C18CR Review from NZ MTB Mag


Carbon wheels for mountain bikes are quickly becoming the must-have upgrade for 2013, especially for XC racers, with several companies adding carbon options to their wheel set offerings. Token have come to the party with a highly competitive option, the C18CR wheel set aimed at the 29er XC market. The wheels come with the option of running Quick release or 15mm through axle for the front and standard QR at the rear. As well as the notable carbon rims, the wheels feature Token sealed bearing hubs and Sapim bladed spokes, with a few spares included just in case. It’s worth noting the supplied quick releases are quality items featuring brass washers, ensuring smooth operation. They don’t include any tubeless-ready rim linings, so I bunged some Stans rubber rims strips around them and the tyres aired up and stayed seated no problem – a simple enough solution, but it would be nice to see tubeless compatibility out of the box on a high-end wheelset.

I noticed the difference these wheels made to my bike instantly; they really are some serious steroids for your favorite steed. In comparison to my factory wheelset they are better in every way: lighter, stiffer, stronger and most importantly the free hub makes one of those awesome whirring noises that everybody associates with quality wheels.

The wheel set has a claimed weight of 1462 grams; roughly 800 grams lighter than the standard set of alloy wheels on my bike. The weight difference is mostly noticeable in corners, mainly because the bike is much quicker and easier to bring up to speed after exiting the corner. Also something I found surprising was that slowing these wheels down is much easier, meaning shorter braking distances. The real time difference these two factors may make might be miniscule, but as they say, every second counts.

From the strength and stiffness side of things, I again noticed that the main difference was in corners. The front end tracker significantly better than my alloy XC wheels – the tighter, steeper and sketchier the more lateral stiffness was apparent. Part of this should be credited to the quality of the build, with plenty of tension in the spokes right out of the box. In terms of outright strength they were also hard to beat. They were given some cringe-worthy side-on impacts, which they took in their stride, showing no evidence of buckling where lesser wheels may have come off second best.

On the downside, while the bearings were silky smooth at the start, after a couple of months’ use, including my first race lap of Karapoti [Ed. sub-3 first time – nice] spinning the axle by hand, the rear hub showed noticeable roughness. Likewise, at the end of my review period, the spokes needed a tickle up, not to true them, but to get the tension back up to where they had started.

Those couple of niggles aside, overall these wheels are the single best performance-enhancing upgrade that has been fitted to my bike yet. If you’re looking to trim a few minutes out of a PB or give your current steed a new lease of life, I reckon you will be hard pressed to find anything else that will give you such worthwhile speed and handling improvements for the money.

Matt Leyland @ New Zealand Mountain Biker Magazine

10th April 2013



Original Article in New Zealand Mountain Biker Magazine

C18CR review 100413


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