Review: Mavic Crossmax XL 29" Alloy Wheels

Jun 21, 2021
by Henry Quinney  

Mavic, the French brand known for their eponymous yellow, have a long and proud history in both road and mountain biking. The company, which is based in Annecy, France, has its roots going all the way back to 1889. The name, unbeknownst to many, is actually an acronym for Manufacture d'Articles Vélocipédiques Idoux et Chanel. Enjoy earning some serious street cred with that little nugget of trivia. It’s all part of the service.

Past glories are no guarantee of future success though. You may have heard in recent years about levels of uncertainty surrounding the French stalwart. I’m not a business guru so I’ll spare you the pseudo analysis and I’ll stick to just the wheels today.
Mavic Crossmax XL Details

Material: S6000 aluminum
Internal Width: 30mm
Diameter: 29 or 27.5"
Axle Spacing: Boost front and rear
Weight: 1930g (900g front, 1030 rear)
Engagement: 24T Ratchet hub
Spokes: 24 front/rear contactless bladed steel spokes
Price: €500 / £450
Mavic.com


The brand, quite possibly as a consequence of the aforementioned problems, seems to be streamlining its range. One of these products in Mavic’s 2021 range is their Mavic Crossmax XL wheels. There are several Crossmax options within Mavic’s trail category. This model comes in as the entry level set at €500 / £450.

Although they are the cheapest they do share many traits with the more expensive Crossmax S XL - they use the same hub platform that uses two star ratchets engaging against one another, the same spoke design and the same internal rim diameter. The big difference is the machining they do to the S version that make the rim lighter. The S is also only available in 29” whereas the standard Crossmax XL also comes in 27.5”.

The wheels are available in the freehub body of your choosing with either six bolt or centerlock hubs. The wheels only use one spoke size and come with two spares in the box. There are also tubeless valves which are particularly easy to set up tubeless thanks to the Fore Tubeless Technology. You probably know this as UST. It’s a system I quite like, even if it means that conventional spokes can’t be used. The wheels come with a 3 year warranty as well as crash replacement and loyalty programs. They also have a guarantee of Mavic stocking spare parts for 5 years after the wheels disappear from the Mavic range.

The two-cross lacing pattern uses straight pull spokes that don't touch.
The asymmetric 24-hole rims are laced to Boost hubs that are available with all your normal choices of rotor interfaces and freehubs.


Once you remove the endcap, swapping the freehub is a very simple affair.
No tape to be found here.

Installation and Build Quality

The Crossmax XL wheels took tires very easily and inflation didn't pose any problems at all. I love the no-tape system - it’s just one less thing to think about. One thing that did concern me was a little bit of extruded metal that I found in the rim. It's not something that would have any effect on performance, but it did ting and rattle around until I was able to remove the valve and shake it out. For me it’s was a minor, temporary inconvenience, but I imagine others, particularly those who tend to take their bike to a workshop for things like tubeless setup, would not be happy with needing to take the time to deal with it.


I love this style of discreet and subtle branding. It's only my preference but it would be nice if these were the only decals on the rim.

Performance

Riding the Crossmax wheels has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. Different wheels can give drastically different feelings and the Mavic offers the characteristics that I seek.

Upon fitting them and embarking on my first ride I was quite taken aback by just how much more compliant they were than other wheelsets I’ve used recently. Now it should be said that these aren’t snappy wheels. Not by a long shot. They feel quite soft under acceleration while on hardpack or tarmac roads, and this may well concern those that do want something very stiff under power. Truthfully they’re not that and I consider this a good thing - what I want is for wheels to be vertically compliant while laterally stiff, and the Mavics seem to get this just right.

They’re not ultra light weight, but far from being so heavy that it’s a problem. 1930g is perfectly reasonable considering their intended use. The relatively middle-of-road 24T engagement is ample for me and the low, woody rumble of the freehub is a nice change from hubs that seem to want to scream and shout about just how much noise they can make.

They remove trail harshness very well and I’m very impressed with how they feel on choppy or rough terrain, where the spikes of compression are both harsh and immediate. On the rough and physical tracks of Innerleithen my body was often tired due to the sheer physicality but my hands were never in any discomfort. I think that the wheels undoubtedly had a large part to play in that. They are forgiving without being sloppy, combining comfort with adequate support through high load turns. In terms of tire stability, I think they perform just as well as any other 30mm internal diameter rim.

