Manufacture D'Articles Vélopediques Idoux et Chanel. The acronym that probably springs to your mind is WTF, but actually, this is where the MAVIC brand name was born.
In 1889, Charles Idoux and Lucien Chanel created the brand in Lyon, France, and began bleeding 'Le Sang Jaune' (the yellow blood). Plenty of interesting things happened for the brand over the following 128 years, but what we are interested in the infamous Deemax wheelset. 2017 sees the launch of all new Deemax DH and Pro wheelsets, the latter being aimed at the 'enduro' market but still carrying the same name due to the similarity of severity of these gravity-based disciplines.
When I was growing up, the unmistakable yellow Deemax wheels were the drool-worthy wheel of dreams, adorning classic rigs under riders like Nicolas Vouilloz, Anne Caroline Chausson, Shaun Palmer and another thirty world title winning champions. The winningest downhill wheel ever? Twenty years since NV10 took them to victory, in June 2017, Troy Brosnan adorned the namesake with Andorran gold.
After years of testing in the current headquarters in Annecy, France, and on racetracks around the world, the Deemax is back and looking better than ever. Split into almost identical twins, riders now have the choice between the Deemax DH and Deemax Pro. The former is still a downhill racing thoroughbred, and the latter changes focus slightly to enduro racing.
Deemax DH Details
• 28mm internal rim width
• 20mm x 110mm front hub spacing
• 12mm x 150/157 rear hub spacing
• ISDM 4 rim machining
• 28 front / 32 rear steel spokes
• UST sealed rim design
• ASTM Cat 5: Gravity Riding certified
• Weight: 1950 grams (claimed
• MSRP: €899 / $899 USD
Is stiffer better? Or is compliance king? Mavic says they have put a lot of effort into keeping the Deemax wheels laterally stiff but vertically compliant, to help aid with comfort and trail chatter, as well as helping to ward off punctures. This is done by using alloy rims, choosing spoke lacing and shape, and reducing spoke count. The DH wheelset uses 28 steel, straight pull, double butted spokes front and rear. Standard DH hub spacings are possible with included adapters, and an XD freehub driver is available when ordering.
The rims continue to be alloy and use Mavic's IDSM4 rim machining techniques to remove material from the spoke-side of the rim where it's not needed. At 28mm, these might be Mavic's widest rims to date, but currently, they don't feel the need to go super wide. Mavic think that the current crop of wide rims are purely a trend, suggesting this width should be able to work well with tires widths up to 76mm/3.0".
The IDSM4 four-dimensional machining technique removes weight where it's not needed, but leaves a little extra opposite the tire valve to balance the wheel
Mavic created the UST Tubeless interface
and still believe in it today. The earliest example of tubeless was in Deemax prototypes from 1995. Universal System Tubeless refers a complete package that should allow easy inflation, sealant-free use and help to prevent burping.
The DH and the Pro wheelset both feature true UST and the rim beds are not drilled, no more fiddling with rim tape.
Deemax Pro Details
• 28mm front / 25mm rear internal rim width
• Boost or non-boost hubs
• ISDM4 rim machining
• 24 front and rear Zicral alloy spokes
• UST sealed rim design
• ASTM Cat 4: enduro and trail certified
• Weight: 1700 grams (claimed
• MSRP: €999 / $1099 USD
The Pro wheelset comes with a Boost or non-boost hub set with spacers included covering all the options. Like to ride wagon wheels? Well, 29" isn't available yet. The main difference compared to the DH wheelset are the hollow, alloy Zicral spokes. This choice is to save weight over the steel spokes, and numbers are reduced to 24 at the front and 28 rear. Along with the offset rim design (also found in the DH) to try to help balance spoke tension, the steeper side of the spokes on each wheel is also laced radially (without crossing) to reduce tension on this side and split the tension balance even more.
The interfaces at either end of the spokes are designed to maximize contact and surface area, which should result in fewer failures. Keep some spares nearby, though, as finding these proprietary spokes could be tough in an emergency.
The front rim is 28mm wide, like the DH wheelset, but the rear is narrower at 25mm. This is to decrease rolling resistance by giving the tire a more rounded profile, and also provide a better strength to weight ratio.
After a tour of Mavic's R+D facilities, it's clear to see why these wheels that were spotted last year have only just come to market – testing, testing, and more testing. Inside, there are around thirty machines torturing wheels and tires in various manners. Many machines Mavic built themselves, even down to a machine that tests bearing life, just to double-check that a change in supplier or even between different batches that everything is up to standard.
We rode a slip and slide, but that didn't seem to phase Fabien Barel who has been integral in the wheelset's development.
We spent a few runs each on both wheelsets on the trails surrounding Annecy and Mavic's headquarters, but thanks to some biblical rain storms, we found ourselves on top of impossibly slippery trails, so we couldn't gauge an accurate feel for the wheels. They didn't break after the first run, which is more than can be said for some wheelsets I have ridden this year. We have a pair of Deemax DH wheels to test for the remainder of this summer. Let's see if the legend lives on.