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The Crossmax SLR 29 wheel set from Mavic is a lightweight set of hoops that rides surprisingly stiff out on the trail. How do they do it? It all starts with expert construction.

Construction

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Crossmax SLR wheels are the spokes. The Zircal bladed spokes look like they belong on a military chopper, cutting through the air as you descend. Zircal is an aluminum alloy with a good stiffness to weight ratio, providing a strong, rigid support system for large 29er rims. And with just 20 spokes both front and rear, these spokes need to take a lot of stress!

The spokes are laced 2-cross up front and in the rear, they’re 2-cross on the non-drive side. On the drive side, the spokes are radially laced and Mavic says this is to maximize drive-side dish and improve spoke tension balance.

The hubs feature double sealed cartridge bearings with 4 pawls in the rear. The rear hub can be run with a 12mm thru axle or using the included QR skewer. Up front, the hubs will accept a 15mm or 20mm thru axle OR 9mm QR (also included). All the adapters for running a 15mm or 20mm axle are included.

Mavic uses a custom aluminum alloy called “Maxtal” on the rims, an alloy the company claims offers a better strength to weight ratio than traditional 6106 alloys. The rims also feature a unique design on the lower bridge that requires zero drilling for the spoke threads, improving fatigue strength overall.

Performance

All these innovative features come together to produce a wheelset that weighs just 1620 grams while still offering incredible strength and performance on the trail.

If you’ve been riding a 29er for a while (or any bike for that matter) you know it’s important to minimize “rolling weight” whenever possible. At 1620 grams, this is one of the lightest non-carbon wheel sets you’ll find, plus they’re UST compatible so you can ditch your tubes for even more weight savings.

I found mounting tubeless tires to the UST rims to be a piece of cake–all it took was a floor pump and one try. In fact, these rims seem to hold air better than any UST rim I’ve run, losing very little pressure between rides.

I did burp my rear tire during the Snake Creek Gap time trial back in February and I never really determined the cause. Another rider had the same issue in the exact same place so I suspect it had little to do with the wheel–something must’ve been in the trail. Fortunately running these UST wheels with a tube wasn’t an issue and I was able to finish strong.

The Snake Creek Gap time trial spans some of the rockiest singletrack on the Pinhoti trail so I knew it would be a great test for these wheels. Sure, my scale confirmed they were lightweight but I was a little concerned they might not withstand the abuse. It turned out my fears were unfounded–the Crossmax SLRs handled the chunder like a much burlier wheel set. Of all the 29er wheel sets I’ve tested, these seem to feel the stiffest. I was able to rail corners faster than ever and I never got that sickening feeling in my stomach after banging the rim on a rock. Landing small jumps feels solid on the Crossmax SLRs, never spongy.

The only real weakness I found with the Crossmax SLRs is the rear hub engagement. The 4-pawl design claims 7.5 degrees of freeplay which sounds great on paper but in my experience wasn’t anything to get excited about. Touchy tech moves seemed to be on slight delay compared to other wheels I’ve tested. Then again, these wheels are geared toward XC riders where speed is more highly prized than the ability to parse densely technical terrain.

I’m tired of using QR skewers on my bike but sadly I’m still stuck with them in the rear on both my frames. So I was surprised to find that I actually like the Mavic QR skewers included with the Crossmax SLRs! The levers are solid and I haven’t noticed any creaking (unlike those on all my other rear wheels).

Additional features

Mavic really takes care of the rider when it comes to included accessories. The Crossmax SLRs ship with all the axle adapters you might need–9mm QR, 12mm, 15mm, and 20mm. Not only that, you get wheel bags, a complete set of disc brake rotor bolts (front and rear), skewers, valves, and schrader valve adapters.

Clearly these wheels are designed to look fast and racy but it’s not all for show. A single half-white spoke is placed at the valve on the front and rear wheels, making the hole easy to find during a quick tire change.

The Mavic Crossmax SLR 29 wheels are available at multiple retailers for around $1,000.

Mavic bills the Crossmax SLR 29 wheels as “fast and light” but I would also add to that “strong.” With very little¬†discernible¬†flex and UST performance, these wheels are not just fit for race day but should be durable enough to use as an everyday wheel set for years of blissful riding.

