UST - Mavic's Tubeless Tire Technology
"So influential is this technology, we believe that within a few short years
almost every bicycle (at least off-road)
will use some form of tubeless tire."
Bicycling Magazine, December 1999
Not since the development of suspension have we felt so liberated by a product - Mavic's tubeless tire technology.
For the year 2000, Mavic offers the system only in the high-end, off-road CrossMax wheelset. At 1,647 grams for the pair (about the same as Mavic's Crosslink wheels), the CrossMaxes provide an airtight seal without adding weight. The flat, 3mm, aerodynamic aluminum Zircal spokes cut weight and add to the rigid construction. Mavic says they're 10% stronger than their stainless counterparts.
The spokes slip into a slotted sealed cartridge hub, while the other end is threaded into a unique swaged nipple that only penetrates one rim wall (instead of the conventional drilling all the way through).
A presta/Schrader valve core screws directly into the rim. Add Michelin's WildGripper Comp S or Hutchinson's Python tubeless series of tires, and you have an airtight wheel.
So why our bold opening statement? How about never getting a pinch flat again? Imagine riding through the roughest conditions without worrying about injury, losing the race or getting stranded. Penetration flats from nails or thorns still pose a threat - but they're much rarer than pinch flats unless you ride in certain thorny parts of the country.
Experimenting with tire pressures from 50 to 20 psi, I got best results by running less than 30 psi. I usually run 50/55 psi to ward off pinch flats, but I am able to reap much more traction at a phenomenally low 28 psi. Cornering, climbing and descending all significantly improve.
The downside is cost. But as with the rest of Mavic's technology, we're sure the concept will trickle down to lower prices. We're also skeptical about the durability of the spokes, which seem to gouge easily from chain slap and trail debris. (But these wheels can be repaired by your local shop without having to be sent back to Mavic - unlike earlier models). But the new CrossMaxes are more than just another set of wheels; they're an alternative to primitive bicycle inner tube technology. And this is only the first generation. So influential is this technology, we believe that within a few short years almost every bicycle (at least off-road) will use some form of tubeless tire.
Mavic - Best Wheel Technoloy of 2000
Mountain Bike, October 2000
Mavic, Mavic, Mavic. So dominant for so long, it's tough to believe. Starting with the strongest, straightest rims, and the most consistent ceramic coatings, you can credit the French kids and their CrossMax wheels with starting the pre-built wheel craze. For their next performance, they're succeeding where others have failed in starting a revolution in tubeless technology - it seems most tire and rim manufacturers are lined up to embrace Mavic's UST system for next year, and Mavic is already one step ahead with a $350. price point introduction in the works.
Speaking of tubeless ~
Absolutely the best innovation of the year. Can you say "no more pinch flats"? I knew that you could. As tubeless competition heats up in 2001, you'll see prices and weights fall, and product availability increase. It's gonna be a good year. If you've been waiting for an excuse to replace your wheels, tubeless is it. Dust off your gold card.
Press release 06/01 NEWS FLASH ON TUBELESS
UST TUBELESS THE NEW NORM. FITS STANDARD TIRES TOO.
HAVERHILL, Mass - Mavic... announced today the establishment of
the UST Tubeless Standard by the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO).
The ETRTO was founded in October 1964 for the alignment of national standards,
to achieve interchangeability of pneumatic tires and rims and establish common
engineering dimensions, product characteristics and operational guidelines.
The new "Norm" establishes a set of standards
regarding the shape, profile, diameter, and other necessary dimensions for tire
and rim makers to produce UST Tubeless compatible products. Furthermore, it is
announced today the compatibility of standard mountain bike tires with the UST
Norm by the ETRTO, ensuring traditional tires and tubes can be run safely on UST
This opens the door for others to manufacture to the [new]standard,
the same way the 700c high-pressure clincher norm was established by Mavic and
Michelin back in 1975.... Approval by the ETRTO... (assures) compatibility of
standard ATB tires with UST Tubeless rims, allowing consumers to run the best
wheels with their favorite tread, tubeless or not." ...
The compatibility of standard tires with UST wheels is expected to be a welcomed announcement by bicycle retailers and consumers who have been eager for tire availability and tread choice to catch up with the UST momentum.
Presently more than one dozen tire brands are developing or have
launched UST tires including: MICHELIN, IRC, WTB, MAXXIS,
HUTCHINSON, GEAX, KENDA, SPECIALIZED,
NOKIAN, SCHWALBE, TIOGA, PANARACER, and CONTINENTAL.