First Look: Mavic's New Deemax SSC Wheels

Sep 14, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  
Mavic SSC DH wheels
Mark Wallace's Canyon Sender sporting Mavic's new Deemax SSC DH wheels.


Mavic has been quietly developing a new downhill wheelset, and it has been under at least two World Cup racers throughout most of the 2018 season. Canyon's DH team has been doing most of the testing and both Troy Brosnan and Mark Wallace have been key players in their development. SRAM has also been involved in the project, which may make it to market as early as spring 2019. Mavic's "Deemax SSC" prototypes have been hiding in plain sight, camouflaged only by their decidedly normal construction.

If you did notice something out of the ordinary, the tip-off would have been the hubs, with their symmetric spoke angles and a return to J-bend spokes and conventional lacing patterns. Mavic MTB Concept manager Scott Sharples, an accomplished DH racer in his own right, played a leading role in the project and gave us the inside story on the new hoops.


Mavic's Dee Max DH wheels have been popular at the World Cups. What was the inspiration for Mavic's to take on an new downhill wheel design?

Troy Brosnan Canyon Sender
New Demax SSC front hub versus... Trevor Lyden photo

Mavic Deemax DH
...existing Deemax DH hub. Mavic photo

Sharples: Given the speeds that these guys ride, and the fact that they all use 7-speed, and finally, 20mm Boost front wheels, I saw an opportunity to build the ultimate wheel. Traditionally, with all MTB wheels, there has always been a ‘soft’ side to a wheel. Because of the need to ‘dish’ a wheel for disc brakes or cassette. My goal was to get the spoke angle equal on both sides, so there was no ‘soft’ side.

Troy Brosnan Canyon Sender
Troy Brosnan's Canyon Sender. Mavic's new DH wheels have zero-dish hubs (157 rear and 20 x 110 Boost front), conventional spokes, and a new rim profile.Trevor Lyden photo

Soft side?


Sharples: What I mean by a ‘soft’ side, is that the spoke angle affects the way spoke can manage load on the rim. As a rider, when I was at full speed on the big hits and big jumps, the bike would always want to change directions. Whether you notice it or not, it is there. So, now the feeling from left to right is equal, and we could also tune the compliance without any compromise

So, the new wheel looks pretty normal. What has Mavic done differently?


Sharples: It looks simple enough, but it’s the ‘incremental’ improvements that make all the difference. The rim has some very important, but hidden structural elements. With a reinforced sidewall to withstand big impacts, and also protect the tire. Additionally, we reinforced the rim in a way to protect the UST surface - to keep your tubeless system sealed.

The wheel design was a collaboration between the team mechanics, the Mavic engineers, SRAM and myself. We used Mark Wallace and Troy Brosnan to test the wheels. We tested different rim widths, different spoke thickness, tensions, crossing and lacing, and we came up with this ultimate wheel that lets you (the rider) get on with riding.

Mavic SSC DH wheels
Mavic takes full advantage of 157mm DH axle spacing and a narrower cassette driver to place the hub flanges equidistant between the rim.

Aside of the front and rear hub flange spacing balance, all the spokes are the same length on both wheels. Other things you may notice are the J-bend spokes. I know that when you invest in a bike trip to some remote location - a Heli ride, a trek down thru Tibet, a Downieville expedition, or at a bike park in the Alps - you need to be able to easily and quickly replace your spokes if you crash into a herd of goats.

...Or race World Cup DH. Is that why Mavic stuck with an aluminum rim?


Sharples: Oh yes. Alloy. We haven’t taken the plunge to carbon yet. The racers on other teams that use them are not happy with the reliability of carbon - yet. We have some [carbon rims] in testing and they are 100-percent good. But I’m not yet convinced it is the best material for downhill racing.

This wheel is incredibly easy to service and repair, knowing full well that gravity riders do smash equipment. But, having said that, this the most dependable wheel and rim combo out there. It's like the old and legendary Mavic 321 - that was the wheel of choice for all gravity riders. We are back at that place now.

