Eighteen months ago, the first examples of Mavic’s redesigned ITS-4 freehub started to hit the trails.  With two staggered pair of pawls, the new freehub design brought the French company quick 7.5-degree engagement while other changes were intended to address historically spotty reliability.  A year and a half after receiving Mavic’s redesigned Crossmax ST trail wheelset, our pair has been on and off a number of bikes, adding a bit of flash but drawing no undesirable attention to themselves.  Hit the jump to find out more about why the $800 STs have become trusted favorites.

the only holes are in this wall...

While ‘just add tape’ tubeless rim designs have only gained market share since the Crossmax STs’ introduction, true UST rims have a lot to recommend them- especially to those who’d rather ride than fiddle.  Sure, non-standard bead seats can work better with non-tubeless tires, but anyone who appreciates the reliability and durability of tubeless or tubeless-ready tires will have no problem getting tires to mount on the Mavics.  In addition, as there are no holes piercing the 19mm (inside) rims’ outer wall, there’s no need for periodic tape refreshing (and no chance of mid-ride tape leaks).

The solid outer wall reportedly also makes for a stronger rim structure- and we’ve had zero trouble in that department.  In fact, our set has never seen the business end of the included spoke wrench.  While Tyler found the 1,590g wheels (26in- add about 150g for the 29er version) to be a bit flexy for his liking, I find them to be comfortable and have never wanted for more precision under my hard-riding 145lb.  For a trail wheel, the Mavics do accelerate well- better than their weight would suggest.

The impression that the STs carry little of their weight at the rim seems validated by the chunky hubs. Though Mavic do not provide individual component weights, it stands to reason that a good deal of the STs’ (still reasonable) weight sits at their center, where it does little harm. With their new ITS-4 freehub, Mavic have split engagement between two staggered pair of pawls. Doing so allows for a technical trail- and drop-friendly 48 points of engagement, maintains decently-sized pawls and teeth, and spreads wear between four pawls and spring assemblies.  It also means that, at any given time, only two (rather than the old design’s three) pawls are engaged.

And the area where Mavic had the most to prove is durability.  While hub with sales as high as Mavics’ will have some failures, their freehubs’ reputation for quick wear and occasional howling was certainly earned.  Happily, the ITS-4 Crossmax STs’ have largely been without trouble.  Our pre-production rear hub did require a couple of adjustments early on (a wrench-cum-tire lever is provided and a mini tool will work in a pinch) and has spun smoothly and without play since.  It’s not uncommon to hear the POP! of uneven pawl engagement from time to time- but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the hubs in the slightest.  The hubs’ sound is on the soft end of the spectrum and pleasant- slightly quieter than but not unlike a DT Swiss freehub.

The Zircal aluminum spokes are meaty- and cool looking.

The Crossmax STs sit in the pleasant position of being not too anything.  Neither too light nor too heavy, too wide nor to narrow, too cheap nor too dear.  As an all-around “one wheel” for XC/trail riders, they’re pretty much ideal.  The freehub engagement is quick without being drag-y or obnoxiously loud and our experience suggests that their durability is right up there with the best.  The front hub works with 9mm QRs or 15mm thru axles while the rear will mount to 135mm QR and 135mm or 142mm x 12mm thru axle frames.  Most importantly, once bedded in the Mavics have been the only wheelset that I haven’t had to so much as think about over two busy riding seasons.  If, like many, you’ve turned away from Mavic wheelsets, it’s time to consider the brand again.




  1. Brilliant wheel. improved acceleration is immediately noticeable. Had mine for 18 trouble free months.
    Will handle chunky rock gardens at speed easily. Love em.

  2. Pretty good review of a great wheelset. I ride the Crossmax SLR 29er, which is basically the same wheel but it has milling done on the rim between spokes. I don’t find them to be flexy at all and they are really light. the best thing I like about the wheels is how quick they accelerate. The engagement on the rear is also great. I do have to check the rear hub for play from time to time but it’s not a big deal.

  3. I guess I am on of the lucky ones, Ive had two sets of Mavic Cross Max and never had any issues. Rims are very durable. My lbs has horror stories about mavics. but of course they only see the failures.

    I glad to hear that the latest rendition has been engineered to be more durable. I hope they have silenced the noisey clicking of the rear hub.

  4. I Much prefer Rolf Prima RALOS wheels. Handbuilt in the USA, with 5-bearing hubs produced by White Industries. Fast, light, and indestructible.

  5. I own a pair of the Crossmax SLR and my tires do not stay seated on the rim, selling them this spring.
    FYI (using proper pressure 27lb, I’m only 175, and using schwalbe tubless ready, and yes I know they are not UST tires but should still stay seated).

  6. $800 retail is correct – $799.90 actually. Mavic doesn’t make a MTB wheelset that retails for $1400, the Deemax Ultimate is the most expensive at $1199.

  7. Depending on the wheelset, but crah the rim, Spoke or Hub after a few years and try to get spare parts…

    bought a used road bike with Mavic Wheelset, killed some spokes after 7 years after production of the wheelset -> needed new wheelset because spare parts were not to get.

    Whell and I do have Hubs wich are older than 10 years, crashing a rim is no big deal. New rim, set of new standard spokes and one up to two hours of time and my wheel is ready to ride again.

    And well, out there are:
    lighter wheelset
    stiffer wheelset
    more durable wheelset
    wider weelset (inn width)
    for less money!

  8. Excellent wheel. I put them on my old race bike when I sold it to help move the bike, and I regret that decision. Flawless in every way, although I remember wishing they were a tad wider to help the footprint on smaller 2.2″ race tires.

  9. I love this wheels, but on my first ride, I found that the cones were getting loose, so I had to use the mavic tool to adjust them. After that they rode without problems.

  10. Had the same wheels for half of a year, previously had owned ST’s MY2010. To make the long story short: had premature axle wear (yes axle, not bearing wear, on the right drive-side bearing) which could be solved only by overtightening the bearing preload and putting some friction paste or ordering new axle from Mavic ($$$). Black color spokes on smallest conctact with branches loose their color and became annoyingly white. So yeah, it’s improvement over the old freehub design, but it’s a long way to get these wheels right. These wheels are great for going to the store on sundays, but don’t use them for serious mountain biking. To be fair their rims are great, but why make them so narrow – 19mm? At least the MY2013 is wider – 21mm, but otherwise where are wider aftermarket rims? True UST only 19mm? I’d recommend getting Hope hubs, Flow EX rims with CX-Ray spokes instead and still remains money to spare.

  11. I have had Mavics on several bikes, including two pairs of STs (one 2007, one 2012) and a pair of SLRs and all I can say is that when properly maintained (that’s the point!), these wheels are very reliable. I especially enjoy the new ITS-4 freehub with quicker engagement on the 2012 STs, which was, IMO the weak point of the Crossmax family. Even though I’ve heard many bad things about Mavic Crossmax, I think these are still (and maybe even more now) some of the best “ready-to-ride” TRUE UST wheelset systems out there. Plus, and that’s one thing I look for when I pay big bucks, they look the part! As far as I’m concerned, I’ll keep on buying Mavics.

  12. I have had the Mavic Crossmax STs on my Niner Air 9 for almost two years now. The axle in the rear wheel has broken twice. The first time was about a month after I bought the bike, the second time after another 18 months. For the first broken axle, Mavic took over a month to get the parts to my LBS. For the second broken axle there has been no response from Mavic in over two months. For reference, I am 165 lbs and ride trails somewhat conservatively.

What do you think?