First Ride: New Mavic Crossmax XL Wheel System

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Amongst the European paparazzi we arrived in the French Riviera. The Nice-Côte-d’Azur airport was aflutter with the excited activity leading to the annual Cannes Film Festival. As I exited baggage claim there was one sign within a crowd of limousine drivers and chauffeurs that I was looking for: the yellow Mavic logo. We didn’t come to southern France to sit indoors and screen films. We came to ride a sampling of the incredible singletrack used during the six-day Trans Provence enduro race as we put Mavic’s new wheel system and apparel through a couple days on intense testing.

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After our driver wound her way out of the Mediterranean paradise and into the stunning Maritime Alps we stopped for a brief lunch. Our shuttle pulled up to a small café just as Jerome Clementz, the 2013 Enduro World Series Champion, rolled in to great us. Jerome and the Trans-Provence Director, Ash Smith, were going to show us around as we got our first taste of the newest Mavic gear. The marketing crew at Mavic claim that between the extremes of XC and DH riding or racing is Enduro. They don’t seem to differentiate much between trail or all-mountain, or that enduro is a race format. Although those nuances seem to be lost on our French hosts, the spirit of enduro racing’s adventure mindset surely isn’t.

Update: We just got word that Clementz is out for the season due to a dislocated shoulder he suffered during the Enduro Cup in France. Get well soon Jerome!

 

Crossmax XL WTS

These are the big story of the event. Mavic says that “the Crossmax XL WTS is designed for the adventurers. Strong enough to support aggressive riding, it remains light where it really matters.” The wheelset features Mavic’s proven technologies (Fore, Zicral, UST, etc.) and it also sports new Crossmax Quest 2.4 tires. They’re built for both the up and the down with fairly quick engaging 4-pawl hubs giving good power transfer, 24 spokes front and rear, radial laced spokes on the drive side and cross-laced on the rotor side.

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The rim is specifically milled to reduce weight, and features a 23mm internal width, wider than previous Mavic rims. The new ISM (interspoke milling) has a wider milling area than the SX wheelset. In addition, the XLs also have a less square and more angled rim profile than the Crossmax SX to help prevent dents and increase stiffness.

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  • 23mm internal rim width with Fore drilling
  • 24 Zicral aluminum spokes, lighter and stronger than steel
  • Crossmax Quest 2.4 tires with Contact Compound and Guard+
  • New optimized rim extrusion with ISM weight reduction
  • UST Ready tyres
  • Full UST rim, with UST Ready tyres
  • Full hub compatibility: 9/15/20 up front and 9/12×135/142 rear
  • All 3 wheel diameters: 26”, 27.5” and 29”
  • MSRP: $1,000, includes tires

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Crossmax Quest Tires

These are versatile tires designed to maximize the performance of the Crossmax XL wheels on everything: Roots, rocks, wet or dry, whatever. Aggressive front. Faster rolling rear with a more continuous rolling center tread. Both have reinforced casing and multiple compounds. The new Quest tires have a rounder profile with a newly designed clincher system for a more secure system. It’s meant to be a versatile design for excellent braking, cornering and traction. Available in 26”, 27.5” and 29”.

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  • Contact Compound (CC): grip in all condition and durability
  • High spaced knobs for traction, predictable braking and precise cornering
  • Large volume for comfort and confidence
  • Large 2.4 casing for better comfort
  • Guard+: reinforced casing
  • UST Tubeless Ready

The riding

We spent two very challenging days on the new wheels and tires. The French singletrack of the Trans Provence is not for the faint of heart. It’s everything all at once. You have to be a very well rounded rider to excel on these trails. They are fast, and technical with unforgiving exposure at times. Having had the chance to ride some of the stages of last year’s race, I have an even greater respect for the professional athletes that float through the terrain with a seemingly effortless grace.

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The first day of riding began with a light pedal out of the Chamois Resort to a hike-a-bike climb up a mostly forgotten staircase. After gaining some elevation the trail flattened out to a flowing combination of manageable climbs and technical singletrack with enough exposure to make some riders nervous. The soil was granular and coarse, when there was dirt.

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For a lot of the time I was skipping through rock gardens of sharp square edges and brittle stones or cursing my inexperience in tight switchbacks of loose dirt that would make IMBA cringe. Our gang of green ended the day by being shuttled out of a quaint mountain village. We loaded the shuttles and headed back for some cold beers.

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The second day was faster with less climbing but much more technical riding and some incredible vistas as we snaked along the French/Italian border, before descending into Italy for a morning cappuccino in the mountains. We rode several stages of Day 6 from the 2013 Enduro World Series race and finished the day on a beach near Nice with some cold pizza, beer and gin & tonics.

