Mavic's 2012 Crossmax STs are a top-tier everyday option for mainly cross-country riding. They're a good weight, with smooth running hubs and quick engagement at the rear. Narrow rims and lateral flex mean they're best suited to shorter-travel bikes though.
The STs feel lighter than their 1,595g weight suggests, which is always a great attribute when it comes to wheels. This may be because of the new four-pawl ITS-4 alloy freehub design – the angle of engagement has been reduced from 17° to just 7.5°, and the extra responsiveness is noticeable from the first pedal stroke.
While the lighter Crossmax SLRs would be our first choice for cross-country racing, the STs would be well suited to endurance events, especially for larger riders or hard-charging lightweights. We pushed them a little further, using them on a long-travel trail bike in a Super D race. While they wobbled in G-outs and exhibited some lateral flex, they held the course admirably, despite being pushed out of their intended use.
The boost in acceleration and subsequent speed they offered on the climbs and out of corners compared to a 400g heavier all-mountain wheelset was noticeable. That said, we'd definitely opt for Mavic's 165g heavier Crossmax SXs for this type of use. Not only do the STs lack a little lateral stiffness on burlier terrain, but larger tires just don't fit as well on their 19mm rims as they do on a 21mm rim or wider. Mavic recommend a 2.3in max tire size.
Though we rode the ST on a few 6in-travel bikes, we wouldn't recommend it wholeheartedly
Mavic make a big deal about the Crossmax line's true UST tubeless compatibility – achieved through use of their FORE rim drilling/threading – saying it makes running their wheels tubeless both easier and safer. We certainly didn't have any problems, with no burping of sealant.
The STs' most impressive attribute is probably their durability. They stayed true despite handling drops in the 4ft to 5ft range, mostly dent free, and the hubs ran like new for the duration of the test, though the rear required a preload adjustment on a couple of occasions.
Construction and components: Mavic's ’tweener
The ST bridges the gap between the cross-country race SLR and the enduro-worthy SX in Mavic's Crossmax line-up. For 2012, the set uses the same 19mm (inner width) rim extrusion as the SLR, which is new and drops a claimed 35g from the previous version.
Comparing the ST (l) and SLR UST rims
It forgoes the SLR's ISM 3D machining, though. and uses 24 straight-gauge Zicral (Mavic alloy) spokes compared to the SLR's 20 butted, bladed Zicral spokes. The extra spokes bolster stiffness – something we'd argue is worth the extra 150g or so on any bike that has more than 4in of travel.
The ITS-4 rear hub is the most impactful performance upgrade to the wheelset for 2012 and we had no problems with a slow or sticky freehub – a trademark ITS complaint. If you do experience problems, the hub is easily rebuilt and restored to like-new operation in 20 minutes or less, and sometimes without the need for spare parts, just a good cleaning and lube. Bearing wise, we've found qualityl second to none.
The hubs' level of compatibility is also worthy of praise. The front hubs accommodate 9mm quick-release and 15mm/20mm through-axles, but come set for 15mm (they require an additional adaptor for QR or 20mm), while the rears are compatible with quick-release (set), 12x135mm (available) and 12x142mm (included) standards.
Mavic's new ITS-4 rear hub worked flawlessly