By Adam Newman
Mavic doesn’t design wheels, they design wheel systems, with each component – hubs, spokes and rims – crafted in conjunction to achieve the ideal ride qualities. The 26-inch Crossmax wheel lineup has been completely redesigned for 2012, with three wheelsets with similar technologies but very different ride characteristics.
The Crossmax SLR is the race set, designed in conjunction with cross-country world champion Julian Absolon. The Crossmax ST is the trail set, built for longer travel bikes that favor sturdiness over speed. The Crossmax SX tops out the line as the heavy-hitter, built for freeride and all-mountain riders. You can learn more about the technical aspects of the lineup here.
The 2012 Mavic press launch was originally scheduled to take place at Winter Park, Colorado, but an unusually late snowmelt meant the park was more equipped to handle skiing than bike rides.
Luckily for us that meant we spent three days at SolVista Bike Park at Granby Ranch, Colorado, a ski and bike resort just across the valley from the Continental Divide. With ten downhill runs and more than seven miles of cross-country trails, it was a perfect venue for testing each of Mavic’s new wheels in their intended environment. The icing on the cake was that since we were riding on weekdays, we had the national-championship venue almost completely to ourselves.
“Riding good -Pink foam bad*”
The Ventana El Saltamontes we reviewed in Issue #157 was the perfect mate for the Crossmax SLR wheelset. At just 1,440 grams for the pair, they spin up effortlessly. Having Luna Chix rider and current women’s cross country national champion Georgia Gould along for the ride was a treat as well. Of course, I had a convenient excuse – the altitude – for not being able to even come close to keeping up with her.
The most noticeable feeling from the wheels was the new rapid-engagement pawl system, a full 60 percent faster than the previous version, Mavic says. A pedal stroke moves the wheel almost instantly, with only 7.5 degrees of movement between engagements, an awesome feature during technical climbs. The pawl system is identical throughout the redesigned Crossmax line.
“No helicopter rides*”
That afternoon we took the easy way up – the chairlift – the try the Crossmax SX wheels. Bolted to a Yeti ASR-7, they were stiff and stable as I tackled what was my first-ever downhill run. Now I’m going to need to take back everything I’ve said about gravity riding and start shopping for a full-face helmet! I couldn’t ask for a better venue for my trial-by-fire either, as SolVista rates downhill and cross-country trails separately on a green-blue-black basis. The green downhill runs were mostly man-made with plenty of smooth berms and tabletops to test your limits and just enough bumps and rocks to keep things interesting.
The day got even better when we loaded up the rental cars and made our way to Devil’s Thumb Ranch for an amazing dinner and finished up our meal just in time to make s’mores while watching the sun set and the moon rise simultaneously over the Rockies. It’s a tough job, I know.
“This doesn’t suck*”
Back to “work” Wednesday, we put the Crossmax ST wheels to the test with a trail ride along some “invite-only” trails. With plenty of convertible axle options, the ST is the all-purpose wheel that can fit almost any bike and can handle almost any trail. They also paired perfectly with Yeti’s new super bike, the SB-66. Read our exclusive interview with Yeti president Chris Conroy to get the scoop on what makes this bike special. We also just completed a long-term test of the previous generation of Crossmax ST wheels, and you can read it in upcoming issue, #158.
* Words of wisdom from Mavic’s Communications Director Zack Vestal, pictured above.