Mavic SSC DH wheels
Maybe wider is not better. After trying various widths and lacing patterns, Mavic chose a 28mm inner-width rim profile - and no eyelets to be seen.

What about ride quality?


Sharples: If you ask Troy Brosnan or any of his team mechanics (that I must say, are incredibly ‘dialed’ mechanics), they will all tell you how well this wheel system works, and how reliable it is. The team has been on this wheel all year and it rides like no other wheel.

Mavic SSC DH wheels
Brosnan's SRAM seven-speed 10 x 24t cassette sits flush against the hub flange thanks to a shortened XD driver.
SRAM Mini Block 7 speed
SRAM's seven-speed Mini Block cassette is heavily offset on the inside so it will fit a wider, 11-speed XD driver. SRAM photo

What was SRAM's contribution?


Sharples: We worked with SRAM to develop a very compact 10 by 24 tooth, seven-speed cassette, and a custom stubby XD driver. It's really a technical marvel when you look at it.

Mavic SSC DH wheels
The wider hub-flange spacing is readily apparent. Rumors were floating around that the new SRAM cassette featured a nine-tooth cog, but it's a ten.

So, what are the hard specifications, and when can we expect the Deemax SSC wheels in bike shops?


Sharples: The plan is to have the wheels in production early next year, in 27.5 and 29 inch.The Special Edition SSC will have shortened drivers that will fit SRAM and Shimano cassettes. Presently, here are no plans for Shimano's new Micro-Spline cassette system. Hub spacing is 157mm rear and 20x110mm Boost front. Our SSC rims have a 28mm inner width and the wheels are laced 28 spokes in a 3-cross pattern, with 1.6mm butted stainless steel spokes. The weight is at 1,950-grams, and as of now, the price is not set, but it will be close to $700 USD.





106 Comments

  • + 106
 Back to j bend three cross pattern. Wider flanges and normal rim width. Better
  • + 9
 And finally a real 7sp width cassette, I'm now waiting DT Swiss to come out with a wider 240S and shortened XD Drive as well!
  • + 17
 @qreative-bicycle: Hope have been doing this for a while haven't they? Good to see more companies getting on board. New Saint HAS TO BE seven speed with a dishless rear hub and short cassette, otherwise it's going to tank!
  • + 1
 think Azonic had the first? or hope
  • - 4
flag qreative-bicycle (Sep 14, 2018 at 2:03) (Below Threshold)
 @jaame: Being a weight weenie, Hope is far too heavy from the 240s plus it has proprietary cassette like E-Thirteen. I can also easily swap between ratchets to play on noise and engagement.
But something more interesting here is that Sram is a bigger name in transmission so I'm glad they put a step into the short DH cassette so many others will easily follow and the short Sram & Shimano bodies will be the new DH drive standard.
  • + 12
 I am now waiting for 11sp spacing 7speed 10-42 wide range cassette. Stronger wheels better drivetrain for those who just fkng pedal.
  • - 5
flag ShempHoward (Sep 14, 2018 at 2:07) (Below Threshold)
 Any news on the rear hub engagement, the only thing anyone cares about since they decided to make a budget friendly deemax all alum with j bend spokes from 1998. I would take the old deemax straight pull spokes with updated engagement, if they say nothing then nothing was changed. 28 straight pull spokes cost me $20, think I used 1.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Wider flanges make a stronger wheel. What makes a better 7sp drivetrain is a Boost chainring on 7sp/150mm hub because your chainline will be more centered to such cassette.
  • + 2
 Let's just hope they aren't released in bright ass yellow. Or if they are, please offer a second option in something neutral!!
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: that'd be sweet. I almost always double shift even on my 10-46. I'd like the same range with fewer jumps.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: wouldn’t the e bike drivetrain that SRAM delivers fit that description?
  • + 3
 @thestraightline: woah, EX1 looks awesome. That looks like exactly what I want for plain old non-ebike riding: straighter chainline, specific link-cog meshing to support high torque shifts, wide range with larger jumps. Why the hell aren't they putting this groupset on regular bikes?
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: Yeah I really want to do a retrogrouch EX1 build on my bike. 8 Speed chains!!!
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: I know the EX1 but it would be good if they made a lighter version, because this is heavier than XT. Could work for HT but not FS. Also. Isn’t EX1 8 speed spacing?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Why couldn't it work for full suspensions? Thats what its designed for. The cassette is only 360g, which isn't that bad, and certainly lighter than an XT one.

