When you think of Mavic, you think of yellow. The French company's ubiquitous hue graces everything from helmets to jackets to rims, so when Caleb got his retina-burning kicks a little while back, I was part jealous but a bigger part wishing they came in a more conservative colour. When the offer of a pair of Spinal Tap-black Crossmaxes to test came up, I jumped to the front of the office queue and threw a few elbows to make sure some 44s were in the mail.
While black may not be the All-Duro colour du jour, turning up for the weekly group ride or at the trailhead/carpark with a pair of bumblebees on your feet may seem like overkill... unless you're Fabian Barel or Anne-Caro of course, then it's expected that you're going to live up to the ass-kicking promise of yellow shoes. For the rest of us the black just makes sense; easy to clean (or not), doesn't scream 'wannabe' and won't get you beaten up at the local.
The shoes showcase a tonne of cool features. The ankle cuff is a high cut to give a bit more support and protection from cranks and pedals, and gives a feeling of extra support when pedaling and descending. The tongue is partially connected to the outer to really wrap around the foot, and closure is via a Quick Lace pull system, then a Velcro closure on the flap, and finally secured with the Ergo Ratchet buckle which is easy to use and seems to stay pretty well adjusted so far.
The outsole uses what Mavic dubs Energy Grip, with an aggressive tread pattern, shock absorbing EVA midsole and Contagrip rubber compound for hard wearing and better traction when walking or pushing your way up that unrideable section.
The toe box is well reinforced and should stand up to repeated kickings or getting dragged along the trail. Comfort is off the scale; it's like sliding into a pair of old slippers that have moulded to your feet over a few years. They're almost too comfortable and you don't get that "can't wait to take them off" feeling after a few hours of riding.
Plenty of extra material around the heel as well.
The Crossmaxes are certainly a unique-looking shoe, and one that performs as well as it looks from early indications. We'll bring you a full review online and in the magazine after a winter of subjecting them to plenty of mud, water and whatever else we can throw at them.
The Crossmax shoes retail for $314.99 and are available at Bike Barn stores nationwide.