Thanks to the folks at Mavic for providing these wheels for review.

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# Comments

  • Bubblehead10MM

    That’s very cool. I get a lot of flex in my Bontragger front when maneuvering tight spots, sharp turns at top of hill and like that. A grand may be a reasonable price point for good 29″ wheels but it’s a lot for me. and to put on a $2K bike.

    • Stl_Greaser

      I agree. I am looking to upgrade my wheels, but dont think I will put $1000 wheels on a $700 bike!!!

  • RoadWarrior

    Still running the Crossmax wheels that came on my 2004 SJ. All original spokes, very little tweaking to keep them true. Recently launched off a 3 footer, and “G” outed a gully so hard I thought the old frame would break. Old frame, and wheels just shrugged it off. So if the 29″ Crossmax’s last like that, $1000 would be the best bargain out there.

  • dgaddis

    Mavic makes good stuff, there’s not much arguing that. But, good luck if you happen to damage the rim in getting it replaced. It’s a proprietary rim that will only work on that wheelset, and you can’t subsitute anything else in it’s place. How long does Mavic keep spares available I wonder?

    • RoadWarrior

      @ dgaddis All very true, something to consider if purchasing Mavic wheels, have heard not so nice stories. Proprietary stuff is a problem every where you turn these days. From bicycles to the reason my $165,000 truck is sitting in the shop right now waiting for parts. Not all bad, 6 mile pavement ride from here, and I’m on the Carvins Cove trail system

  • Spartan

    Jeff, I Just DNF the Snake on Sat because my rear Halo Hub exploded inside and tore off my rear Derailleur with it.. (Up on the Ridgline about mile 20ish after that monster climb past halfway point..).. I tried to turn my bike into a singlespeed to finish and then realized my hub was FUBAR.. So I coasted back down to the SAG and went home…
    Anyway, my bike man Shane Jackson over at Evolution in Marietta SQ… originally custom built these wheels for me and this is the second time this rear hub from Halo exploded on me. Halo replaced the first one and will credit us for the second one.. However, Instead of rebuilding the rear again he’s comping me this Mavic Crossmax SLR wheel.. and we will give it a try.. So i’m pretty pumped up about all the good reviews I’m seeing.. We shall see how it holds up under my 270lbs on the Snake in about 30 days…
    I stopped over at the ST tent and it was empty so I took off… I was in no mood to talk anyway.. I figured I’d say hello on the next run.. Its very depressing after putting in all that training for 2 months and then having to DNF..

  • Spartan

    oh and to Dgaddis comment about proprietary wheels…. I guess Mavic has a 2 yr replacement warranty for very cheap…. like 30 bucks a wheel.. Not sure whats covered..I hope I don’t have to find out.. But I’ll def get that coverage..

  • TELBOY

    I’m really interested to know how these wheels have held up? Heard about various issues with previous models, would like to know if they’ve been fixed?

    Also, i know they’re quick while your on the pedal, but how well do they keep momentum? For example, if do a few quick rotations on my pedal s, then stop, the Shimano XT hubs seem to roll on forever. They just don’t seem to want to stop. They maintain speed and considerable distance with very little effort. This is an important factor for me, would really like to know how these things compare?

    Off topic now, but i would like to know if there’ll be any reviews on 2014 Easton wheels. Has the hub problem gone? Easton claims there should be no more issues with there wheelsets from 2013 onwards? Can anyone support this? Easton seems to excel in every other part of the wheel, so i guess me and many others are awaiting the green light on the hubs. Wake up Easton! start selling rims, your losing $$$$$$$ lol

  • TELBOY

    Thank you, this is good news! I take it Easton wheelsets from 2013 onwards are now safe to buy?

    I’m gutted i only just found this out, as i could’ve got a set of EC70’s for 750 pound brand new from Wiggle, which has now sold out. D’oh! I found a good deal on Haven carbons but they can’t be delivered to the UK, from US.

    Now i’m contemplating either the Easton EA90 XC 2013, or the Mavic Crossmax SLR’s 2014. What would you do? Or what else could be thrown in the mix, for XC mainly.

    Thanks!

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