I wonder if you could put a regular derailleur on it.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: pretty sure you would have to use the ex derailleur as well due to the steps of the cassette.
  • + 1
 He needs steps to take a piss.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez my bad I thought it was like 500 or something. Still, it is 8 speed spacing. I want narrower hub body for increased flange spacing like Hope Pro 4 DH hub. That means 6 speed on 11sp spacing. 10-16-25-32-36-42 Big Grin
  • + 1
 @ShempHoward: yes and he just became able to play on the carpet without using the ladder
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: EX1 is 10 speed spacing
  • + 3
 Ya that said all my SX and ST wheelsets have never broken a flat spoke and I own 6 sets. My 3 older sets of 26" hoops look old but run smooth and run true even though there are knicks in all of them. Mavic and I have been running UST since 2002.
Long live Mavic wheels.
  • + 92
 J-Bend spokes, equal dishing, full use of 157mm??
Built for strength, with a reasonable weight and even good looking? No Carbon because it doesn't offer a distinct advantage?
THIS IS THE BIKE INDUSTRY GODDAMNIT! YOU CAN'T JUST MAKE A PRODUCT THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE WITHOUT INCORPORATING SOME SORT OF STUPID GIMMICK TO f*ck IT ALL UP!
That product manager will probably be found shot in a dark alley in the near future...
  • + 8
 120mm front hub. perhaps a typo, but it's in the article twice, so that may be the F up you're looking for...
  • + 1
 @powderturns: What forks are there with 120mm spacing ?
  • + 1
 @powderturns:
Considering the new Boxxer wasn´t released with 120mm spacing and the obvious close relationship between the two companies, at this point i doubt Mavic would release a new standard for such a niche market without considering one of the major players in the business.
You´re right though, they will probably find a way...
  • - 10
flag lozzerbiker (Sep 14, 2018 at 6:07) (Below Threshold)
 120mm is the boost version 20mm axle (normally 110mm wide), like 110 is the boost for 15mm(x100 normally)
  • + 3
 @Loki87: "they will probably find a way..."


Tomorrow Mavic's gonna announce a set of BoXXer lowers and crowns to add 120mm spacing.
  • + 2
 He will be expelled from the valley of capitalism, shareholderism and profit-maximization forever!
  • + 4
 Edited typo? Anyway, I was expecting weird proprietary stuff at a high price. Instead this looks like a well designed wheelset at a very reasonable price. Good job Mavic
  • + 1
 yup - appears to have been a typo. bit of a funny one as it appeared twice in the original article... as noted by others, there are no 120mm spaced forks. yet...
  • + 1
 @zyoungson: Early model White Brothers inverted DH forks have120mm spacing and a 10mm spacer for using 110 or 120 hubs. I have some crowns, axle and Paul Components 120mm hub squirreled away for a 29er DH bike build from about seven years ago... back when a 29er DH bike was craaaaaazeee... haha
  • + 0
 Some day you might learn to ride regardless of " scary industry changes"
  • + 54
 So, it took 20 years of wheel evolution to get back to what Mavic had I'm th 90s with the D321. Irony much?
  • + 1
 Exactly
  • + 7
 Funny enough, rim weight aside... you are right hahaah
  • + 22
 Yep, you are all correct. It is not 120mm front, but 110x20mm boost, as opposed to the old 110x20mm non boost.
  • + 2
 Thanks for clearing that Scott
  • + 21
 And when will Mavic use this common sense engineering to make a normal wheel for regular trail riding?
  • + 14
 I wanted to hate them, but conventional spokes... You've got my interest, Mavic. Please don't fuck this one up.
  • + 1
 seriously... these seem legit no nonsense
  • + 12
 Mavic haven't bothered with carbon probably since the acquisition of Enve composites.
  • + 1
 hahahaaa XD
  • + 9
 Just when I thought we'd sorted all the new standards, frames come back to threaded BBs and Mavic returns to J-bend, arrives a 120mm front hub... really?
  • + 10
 Surely it has to be a mistake! The new boxxer 2019 is 20x110 boost so I have a hard time believing DH is going to change to 120mm for 2020!
  • + 1
 @SintraFreeride: Wait, what's the difference between 20x110 and 20x110 boost?
  • + 1
 @big-red: Marketing.
  • + 4
 @big-red: spoke flanges @ disc spacing.
  • + 2
 @big-red: Here's an overlay of the two:

