We're hard pressed to think of a trail scenario where Mavic's XA Elite WTS 27.5in Wheelset isn't an appropriate choice. The French brand's signature rim machining means that the Elite drops some significant weight compared to the less expensive Crossride, and the generous internal width pairs perfectly with the included mid-width tires for all-mountain outings. The wheels present less resistance to the pedal stroke on chunky climbs, and the plump tires roll through rocks while staying glued to the trail and providing added cushion.
The rims' horst and graben profile comes courtesy of Mavic's Inter Spoke Milling 4 Dimensions (ISM 4D), which involves the strategic removal of rim material in areas that don't affect stiffness or durability. The result isn't quite as light as the superlative all-carbon XA Pro rims, but the Elites do come with the added benefit of peace of mind. Every baby head, log rollover, and rim strike won't cause your heart to skip a beat wondering if your carbon wonder hoops have come through intact—the XA Elite's predecessors have a long track record of durability.
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 freehub is Mavic's own ITS-4 design, which offsets two pairs of pawls so that one pair is never more than a few degrees of pedal rotation away from engaging. This effectively cuts the engagement time in half compared to the Crossride's freehub, which may not be a necessary feature for recreationalists, but serious climbers and competitive racers will notice the increased responsiveness while accelerating out of corners and popping over rocky cruxes.
- The most versatile trail wheel in Mavic's stable
- Wide alloy rim takes advantage of mid-sized tires
- Hookless bead reduces burping and makes tire install easier
- Strategic rim machining reduces inertial mass
- Two pairs of offset pawls ensure fast freehub engagement
- Includes Mavic's 2.4in dual-compound Quest tires
- Axle convertible between standard thru, quick-release, ITS4 and TS2 with included adapters