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Wide rim, happy tire.
There's nothing a mid-sized tire likes more than a wide platform to mount on, and Mavic's XA Elite WTS 27.5in Boost Wheelset ensures that the tire gets its rims. The combination provides a generous platform for a proper mid-sized tire—and by "proper," we mean a tire whose girth is built for wider rims in order to ensure that the knobby cornering grip doesn't migrate up onto the center strip. The combination of a wide rim and a plump tire make for higher stiffness, more traction, and added cushion that in turn doesn't migrate into the mushiness of plus-sized tires.
The rim is classically Mavic: light, stiff, and as durable as alloy hoops come. The low weight comes courtesy of Mavic's oh-so-French ISM 4D process of extruding and machining the rim—ooo-la-la!—a process that's now in its fourth generation. With each successive iteration, ISM has gotten more and more extreme, removing extra material and rounding off the squared edges of previous versions. The strategic milling ensures that lost material doesn't equate to lost stiffness; however, this new generation is admittedly helped in the stiffness department by the wider rim and the improved spoke bracing angle of Boost hubs.
The XA Elite's rims also lose a bit of material from the inside, where Mavic has eliminated the bead hook in an update to its original Universal Standard Tubeless (UST) tire bed design. UST first surfaced in the late '90s, when Mavic teamed up with Michelin and Hutchinson to effectively kill the tube. As with most things bike-related, Mavic proved that it was ahead of its time, and it took tubeless a while to catch on in the popular imagination.
Now, of course, it's everywhere, and Mavic celebrated the technology's renaissance by introducing yet another development; namely, the hookless beads mentioned above. Though it's counter-intuitive at first, eliminating the apparent security of a bead hook actually makes the tire more secure. Stronger tire beads, bead channels in the rim's tire bed, the elimination of an artificial weak point at the base of the bead hook—the reasons are legion and we could go on for pages about it. But we'll spare you the details by noting that Mavic's hookless UST design reduces burping and makes installation easier.
The rims are laced to Mavic's own hubs, and the brand's meticulous French expertise manifests here in the form of a freehub with two pairs of pawls with contrapuntal engagement. More engagement points mean less dead space between pedal input and forward motion—crucial for popping up rock features or cleaning tricky cruxes. Mavic also supplies the tires, and its mid-sized Quest model is happiest when you're sitting on the rear brake leading into roosty berms or when it can demonstrate its plush grip on loam-dusted root lattices.
- An all-purpose mid-width mountain wheel and tire set
- Generous internal width pairs well with mid-sized tires
- Hookless bead creates an even more secure UST tubeless seal
- Boost axle spacing provides a stiffer spoke bracing angle
- ISM 4D milling process strips unnecessary material to shed grams
- Tubeless rims and mid-sized tires improve cushion and traction