Looking for champagne wheels on a beer budget? These Token Konax Pro’s may be just the ticket.
Upgrading your wheels is the quickest and easiest way to improve performance, but unfortunately it can also be one of the most expensive. A decent wheelset can easily equal or even exceed the value of the rest of the bike.
On the flipside, many factory-fitted wheelsets do absolutely nothing for performance and indeed hinder the design, craftsmanship, quality and potential of the rest of the build.
Heavier alloy hoops, inefficient spokes, narrow internal and external widths, the use of tubes and budget hubs and bearings … yes these are all watt-eaters and factors that ultimately slow you down.
With a brief of upgrading wheels while improving performance, efficiency and aesthetics without spending a fortune, I spent many nights looking for the elusive wheelset that fitted the bill.
Eventually stumbling upon the little-known brand Token, it was interesting to find out more about the company including the fact it was established 20 years ago by mechanical engineer James Chang. Like a lot of the global bike industry, Chang and token are based in Taiwan and he has enjoyed many years working with some of the biggest brands in the business. Credibility confirmed, I delved deeper.
Offering numerous wheelsets, and featuring a wide range of equipment from headsets, to bottom brackets to drivetrain accessories, Token are well established but also seem to fly under the radar, well, at least here in Australia. With that in mind, and having read many positive reviews, I pulled the lever and ordered a pair. Riding noisy, heavy and pretty darn average factory 3T alloy wheels at the time, the arrival of the 52mm Carbon Konax Pro wheels was eagerly anticipated.
A road / triathlon-focussed wheelset, the Konax bears its name after Kona of Hawaiian Ironman fame.
The wheelset is available in two incarnations, the 52mm KONAX PRO and the KONAX TRI with a rim depth of a whopping 76mm.
The wheels feature an internal width of 20mm and 27mm external measurement. According to Token, they have been aerodynamically designed with Computational Fluid Dynamics software which helps ‘enable the KONAX wheels to perfectly slice through the wind.’
Within around a week of ordering them they arrived. And within a few hours of unboxing I was out on the road. So do they ‘slice through the wind’ and how did they perform? In two words, yes and surprisingly well.
First up, setting the wheels up tubeless was a simple affair. Tape was factory fitted so it was a matter of adding the appropriate tubeless valves. Yes this is always a slight bugbear – it really wouldn’t be a major cost to factory fit the valves and incorporate the cost, would it? First world problems aside, the valves were fitted, sealant added and 40mm tyres inflated. 40’s? Yes 40’s! We fitted Tufo Gravel Thunderos to give the wheels their inaugural run on a mixed surface ride.
Surprisingly fast and efficient tyres even on bitumen, and obviously providing a huge amount of comfort, the 40s bode well with the deep carbon wheels. Pickup and acceleration were good, the wheels felt surprisingly stiff and strong when cornering, and they stood up well to the varied terrain.
”…A highlight is their ability to hold speed – particularly on rougher surfaces and (sorry Token designers)..”
Onto a nearby ridge that’s notorious for crosswinds, and although just over 50mm deep, sideways or lateral resistance was nowhere near as noticeable as expected. Yes the bike does react to crosswinds, but more slightly and gently than you’d think.
The wheels roll smoothly and efficiently, and have only improved over the past couple of months as the bearings have worn in.
A highlight is their ability to hold speed – particularly on rougher surfaces and (sorry Token designers) on smooth gravel roads. And the faster the better … wind the bike up to 35 or 40km/h when conditions are right and it will happily sit there. During extended testing I put a lot of this down to the wheel and tyre combo … the Tufo’s are a fast tyre and the Token wheels only extenuate their attributes.
Build quality and finish are first class, as are the components used. The wheels feature Sapim CX-Ray spokes along with external nipples keeping service and potential straightening simple.
The other headline feature is the weight. Feather light and under the magic 1500gr mark, the test wheels weighed 1450grams out of the box.
They’re light, string, stiff and versatile … and what’s not to like about that. So, back to where we started, are they a token wheelset? Absolutely not – these are very impressive allrounders and come highly recommended.