There was a band around the axle of scarring. This is where the outboard freehub bearing sits.
By the time I concluded the test there was a light skimming of grease on some but not all of the interfaces.

Durability

The Mavics testing period coincided with my insert testing. In terms of rim durability and resistance to dinging this could be seen in one of two ways. You could argue that the rim was always protected by the insert, so it’s not surprising it got through the period without any damage, but this wouldn’t really be fair to the Crossmax XLs.

Before and after testing I benchmarked the inserts against no-insert runs and deliberately rode into the most horrible things that I could find with 2.5” Exo+ tires. The sheer amount of noise that came out of these rims as I smashed them into hard stone and pre-hopped into rock gardens before intentionally dropping my heels to try and hang the rear wheel up on square edges literally had me pulling over to check immediately afterwards. However, the Mavics held up well and they were still in great shape at the end of the test period.

Living with the Mavics has been a relatively easy proposition. However, that’s not to say there haven’t been some foibles. Nothing major but it’s all still worth noting. A spoke did wobble loose after around a month of riding. This isn't a big deal and Mavic provides the required spoke key to re-tension the wheel. It came back into true with minimal fuss.

Secondly, if you get the front hub especially wet it can often screech and scratch a little. It just sounds like metal on metal. I took apart the hub to inspect, and found there was grease on most of the internal parts, but not all of them. I don’t think water is being ingested into the bearings, but rather just sitting between the interfaces themselves. This brings me onto my next two points - one good and one bad.

The good news is that if you do take apart the Mavic wheels you will find they use a wavey washer to ensure there is no play in these wheels and to get the preload just right. I really like this system. Most of the wheels I’ve used in the last year have suffered play from the rear hub and constantly readjusting it is tedious. This system works, in both front and back, and is a simple solution to an annoying problem. It should also ensure better bearing longevity by ensuring they’re under the correct amount of preload.

The endcap found on the driveside of the rear wheel took some convincing to come off.
To access the front hub bearings requires several different tools.

The bad news is that although the design of the hub uses end caps it’s not quite that simple. On the rear hub you need the wiry grip of a middle-aged CrossFitter just to get the things off. Should you, like me, be absent of such traits, you can use a set of Knipex pliers or maybe a vice. This isn’t something everyone would have. I think normal pliers would work but could risk scratching. Even with the Knipex I engaged my core in a way I didn’t even know I could.

The front hub is the same but different. It requires a small flathead, a suspension pick and then some circlip pliers to get to the bearings. This isn’t great for the home mechanic. I suppose you could argue that I’m being somewhat contradictory here as in one breath I champion Mavic’s maverick approach and then deride them in the next. I suppose you could well remind me that you can’t make an omelette without throwing stones in a glass house whilst crying wolf, and it would be a fair rebuttal, even if slightly convoluted. Would I take reliable hubs over easy to access ones? Ultimately, yes. Again, that might be easy for me to say though as I have a well stocked tool kit.

By the end of the test period, which included one of the wettest Mays in the UK on record, the wheels still span smoothly. There was some residual rust scarring to the rear axle from the outboard freehub bearing. The bearing still span smooth though.

One last, and admittedly superficial criticism that I have for the Mavics is that the large-area decals are very prone to scratching and they look slightly disheveled now. It’s not a big deal but it’s just a bit of a shame. I love Mavic’s subtle and discreet branding… it’s just a shame they combine both small and big decals alike on this wheelset to create something that is a bit obvious for my liking. It’s only my opinion, mind you, but I think the wheels would look better without the large CROSSMAX stickers altogether. I like bicycles not billboards.

The rims certainly look well used now but it's not surprising really. The decals don't look great when scuffed up though.




Pros

+ Balancing price and performance
+ Offer a great balance of compliance and stiffness
+ Preloaded hub design works well
+ Rims held up well, despite some scarring

Cons

- Hubs aren’t that easy to take apart
- Decals scratch easily
- Proprietary spokes (although two spares are included)




Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesMavic seems to be going into a new direction and if all their wheelsets offer similar levels of performance to the Crossmax’s then that can only be a good thing.

They’re a reasonable weight and they hold up well to abuse, however it’s the riding characteristics of these wheels that really impressed me. In an industry where stiffness is often conflated with performance it’s nice to have a product that has an appreciation for both stiffness and comfort, and manages to balance their attributes to give a very well rounded wheelset indeed.
Henry Quinney



124 Comments

  • 86 4
 CON: proprietary spokes and nipples
  • 29 1
 I agree, generally not a fan of proprietary stuff.

