With virtually all of New Mexico’s public lands in flames (or rightfully closed for the fear of them), early July was a perfect time to round up the usual suspects and make a for some big days in Durango, CO.  “Only” 3.5 hours from home, it had been years since my last trip.  In order to bring our ride:drive ratio into balance, we looked to our favorite sadist ride planner to lay out some big days in big mountains- with accordingly big climbs and big descents.

The timing and terrain were perfect for spending some quality time with Mavic’s 2012 Crossmax ST wheelset.  First seen here, the STs are Mavic’s newly revised trail wheels, with 19mm inside-width rims, new ITS-4 7.5º freehub engagement, and a 1605g (actual, 1590g claimed) weight.  Our set came set up with an increasingly common 15mm front thru axle and 6-bolt rotor mounting pattern- and other options will be available when the 2012 model hits the shops this fall.  Read on to see how the Crossmax STs fared over several big days up North- and how they’ve been back on New Mexico’s technical, rocky terrain…

Shod with my current favorite trail combination (WTB Mutano TCS 2.2 front; Geax AKA TNT 2.2 rear), the STs are ideal for my favorite enduro-style rides: durable without really being heavy at all.  For 2012, Mavic have made a point of balancing their mountain wheels’ weight with stiffness: though they could have been lighter, extensive on-trail testing exposed a rider preference for stiffness over absolute light weight.  My experience with this and competing wheelsets backs this up- the 20 front and 24 rear Zircal (aluminum) spokes make for a noticeably stiffer wheel than some alternatives and wheels that are precise without being harsh.

Though it might stand to reason that the half-radial rear wheel would wind up under torque, the wheel hasn’t made a single twang under the most severe pedal loads I can muster.  The new 7.5º ITS-4 freehub has been a boon in techy sections- it’s not world-changing, but everything else being equal the fast engagement is a welcome addition.  Interestingly, the design is effectively a 2-pawl system:  at any given time, only two of the four pawls are engaged.  In theory, this allows Mavic to provide fast engagement without resorting to tiny pawls or teeth.  Only time will tell how this approach will hold up in practice.  Like most modern freehubs, the ITS-4 does suffer from the occasional POP! of partial engagement- usually under hard pedaling after a stretch of coasting.  Though it can be disconcerting at the time, the Mavics are hardly unique in this respect- I own wheelsets that do the same but still work perfectly after several years and thousands of hard miles.

Our early production freehub bodyseems overly long and needed two spacers behind the 9s XTR cassette before it would tighten properly.  Hopefully, that’s something that Mavic can address before the bulk of their wheels hit the market.  The rear hub did loosen up after the first couple of good rides, but was easy to adjust on the trail with a mini tool (thanks to a an irregularly shaped adjustment ring) and has held steady since.  The white hubs are handsome, though I am starting to question the logic of painting such a hard-to-clean part in such a bright color.

The Crossmax STs’ machined rims are still as true as they were on day one.  The proper UST bead seat and unbroken inner wall make mounting tubeless and tubeless ready tires easy (though the three decals and offset valve stem makes aligning tire logos oddly frustrating).  Overall, the Mavics have done exactly what they’re intended to- and well.  Race-ably light without being scary, they are some of the stiffer trail wheels that I’ve ridden in the 1600g range.  As a friend and his 7 year old Crossmax XLs (the STs’ predecessor) demonstrate every week, with a bit of maintenance the STs should go for a good long time.  We’ll keep on riding the STs- look for a final review around when they become available for purchase (for $800) in October.




  1. @moz

    You’re comment’s funny. Fulcrum in three words : Unreliable Italian wheels.

    Anyway don’t forget that both Mavic or Fulcrum (same thing with DT, Roval, Easton etc …) check their wheels before they giving them to journalists, making sure not given them any bad wheel (non homogeneous spokes tensions) …

  2. Moz & Marcassin,

    FWIW, I do own a pair of Fulcrum Red Metal 0 wheels, purchased with (an alarming amount of) my own money… They’ve been remarkably durable for a “race” wheel and spin like only Campy products seems able. When you get up in to the STs’ price range, manufacturers have QC in place to check all of their wheels (not just review samples). Not that anything should go wrong with any decent wheel within the first month…


  3. @Marc

    Mavic and Fulcrum wheels are mechanically built, I suppose you should be agree with that. And your comment about the quality control was hilarious!

    I built my first wheel 13 years ago and since I purchase a spoke tension meter 10 years ago I could never go back to Mavic, Fulcrum, Roval, DTs or whatever. Industrial wheels, even if they are handbuilt like Eastons or DTs, are made to be built as quick as possible. A wheel with less than 32 spokes in mtb that’s ridiculous but it’s take longer to be built. Same thing with the way the cross counts, a 32 spoke cross 3 wheel requires more time than a 20-24 spoke cross 2 wheel but it’s less durable.

    Don’t worry for the pro’s on Mavic, they ride specially hand built wheels by the “Service Course”, like journalists but even better. Take a look on the “Tour de France”, and like magic you’ll see a Mavic Ksyrium or Cosmic rim with DTs aerolite or Sapim CX-Ray spokes on Tune’s hub …

What do you think?