Product Test: Mavic Crossmax SX Wheelset
Mavic is one of the oldest bicycle component companies still operating. They arguably have more experience building bike wheels than anyone else in the world. The company was founded in 1889 as a nickel-plating business specializing in spare bicycle parts.
Today, they make the wheels for a laundry list of the best athletes, spanning every discipline of the sport. Different versions of Crossmax wheels can be seen on the ultra-light race bikes of Julien Absalon and Georgia Gould, and the aggressive downhill and slopestyle rides of Andreu Lecondeguy, Jeff Lenosky, Cameron Zink, and Cedric Gracia.
The Crossmax SX is designed for enduro riders, but will also satisfy the needs of just about anyone on the mountain. The wheelset comes in at a respectable 3.9 pounds. The rear hub offers Mavic’s ITS-4 system, which uses four pawls for engagement and offers twice the engagement points of a two-pawl system. There is a “click” every 7.5 degrees. The hub shells are forged and ultra strong to hold Mavic’s patented Zicral spokes in a straight and two-cross lace pattern. Rather than using off-the-shelf bearings that are designed to work at the super-high speed of a jet engine or car, Mavic designs their bearings to work specifically with the lower rpm needs of a bicycle. The claimed result is the lowest possible friction without durability issues. The SX wheelset is also compatible with just about every mountain bike frame and fork on the market right out of the box, thanks to the included tool-free adapters. The Crossmax SX wheelset retails for $899.
Field test results:
The Crossmax SX provides a solid and stiff platform that is right at home on any trailbike, especially one with 5 or more inches of travel. The sub-4-pound weight will satisfy anyone looking for a welterweight set and will only fall short with the cross-country race crowd. Our only complaint comes on paper, where the 21mm-wide rim extrusion seems a bit on the narrow side for a wheel this burly. However, we had no issues with this during test- ing. The rim profile provides ample width for every tire we tested on it, and the tubeless system is second to none when it comes to snapping on a new set of rubber, even when the tire is set up tubeless.
Our favorite trait of the SX wheelset is the perfect match between weight and durability. Whereas some wheels cut corners on material quality, stiffness or price, the SX wheels deliver all three. This is truly a product we will stand behind. We’ve used them on four different test bikes over the course of a year and never even had to touch the spoke wrench, which, by the way, was included with the wheels. In a sea of $3000 carbon wheelsets, the Crossmax SX is our choice. It’s an affordable upgrade that’s high performance, lightweight and durable. The wheels are also very adaptable, which makes it possible to use them on a future bike if you choose to upgradealthough we’re not going to promise that the axle standards won’t change by then.
Sometimes you come across products that are like a sharp pocketknife; they’re always there, always ready to back you up with top-notch performance, and never complain that the job at hand is too hard. The Crossmax SX wheels are one of those products.