Mavic CrossLink Wheels|
Saturday, June 05, 1999
Sometimes a new pair of tires is enough to improve your ride, sometimes it isn't. An investment in your wheelset system (tires, rims, hubs, spokes, nipples) is almost never money wasted as long as your purchase is well thought out. Remember that your wheels are the objects rolling over the terrain as a result of your hammering on the drivetrain. This said, we put a pair of the Mavic Crosslinks through several months of consistent riding. The Crosslinks are Mavics' budget minded entry for wheelsets though they still will set you back a couple of hundred bucks.
The Crosslinks are based on the Maxtal SUP single eyelet rims with UB Control sidewalls. What does that mean? Well Maxtal is new alloy which, according to Mavic, optimizes lightness, rigidity and is up to 30% stronger than 6106 aluminum. The weld point on a rim is its weakest point. SUP is the process by which the joint is welded, the flash weld removed and side walls milled. According to Mavic, this process enables the joint to be 90% as strong as the rest of the rim. UB Control involves machining the side-walls after the anodizing. This increases the friction on the braking surface. Better brake pad - side-wall surface contact means better breaking. Hubs are from Mavic and include an integrated free wheel, adjustable and removable sealed cartridge bearings. The rear is also compatible with 8 and 9 speed rear cassettes. Attaching the hub and rim are 28 straight-pull spokes up front. In the rear, another 28 straight pull on the non-drive side and radial lacing on the opposite side. Mavic claims a 40% strength advantage with this type of spoke lacing.
The Crosslinks are Mavic's entry level wheelset and the cost savings on Mavic's part are obvious to spot. Brass nipples are used which are the cheaper, heavier choice from the consumer standpoint. Use of alloys here would be nice to save a few grams. Keeping the wheels attached to the bike are some very inexpensive skewers. The skewers do the job but they're still cheap. I found them relatively heavy compared to an XT or XTR skewer. The ends of the skewer levers come to a point making opening and closing the lever more difficult since the end is where you get the most leverage to loosen the skewer.
On the trail these rims have stayed true through some hard riding. I've not noticed any wheel flex and an increased ability to ride corners at higher speed. Breaking feels controlled while acceleration isn't hindered. Other than their reduced weight compared to my previous rims, they don't improve acceration. Regardless of what others may say, I believe accerlation is all in the legs.
They aren't the high end of wheelsets but they perform and that's really the bottom line. Most likely your bike came with some fair rims but after a year or two the sidewalls may become concave due to braking. Heck, maybe they're just heavy. Now you could easily spend $1000 or more to get some super chi-chi wheels. Unless your name is Cadel or Paola, I doubt you'll notice much improvement in your riding versus a $400-$500 wheelset upgrade. But hey, your wallet will be nearly as light as your wheels! Don't get me wrong, with a new set of quality wheels you'll notice a remarkable difference. But as you go up the cost ladder, unless you are an expert level competitor, the increases in wheel performance will be less noticeable.
The Crosslinks are a solid set of wheels. They won't turn many heads in a line up of wheelsets but they work, they hold up to hard riding plus they're pretty dang inexpensive for excellent performing pre-built wheels. At about $350 list for the pair they're a pricey upgrade for most of us. Other wheelsets in the same price neighborhood include Bontrager's Race Wheelset, Ritchey MTN Pro, and Rolf's Dolomite.
Removable and replaceable cartridge bearing ease maintenance of the wheels. This isn't to say these wheels are flawless, I have read newsgroups online where someone is complaining about one thing or another (the cheap skewers). Some have stated that any repairs at all require the wheels be sent back to Mavic. We understand that some repairs do require the wheels be sent back to Mavic including rebuilds (reasonable) and spoke replacements (huh?). We also hear that Mavic is doing all it can to make the wheels more serviceable by local shops. The simple fact remains, in over 4 months of consistent riding and racing, not a single thing has gone wrong. Believe me, that's a major plus because I'm not the most mechanically adept dude and I don't have time to be sending wheels in for servicing.
The CrossLinks tip the scales at 1720g for the pair. This breaks out to 750g up front and 970g in the rear. The CrossMax, which are the next step up, come in at 650g and 850g respectively. For comparison sake here are weights of the other sets mentioned; Bontrager's Race Wheelset (f 700g, r 955g), Ritchey MTN Pro (f 827g, r 1083g), and Rolf's Dolomite (f 666g, r 987g).
Finding the CrossLinks should be no problem and finding them below the manufacturer's suggested retail price is also easy. It seems like every local bike shop is a Mavic dealer so just walk in and ask about availability.
The bottom line: if it's time to upgrade to a set of pre-built wheels, the Mavic Crosslinks are a solid bet. Considering that they can be found at well under their list price, they represent an excellent first step into the realm of wheelsets. If you're looking to turn heads there are other sets available but for an excellent quality to price to performance ratio, the Mavic Crosslinks represent money well spent.
Who needs these?
The stock wheels that came with your bike have seen better days and $350 is in your budget.
You're already on wheel set number 3 and the CrossLinks would merely be a back up pair.