Mavic 2009: Heavy-duty dirt wheels get lighter

New mountain bike wheels shave grams, add features

Most of the major changes in Mavic’s 2009 off-road lineup come at the heavier-duty end of the spectrum.

Among the most heavily revamped are the top-end Deemax downhill race wheels which shed a whopping 500g (1.1lb) for a total claimed weight of just 2160g for the pair in the lightest configuration.

The weight comes off from nearly every component: the rims are treated to a new spined Inter Spoke Milling (ISM) treatment, the all-new hubs are more aggressively machined and the stainless steel spokes are now double-butted.

Spoke count on the rear has jumped from 28 to 32 and a new Spoke Retention System (SRS) milling at the hub flanges is claimed to eliminate spoke ejection issues that occasionally plagued last year’s version on bigger impacts.

According to Mavic, the changes also provide the more compliant ride its pros asked for without compromising wheel strength.

Last year’s modestly updated FTS-X freehub body will also be replaced with a new Instant Transfer System 4 (ITS-4) driver whose two alternating pairs of pawls yield a far faster 7 degree engagement interval instead of FTS-X’s comparatively lazy 17.

Moreover, ITS-4 uses cartridge bearings for both the inboard and outboard sides of the freehub body (FTS-X uses an inboard bushing) yet is still 20g lighter thanks to alloy construction instead of steel.

The enlarged internal dimensions afford easier compatibility with rear thru-axle standards, too.

As before, the 31mm-wide rim (25mm internal width) is still UST-compatible.

Retail price for the Deemax is US$900 for 135mm versions or US$1,000 for the 150mm-wide model.

Deemax also sheds fat

The thoroughly revamped Deetraks retains its focus on big-hit durability but retains its more wallet-friendly price tag.

As on the Deemax, the US$450 Deetraks sports ITS-4 internals (and its enhanced thru-axle compatibility) and has lost a considerable 380g of excess mass; claimed weight is 2255g per pair. In keeping with the value-oriented theme, Mavic also focused on repair ease with a standard 32h spoke count front and rear and conventional J-bend spokes.

All mountain Crossmax SX & new Crossline

ITS-4 also finds its way on to the all-mountain Crossmax SX and all-new Crossline.

ISM and the new hub internals help the Maxtal-spoked Crossmax SX shed 165g from last year (claimed weight is 1755g per pair) and the 135mm rear hub will be compatible with 10mm or 12mm thru-axle rear ends for the first time. The 20mm through-axle-specific front hub also sprouts wider flanges for improved lateral rigidity; the 9mm quick-release option is gone.

In contrast, the Crossline uses a more conventional non-welded aluminum rim and steel spokes to bring the weight up to 2055g per pair. There’s no UST compatibility with the Crossline, either, although it does get the same 135x10/12mm thru-axle compatibility as the Crossmax SX. At just US$400, though, the Crossline will be considerably cheaper; the SX cost climbs for ’09 to US$900 per pair.

Crossmax SLR Disc - more hub options for cross-country

Unfortunately for the cross-country crowd, Mavic’s top-end Crossmax SLR Disc cross-country race wheelset makes do with FTS-X for another season but ISM 3D milling drops 20g per rim.

Front hub compatibility has expanded, though, as the standard 9mm quick-release version can now also be converted for use with Shimano’s new 15mm thru-axle system.

Curiously, Mavic has also added a 20mm thru-axle version of the Crossmax SLR with a version-specific hub shell. Given the SLR’s short-travel cross-country intentions, we can’t help but wonder if one of the major fork manufacturers out there has something cooking for the near future. Perhaps a 20mm through-axle RockShox SID with a Maxle Lite?

Either way, Center Lock and six-bolt disc attachment styles carry through and claimed weight is now just 1500g for the lightest version. Unfortunately, prices climb a bit to US$1,199. Not surprisingly, there was no word on the carbon-spoked Crossmax model we saw at this past weekend’s UCI World Championship in Val di Sole, Italy.

The versatile Crossmax ST Disc carries over with the exception of the new convertible 9mm/15mm front hub.

Mavic will also offer mountain bike shoes in both racing and all-purpose flavors, complementing its new range of road shoes.

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