www.pinkbike.com/photo/16215842
  • + 1
 @kwapik: That's a fantastically helpful graphic.
  • + 6
 Chainlines:
Speedhub for 135mm rearend - 57mm
Pinion C-Line - 50mm
Pinion P-Line - 54mm

Brake rotor mounting face offset from centerline:
135mm rear hub: 52mm
-----------------------------------------------------------------
No need for 1-by-zilion drivetrain and super narrow chains, chainline issues, dished hub flanges, small rear axles, ...
-----------------------------------------------------------------

When are you MTB industry going to finally admit it?
  • + 7
 If this is English then explain how it is
  • + 1
 @browner: What is there to be explained? Current gearboxes have the same chainline as is the offset of the brake rotor mounting face on the 135mm rear hub. 135mm/2 - 15.5mm. On the left side is brake rotor, on the right side would be a driven sprocket. That implies that we can have absolutely symmetrical rear wheel, just the damn casette must be removed.
  • + 8
 1950g for aluminium dh wheelset. Wow
  • + 6
 I hope Mavic can sort out their distribution in Canada again. Have always loved their wheels... from the 321 till now.
  • + 1
 I've been wanting a set of Dee Max Pros but can't find it anywhere other than special order.
  • + 2
 28mm internal width rims - interesting. I wonder if this relates to them being alloy which is less inherently stiff than CFRP (putting aside layup for a minute!). Are we seeing an optimum width for alloy rims here, in terms of strength/weight/damage tollerance? I recently thought anything over 30mm is not a good idea and this development adds potential justification to that.
  • + 3
 So when are they gonna make a dialed trail bike wheelset that is as burly and affordable as this wheelset? Or does Mavic all ready do this? I have a hard time distinguishing whats what in their product catalog.
  • + 1
 The en427/627/827 Gould be mage Into what you are asking for, I have been liking my 427 rims. Cheap too.
  • + 1
 I have a pair of the 827 rims on my trail bike. They were hard to find in the U.S. but they seem to be holding up really well. They are on the softer side by design I think, never felt a ding but have picked up a few and the wheel straightens back up really easy.
  • + 4
 J bend spokes, 32 of them? No insane colours and ideas that actually make sense ? Dammit mavic, your too good.
  • + 1
 I think I was more surprised to see 32h than J-Bend, but both seem rare on wheelsets these days.
  • + 2
 These wheels have 28 spokes not 32. Probably helps with compliance so they don't have to reduce tension in the spokes like so many are doing these days to "soften" the wheel.
  • + 2
 @MikeGruhler: They changed that. I don't know if the article was edited or what, but it previous said 32h. There is no way that multiple people would comment on 32h otherwise.
  • + 1
 @PHeller: 10 4, 28 is stronger then most think if built on the right rim and hub. Personally I'm a 36h guy, its getting a little harder to find rims but not impossible.
  • + 1
 @PHeller: Just double checked, there 28h. Count the spokes on Wallace's rear wheel in the first photo. Definitely 28, Dee Max has always been 28 from what I recall. Could be off on that but pretty damn sure.
  • + 1
 @MikeGruhler: I wasn't denying that they weren't, I just could have sworn that the post originally said 32h. Having ridden 28h wheels, I wouldn't buy them unless I got them cheap.
