Our final review of the Kappius Components wheels is now online here.
After testing a set of Kappius hubbed wheels in 2012, I was amazed by the take up with the 240 point engagement, and having such a broad bearing stance just made sense. Soon after I ordered my own set, laced to ENVE rims with DT Aerolite spokes. Unfortunately, all was not golden. The rear hub developed a lot of noise, and the non-drive side bearing quickly degraded, again and again. A similar pattern followed on the front. There was no way to separate the clamping force of the thru-axles or QR’s from the force on the bearing, which probably shortened the life. In the end, the rear shell de-bonded and the front bearing seat collapsed during stage 1 of Transalp. Not ideal.
I had the ENVE rims built into some Hope hubs with DT Comp spokes. Solid, reliable, affordable (I owned the rims already). But that wheelset weighs about 1850g. The rim profile isn’t very easy to inflate, it’s narrow, a harsh ride, and if I do need to replace a spoke or true them, I need to take the tyre off, and the rim tape, and find new rim tape too. Sub-optimal. These hubs weren’t in full production, and their designers, Rus and Brady Kappius, were already improving the design. But they were also working on a rim design. They had both been using ENVE rims and were aware of the limitations.
So earlier this year, I received a set of hubs and rims to replace those from before.
Kappius KH-2 Rear hub
At about 315 grams, it’s not as light as the original, but uses a full alloy body and a regular freehub body – no longer reliant on a custom XX cassette. The 240 point engagement mechanism moves inboard, so the bearing stance isn’t as wide as on the KH-1 hub. But the 1.5degrees of rotation before engagement remains. I have a hub drilled for 28 spokes, and with endcaps for 135 QR or 142/12.
Kappius KH-1.5 Front Hub
Opting for something a little more special on the front, I went with the 1.5 hub, which has a carbon body, but not the oversized version with cut outs like the original KH-1. This is also 28h, with QR15 setup (9mm QR caps available, and Lefty versions). It weighs about 118grams.
Kappius KR29 Rims
Produced with a lot of thought, Kappius have released their 29er carbon clinchers, with 27.5 models on the way. They are a wide rim, 30mm external and 26.4mm internal. They have been designed offset, to help even up the spoke tension on wheels by reducing the dish. The rim profile itself is unique. It isn’t overly tall, and isn’t hookless, but has a very short hook to reduce potential impact damage, and the rim bed is curved to promote easy tubeless inflation, so the beads sit close to the centre to form a seal before popping into place. Best of all, rim weight is about 355 grams. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the rims. And seeing Brady Kappius doing extensive testing on models, as well as Mike Hogan and Thomas Dooley testing them at the Cape Epic, I was pretty sure they were good to go. Along with DT Aerolite spokes, I was ready for a wheel build – and had Joe Dodd (Cheeky Monkey) build them up. They set came in at 1444grams. They taped up about as well as any carbon rim – when means ok, once you can get the tape to stick properly. I used 25mm ZTR yellow tape on advice from Brady Kappius. Although FRM tape would work quite well too as it’s just a little more compliant. I just didn’t have any. Valves are standard ZTR NoTubes – but their alloy ones will be a nice upgrade when these inevitably fill up with sealant. Fitting tyres was tight, and they are designed to be. I had to use a lever a little to finish getting them on. It was easier to mount them by getting the bead on the side of the wheel which is more room between the hook and the valve first. I mounted Tubeless Ready Maxxis tyres, with an Ikon rear and Ardent Race front, both 2.2″. I had to run an older Mavic QR on the back, as the Shimano XTR one I had wouldn’t clear through the cap. I believe they are 5.5mm not 5mm. I’ll check this, but I just wanted to ride.
Ready to Go
So far so good! The wheels roll well, are free from creaking, and the direct engagement is as I remembered it. They are holding pressure really well. What is good to see is the end caps on the axles, which have a grub screw to keep the pressure on the bearings. I’ve been running pretty standard pressures so far, about 21psi front and 22 rear. The broader rim does give the tyres a bigger appearance. But as I’ve had pointed out, laid flat, the tyre is the same from bead to bead. What is gained in width is lost in height. They are very stable though, and squirm free at the pressures I am running. The wheels themselves feel plenty stiff laterally, with no rub on the frame. But thankfully, they feel more compliant than the ENVE rims I have. I don’t have anything to test this with save for ‘ride feel’. To be honest though, the best thing here is still the rear engagement. That makes such a difference. The rims are lovely, and a brilliant carbon offering at a low weight. But a wheelset like this costs about $USD1900, and cost me about $AUS2450 once it was all built and the parts were here. You could have a really nice set of wheels built on KH-2 hubs with DT Supercomp spokes, and ZTR Crest rims for about half the price. They won’t be as light, or as strong, or as laterally stiff, and won’t have such a wide rim for lower pressures. But you would get the killer engagement from the drive mechanism. That’s what makes every pedal kick count, in rock gardens, up steppy tech climbs, out of corners. Every single time you get on the gas again it is helping. I’ve put about 200km on the wheels so far and really like them – but I’ll report again once I’ve got far more kilometres on them.
You can read the final review here: http://marathonm.wpengine.com/2015/03/28/final-review-kappius-components-kw-1-5-wheelset/