Mavic Crossmax SX vs Fulcrum Redzone XLR - Test
As we have already established over the last months, help wheels are one of the most important components on a bike that make a difference to how it rides. With this in mind we thought it would be a good idea to compare two well respected wheel sets that we have tested recently and were found to be excellent, back to back and see how they compared.
Our tests are not scientific but we try to make sure that they are as fair as possible, in this case both wheel sets were mounted with the same tyres (pressure, brand, tread and size), discs and finally ridden back to back on the same trail and bike. We used a Maxxis Highroller 2.35″ Tubeless on the back in both cases and a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.35″ Tubeless on the front in both cases.
Quoted weights of both wheel sets : Fulcrum 1705 grams, Mavic 1755 grams.
Construction of both wheel sets is similar with the Mavic Crossmax having a slightly wider spoke angle to the rim and a different attachment method for the spoke into the rim. Rim shape on the mavic appears larger but in reality the internal and external widths are the same, the Mavic Crossmax SX though has an asymmetric profile. Hubs are larger on the Mavic Crossmax with the Fulcrum employing a more traditional size hub, with a larger diameter though on the drive side of the rear wheel for extra stiffness. Bearing quality on both is excellent as is finish and construction.
Comparative testing is not always an exact science and in this case we took two different brands of wheels, which compared to the rest of the market in this category of All Mountain/Enduro are already at the top of the pile. Our test also was not exhaustive, we have been riding both sets of wheels for a while and both wheels have performed incredibly well, remained true and faultless in function for the last months. They have been ridden on the Enduro World Series trails of Punta Ala and have taken the maximum amount of abuse that can be thrown at them under normal riding conditions.
Our first impressions were that both wheel sets were great, but in a few elements the Mavic Crossmax felt different. Firstly the Crossmax SX felt slightly more solid in corners. In general it felt like there was a bigger wheel/tyre combination on the bike, when in fact they were the same. Pedalling, both wheels flowed well but with the Crossmax SX having slightly more speed in our opinion, based on feeling alone.
Over rough rocky ground the Crossmax SX again felt slightly more solid, giving the rider a bit more confidence to ride a bit harder. The Fulcrum Redzone XLR felt a bit more snappier though in turns and marginally less sluggish to turn in very technical rough sections, in essence the Fulcrum Redzone XLR gave the appearance of feeling like a lighter wheel set. On numbers alone the Redzone XLR is marginally lighter, this possibly translates into a slightly lower rotational mass and thus might explain the lighter feeling on the bar that we felt. However, once in a corner the Crossmax SX felt more solid and the rider could push into that corner with a bit more confidence.
With both wheel sets feeling essentially within the same high quality bracket it is very difficult to choose a preferred choice. Mavic has a long history of top level professional riders giving feedback on products from the race circuit and has a huge race team presence at gravity mountain bike events world wide.
Fulcrum on the other hand has a smaller less competitive professional riding base and less race-born development time behind their mountain bike gravity products. The Crossmax SX was updated in 2012 with the latest race data from top Enduro racers like Jerome Clementz and Fabian Barrel, so in many ways this gives an advantage to Mavic when it comes to product performance and being at the cutting edge.
The Fulcrum wheel set is marginally cheaper (€50) and more traditional in styling and form with a symmetric profile. Mavic with a slightly different spoke to rim attachment design and slightly larger hub and wider spoke opening, gives an indication for the reason for that more solid feeling. Other elements to consider though including spoke tension, which would be good to look at over time and see how the two wheel sets compare.
Overall then which one is the leader on feeling/performance alone? Well in our opinion based on what we have been able to understand so far, for hard Enduro riding and larger riders the Mavic Crossmax SX is marginally ahead in performance but not by much. The gain is that with the Mavic wheels, it feels like that you have larger stronger tyres on your bike than you really have. This probably comes from the special asymmetric profile and larger hub giving a slightly stiffer wheel. In the real world it is not going to make a big difference for most normal riders. If though you go fast and hit things hard then it makes sense to go for the Crossmax SX.
If on the other hand you are a lighter rider which notices and cares about weight then the Fulcrum is a good choice. Really it is so close between these two models that deciding like this almost seems unfair… What is clear, compared to other more normal wheelsets we have tried, both of these stand clearly ahead.