Gotta say though, the Mavic wheels I am riding have held up better than any other wheelset I have had. The only "magic sauce" I can see are those spokes and nipples. It's not like their rims are anything different. For me, the durability and lack of need of any truing in 2.5 years of riding is totally worth the proprietary parts.
  • 22 7
 It's not a con to Henry, it's a plus. He prefers it when spare parts a hard to find and all repairs/service are very difficult to perform. Remember his preference for internal cable routing?
  • 18 1
 @kcy4130: These wheels are definitely not difficult to work on. You don't even have to deflate or remove the tire to replace a spoke. And in Canada at least, spare parts are easy to source as far as I can tell, and all the new wheels come with a hand full of spare spokes. I had some of the Sam Hill Dee Max wheels come though here not long ago and they were actually pretty nice wheels.
  • 7 0
 And wait until the spoke seizes into the nipple rendering them untrueable. This has been a gripe of mine for years regarding their road wheels that use this system. At least it doesn’t use the freewheel with the ever expanding delrin bushing that increases drag over time until the chain starts to drive the crank during freewheeling. Their stuff always has a premium feel, but the proprietary stuff always becomes a hassle overtime. I do still use Open Pros as my go to rim brake rim for a road bike however.
  • 7 3
 There’s a relatively easy fix for this: order a set of extra spokes when you purchase the wheels.

I did, from the advice of my LBS, and it makes the whole spoke problem go away.

My mavics have been great wheels, needed a little Maintenance ( few spokes and some super glue), but very good overall.

Good to see them still making new products.
  • 24 0
 Not having a rim tape is a BIG plus for me. Everybody that likes to change tires often will agree on that. When it's hot and the tires are tight against the rim,chances are the tape will move.
  • 6 8
 @Saidrick: Ahhh yes, throw and additional 50 or 60 euro at the 500 euro wheelset, or buy a wheelset that uses standard j-bend spokes with brass nipples and is immune from proprietary BS. Do you travel with your extra set of spokes, you know, just in case?
  • 2 0
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: The ghost pedaling was my favorite feature of Mavic Hubs...
  • 11 1
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps:

Actually yes. It’s in my tool bag.

Do you not bring a tool bag when you travel with bikes?
  • 4 1
 @nozes: I agree. Tape is such an annoyance with tubeless. Tape has to be reinstalled after every tire change or if you remove the tire for some reason and has issues with adherence. No tape is a great new innovation. I hope all wheel manufacturers implement it.
  • 2 0
 @privateer-wheels: I mean, I mostly said "difficult to work on" for the sake of the joke tbh. But still, harder to source and work on than regular nipples and j bends! I had a crossmax wheelset several years ago, was impressively strong for it's weight. But it was a huge pain to work on, mostly due to the alloy spokes (they used to use) that couldn't be squeezed together to judge tension. A hack garage mechanic like me doesn't have fancy tension gauges like you. I'm glad they've gone to steel spokes.
  • 4 0
 @fraserw: I hate the proprietary stuff too, but you're dead on with the durability. I had a set of older crossmax that used this same system. One night after a ride I forgot to throw my front wheel in the car and backed up on to it. I realized it and stopped, got out and looked at it while my rear tire was still on top of the spokes, and then pulled back forward fearing the worst. Picked the wheel up and it wasn't even out of true.
  • 1 0
 Honest question: is the hub end of the spokes proprietary too? Or is it a standard straight pull head? Hard to tell from the photos. On the old alloy spokes they used in the past it was. Hence, you'd not be able to mount any different rim to that hub.
  • 6 0
 @tacklingdummy: great new innovation. Lol, they have been using it for over decade.
  • 3 0
 @Saidrick: Oh come on now, common sense has no place in the PB comments section.
  • 2 0
 @Mondbiker: Really? It is the first I have heard about it. Mavic talks about it on their website as new technology and that it saves 30 grams and makes the rim stiffer. What wheel manufacturer has had it for over a decade?
  • 7 0
 @tacklingdummy: innovation isn't the right term when the technology has been around for more than 10 years. Deemax and ex823 have been UST before 2010. It is much more complex to manufacture tho which is why all other brands tell you to use glorified duct tape to seal their rims.
  • 2 1
 @kcy4130: Where are you located? Here we have a distributor who has a slew of in stock spares for current and past wheelsets, and a provincial rep who is pretty responsive. But Mavic on their own, I don't know how responsive they are, so ease of service may depend on where you live and who is distributing. But perhaps that's a moot point, because from what I have seen in the couple sets that passed though here, they ship with half a dozen spare spokes and nipples now.

