By Eric McKeegan
I’ll admit to being one of the skeptics when the original Crossmax wheels came out with aluminum spokes. “That couldn’t work, could it?” Well after plenty of years and miles, Mavic’s Zircal aluminum spokes have proven themselves to be plenty durable. I tested the ST wheelset, aimed at the trail bike market.
The rims are officially UST compatible with an undrilled inner wall for hassle-free tubeless setup. Aluminum is machined from from the rim between the spokes to save weight and the spoke nipples thread directly into the rim. Twenty-four of those signature straightpull aluminum spokes are run two-cross on both wheels everywhere but the rear drive-side, which is radially laced. Radial lacing allows the spokes to move over 2mm to increase bracing angle to more evenly distribute spoke tension between the sides. Not something you should try with a standard hub and spokes, but it worked without a hitch here.
Hubs get cartridge bearings with an easy to adjust preload system, and a freehub body with 20-degree engagement. There are lots of hub options in both 6-bolt and Center Lock disc mounts in 9/15/20mm and Lefty varieties. The rear hub is 135mm quick-release only, but a 142mm version will be available for 2012. Get the full scoop on the 2012 Mavic lineup here.
This wheelset includes Mavic’s super-secure feeling QR skewers— the only skewers to give Shimano a run for their money in quality, ease of use and security.
Mounting tires was a snap. Both UST and tubeless-ready inflated with no problems and could be removed and installed without a tire lever. The rim is a pretty standard width: 25 outer/19mm inner, good for tires up to 2.3” wide. The wheels include valves, a spoke wrench for the proprietary nipples, a tire lever/bearing adjuster tool and a spoke magnet for cyclocomputers, a really nice touch.
These wheels are stiff, no doubt about it, and feel fast. They are plenty light for their intended use, and stayed dead straight for the whole test, and I wasn’t easy on them.
There is two-year warranty on these wheels, but Mavic also offers a no-questions-asked protection plan called MP3. The MP3 plan costs 8% of the retail cost ($60 for the ST) and provides three years of free service to repair or replace anything that goes wrong with the wheels for any reason. That sounds like a solid way to protect your investment.
Most cross country racers will probably lust after the Crossmax SLR, the lighter and more expensive model above the ST. Personally, I’d save the $225 difference, spend it on a few pairs of tires and the MP3 program, and ride into the sunset and feel confident bashing these around just about anywhere from an XC race course, to Super D’s, to the gnarly chunky bits.
Weight: 1,620 grams
Country of Origin: Parts made in France, assembled in Romania