We caught wind of Mavic’s full carbon intentions for their mountain bike wheels early this year as part of their off-road neutral support program planned for the Leadville 100 race. Now, and much earlier than anticipated, they’ve formally announced them as part of a new Quest adventure mountain bike wheel lineup.
The Mavic XA Pro Carbon is now their top of the line trail mountain bike wheelset. It gets a full carbon fiber rim that addresses all of a rider’s primary needs – lateral stiffness, vertical compliance, impact resistance, light weight, and tubeless reliability. And it does all that as part of a complete wheel/tire system that builds upon the “Carbon Clincher 2.0” design concept introduced with the Pro Carbon SL Cosmic and Ksyrium road bike wheels in March. That meant a new layup and a new way of thinking about how rims should perform as part of a complete wheel…
Positioned for “Trail” bikes and sold as a wheel-tire system, they come with a 2.4″ wide Pro version of the Quest tires we’ve ridden in the past, which means upgraded X-Mix dual compound rubber and +Guard sidewall protection.
The wheels are laced 2x front and rear, with spoke tension more closely balanced from side to side (50/80 compared to 30/100) thanks to the rim’s asymmetric profile. Besides making the wheel a little stronger, it also works in tangent with the fiber layup to improve vertical compliance, which basically means the wheel is absorbing some of the bumps rather than transmitting all of it into the frame and fork. The result is more comfort and better traction, which is shown as a lower Frontal Stiffness number in the chart above even though their lateral stiffness is much higher.
In April, Mavic introduced updated (and wider) versions of the alloy Crossmax Pro/Elite wheels that switched to a hookless profile, and that’s used here, too. As is the UST standard (which they helped develop). That means precise internal shapes for easier tire mounting and to keep the tire on board even with very low pressures. Sidebar: The reason UST is so important to Mavic is because it allows them to use an open, tested and widely published rim-and-tire interface that guarantees things work together. And not just their rims and tires, but anyone else’s that stick to the standards. The design calls for deeper center channel to make tire installation easier, and the hookless design allows for a more natural tire, rounder shape since it’s not bending around a rim hook first.
Note the weights, which are very competitive even among XC tires, and these are intended for more aggressive trails than what cross country typically offers. So, perhaps that full carbon Crossmax Pro is yet to come…
Perhaps the only downside to a full UST system is the tire weight since they’re designed to be completely airtight without sealant. While we’ve been generally pleased with Mavic’s tires, saving a few hundred grams per tire by switching to a tubeless ready option is hard to ignore. Hub options include standard and boost spacing with all relevant axle standards accommodated. Retail for the 27.5 and 29er wheelsets is $1,849 (€1,700 / £1,300), available on September 1.
Carbon isn’t the only new thing for the Quest lineup. There’s also the new Mavic XA Elite, which uses Maxtal alloy ISM4D machined rims to offer a less expensive option without adding much weight. And, in a first for Mavic, it offers colors other than yellow. Black, blue and green are all on tap, with the hues covering the hub flanges and rim decals.
The Elite’s are 1mm narrower on the inside and use much thinner sidewalls, but keep the UST and Hookless design. Both the carbon and the alloy rims rely on tubeless tape to keep the air in.
Retail for the Mavic XA Elite trail mountain bike wheel-tire system is $749 (€600 / £450), available July 1st. Both come with the new Mavic Care Plus warranty, which includes a crash replacement program, three year warranty and, starting in August, the ability to have damaged wheels picked up and replaced where ever you want – home, work or local bike shop.