I can distinctly remember oogling a set of Token C30A wheels years back when I started getting serious about cycling. Back then, the 30mm deep, V profile wheels were a semi-affordable option for a wheel upgrade. Fast forward 14 or so years, and I still look longingly at wheelsets that are deeper and slicker than the 25mm alloy rims that usually adorn my bike. When the Token review came up and I could select the profile, I went as deep as I felt I could. A set of the 52mm deep Konax Pro disc wheels if you please.
These carbon wheels come with a contemporary U-shaped cross-section with a nice and wide 28mm external width and 20mm internal rim width. Tying them off is a competitive weight of 1,514g. Let’s roll on and find out just how good they are.
On BNA, James Hutchison recently published a review for the Token Ventous Carbon Fiber wheels for rim brakes. As James mentioned, Token was founded in Taiwan in 2002 by James Chung and are a young brand who, like almost every other brand, rely on suppliers to manufacture the wheels to their specifications. The Token Konax Pro wheels on review retail for ca. $2,2000 AUD the set although I spotted some overseas suppliers listing them at $1,600. In any case, import duties and GST need to be added and while they are not cheap, The Token Konax would appear to be cheaper than well-known brands like Zipp, Enve and DT Swiss.
As part of the Prime range of Token disc brake wheels, the Konax Pro sit smack in the middle. The Ventous @ 36mm deep, Konax Pro are 52mm, and Konax Tri are a whopping 76mm deep. All share the same rim bed dimensions; 27.4mm external width and a nice wide 20mm internal bed. All wheelsets are tubeless ready, and come in rim (Zenith family) or disc brake (Prime Family) variants to suit all tastes. All have recommend tyre widths of 25 – 28mm and rider weight limit of 100kg.
James also touched on the the odd, but familiar naming for the Token wheelsets, Konax is derived from Hawaiin Kona, famous for the Ironman event.
The new norm is now “wider is better” and it is at a point where 13mm wide rim beds seem like a distant memory. The 20mm internal rim width isn’t the widest you can get in a set of wheels, but it sits well within the middle of the ‘new wide’ standard. It is fitting that the recommended tyre width is 25 or 28mm which are understood to provide lower rolling resistance and greater rider comfort on the road for the modern cyclist.
I initially trialled some Tufo Comtura Duo in 28mm width which I was reviewing and these fitted without any issues, and inflated to a rather wide 30mm. I later trialled a pair of Mitas Arrow+ tyres, also 28mm wide. Again, no fitment issues, but these tyres were true to their labelled width and inflated to 28mm.
Without tubeless tyres handy or any interest the the mess of sealand, I opted for traditional tubes and had the tyres inflated to 85psi as a starting pressure. For the tubeless crowd, tubeless-compatible rim tape is installed from the factory and Token provide tubeless valves for those who want to go that way.
One downside of running innertubes on wheels this deep is finding tubes with the right valve stem length. It didn’t take long to realise that just as tyre ‘widths’ can be an arbitrary number (the actual width when inflated may not match the specified width), 60mm long valves also come in different lengths which changes between innertube brands… huh? Continental and Vittoria tubes were only just long enough, but the Kenda ones were not. I prefer to use tubes with the longer stems rather than valve extensions, as I feel that they aren’t the best solution. But just be aware when buying tubes to suit deep profile rims. It may be a bit of trial and error to find the right ones.
I am jumping ahead of myself and before hitting the road, lets take a look at the contents of the box and other wheelset details.
Unboxing and Assembly
The box contains end-caps to convert from Thru-axle to QR (they just pull out and the others pop in), centrelock nuts, a spacer to enable fitting 8/9/10-speed cassettes on the 11-speed capable freehub, and a card with the manufacturing information on it; model number, manufacture date, purchase date and serial number. Also included are Token Vigilante skewers, which are an enclosed cam style. No issues with slipping in the dropouts and a bonus was their svelte look.
Before fitting the cassette and rotors, the wheels needed a quick trip to the scales to confirm the accuracy of the specified weights. My scales showed 721g for the front (vs a claimed 681g) and the rear was 857g (vs 833g). This meant that my wheelset was 64g over. Some road cyclists will recoil in horror, this represents a 4% penalty over the claimed weight. Meh, that’s 0.07% of my body weight… but why is it not possible to get wheelsets that match their claimed weight?
Fitting the cassette and disc rotors presented no issues, and before long the 52mm Konax Pro carbon fiber wheels were ready to fit to the bike for their inaugural test ride.
Interestingly, the Disc wheelset gets ‘premium steel’ bearings, whilst the rim brake wheels get the ‘TFT bearings which are a Ceramic/Steel blend. Odd indeed. It may be related to the hub specifications used, but the spoke count and brand also differ between the Token disc and rim wheelsets.
Unlike the louder freehub buzz reported by James on the Ventous Rim brake wheelset, the hubs on the Konax Pro disc were pleasingly muted. Another big tick. The rims are 24 hole front and rear with Straight Pull Pillar branded spokes with a 2x pattern front and rear.
James covered the wealth of TLA’s (three letter acronyms) that are linked to these wheels, and if you look at the Token website, they are all listed and explained in plain language. The two-year warranty and UCI Approval are easy to translate. Another bonus that is often found with a larger brand is the customer friendly CRP, or ‘crash replacement policy’. I try and avoid crashing, but if worst does happen, it helps to know that the physical pain is offset a little with subsidised rim replacement.
Pairing the wheels and bike
It was a pleasant surprise was that there was no adjustment of the brake callipers required, the wheels slotted in to the frame nicely. Speaking of nicely, these wheels look amazing. There are few things that make such a difference to the appearance of the bike than a set of nice wheels. Mind you, there are some that make you cringe a bit (Yes Zipp, that’s you with those garish decals and that ridiculous ‘biomimicry’).
