A little while back I wrote a review on Mavic’s Crossline wheel set which was and still is a great set of wheels. But I recently got a chance to ride with the Crossline’s big brother, the Mavic Crossmax SX, and the experience left me impressed. Now don’t think the big brother is larger or heavier than its sibling; in fact the Crossmax SX set weighs 300 grams less!
The 2009 Crossmax SX wheel set has a completely redesigned rear hub that drops 165 grams of weight and makes use of the same ITS-4 (instant transfer system 4) pawl cassette engagement found in the Crossline set. This means that 2 pawls are in engagement at all times and each pawl is separately sprung. The hubs’ look has also been updated and sport a white finish which fits nicely with the awesome white graphics on the rims.
Mavic has always been known for great looking, high performance wheels and this year they’re keeping the pedal to the metal. The 2009 Crossmax SX wheels sport a new gray anodized finish and fresh white graphics – but don’t think these rims are all style without any substance. After the rim is shot peened it is put through a chemical anodization process which adds a very tough micro hardness exterior layer to increase the life and durability of the wheel. While forming and shaping the rim, Mavic welds and machines everything flat in a process called SUP for extra precision. Mavic is also able to save weight through their inter spoke milling process using a CNC machine to remove excess material between each spoke.
The Crossmax SX wheels roll with 24 straight pull Zicral spokes (aluminum) compared to 28 steel spokes on the Crosslines. The front axle is available in a 20mm configuration only while the rear can either be a 12×135 through axle or 9×135 QR. The Mavic Crossmax SX wheels seem to fit best on bikes with 140 – 160mm travel and tires that are 2.3 – 2.5″ wide.
Mavic Crossmax SX wheels are UST meaning they can used with tubeless tires. Looking at the inside of the rim there are no protruding spoke holes and therefore nowhere for air to leak. The rim also has a drop center that provides a small channel for air to inflate a UST tire and force the tire over safety ridges to hold the air-tight beads in place. Mavic even created a special manufacturing process called FORE to fit the special Mavic M7 spoke nipple which makes the wheel much stiffer and more fatigue resistant.
It took me very little time to get the Mavic Crossmax SX wheels up and running. Seeing that these are tubeless I grabbed a set of tires that I happened to have around and got to work. Installing a UST tire is pretty much the same as a tubed tire, just use soapy water and wet the sidewalls of the tire before inflating (it really helps popping the tire is place with less pressure).
On the trails I really felt the difference the wheels made right away, especially when comparing the Crossmax SX running UST tires vs. Crossline wheels with tubes. Right off the bat I lost a total of 630grams (or 1.38 pounds) of rotational mass after making the switch. The coolest part: there is zero strength lost and the Crossmax SX wheels feel super stiff. That stiffness gives the rider greater freedom to change lines more quickly and with less effort while tracking oh so well in tight berms. I had an awesome time on the trails smashing my way down slopes with a much greater degree of control and freedom than I had before.
These wheels are also incredibly efficient in acceleration. Remember these are not DH wheels and they’re not meant for very big hits or fast descents through rock gardens. But after a good thrashing I must say these wheels held up great, though I did have to use the M7 truing key (supplied with the wheels) to take out a small wow on the rim after encountering a rather large log. Speaking of tools, Mavic supplies you with everything you need to service these wheels including an M7 truing key, 12 and 9mm frame supports, rear QR, and a bearing adjustment tool. They even toss in the UST valves if that’s the way you want to go.
At $899.00 USD ($1340.00 CDN) these are not cheap wheels but if look carefully you may find them for a lower price. Ultimately these wheels are worth a few extra bucks because they hold up to abuse and won’t hassle you with any worries or problems on the trail.
A quick thanks to the folks at OGC for the Mavic wheels and of course Opus for a stable and reliable bike to do my testing with.