I would just toss most of them in my travel/car tool kit, myself. Good to go.
  • 4 0
 @tacklingdummy: I've got some crossmax xl wheels from 2005 with full tubeless with no tape. It was cheaper to buy an entire second hand wheels set than 4 spokes. I had to drill the spokes our of the rim to remove some seized nipples. I would say I'd never buy Mavic again but the rims are still in one piece, and they still work as wheels 16 years on. That includes several Alps trips and weeks on the ft William world cup track.
  • 1 0
 @Balgaroth: Yep, I had a set on my old 2004 Titus. UST has been around for quite some time and it really is nice to go tapeless. My son's bike has a set from 2015 that's been bulletproof.
  • 2 1
 Spokes can be replaced in a few minutes without so much as taking the wheel off the bike, let alone redoing your tubeless.
Major bonus.
And I have used regular spokes/ nipples in a pinch without issue.
  • 5 0
 @tacklingdummy:

My first tubeless wheels were 2003 Mavics and held air awesome. Zero tape. Zero sealant too as I'm not sure there was any back then, but the fit on my Conti Vertical Pros was tightAF so you ran the risk of being unable to add a tube out on the trail if you sliced a sidewall.

Also I'm shocked more companies haven't followed Enve in designing a rim strip that snaps in for both easy tubeless setup and some level of rim protection. Our industry has been pretty lazy in recent years at improving tubeless setup.
  • 5 0
 When I think how often I've needed to replace a spoke Vs how often rim tape needs replacing, I think the special Mavic spokes would work out cheaper. I think UST is fantastic and the fact you can change the spoke in situ makes life much easier if a spoke needs changing.
  • 2 0
 @Balgaroth: Never had either wheelsets, so didn't know about it. However, they improved on their own technology by saving 30 grams per rim and making it stiffer. I welcome those improvements. Mavic has been in the dumps for many years. Looks like they are moving up.
  • 2 0
 @Saidrick: I got a set of Crossmax SL wheels this year. They come with two spare spokes and nipples, including two spoke wrenches (combined tool with tyre lever) and tubeless valves.

I cannot fault that.

The wheels also held up well so far. As you would expect a 1690g wheelset is not overly stiff, but both wheels are running true and spinning well.
  • 1 0
 24 homes rims are also hard to find, count them as 'rare' if not 'proprietary' if the holes are special.
  • 2 0
 @bbmbc: pre-engaged hubs?
  • 1 0
 And straight head instead of the j bend... I hate the that so bad when you need to fix someone and everything start to spin together.
  • 2 0
 @WasatchEnduro: This brings back memories. 819s built with Hope hubs and VerticalPros.
  • 1 0
 @tacklingdummy: I don't change tires that often, but when I do... I can always use the same tape again.

I feel lucky now Smile .
  • 3 0
 Hey, they added it to the CONS list after I posted this.

Anyway, my Mavic story - picked up a cheap set of Crosstrails last year for my 26er. Had a broken spoke, but the owner included a couple of replacements.

Was actually broken off at the nipple. I drilled it out using a 90° head on my drill and it came out fairly clean. The nice? thing is that the rim is tapped left-handed, so an ordinary drill bit will tend to loosen the nipple. Got a 7mm left-handed tap from ebay to clean up the threads and installed one of the replacement spokes. It was not an exact replacement, but it pretty much fit. Different size spoke wrench, though. The only place I could find an exact replacement was in the UK, and expensive with shipping.