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Some concerns

The tires at the end of the camp’s four days of riding weren’t unscathed. Despite the reinforced casing there were some punctures and the World Champion managed to tear a sidewall. All the high knobs showed very visible signs of wear on everyone’s rear tire. The trailing edge of the center and intermediate tread was essentially gone after our time on the rubber.

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However, I can’t imagine a more honest test for the system. The trails around Sospel, France are some of the most challenging singletrack I have ridden, and I give Mavic a lot of props for setting up such a thrashing of their new products. I have some reservations about the durability of the rubber compound after the couple days of riding. The rear tires on every test bike that I saw needed to be replaced. Mavic said it was due to the severity of the terrain and the amount of braking involved.

I’m hoping it’s more of a testament to the demanding conditions of the Trans Provence trails than the durability of the tires. I’m looking forward to getting a set States-side and debunking any wear issues on my home trails.

 

Serious use

The new wheels were solid. None of us were nice to them through the unrelenting rocks. Of our test group, I don’t think anyone needed a wheel trued or even significantly dented a rim, which was impressive. You have to remember that this was a couple days of punishing, punishing riding and not a la-de-da turn around a machine made track. If you weren’t able to trash the rims on this trip, then you’ll probably have a hard time doing it on your home trails. Of course I can’t say much for the longevity of the hubs. The only issues were some loosening of them by the heavier riders.

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The wheel system has an MSRP of $1,000, which includes tires. If the tire durability is more substantial and on point with Mavic’s goals, then I think it’s a reasonable price and makes these pretty attractive. This trip also wasn’t unique to us. Ash provides non-race tours of the trials around Sospel, France featuring many of the Trans-Provence stages.

Crossmax XL Pedals

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  • Lightweight large carbon pedal for All-mountain and Enduro riding
  • Impact resistant dual spring construction
  • New and lighter large body design
  • Feel Adjustment: Adjustment of the lateral and angular float feeling. Easy movement or more friction, the pedal will fit every rider preferences. ±2.5 mm lateral and ±5 degrees of angular float
  • ATAC: engagement and release independent of spring tension, 13 degree or 17 degree release angles. Foot retention and release are independent from spring tension (feel adjustment). So the Pedals have a consistent reaction no matter the settings. The unique design of the ATAC cleat offers choice between 13 degree and 17 degree release angles
  • Self Cleaning: patented design offers perfect mud evacuation for easy clip-in in all conditions
  • Axle material: steel, hollow, 12 mm / Bearing: sealed cartridge bearing / Spring: dual arch, dual spring
  • Weight: 385 g

These may have been the sleeper pick for me. I had no experience with Mavic pedals going into this camp and I think I’ve come away a convert. Aside from the float and feel adjustments of the pedals the actual shape of the platform body is quite nice. It provides a nice “claw” for your outsole to grip. I found these very reassuring, easy to use and comfortable. They inspired enough confidence to leave my personal pedals in my luggage.

Crossmax Hydropack 15

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  • 15 liter capacity
  • 4 front zipped pockets integrated on straps
  • Adjustable belt with pockets
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Backlight clip
  • Delivered with hydration bladder 3 l
  • Padded belt with large buckle
  • Pocket for cell phone
  • Roll-out helmet flap
  • Separate hydration compartment
  • Tool compartment

Who am I to argue with Mavic pro riders? This pack is great. Instant favorite.

Crossmax apparel

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LS Jersey

  • Pro level long sleeve jersey designed for Enduro racing.
  • Developed with the world’s fastest Enduro atheletes (Jérôme Clementz, Fabien Barel and Anne-Caroline Chausson) the tough and dynamic CrossMax LS jersey allows optimal freedom of movement, comfort and breathability to maximize the Enduro experience.

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Crossmax shorts

  • Exceptionally tough, technical trail short
  • Fuller short (and removable innershot) with Trail Tech ST fabric that provides very strong abrasion resistance without reducing comfort.

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Stratos undershort

  • Lightweight, exceptionally comfortable technical undershort
  • Exceptional comfort and fit come from highly stretch, seamless construction, excellent wicking and the low volume progressive cushioning of the Ergo 3D Pro Insert.

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Crossmax gloves

  • Close fitting glove designed for Enduro
  • Preshaped cut glove with excellent grip and abrasion resistance. Silicone Finger Grip and close fitting to increase ability and control.

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Crossmax H20 rain jacket

  • Reliable Rain Ride protection combined with practical features like the expandable Pak Back that fits over a small hydration pack to stay dry on the wettest trails.

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Crossmax Alpine XL shoes

  • Extra protection lets you focus on the single track ahead
  • Full on trail shoe with bomb proof construction for added durability, comfort and protection. Trail specific features including neoprene ankle cuff and Energy Grip Trail Outsole.