This 11-speed cassette from Token is designed to fit eight-, nine-, 10- or 11-speed wheels, and offers the facility to use older race wheels (or perhaps newer mountain bike wheels on a cross bike) with a new drivetrain. Token is perhaps best known for its CNC and colourful anodised components, with this cassette being a good example of the Taiwanese brand’s machining knowhow.
Few expenses have been spared here, with 10 of the cogs CNC machined from a single piece of steel and then press-fitted to a carbon carrier. The steel construction means durability is high, as is cog strength – especially when compared with aftermarket aluminium cassette options.
Our 11-28t sample weighs a respectable 185g with the included alloy lock ring. Given the expense, the weight of this cassette is best compared to the likes Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9000 and SRAM’s XG-1190, at 193g and 151g respectively for the equivalent sizes.
The eleventh cog is offset so it can fit onto a narrower freehub body
Fitting 11 cogs In a space designed for 10 is done by offsetting the biggest cog inward of the freehub body. This is exactly how Shimano’s latest 11-speed XTR achieves the extra gear, but Token’s cassette pre-dates this being Shimano’s idea.
Despite our reservations over the press-fitted carbon spider’s strength and durability, and its potential for creaking, we received zero issues. The cassette shifts well and stomping on the pedals while forcing it through gears gave no delay in comparison with an equivalent Shimano cassette.
So it’s durable, lightweight and smooth shifting, but it's not quite perfect. Similarly to SRAM’s older Red ‘PowerDome’ cassette with its hollow construction, the Token’s structure resonates noise from the chain and under shifting. It’s not as bad as the sound produced by the older SRAM cassettes, but it’s noticeably different to new Shimano or SRAM componentry – and is likely to bother riders who value virtual silence.
Another potential concern is that it's possible for this cassette to make contact with the spokes on some wheels. While we didn't experience this on the DT Swiss, Ritchey and Reynolds models we tested, some wheels with poor cassette clearance could prove problematic.
With 10 cogs in one piece, installation couldn’t be easier. The carbon spider offers a wide base that won’t dig into soft aluminium freehub bodies, while the 11t cog locks in with the cassette to create a solid unit once tightened. Even the lightweight lock ring has a longer thread on it, perfect for a secure fit with some ‘delicately’ (AKA poorly) threaded freehub threads.
The cassette fits onto a narrower space than normal 11-speed road cassettes; this spacer is needed if using on new 11-speed wheels
The cassette is also supplied with a spacer for use with 11-speed freehubs. In this configuration, the cassette sits slightly more outboard than a stock Shimano 11-speed cassette, so you’ll need to adjust the derailleur limits and cable tension slightly.
Fitting to a 10-speed DT-Swiss freehub, the alignment was comparable to an 11-speed equivalent hub, but not identical – requiring the very slightest of limit screw adjustment again. Keep this in mind – swapping in your race wheels with this cassette may not be quite as simple as using a quick release.
Now that there’s cross-brand 11-speed spacing, this cassette should suit SRAM and Campagnolo drivetrain users too. Given the Cromo's price, you might argue that it’s cheaper to upgrade the freehub (if possible) or even the wheels – and in most cases, you’d probably be right. However, the Token Cromo cassette remains a genuinely interesting option for riders who are stuck with 10-speed wheels and want 11-speed shifting.
Note: This cassette is available in a choice of either 11-25t or 11-28t.
Note: International pricing was unavailable at the time of publishing this review. In Australia, this cassette retails for AUD$350.