Got it all put together and found out that the front hub is bonded together and makes popping sounds when you brake hard. Maybe I can fix that too.
  • 32 4
 Decals scratch easily is about the farthest thing I am concerned about in a wheelset and to downrate the hoops because of this is pure picayune.
I am still running 2 sets of CRossmax SX's on 2 26" bikes and they are running smooth and quiet still 13 years on no spoke issues from the bladed spokes.
True UST not "just add water makes it's own sauce"
  • 8 0
 Thumbs up for “picayune,” I had never seen that word before but that’s a perfect way to describe something so minor.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, I would take those decals off.
  • 5 0
 I remove rims decalls most of the time when new so not a problem really and for those that like the billboard look they can have it too. It becomes a problem when it is lazer hetched or if varnish is put over the stickers tho.
  • 3 1
 @sjma: it felt right here like the tester was a Mavic hater looking for blemishes not performance. I think you can only use a word like that every few years like ammo
  • 5 0
 @Balgaroth: I take em off unless they have a nice pattern I find truing a headache with raised sections from the decals
  • 3 0
 Those black'n white Crossmax SX are a thing of beauty. I used to lust too much over the yellow Deemax as well and their street graffiti decals. Nowadays, all wheels graphics are boring : bring back the loud and bold graphics !
  • 1 0
 @madmon: If your wheels are true enough that the decal makes a difference then you're doing pretty well I'd say!

That being said, I tend to remove the stickers too. Mountain bikes are busy enough with all the cables and pivots and curvy tubes, no need to add to it with crazy graphics.
  • 2 1
 @madmon I disagree, i'd like to know if the new bike parts i might buy are going to look like shit after a short time, obviously performance and physical durability comes along way before aestetics plus i don't actually like these graphics that much but in general i think its important for a reviewer to highlight if the finish or decals fall apart as while it might not matter to most it's useful information for consumers to make an informed decsion from.
  • 24 0
 To me, the cons section reads "We couldn't find any real cons for the wheel, but we had to write something here." Looks like a good, low cost wheelset.
  • 2 8
flag JohanG (Jun 21, 2021 at 12:13) (Below Threshold)
 cons: Made by Mavic
  • 4 2
 @JohanG: CONS: MAVIC will probably be bought and sold 3 times in the next 5 years and when you do need spare parts, they'll be in a dumpster behind the original facility in Annecy with the new company saying "oh that was XXXX Mavic, we're YYYY Mavid..."
  • 21 1
 It would be "eponymous yellow" if Mavic was called Yellow. "Emblematic" would Work.
  • 4 0
 "Trademark yellow" would be the journalistic cliche Henry was reaching for.
But they haven't actually trademarked yellow, obvs.
  • 5 0
 I think he means “Mavic Yellow” is a colour in its own right like “Ferrari Red” or “Bianchi Green” or “Santa Cruz Fuschia”…
  • 2 0
 To be fair, he uses word “span” instead of “spun”
  • 18 7
 Why buy this when you can get DT 350 classic + EX511 for less money and have easy to service wheels?
  • 47 0
 This is the "Looks like a session" comment for wheelset reviews
  • 4 3
 @iian: because it’s highly relevant, what advantages does this have over the “industry standard” wheels, in price or performance?

If you don’t have a good answer then you should probably go back to the drawing board
  • 3 0
 Variety is the spice of life and will also be the death of you.
  • 3 0
 @toad321: Not everyone is even remotely interested in having a set of custom wheels built, and they just want to buy a set of factory wheels. I have gone both routs over the years with mixed results. My latest wheelset is a 2021 DT XM1700 set that I absolutely love, but had these Mavics had been out when I bought them, they certainly would have been in the mix. "Custom hand built" wheels are only as good as the hands that build them.....
  • 4 0
 That's what I use and they're great. However, the tapeless system is a pretty good selling point for the Mavics for those who don't like to faff with rim tape.
  • 1 0
 @iian: and it’s correct……Every. Single. Time.
  • 1 0
 Don't you need "DT Swiss" tools to get at the bearings on their hubs?
  • 9 0
 ''There was a band around the axle of scarring. ''

What type of band was it, that was around the Axle of Scarring?

