2012 Mavic Crossmax SLR lightweight mountain bike wheelset

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.

2012 Mavic Crossmax rim profile changes

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 Mavic Crossmax SX mountain bike wheelsets

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 Crossmax ST mountain bike wheelsets

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.).


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.”




  1. To hell with the racers. What do riders want? Carbon too stiff for XC courses? Well no kidding, there are no obstacles on those courses. This is why Mavic is waaaaay down the list of wheels I would purchase. Narrow rims, bead hooks that do not hold tubeless tires, flexy wheels and a behind the power curve mentality…blah.

  2. Luke,
    Judging from what tech loving pros say about WC courses(Mavic test grounds) and watching the races, there is not much technicality any longer. One or two tech sections aside, a lot of them are smooth for the most part. I race XC myself in New England, on Stans rims as well and on Mavic wheels prior to Stans. Neither are stiff enough especially in 29r form. My point is that a 145lb racer on a smooth course is hardly worthy a test for a majority of riders. It appears that is where most of their R&D comes from.

  3. To add to that, Mavic seems to only pay attention to what the Euro pros want. I get the sense that is why they have one 29r wheelset and just one 29r rim. My opinion is that it would be nice to see them get more 29r stuff out there in wider widths. Perhaps this is on the way. Mavic seems to drag their feet a lot.

  4. Im with Luke – you haven’t seen a recent world cup course. They have definitely gone to lengths to create challenging courses these days. Those courses are no joke. You can see it where the old school racers are (even Absalon) are losing ground through some of these sections to the younger ballsier guys. You gotta have some serious skills to not only get through these courses, but do it at mach 10. Go check out Mont St anne! You’re right there! It’s like any of those Root 66 courses but x10…

    There’s a reason pro’s are pro’s…

  5. Tell you what, have Mavic send me the pimpest pair of these and let me ride them for several seasons. I promise them I will follow up with results/assessment of their performance. Cheers

  6. Mavic makes the best Pre-built wheels out there. Price, performance, durability, just mount them and ride HARD for years without a problem.

  7. wheels can be “too stiff” to racers that are using ultra narrow tire/rims at higher pressure. they have to run higher pressure to keep them from flatting or hitting the rim.

    the rest of us(racers) use middle weight tires at lower pressures to smoothen out embedded rocky trails. stiff wheels are actually good for us. let the tire do its job, not the wheel. a softer wheel will conform to the trail. a softer wheel will not.

    i currently do not care for any of the mavic line so far. running edge/envy 29er wheels. they are stiff and very efficient, not to mention bombproof. never had to true them in two years of hard training/racing on a rigid SS

    mavic pay attention to your clientele they are speaking to you.

  8. I’ve been riding SLR’s for 5years on my Blur. 90kg’s never had to true them. You have to service the hubs regularly but other than that these wheels have been bombproof. No issues.

    The only reason I will change is for some bling factor of enve’s with king hubs mmmmmmm

What do you think?