We had the Out Of the Box article here and the first impressions here, and now we have had a bit of time on the fancy hoops from Mavic. I trained on them, mounted to a Giant hard tail 29″er, took them on vacation to Colorado, and then raced on them in Utah. I even scratched them up a bit in the process. Oops!
To begin with, I always ran them tubeless with two different sets of Vredestein tires. It was either a Black Panther Xtrac/Black Panther Xtreme 29×2.2 or a set of 2.0 Spotted cats. As an aside, the tires rode like much larger, plumper tires than they actually were. They had that supple feel that I really have only felt in Continental tires. Must be a German thing. The Xtrac/Xtreme combo was good, but did not seem that fast rolling. However the Spotted Cats just got down the road on anything close to a smooth, hard surface. But mounted tubeless on the SLRs, they aired up almost like magic and they held air for weeks, barely even dropping any PSI at all. Nice match up.
So the Mavic Crossmax SLR wheels have just been solid and stiff and fast feeling. Nothing went wrong except for my errors that boo-booed them a bit. Some of that was related to rubbing bike parts together on a rack mounted road trip where a pedal scuffed the rim finish. No biggy. The other was a bigger goof. Wheel frisbees…dork discs…fred platters…whatever you call them, those little plastic rings that clip onto the spokes and protect your wheel from a chain dropped over the top of the cassette. The SLRs come with a small black one. I took it off. Knee jerk reaction. On the first training ride, I hit a steep climb and shifted into the granny 36T cog only to find that the somewhat used XX cassette was pretty much done as far as that big cog was concerned and did not play nice with a new chain. Clattering and skipping and…over goes the chain right into the thick aluminum spokes. Yep. Bummer. Aluminum does not like stress risers like gouges in a once smooth spoke. Advice? Leave the dealie on there and ride with protection.
Beyond that, they just did a great job all around. I could not ask for a stiffer wheel for anything in the XC mode of use. Yes, they are narrow with that 19mm internal width. Yes, that is out of step with the modern direction of MTB wheels. Its a Euro thing, I guess. But unless you want to run really low pressures or really fatty tires, it is not the end of the world either. I love the sealed rim bed. Awesome. All MTB rims should be like that just for the ease of tubeless use even though it may mean a more complicated spoke attachment system.
At just over 1600g and for a suggested retail of $999.00 (although I have seen them for much less), they are a unique looking wheel with a strong appeal as a well built system approach. But they have stiff competition in the marketplace now and in some ways they come across as more engineering exercise than pure function.
Now just recently Mavic announced a new wheel based on the SLR approach to wheel building, the Crossmax SL. From the Mavic Press release:
Mavic is pleased to introduce our lightest ever mountain bike wheel system, the Crossmax SL. Made for cross-country riders, racers, and fast trail riders, the Crossmax SL features exclusive Mavic materials and technologies for exceptional light weight with no sacrifice in stiffness, durability, or ride quality. Thanks to an all-new rim shape and Mavic’s proprietary ISM 4D machining process, the Crossmax SL wheels are up to 100 grams lighter than the current lightest MTB wheels in the range, the Crossmax SLR. Of course, Mavic’s known and proven technologies like FORE spoke insertion drilling, bladed Zicral spokes (20 front and rear), Isopulse lacing for the rear wheel (radial drive/2-cross non drive), and UST tubeless compatibility are integrated into the new Crossmax SL.
Crossmax SL wheels will be available in every popular size and configuration. The ITS-4 rear hub accommodates standard quick release fitment, plus 12x135mm and 12x142mm through axles. Shimano 10- and 11-speed cog systems can be fitted, as can SRAM 11-speed (with the Mavic XD driver body, available separately). The front hub fits standard quick releases and 15QR systems. Additionally, the 27.5” and 29” wheels will be available to fit Lefty Supermax forks. MSRP $999.90
26” (1390g per pair, 630g front/760g rear)
27.5” (1470g per pair, 665g front/805g rear)
29” (1520g per pair, 690g front/830g rear)
The new wheel set shaves 100g from the Crossmax SLRs with more machining on the rim and a carbon front hub shell. Rim width remains at 19mm internal.
So from here, we are going to move them to another bike and rider combo and let them run a bit harder to see what happens. Look for a long term report on the Crossmax SLRs at the end of the season.
Note: Mavic provided the items for this test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review. We will strive to be honest with our thoughts and opinions throughout.