  • + 1
 Seems like a pretty good setup, and I''m not one to complement that brand often. Might as well aim straight for the 7sp sram as Shimano clearly could give 2 f____ about keeping DH development moving. Nice move Mavic!
  • + 4
 Agree Saint is a bit 'same ol' lately. However, Saint is super reliable and works perfectly, ever time as far as drivetrain. The derr is bomb proof. Saint can also be easily set up 7-speed (or 5,6,8,9) by modifying a Shimano Road casette. Several DH pros such as Minnaar already do this and have been for a while.
  • + 3
 @bman33: I'm very far from pro, but I'm running 7 speed Saint. e13 spacer and the bottom 7 sprockets from a 10 speed 105 level road cassette. I would love to use all that wasted space on my current 157 hub so I could have a stronger wheel. Line choice of a 200 pound amateur rider could use it LOL!
  • + 3
 @yzedf: That is a good set up. I think Hope has a 'using that space' hub, maybe a few others. Definitely something hub makers should do as an option with the Shimano cassette, even the current style, and maybe the new spline in the future. Guys, like King, i9, Onyx, etc.
  • + 2
 I think what bikers want is more choice, more free hubs, and I'm getting a bit bored of 29 inch wheels, we need a new size! Wink
  • + 3
 Bring back the silver rims!!!!!
  • + 3
 And guys, fix the 120mm in the article....let's not spread bad info
  • + 3
 Nice to see a wheelset made for racing costs bellow four figures.
  • + 2
 Front hub spacing 120mm? Really? As Boost 20mm is 110mm x 20mm with the disc spaced out by 5mm, nog 120mm spacing, weird...
  • + 3
 It must be a typo... All current forks are 20x110 Boost.
  • + 1
 Seems like that has to be 20mm instead of 120mm unless Mavic is going to get in the fork game and tell us the extra 5mm is a game changer.
  • + 1
 I bet those rims are filled with some sort of closed cell foam, that absorbs vibrations and keeps the rim airtight.
  • + 2
 Nice chip in the paint work there.
  • + 1
 Needs more yellow, a lot more yellow so my bike can look like even more of a Christmas tree
  • - 2
 WAIT, WAIT!!! You're telling me the French actually built a non-system wheel??? Either it's the end of the world or hell has frozen over! But wait it's still going to take a month for you to get a spoke? YES, because MAVIC'S CS is still $HIT!!!
  • + 1
 Too bad they suck for warranty. Speaking thru personal experience anyways
  • + 1
 Stoked! I'm in the market for new wheels after exploding some Enves!
  • + 1
 But will this be compatible with the new Saint that is coming out in 2026?
  • + 1
 @pinkbike @mikelevy Bring back Sharp as a Marble!!!!!!
  • + 1
 So, the NEW idea is the GOOD OLD IDEA, right :>
  • + 1
 when is the sram casette going to be available?
  • + 1
 All the wheels in the pictures have 28 spokes not 32.
  • + 1
 So now it is fixed to say 28. Glad the Mavic Product Manager figured out how many spokes his wheels are going to have.
  • + 1
 All these silly expensive wheels. Stans Flow...... Enough said
  • + 0
 Seems we have some Mavic factory turds on pb downvoting. Real classy
  • + 0
 No info on hub engagement????
  • + 0
 Good god another freehub body design Facepalm
  • + 1
 Nice
  • + 0
 Still hate therlir hubs
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