to read, some of which we alluded to in the prior post, but covered here in more detail. Click ‘more’ to see it all, along with answers as to why there’s no new 29er or carbon-rimmed wheels…
HUBS: The Crossmax hubs were given a more compact shape to reduce rotating weight and “smarter” machining to reduce total weight and better disperse stress loads. The SLR’s were given 9/15mm axle options and the SX and ST get 9/15/20mm options. SLR and ST also get a Lefty axle option and the choice between 6-bolt and Centerlock rotor mounts. New QRM+ enables easier bearing adjustments.
FREEWHEEL: All Crossmax wheels get an entirely new freewheel called ITS-4 with one additional pawl, making four total that engage in pairs and make contact in just 7.5º. Mavic says this is 60% faster than before and should help when picking your way up a technical climb. The seals were revised to offer better waterproofing, and the main seal gets a new material to further reduce friction. It gets a new 17mm monobloc axle, too. Lastly, there are two large bearings between axle and freewheel body with altered placement to better stabilize the entire assembly. Rear axle options include all the current XC-ish standards: 9×135, 12×135 and 12×142.
SPOKES & LACING: The SLR came into the testing with 24 spokes front and rear. After back to back tests with Absalon, it left production with 20/20, Isopulse (2x/straight) lacing and the comment “It has better handling, stability and is a lot more comfortable to ride.” The ST gets 20/24 Isopulse (2x/straight) and the SX gets 24/24 with 2x lacing on both drive and non-drive side. The spokes themselves are a bladed, double-butted Zicral alloy that’s even lighter than before on the SLR set. To clarify, the Isopulse lacing is Mavic’s fancy way of saying the rear hub has 2x lacing on the non-drive side and radial lacing on the drive side. They claim this provides better energy transfer and allows for similar tension on either side.
RIMS: Anytime you reduce weight, you risk losing strength. Larger tube diameters have proven to provide both lighter weight and/or increased strength, and Mavic found a way to do just that with their rims. They increased external width from 21mm to 22.6mm, giving the new rims a 19mm internal width. Then they rounded the profile of the exterior and the internal channel, which improved lateral stiffness. The result was a 20g savings per rim, and we all know wider is better. The rims remain UST certified and use their ISM/ISM3D external machining (SLR only) and Fore spoke drilling to keep the rim bed airtight.
Some of the comments on the prior post state that lighter wheels can be built for similar coin using respectable components. Mavic’s answer to that is simple: Their approach is developing components as “single elements at the same time as part of a whole system,” which translates to “everything is made to work precisely together perfectly.”
2012 Crossmax SLR (pictured at top of post) – designed for XC race bikes to be as light as possible while retaining the stiffness needed for high speed control.
- 680g F / 780g R (1440g pair)
- UST / SUP / Fore / ITS-4 / QRM+
- ISM 3D rim machining
- Bladed Zicral spokes
- 20/20 Isopulse lacing
2012 Crossmax SX – made to be the “reference enduro wheel” that’s light enough for enduro racing and tough enough for all-mountain riding.
- 825g F / 930g R (1755g pair)
- SUP / ITS-4 / Fore / QRM+
- Round Zicral spokes
- 24/24 2x lacing
2012 Mavic ST – Cross country meets trail riding with a lightweight but durable all-purpose mountain bike wheelset.
- 765g F / 825g R (1590g pair)
- UST / SUP / Fore / ITS-4 / QRM+
- ISM rim machining
- Round Zicral spokes
- 20/24 Isopulse lacing
All wheels come with bags, axle adapters front and rear, UST valve stems and a few other goodies (skewers, etc.).
WHY NO 29ers or CARBON RIMS?
I talked to Mavic’s Zack Vestal to get the scoop on the popular questions:
Why no new 29er wheels? “Development cycle started two years ago, and at that time their top riders (Julien Absalon, etc.) weren’t requesting them, so they didn’t immediately start working on matching big wheels. That said, if you’re at a World Cup level race, peek in the Orbea tent and you’re likely to see some working prototypes. Mavic’s committed to 29er wheels.”
Editor’s note: Word on the street is that there will be a family of wheels like the 26″ models. That should give more riders more options.
Why no carbon rims? “Carbon is super expensive. We’re able to delivery extremely competitive wheels at extremely competitive prices. If you look at rim weights, we’re able to deliver alloy rims that are pretty close in weight (to carbon), and they offer a radial compliance that carbon can’t match. When we started the program, like with 29ers, there wasn’t a big demand from our pro racers. We had a prototype for them to test, but feedback was that it was too stiff for most of the XC courses they race. So, for now, that’s why Mavic isn’t really diving in on the carbon front.”