--abrasion was visible on the axle---? maybe----next time?
  • 11 0
 "Axle of Scarring" is a great name for a band...
  • 9 1
 @ddmonkey: Pfft. I was into Axle of Scarring before they were cool.
  • 6 0
 Pretty intriguing. Back in the 26” days I rode and raced on a variety of CrossMax configurations. Never once did I consider them compliant though they were absolutely strong as hell. And the UST interface was always dreamy for my first foray into tubeless.
At this price I bet and hope they make their way to a lot of new homes.
  • 1 1
 You could also build great wheels just lacing their shit hot rims to whatever you wanted. Do they still sell normal rims by themselves, like updated 117s, 517s, 321s etc?? Integrated wheel sets never made sense for enough people.
  • 1 0
 It actually appears that they do. Have we heard anything about them here?
  • 1 0
 @sngltrkmnd: did you ride their wheels with alloy spokes ? Anything high end used to use these and were very stiiff. Entry level with steel spokes where soft. Also it depends on the rim alloy and profile, ex823 where rigid AF and you would cut your tire before denting them. Ex721 were the opposite and my favourite at the time even though you needed to consider it as a wear item.
@Benpea: yes they still do tho they recently reduced their offering. I used many en427 for DH/EN since they were super cheap, super light and reliable enough for a season. Still found some for this season but stocks a running low and nothing under 500g in the new option so might end up on e13 or DTSwiss next season.
  • 1 0
 @Balgaroth: Trail/All mountain distinction is a little confusing, cos very similar. Overall, probably still solid and a bit heavy like in the past, but there's a gap in the range as you say.
  • 6 0
 Pleading ignorance here: are these wheels made in France? If so, very impressive price point. Regardless of where they’re made, I appreciate having more options in the aftermarket.
  • 5 0
 I've ridden almost 300,000 miles, both road and mountain, in the last 35 years and Mavic has been without a doubt the best, most reliable brand of wheels I've used over that time. They have survived with less maintenance and more abuse than any other brand I've tried. I know they got into trouble financially, but I think that was a product of overdiversication, not anything to do with the quality of their products. I will buy their wheels over any other brand at this point. The one salient complaint I would make is the lower spoke count that has become common in wheels these days. As far as I'm concerned 32 is the right number for both road and mountain if you really want them to last, and as someone who does a lot of long, solo, unsupported rides, that really matters.
  • 9 5
 24t engagement? Out of touch with the market. 30 should be the minimum someone’s gonna want to dish out for aftermarket, 40t and up will draw people to buy your product. Mavic has just been 8 steps behind everyone else, yet thinks they deserve premium pricing.
  • 9 1
 I have the 54t, 36t, 24t, and 18t ratchets for my 350 hubs. The 24t is easily the one I use the most. Don't get me wrong, I love the quick engagement of the 54t, 36t. But, the 24t effects my suspension the least.

