In recent years, many have criticised Mavic for the brand's trail wheels, which have come up narrow compared with the competition.
With wider, more capable tyres on the market, narrow rims rarely offered the support needed to get the most out of them. The new Quest family of rolling stock plugs this gap with the XA Pro Carbon and XA Elite wheels, and Quest Pro tyres.
The family is also noticeable for having Mavic’s first carbon mountain bike rim – a departure for a company best known for pushing the envelope of alloy rim tech. Some may ask whether Mavic’s parent company’s purchase of ENVE Composites has anything to do with this. For now though, Mavic insists the two companies are being run separately.
Quest XA Pro Carbon
The flagship model of the Quest line-up is the XA Pro Carbon wheelset. With a claimed weight of 1490g (650b) or 1535g (29in), impressive figures on the (cliché alert) lateral stiffness and vertical compliance spectrum, and a rim that has an internal width of 26mm, these have the potential to be class leaders.
The range-topping Quest XA Pro Carbon is Mavic's first carbon-rimmed MTB wheelset
The rim has been designed with the aid of many computer simulations, quickening the design process and meaning only around 10 prototype profiles needed making before the final product was complete. The rim uses an asymmetrical spoke bed, with the spoke nipples exiting the rim 2mm to the left of the centre of the rim.
This gives better triangulation of the spokes, lowering spoke tension on the drive side, and bringing the driveside spoke tension closer to that of the opposing spokes. Mavic is building the wheels with 2-cross lacing both front and rear, something it says improves vertical compliance.
It comes with an asymmetric rim for better spoke tension
The other feature we’re seeing on the XA Pro Carbon is the hookless rim wall. This makes the rim easier to construct and stronger than a traditional hooked version, as the sidewall of the rim is straight in cross-section, rather than including the hook.
Mavic is the driving force behind the UST tubeless system, which is compatible with the hookless design. Mavic says that without the hook, tyres sit better in the rim, with less curvature in the sidewalls, reducing the chance of burping.
The wheels are built around newly designed hubs, which do, however, contain the same internals as previous wheels for ease of servicing. The 24 spokes are straight-pull, bladed steel models (again, aiding compliance) and they thread into alloy nipples. The usual axle types are supported, while Torque caps and Lefty versions can be supplied.
The hubs come with all the usual axle and freehub variants, and look rather good, we think
Both Shimano and XD drive freehubs are available, and 2.4in Quest Pro tyres are included as part of the WTS (Wheel Tyre System).
Pricing for both wheel sizes is $1849.90 or £1300.
Quest XA Elite
The XA Elite is the alloy version of the Quest wheelset, and comes in at a very reasonable $749.99 or £450.
As you may have seen on previous alloy Mavic wheels, material has been machined away between the spokes (a process Mavic calls ISM4D) to shave weight without losing strength. At (claimed) 1695g / 1770g (650b / 29in) they’re competitive in terms of weight.
Gunmetal, blue and green lining up in the sun
The alloy rim is 1mm narrower in profile, with a 25mm internal width. Mavic says this is still optimized for 2.4in tyres. The rim also features a hookless sidewall, and is tubeless-compatible with tubeless taping. Much like the carbon wheels, the 24 spokes are laced in a 2-cross design and are steel straight-pull, bladed items.
The alloy hub comes in three colour options, including green an blue, while the usual axle and freehub versions are present and correct.
Quest Pro tyres
The Quest Pro is the accompanying tyre for the range, and comes in a 2.4in guise, with two casing options – single and dual ply. The tyres are dual compound, with gummy shoulder knobs and harder, faster rolling central tread.
The tyre is dual compound, with a faster-rolling harder central tread and grippy shoulder knobs
Register the wheels online and you get an extended three-year warranty and crash replacement policy, whereby damaged wheels can be replaced for a much-reduced price. You are able to get the wheels repaired by Mavic if needed, too.
Mavic is also rolling out its ‘Riding is Believing’ project, with the Quest wheels soon to be included – this essentially lets you test-ride Mavic wheels for free from selected dealers worldwide.
We rode the Quest XA Pro Carbon wheels and Pro tyres in the Basque region of Spain, thanks to [Basque MTB](http://www.basquemtb.com/). It’s difficult to draw too much from a couple of rides on unfamiliar terrain and a new bike, but Mavic seems to have done its job well. The relative light weight and fast rolling tyres got up to speed well, while on hardpacked trails, the stiffness of the rim and soft-compound tyre gave impressive cornering.
We're looking forward to getting some hours in on home soil
In high-load situations on hard-baked ground there is a slightly noticeable amount of squirm from the soft shoulder knobs, and if you really pin it, you can get the wheel to flex a little – but not to a degree that's really worth worrying about. In more mixed or loose terrain, a more aggressive tyre would be good up front.
We played with tyre pressures a little, but left them generally in the low 20s. Tyre roll wasn’t a huge issue, and despite our best efforts we couldn’t unseat the bead from the rim. Nor did we puncture them, despite a rather cack-handed approach to line-choice at times.
Our test bike had a relatively basic Fox 34 Elite fork, and while fork and tyre setup plays a major part in the feel of the front end, we felt that there was a discernable compliance from the wheels. We’d like to spend more time on them though before coming to too many conclusions. What we’ll say though is that we’re looking forward to spending much more time on the Quest Pro WTS.