High and wide.
29ers are now well and truly invested in the all-mountain game, and the wide rims on Mavic's 29in XA Elite WTS Wheelset further cement wagon wheels' claim to big terrain fame. The rim's 25mm internal width lets 2.35in tires fill out with more air volume. More volume means lower PSI, which in turn translates to more traction, more cushion, and—when paired with Mavic's surprisingly durable Crossmax Quest tires—fewer flats. And that's all in addition to the natural aggression of the high angle attack that 29ers bring to hardpack and light terrain.
Despite its huge diameter and width, the rim is still 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, 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 verisons. 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 counterintuitive 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.
- A wheelset that pushes wagon wheels into trail territory
- Generous internal width pairs well with mid-sized tires
- Hookless bead creates an even more secure UST tubeless seal
- ISM 4D milling process strips unnecessary material to shed grams
- Two alternating pairs of pawls cut engagement time in half
- Surprisingly durable dual-compound Crossmax Quest tires included
- Convertible to quick-release with included endcaps