The 52 mm profile depth gives these a not-insignificant appearance. They pack a punch paired with narrow-tubed steel bike, but they are a natural match on road bike frames with fatter tubes. Never let it be said that style should stop anyone doing what they want with their bike.
I would describe the graphics employed by Token as different. On top of a matt black surface, the wheels have thin glossy lines that make angular mountains which is nice and subtle. A grey text for the Token logo ensures that the wheels are distinctly brands and this is joined by a smaller glossy gold graphic with the brand name. I rate them as one of the best-looking decal set on any wheels I’ve seen. Distinctive, classy and discrete. On looks alone, the wheels want to tell me they are worth your money.
Deeper is better. Right ……
We all know and accept that in theory, the deeper profile wheels make you faster. That’s all well and good if you are a pro and the wheels have been hand-selected to perfectly match the terrain and wind conditions. What happens when you are a normal enthusiastic rider that just likes to ride for enjoyment and a 40km/h average speed is only achievable on a course with too many downhills?
My first outing was a well known loop that climbs Mt Lofty in South Australia and then descends back into Adelaide via Greenhill Road. It’s a fast but bumpy descent with some nice corners. The problem was, that for the first ride, there was a gusty wind blowing at 30km/h. This made an otherwise enjoyable descent particularly interesting with the 52mm rims. The rigidity of the wheel system was enough to transform the overall handling of the bike. Normal cycling felt more responsive and direct. Now adding the varying road surface during the descent and amplification of the wind thrashing against the wheels. The result is that more caution and preparedness is necessary to counter the sudden rush or drop in wind.
This will be a familiar scenario for all riders who have ridden with deep profiles and the reason why a lot of riders save these wheels for race day and stick with lower profile wheels for training.
Over the next few months, I experimented with different tyre pressures and riding conditions and gradually became more accustomed to the handling. I finally settled on tyre pressures for 65-70psi for the front and 75-80 for the rear. This remained the same for the Tufo Comtura Duo & Mitas Arrow+ tyres.
On the right road surface and mild and wind-still conditions, the Token Konax Pro wheelset made me feel like a pro.
A nice test is a descent that will be familiar to people who actively follow the Tour Down Under, the ride down Montacute Road. A recent resurface opened up the fast flowing corners even more and allowed me to exploit the handling and free speed courtesy of the deep U-profile rims. My Strava tells me that I was able to exploit the promised aero advantages by setting new PB’s with a reasonable margin. My power meter suggested that the average wattage for that segment was on par with the previous PB, but seconds were shaved.
My question is, what does mean for the average hill rides I do, would I really notice the extra few minutes that I’d ‘save’ over a 3 hour ride? What I do notice though is how the bike feels riding and feeling good is a pretty powerful advantage. And if you are just riding for the good times and the journey, your bike will still look top dollar at the coffee stops.
I am glad I selected the 52mm deep rims to test because of the experience with the windy conditions. They however made me question whether deeper is better and if the 36mm Ventous disc model would be the better all-round option. From a practical aspect, swapping disc wheels is a 2 minute job so whenever the winds are up, just swap over the wheels like the pros do.
Based on the improved handling and the looks, the Token Konax Pros get my thumbs up. The recommended retail pricing of $2,200 means they are not a bargain, though compared with the big brand name wheelsets that can creep up to $4,000 and beyond, the Tokens have an attractive price point. The Token Konax Pros utilise the popular U-profile which has been adopted by leading aerodynamic wheels. Without comparative wind-tunnel data, the performance differences with other models is pure speculation however broadly speaking, the Taiwanese Token would typically offer value-for-money over big-name competitors with similar performance for less.
Careful shopping and good timing can save you hundreds of dollars. The listed Australian distributer for Token only carries the headsets and bottom brackets, but not the wheelsets. The wheelsets are readily available from overseas online shops though it means that tax and customs duties need to be factored in as well as currency exchange fluctuations.
Token occupy the middle road in terms of specifications – they match many others in terms of dimensions (width, depth and rim internal width), weight and price. On spec, there is very little that makes them stand-out substantially against other competitors – and that is not intended as a criticism.
The Konax Pro Disc wheels are my first taste of deep carbon wheels, and aside from the crosswind impact, which is something you accept with deep wheels, I couldn’t fault these wheels. The wheels also overcame a technical issue unscathed where a miss-shift and subsequent slippage of the rear wheel in the dropouts bent the disc brake. Like water on a ducks back, the Token’s brushed this off and unaffected suggested a very good build.
What I really adored about the Konax Pro Wheels was the graphics, and the way it transformed my Volagi Liscio. Not just the looks mind you, the handling and response really sharpened, making some of the Adelaide Hills a new adventure. And that really is the power of a wheelset upgrade meaning that, I daresay, you many not need a brand new bike as often as you want.
The wheels are a decent investment for the typical rider. At around A$2,200 plus shipping, GST and customs duty, it’s a big chunk to spend. If you are on a budget, these may not be an all-rounder type wheel (so consider a lower profile). But when you are seeking an upgrade beyond the stock-standard aluminium wheels or tired carbon fiber wheels from yesteryear, these deliver decisive improvements in handling plus let you use the wider tyres.
I found the aero advantages noticeable, in the grand scheme this may be fairly negligible for many and would only make a few seconds difference while racing the 180km Kona Ironman in Hawaii. But the stand-out for me are that these wheels look classy and make the descents on the right roads an absolute joy.
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