Note: From a market point of view, a 24t ratchet is more robust. Making it a better option for eBikes (which is probably the real reason they chose the 24t).
  • 4 1
 @notu: unless you are freewheeling barely above the point at which the freewheel is engaging, you've been drinking too much of the koolaid. Same as pedal kickback, it exists when cruising on the carpark in a very high gear and that's about it. Canyon gave-up on their hub disengaging system and few WC racers experimented with ghost gear and didn't stick with it. At that level if any advantage, even slim, existed they would have persevered on that route but they didn't.
  • 3 0
 I'm with you. I don't care for crazy high engagement, but when I need to pedal kick off something from a stall, I need to know I'm going to have enough torque to keep that front wheel up in half-a-crank revolution. Never had an issue with my 36POE XT hubs or 44POE Hopes, but recently landed a bike with 18 POE and almost ate it a couple of times before replaced the hub with another Hope. I haven't had a hub with around 24POE in recent memory, but I'd be warry if you ride a lot of slow tech.
  • 2 1
 @big-red: Hopes are 8.2 degrees, the Mavics are 9. you may be able to tell the difference but it's not huge
  • 1 0
 @Olafmetal: Hope has 44 points of engagement. That works out to 360/44=8.2 degrees between points. Spot on what you said. However, if the Mavic has 24 poe as stated in the article, then that works out to 360/24=15 degrees between points. That's a huge difference.
  • 1 2
 You don’t want a high engagement hub. They effect the performance of your shock and don’t actually have any benefits other than sounding cool.
  • 2 1
 @thenotoriousmic: they only affect your suspension if you're going slow enough that the engagement caused by suspension movement is faster than the speed that the hub is freewheeling. That combination of high impact and slow speed is pretty rare. I can think of a few cases, but not many, even with crazy high POE hubs like the Hydra. However, anything in the 36-104 range (basically everything else) will be fine. And there are definitely very real advantages, whether it be pedal kicking off a ledge at low speed, or ratcheting the bike over rocks and roots on a techy climb where a full pedal revolution would get you hung up. The former might not be something everyone cares about, but the latter is something I rely on at least a couple times per ride.
  • 1 2
 @big-red: it doesn’t work like that also doesn’t help with wheelie drops or techy climbs ether because you have less wiggle room to move around or move the cranks before the hub engages.
  • 1 0
 @big-red: I use the 54t for trials, the 24t for everything else (usually slow/steep technical decent trails).
  • 6 1
 While not having to deal with tape sounds great, I just can't get behind having to bring proprietary spokes when I travel unless the benefit is SIGNIFICANT. Not redoing my tape every 1.5-2 years is not a huge gain.
  • 3 0
 I'll agree with half of what you said - proprietary spokes = utter pain potentially. Especially given bike supply chain issues and risk of Mavic going under. But no rim tape = take my money for me, after damaging my rim tape fitting a particularly tricky tyre the day before a race, and realising of forgotten to buy spare rim tape water I used the last roll up. Aaaarrrrgggghhh
  • 1 0
 That is the tradeoff for no tape. Mavic had to design a new spoke system around the no tape system. However another plus is the new tapeless rim design saves 30 grams per rim and boosts the stiffness according to the Mavic website .
  • 5 0
 Is it really so hard to bring proprietary spokes with you instead of non-proprientary ones? To me it was always the same.
Yes, there is a big chance you wouldn't find the proprietary spokes in a shop on a trip if you needed, but that's why you bring spares with you on the trip, right? There is actually quite a big chance that might fail to find fitting non-proprietary straight pull spokes in a shop too.
  • 2 0
 @TheJD: it is just another complication that does add much benefit. When packing for a trip there's a very good chance of forgetting the spokes you put in a tool box like 14 months ago. I just dont want to have to think about it and rim tape I forget about for months to years and can always be found in a pinch. What happens when you use your spares and then have to potentially wait weeks or more if you need replacement? Ill take the tape.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: I dont understand you. What rim tape? Anyway it's your choice to forget to bring your toolbox with you. It's a thing you should automatically take with you for any multiday trip. Plus as I said, you might not be able to get standard parts anyway on a trip, which is why you bring spares.
  • 1 0
 It's a worthy trade off in that you can also replace spokes without having to take everything else apart. FWIW, I've had 2 sets of them over the years (last ones in 2010 maybe?) and haven't had to replace a spoke yet.
  • 3 0
 @tacklingdummy: it's entirely possible to build a wheel using standard spokes and nipples and a solid rim bed. You just have the fun of feeding the nipple from the valve hole round to the spoke hole. Either done by threading a steel bolt into the nipple and using a magnet, or running a gear cable into the spoke hole, pulling it out of the valve hole and running the nipple down the cable, or taping it on and pulling through. So, the Mavic system is kind of proprietary for the sake of it.
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex: That sounds like loads of fun and such a speedy process. I'll pass. Lol.
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: You cannot do that without removing the valve, which means you have to remove the tire too.
  • 1 0
 @TheJD: I agree (though you can still change a spoke as long as the nipple is intact). But the point I was trying to make was that you don't need proprietary parts to build a wheel with a solid rim bed.
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: it does sound like a "more than one beer" kind of thing, doesn't it?!
  • 4 1
 If I ran an EXO+ out back it’d be torn on a jagged rock in less than 10 rides. I’d give any wheel with only 24 spokes the hairy eyeball.

Get me some wheels to test Pinkbike-on my local granite and limestone trails I can tear tires and crack, dent fold rims on command.

