Product Test: Mavic Crossmax XL WTS (Wheels Tire System)

When we first had the opportunity to ride the Mavic Crossmax Xl wheels, it was in the French Alps with arguably the fastest enduro racer on the planet, Jerome Clementz. We shredded some of the steepest and most technical trails we’ve ever seen, ones that date back several hundred years as Olive trading routes between France and Italy. We loped behind the master Jerome and watched him lay his mastery down on these “French Flow” trails that consisted of nothing but sharp boulders, ultra-steep switchbacks and everything that’s not “‘Merican” flow trails. We wondered if these wheels could also help someone without the superhuman ability of a world champion racer, so we decided to find out. We put the CrossMax XL wheels and tires through the Mountain Bike Action test to see if trail riders of all abilities could benefit from the new XL technology.

Tech Features:

The Crossmax XL WTS is designed for the adventure rider. The wheels feature many of Mavic’s proprietary technologies, including the Fore drilling of the rim, Zircral alloy spokes, UST-compatible tubeless design, and ITS-4 fast engaging hubs. The Quest tires are a new offering from Mavic and are designed to match the XL’s adventurous style with a lightweight casing and fast rolling yet capable tread pattern.

TIREFor the tech junkies out there, the XL wheels feature a Fore-drilled, 23-millimeter wide internal width for both the front and rear rims. Mavic still uses its tubeless-compatible Fore drilling process that allows the rims to be run without the hassle of tubeless rim tape. The hubs feature Mavic’s ITS system, which is essentially a four-pawl engagement system that has 48 points of engagement. The spokes are made from Mavic’s Zircral alloy, which is both lightweight and strong. The Crossmax XL wheelset is available in all three wheel sizes and retails for $1000. Our 27.5-inch test wheel system tipped the scales at 7.5 pounds (3440 grams) with tires installed with a splash of Stan’s sealant. The wheels themselves tipped the scales at just under 1800 grams, and the tires and sealant made up the remaining 1640 grams.

The Quest tires are designed to balance flat protection and weight savings, all with a tread pattern designed for excellent braking, cornering, and traction.

Field Test Results:

Mavic has long been renowned for building killer performance wheelsets that are stiff, lightweight and offer excellent durability, all without the inordinate cost of a carbon rim. The Crossmax XL wheelset is no exception. Mavic’s Crossmax Enduro wheelset is designed specifically for racing, with a narrower rim width and slight sacrifice in comfort in exchange for light weight and speed, but it can be ridden day in and day out on nearly any kind of trail. That’s the kind of versatile performance we look for in a product. We love products that shine on the fastest of days but can also be great longtime trail partners.

The most noticeable design change to the XL wheels is a wider rim profile front and rear to spread the tire casing and provide a larger tire contact patch for improved traction. While there are certainly wider rims out there, the Mavics’ width falls comfortably in the middle at 23 millimeters, blending weight savings with the added traction of the wider profile. Mavic’s Fore drilling process also keeps the inner wall of the rim intact, so there’s no need to run a rim strip or messy taped tubeless system. These rims are truly tubeless ready, with absolutely no prep required, right out of the box.

Mavic-BigMavic’s Zircral spokes not only look light and strong, they are light and strong. After many years of testing Mavic’s Crossmax wheels with this technology, we’ve yet to see a failure, something we can’t say about any other steel-spoked option. As an added benefit, Mavic ekes out a couple extra grams of rotational weight savings by using aluminum alloy rather than steel.

Mavic’s hubs are built from cold-forged hubshells, ultra low-friction bearings, and Mavic’s proprietary ITS-4 engagement system. A true mark of a great hub is when you actually forget you’re riding it, because it’s worry free. Mavic’s hubs have stood up to our testing time and time again without issue. The only change we had to make on the XL wheelset was a quick bearing adjustment, which was easily made with the included spanner tool with the wheel still mounted on the bike. One quick tweak on the rear hub after our first ride and the hubs ran flawlessly thereafter.

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The Crossmax XL wheels come wrapped with Mavic’s Quest tire, one that uses small widely spaced knobs to deliver a fast-rolling tire that can still hook up. We liked the initial feel of the tires, with a supple sidewall and a soft tread that was a treat to lean into corners; however, after just a few rides, the backsides of the center knobs began to burn down, probably from braking. Enjoy the first set of Quest tires, because they ride great, but don’t expect them to last long.

Mavic has built a ton of value into this sleek and fast-looking wheelset. On the trail, the rims are stiff and lightweight; the hubs are snappy and responsive, and the longterm experience of the Mountain Bike Action test crew tells us these wheels are in it for the long haul. Add a pair of tires that last a little longer on the fast hardpack terrain they’re designed for, and you’ve got a five-star wheel system.



Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. You can start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345. Also available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

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