For over two decades, Mavic’s yellow Deemax wheels have adorned the bikes of some of the sport’s top downhillers. This latest 2018 model features a revised rim, which is wider (28mm internal) and has a hookless asymmetric profile for increased strength.
We’ve tested the wheels extensively over the past few months, including subjecting them to multiple runs down the Fort William World Cup track, and, despite some harsh impacts with rocks, the rims have remained intact.
The Deemax DHs are noticeably more compliant-feeling than other hardcore wheels we’ve tested recently. This is amplified by a low spoke count of just 28, front and rear.
The spokes connect to the rim asymmetrically, to give a more evenly-tensioned wheel build. We found that correct tension was critical. After a few spokes in the rear wheel came loose, the flex and reverberation was considerable. Thankfully, the bladed, straight-pull spokes are easy to tighten, thanks to Mavic’s use of oversize aluminium nipples that screw into the surface of the rim.
Between these, machining shaves off excess rim material and reduces weight. At 2,026g a pair, the Deemax DHs certainly don’t feel sluggish off the line, and their weight-conscious construction contributes to the small amount of flex that helps with grip and holding technical lines.
Rolling speeds are let down somewhat by drag from the freewheel. Although the preload on the sealed cartridge bearings is adjustable, the dust seal behind the driver body creates friction.
Power pick-up from the four-pawl design is instantaneous when you hit the pedals, though. It’s hard to make judgments about hub lifespan after just a few months, but they’ve held up well so far and the bearings are spinning smoothly.
Tubeless compatibility is one of Mavic’s strong points. Thanks to its ‘Universal System Tubeless’ (UST) technology, which leaves the internal rim bridge free from nipple holes, no rim tape is required.
We tested the wheels with tyres from Schwalbe and Onza, with both seating perfectly first time and neither leaking nor burping during use.
At just shy of £800, the Deemax DHs sit at the upper end of the price spectrum for aluminium wheels. Mavic’s reputation and construction quality justify this, but the weight-saving design and compliant feel may not suit heavier riders.