Following the February launch of the enduro-focused Mavic Notch clothing line come the Crossmax Enduro Wheel Tyre System (WTS) and Crossmax shoes, both designed to cope with the rigours of enduro racing.
Crossmax Enduro WTS
Well known on the mountain bike scene for producing quality rims and wheelsets, Mavic developed the Universal System Tubeless (UST) technology back in 1999, with compatible tyres available from manufacturers including Michelin and Hutchinson. It’s long been expected that Mavic would release their own tyres to complement their rims, as they have on the road side, and now we have the dedicated Crossmax Enduro system.
The Crossmax Enduro WTS will be available in both 26in (US$1,000/€800) and 27.5in (US$1,000/€850) sizes. UK prices are to be confirmed. Mavic have chosen not to release a 29in size, as they feel the enduro race scene doesn’t cater for 29ers in the same way as the existing trail market. They’ve also chosen to steer clear of carbon fibre for now, as they feel the costs of both manufacture and retail don’t reflect the ride quality and weight benefits.
The wheels and tyres have been created for enduro racing, with a different focus at the front and rear. The front is designed for control – in terms of both grip and stiffness – and the rear for cornering traction with minimal rolling resistance.
Mavic crossmax enduro wts – development and testing
Video: Mavic Crossmax Enduro WTS
Up front, the tyre width (2.4in) and carcass are designed around the 21mm internal rim width, for the optimum tyre shape. Inter-spoke milling removes excess material from the rim without losing strength or sacrificing stiffness.
The 24 straight-pull Zicral spokes are laced two-cross for rigidity and comfort. The hub is compatible with both 15mm and 20mm axles, and adaptors for quick-release are available. Bearings are the usual high-quality, well-sealed cartridge offerings from Mavic.
The front tyre, named the Charge, is 2.4in for both wheel sizes, and comes in a slow rebound 40a compound. The tread is an aggressive, open design with high side knobs for cornering support and a good transition from the centre tread to the shoulder. Unusually for Mavic, the tyre isn’t UST tubeless but tubeless ready – meaning it needs a liquid sealant to make it completely air tight.
Mavic crossmax wts front wheel and tyre:Andrew Dodd/Future Publishing
Mavic Crossmax WTS front wheel and tyre
Mavic did this deliberately so they could offer the tyre in a two-ply casing, for low weight and the best conformity to the ground. The tyre plus sealant is still lighter than a UST model on its own. In combination with the 21mm rim, this design offers the best elastic stroke of the tyre, for maximum comfort and grip.
The front wheel and tyre weigh 1,775g in the 26in format, and 1,840g in 27.5in.
The rear rim has an internal width of 19mm, to reduce weight and give the tyre the best profile for rolling resistance. Again, we see inter-spoke milling to further reduce weight. The 20 straight-pull, Zicral spokes are laced up with Mavic’s Isopulse system – radially on the driveside, for maximum stiffness under power, and two-cross on the non-driveside, for stiffness and compliance.
The hub features Mavic’s ITS-4 system, with just 7.5-degree movement between pick-up via the four pawls that work two-by-two. Double-sealed cartridge bearings with out-back micro adjustability roll very smoothly.
The rear tyre – known as the Roam XL – comes in 2.3in in the 26in format, and 2.2in in the 27.5in size. The idea is to offer the same contact patch and therefore the same rolling resistance, one of the major design points.
The main low-profile tread is a firm 60a compound, and the high shoulders are 50a, offering more grip in the turns. Like the front Charge tyre, the Roam XL is tubeless ready to keep weight down and terrain feel high.
The rear wheel is compatible with 135mm quick-release or 12x142mm axles, and also available with a SRAM XX1-compatible XD driver body. Weights are 1,685g for 26in and 1,730g for 27.5in.
BikeRadar were able to give the Crossmax Enduro WTS a decent first ride on the excellent Roc des Alpes enduro trails, France. We were advised to run the tyres a little lower than we might normally do, so settled at 24-28psi given the weight of the rider and moist conditions.
Immediately, our bike felt quite nimble, zipping along nicely on the varied terrain that ranged from loose rock to wet mud and roots. Control on the front end felt excellent – the Charge tyre conformed well to all the surfaces and gradients we encountered, and cleared easily. It’s a confidence-inspiring bit of rubber under braking and cornering, and we found ourselves launching happily into wet rocky or rooty sections without any issues.
However, this is where we uncovered the Roam XL’s tendency to, erm, roam somewhat. The subtle centre tread is unquestionably fast but the transition to the cornering knobs was a little scary at times, especially when we skirted some of the rooty ravine edge trails.
The mavic crossmax enduro wts and crossmax shoes in action:Mavic
The Mavic Crossmax WTS in action
We also found that the wet braking conditions had the rear wheel locking up quite easily. But the harder the Roam XL was pushed the better it hooked up. This is where the race-bred design comes in – the Roam XL is not a tyre for dithering on. Push it hard into turns and you can make it grip, but if you’re vague then the back end gets interesting.
That said, it would be unfair to judge the tyre as an all-rounder – it’s designed to be as fast and efficient as possible for enduro racing, and will no doubt earn many fans.
We think the tyres will make an excellent combination for UK trails and the multitude of conditions they offer, and will keep you updated as we spend more time on the Charge and Roam XL. Our one major concern is the thinness of the walls, which could lead to slashes in rocky conditions; but, again, we’ll keep you informed when we have a set for long term testing.
As for the wheels, our initial ride only spoke of good things. They’re stiff, light and, despite the constant bottoming on rocks and roots, we found no damage to the rims.
Enduro racing has a fair few specific needs that previous Mavic shoes couldn’t quite meet for their race team. Jerome Clementz, in particular, found he was dipping between the very stiff, high-performing Fury and the Alpine XL, which was excellent off the bike and had plenty of protection but was too hot and not stiff enough for full-on racing.
Enter the Crossmax (US$200/€165), the specifically developed shoe that’s claimed to have it all but bears more resemblance to the sturdy Alpine XL than the Fury.
It shares the grippy Contagrip tread with the Alpine XL, but with 50 percent fibreglass rather than 30 percent. The result is supposed to provide the best of both worlds – stiffness and traction.
The quick-lace system is also a hangover from the Alpine XL, but finishes before the strap, which should eliminate the pinching some riders suffered with the Alpine XL. The laces are covered with a Velcro flap to keep the muck out. Up top, the Alpine XL’s Velcro strap is replaced with the Fury’s Ergo Lite ratchet. Combined with the Ergo tongue, this should make for a snug, secure fit.
The toe still features a rubber bumper for rock protection, but ventilated material will keep your feet cooler than the Alpine XLs could. Completing the shoe is a neoprene cuff, which adds protection and is meant to help stop muck getting in.
The quick-lace system is covered with a velcro flap:Andrew Dodd/Future Publishing
The quick-lace system is hidden under the Velcro flap
Fit felt secure, and the shoes gave the impression of performance footwear. We did have to tighten the Ergo Lite strap tighter than we’d have liked to avoid heel lift when scrambling upwards, although other journalists seemed happy.
We loved the feel on the bike immediately – we were fans of the original Alpine XL, and the Crossmax improves on it. Expect to see a sea of the shoes at races all over the world.