The French company Mavic has released three sets of new 29er mountain bike wheels for 2014. This isn’t the bike company’s first step into the twenty niner market. In 2008 they made the TN 719 rim. Things have evolved a bit since then though, and for the new season they have released a brand-new line of Crossmax 29er wheels. And man do they look great.
The new wheels appear to be similar to the Crossmax 26in wheels released last year, but these 29er wheels are more than simply an increase of the 26in wheel size. Mavic wanted to steer clear from scaling up the smaller mountain bike wheels, and instead did the research to really process the extra stresses the components of a wheel are under on the big wheel sizes. This has given them access to enter the twenty niner market with very capable mountain bike wheels. Mavic placed stiffness at the top of the list when they set about designing these Crossmax twenty niner wheels. They researched that a 26in wheel is 39% stiffer than similar 29in wheels, and a weight increase of 10%. This has always been the biggest challenge facing the twenty niner wheels, and as mountain bike wheels are a bike component that greatly impact on handling and ride performance, which is why they now they needed to get it right.
Development of the Crossmax SLR 29in Wheels
Mavic went to huge lengths designing the new Crossmax SLR 29er, the higher end wheelset. Their first prototype were some up-sized Crossmax 26in wheels, but quickly figured out it proved unreliable and wasn’t stiff enough, with spokes snapping during test riding. Their next step was to add more spokes, which resolved the issue of stiffness, but the weight increased to much to be reasonable fun mountain bike wheels. So they tried stronger spokes, which partly solved the problem.
Another step in the process was to look at the rim itself. So they increased the thickness of the rim, adding 0.6mm of metal. Along with the ISM-3D spoke machining this step cured the problem, without a weight penalty and increasing the stiffness of the wheel. However, this rim design only displaced the stress to a different part of the wheel. They had spokes snapping on the rear wheel of the drive side. So intuitively, they fixed this problem by simply bead blasting the spokes. Now the wheels sailed through their testing procedures. The finished product weighs 1620g.
Crossmax ST 29 wheels
Mavic didn’t put as much extensive research into the ST, and is instead a larger version of the ST 26, wheels they confidently say exceeded their targets in reliability and performance. Which helped it make the transition to twenty niner. Which would lead us to believe the Crossmax 26in wheels are a bit overbuilt. The Mavic ST falls in the mid-range with regards to price and weight. They are the mountain bike wheels directed at the all-mountain rider, built to be stout enough for crushing rock gardens but still light enough for fast XC style riding. A challenge for sure, but one it seems they’ve accomplished. And impressively, it’s only a small weight increase over the racy SLR at 1670g.
Mavic used the same hub but the rim is where changes are noticed. The standard ISM treatment is used and they built with round Zircal spokes, with 24 on front and 20 on back. And the last wheelset is the entry-level, a wheel to be set up on mid-level 29ers. Standard spokes and nipples feature alongside a different hub and freehub and a reinforced rim. Weight is 2020g. All the hubs across the range of twenty niner wheels are fully compatible with all the different axle standards being used. Several spacers come with the wheels to easily fit 15mm adapters to all the possible variables of axles sizes you could possible have. The rims are tubeless-ready and valves with removable cores.
The Crossmax 29in Wheels range
Crossmax SLR 29
- The high-tech twenty niner setup
- Weight: 1620 grams
- 29in specific: reinforced rim, Four angles, stronger spokes
- Key technologies: ISM-3D, ITS-4, UST
- Compatibility: 1 wheel does it all: Front 9/15, Rear 9/12×135/142
- configure/ purchase Crossmax SLR set here >>
Crossmax ST 29
- The twenty niner for real all mountain bikes
- Weight: 1670 grams
- 29in specific: Four angles
- Key technologies: ISM, ITS-4, UST
- Compatibility: 1 wheel does it all: Front 9*/15/20*, Rear 9/12×135/142
- configure/ purchase Mavic ST set here >>
- The access to Mavic Mountain Bike performance, now in 29″ version
- Weight: 1970 grams
- 29in specific: reinforced rim, stronger rear axle
- Key technologies: TS-2, H2
- Compatibility: 1 wheel does it all: Front 9*/15, Rear 9/12×135/142 options
- configure/ purchase Crossride here >>