If you’ve ridden with the Maple crew, you’ve probably noticed we use our mountain bike wheels on our cross bikes. As more cross bikes switch to disc brakes and thru axles, it makes compatibility pretty easy. Plus we like using one wheelset for pretty much everything. That’s why we started Maple and created the XCX.
With the XCX we wanted a wheel for everything: training, racing, mountain and cross. The XCX needed to be not only light and strong, but also wide enough for cross-country tires and not too wide for cyclocross. Additionally it couldn’t have any limitations with the various cassette options. Wide range cassettes on modern mountain drivetrains are great, but some of us don’t always want the large steps when racing, nor do you always need the super wide range. The problem is, 11 speed mountain cassettes only come in wide ranges, and 11 speed road cassettes only fit on road hubs.
To create the XCX we use the DT Swiss 11 speed “road” hub laced to our XC rim… and it opened up so many possibilities. For cyclocross run any road cassette as you have in the past, or slap on a 10 speed spacer and run a mountain cassette for a wide range of gearing. For 11 speed mountain, you’re no longer limited to wide range cassettes and have the ability to use the tighter groupings on road cassettes (which is great for short track racing, Florida, single speeders who haven’t learned how to spin, etc.). If you have a 10 speed mountain or cyclocross drivetrain all you need is the included 10 speed spacer to run any cassette you have. Plus, should you upgrade to an 11 speed group later, you’ll all set to go.
Some Technical Stuff
11 speed mountain cassettes work on 10 speed hubs because the large cogs are off set and basically step over the hub flange. This was the only way they were able to get all those gears into that space. On a 10 speed free hub, you can’t go much smaller than a 40 without the derailleur coming in contact with the spokes. For once, the bike industry didn’t create a need for everyone to buy all new stuff, and made the existing 10 speed mountain hubs work with the new 11 speed cassettes. Now you’re probably wondering why you can’t put a road free hub on a mountain wheel. Well, the spacing on the drive side isn’t the same, just under 2mm difference. This doesn’t change the spacing on your bike, or the spacing of the wheel, but it changes the dish of the build. Everything is pushed over a bit. If you swap your free hubs after you build the wheel, you’ll need to re-dish it. But if you start with the 11 speed free hub, you’re good to go.
The only difference between the DT Swiss road and mountain center lock hubs are the free hub bodies and drive side spacing. To run wide range mountain bike cassettes, like the Shimano XT 11-42, on your cross bike there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Most of the modern road derailleurs will only work with cogs up to 32 teeth. There are two options to get around this limitation. Wolf Tooth Components makes a product called the Goat Link that lengthens your derailleur hanger to provide clearance for cogs up to 44 teeth. This is a quick and cost effective solution. The other option is to use a mountain bike rear derailleur. Using a mountain bike derailleur will also provide extra protection against dropped chains with the built in clutch.
The XCX is only available on DT Swiss Hubs (for now at least). Chris King and Industry Nine don’t have end cap solutions for some of the mountain bike configurations, and their hubs aren’t officially approved for mountain riding either. If you’re looking for The XCX as a cross/gravel specific set up with either of those two brands, that can be done. It just can’t ever be used for your mountain bike.