Mavic have released three all-new 29er wheels for 2012. This isn’t the French company’s first foray into the big wheel market; back in 2008 they offered the TN 719 rim. Things have moved on a bit since then though, and this year they’ve rolled out an all-new line of Crossmax 29er wheels. And boy do they look good.
The new wheels look largely similar to the 26in Crossmax wheels first unveiled last year, but these 29er wheels are more than simply an upsized 26in wheel. Mavic didn’t just want to scale up the smaller wheels, and instead has taken the time to really examine and identity the extra stresses the components of a wheel are under on the larger wheel size. That, they’re confident, has allowed them to enter the 29er arena with a truly capable wheelset, and that on paper looks to be impressive on all fronts.
Stiffness was paramount when Mavic set about designing these 29er Crossmax wheel. They reckon a 29in wheel is 39% less stiff than a similar 26in wheel, and heavier to the tune of 10%. That’s the big challenge facing the 29in wheels, and as the wheels are a component that hugely impact on ride performance and handling, is something they wanted to get right.
Developing the Crossmax SLR 29er
Mavic went to lengths developing the new Crossmax SLR 29er, the top-end wheelset. First they simply upsized the 26in Crossmax, but found it wasn’t stiff enough and proved unreliable, with spokes snapping during test rides. Next they added more spokes, this resolved the stiffness issue, but the weight increased. So they tried stronger spokes, which partly solved the problem.
The next step was to look at the rim. Here they slightly increased the wall thickness of the rim, adding 0.6mm of metal. Along with the ISM-3D spoke machining, this swiftly cured the problem, increasing the stiffness of the wheel without a weight penalty.
However, this rim only displaced the stress to another component of the wheel; spokes were snapping on the drive side of the rear wheel. Rather cleverly, they solved this problem with the simple solution of bead blasting the spokes. Now the wheels sailed through their testing procedures. The finished article weighs 1620g and costs £850.
Crossmax ST for all-round mountain biking
The ST didn’t get as much extensive development, and is instead a bigger version of the ST 26, a wheel Mavic confidently claim exceeded their targets fro performance and reliability. This made the translation to 29er easier. We can only assume the Crossmax 26in is a tad overbuilt.
So the ST sits in the middle of the range with regards to weight and price. It’s the wheelset aimed at the all-mountain rider, designed to be sturdy enough for smashing through rock gardens yet light enough for fast paced riding. A tricky challenge, but one it appears they’ve achieved. And impressively, it’s only a smidgen heavier than the racier SLR at 1710g.
The same hub is used; it’s in the rim that the changes are apparent. The standard ISM treatment is used and the spokes are round Zircal ones, with 24 at the front and 20 out back.
We’ve been riding the new Crossmax ST and we’ll let you know how they perform soon. Based on the evidence of the Bristol Bikefest 12-hour race last weekend, first impressions are good.
And finally, at the entry-level, a wheel we’ll undoubtedly see specced a lot on mid-level 29ers. Standard spokes and nipples feature alongside a different hub and freehub and a reinforced rim. Weight is 2020g.
Impressively the hubs across the range are fully compatible with all the current axle standards doing the rounds. A bunch of spacers came with the wheels and allowed us to easily fit 15mm adaptors to the front hub (from 20mm standard) and 9mm QR on the rear hub (from 12m). Of course, the rims are tubeless-ready and as such valves, with removable cores, are also supplied.
The Crossmax range
Crossmax SLR 29 £850
The fast and light, high tech 29er
Weight: 1620 g
29er specific: reinforced rim, Fore angles, stronger spokes
Key technologies: ISM-3D, ITS-4, UST
Compatibility: 1 wheel does it all: Front 9/15, Rear 9/12x135/142
Crossmax ST 29 £625
The 29er for real mountain biking
Weight: 1710 g
29er specific: Fore angles
Key technologies: ISM, ITS-4, UST
Compatibility: 1 wheel does it all: Front 9*/15/20*, Rear 9/12x135/142
Crossride 29 £400
The access to Mavic Mountain Bike performance and identity, now in 29er
Weight: 2020 g
29er specific: reinforced rim, stronger rear axle
Key technologies: TS-2, H2
Compatibility: 1 wheel does it all: Front 9*/15, Rear 9/12x135/142*