Seriously-do some of these editors hit down pillows to test wheels and tires?!
  • 3 0
 can anyone explain what happened to Mavic? they were a top brand in MTB a decade ago... now you barely hear about them. Same with Easton
  • 2 0
 Easton merged into RaceFace in 2014 and disappeared from mountain biking pretty much at the same time. I think they still do road stuff?
  • 6 0
 They rejected the wider rim profile trend and it bit them in the butt. Meanwhile the rest of the industry learned how to make rims that were as strong and light as their stuff. Hopefully this new 30mm rim profile is a return to form for them. Sounds like it's strong as hell according to this review. That alone should earn them some customers.
  • 5 0
 I think brands like DT Swiss stole much of their market share with innovation and pricing.
  • 2 0
 After Fox bought Easton cycling they've moved it exclusively into road parts and Raceface handles mtb. Makes sense not to have them competing but it is a shame not to have Easton bars anymore.
  • 3 2
 I wont ever go Mavic again, horrible customer service. I had a brand new set of XA Pro 29" wheels.. after 8 mo, the rear hub blew apart. Well the company went belly up in those 8mo, and basically told me to fu@% off. Wouldn't respond to emails, so im just out $600 and SOL.
  • 2 0
 The rear axle snapped on my XA elites last year I used the online warranty form and I had a new axle in the post a week later
  • 2 0
 Haha, I blew up 2 hubs on XA Elite after exactly 9 months each. They warrantied both, the last replacement was with ratchet. Really liked them other than that.
  • 1 0
 Have two pairs of Mavic SLR in 29 that are still as true as the day I bought them and I've never had to true them once. Amazing wheels. Only ever had to periodically change wheel bearings and freehubs. Parts can be expensive but can still get hold of them for a nearly 10 year old wheelset.
  • 5 1
 I am all for lightish wheels, but 24 spokes on a mountain wheel is not a risk I'm prepared to take
  • 1 0
 Wheels are a difficult thing to review because different riders of different weights and different riding styles are going to have very different requirements from their wheels. I can guarantee that these 24 spoke wheels with no cross lacing will not withstand my weight and riding style without at least feeling vague and squirmy. I fully believe that the reviewer has given an accurate account of his experience on the wheels, I'm just saying that it's probably not that applicable in real world terms to a lot of readers. Maybe have a 2 or 3 different reviewers give opinions?
  • 1 0
 Sounds like they've gone back to a tougher alloy for the rims.
The old Crossmax SX were super-durable but the Crossmaxes and XA wheels I've owned in more recent years have been suitable for trail/XC only, as they've tended to dent and flat-spot a bit too easily.
I'd be pleased to see them back as a genuine option and giving DT Swiss some competition.
  • 1 0
 Hmmm, what a choice. A wheel with proprietary spokes which are near impossible to source aftermarket, from a manufacturer which may well go bankrupt again several times over the next few years vs... Any other wheel with non-proprietary parts which are easy to source and has a history of not going into administration.
  • 1 0
 Funny, because as much as I generally hate proprietary things, I've been super impressed with Mavics over the years. Yes, the spokes freezing in the nipples if they're not lubed periodically is super sucky, but somehow they tend to be super durable--certainly more so than seems reasonable for the weight. And maybe the best part is the bearing smoothness and durability. I've never known hubs that just seem to roll smoothly for as long as mavics. I don't know how they do it, but I think the easy bearing adjustment on the hubs is part of it. Of course I don't even know if they still use that system. Used to be great though. Interesting to see so much complaining about the old freehubs. yeah it was a bad system, but it was easy to get it have low drag. You just had to service them every month, which was dumb, but it worked and was easy, and then they wouldn't pedal your bike or howl or wear off the nose of the hub that held the pawls (only seen that once, but it has to be somewhat common). Anyway, it's cool to see mavic looking like they're going to survive. They've played an important role for a long time and it would be a bummer to see them go away.
  • 4 0
 24t hub points seems low for the price. CNC a few more points in there.
  • 2 0
 Loved my Crossmax wheels back in the 26er days. Light/fast rolling, Uber strong (never had to true them), nice ride feel. Welcome back Mavic.
  • 3 2
 Easy solution, buy a set of Nukeproof wheels or Hope Hoops and problem solved. Remember to always avoid the plastic and all will be good!
  • 4 1
 That’s only a solution if you like heavy wheels
  • 3 3
 @CM999: Well clearly light wheels don't live up to the job.
  • 1 0
 It’s been said above, I’ll repeat it. EX511/350 is the setup. Best for the money. And best even if you have more money.
  • 3 0
 Good luck getting ANY replacement parts. I mean, why bother with this?
  • 1 0
 Knipex Pliers are killer but for these end caps, just get a Unior Hub Genie tool, pop 'em off fast and keep those caps plier-free! Works great for I9 and other as well!
  • 1 0
 Still running a set of 2013 crossmax SX on my 26" meta SL1 and they have been nothing but amazing.
  • 3 1
 Buy if you don't care about customer service or parts availability.
  • 4 3
 Sounds like a wheelie good wheelset then!
  • 7 0
 The puns just go round and round.
  • 2 0
 That was worthy of Pun Hub.
  • 1 0
 They should focus on making there customer support XL!
  • 1 0
 How can yellow be eponymous?
  • 1 1
 the best wheels for the money
  • 1 0
 Knipex vs endcap: 1-0
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