The UST tubeless Mavic Crossmax WTS wheelset is aimed firmly at enduro racing and riding. It wears Mavic's signature yellow proudly.
WTS stands for Wheel Tyre System, and Mavic has designed the wheels alongside specific front and rear tubeless tyres.
There are 26in and 650b versions but no 29in, as Mavic don't deem that wheel size applicable for the wheels' intended use. The 650b set weighs in at 3,570g including tyres, with the wheels alone coming in at 1,670g.
The front hub is compatible with 15 and 20mm axles, and features 24 straight-pull spokes, laced two-cross on a wide 21mm rim. This produces a stiff build – something that's definitely noticeable under braking and steering when used with Fox's flex-prone 34 Float 650b fork.
Mavic's Charge 2.4in tyre combines a soft 40a slow-rebound rubber with an open pattern and aggressive shoulders, which are given extra emphasis by the wide rim. Grip is staggering in all conditions, and though it doesn't roll that fast on firm surfaces, we'd expect a tyre this grippy to be a lot slower.
The rear hub features a four-pawl system that gives a near-instant pick-up. It's compatible with 135mm quick-release skewers, 12x142mm through-axles and SRAM's XX1/X01 XD Driver freehub body.
The rear rim is narrower than the front – 19mm. It's designed to give the optimum tyre profile when used with thinner, faster rolling rear tyres. The 20 spokes are laced two-cross on the driveside for improved lateral stiffness, and radial on the non-driveside to increase stiffness under power. Despite the narrower rim and fewer spokes, the wheel feels taut and we haven't needed to go near it with a spoke key yet – even after a few bad landings.
The Roam is Mavic's dual-compound rear tyre offering, which mixes a minimal centre tread made from 60a rubber with a softer 50a shoulder. This helps create a fast rolling tyre that's good at cornering.
The 650b version is 2.2in wide and the 26in version is 2.3in wide. Mavic says this is so you get the same contact patch, and therefore the same rolling resistance, regardless of wheel size – something that puzzles us, because increased tyre footprint (and the associated increase in grip) is one of the biggest advantages of bigger wheels.
The Roam rolls fast, but traction is minimal on anything but the driest or firmest trails. The softer shoulders do help but need to be driven hard. On wet roots and rock, we found the tyre lacking in grip and predictability.
The Crossmax WTS certainly offers a hell of lot of wheel and tyre for the money, and if previous Mavic wheels are anything to go by, they should keep on trucking with minimal maintenance.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.