Wheels and Tyres

Chris King Hubs Reviewed | Hammered


From Dirt Issue 124 – June 2012

Words and photo by Steve Jones.

In reality I cannot confess to ever having had any desire to do anything with these wheels other than keep them on the bike and spinning. Ed here in the office has a different perspective on the matter. “Delve inside your hub and give it some love” he said on his recent web story, one followed and nibbled on by many. Frankly I don’t give a shit about what’s inside – or at least I believe there shouldn’t be any shit to give a shit about.

Furthermore neither do I, “just want to take a closer look at the inner workings”. I can just look at his story on the Dirt website and King cutaways to see the ultra fine ratchet plates to see what gives them such an ultra fast engagement. He went on to describe the system in detail. “There are 72 positions rather than 18. You might think that would mean that it is more likely to slip under load, but because of the exclusive ‘RingDrive’ design the sprung ratchet plate is forced into the fixed one via an angled spline when you apply toque to the system. The harder you pedal the harder it bites. Also, because Chris King have located this system in the main hub body they’ve been able to make it a larger diameter than the DT system, which means all those teeth can be spread further apart. This system really is something special.”

That’s obviously kind of where I was going with this ‘report’ all along. Then I noticed the monumental closing line, “you’ll struggle to find better quality bearings anywhere, and just like the rest of their hubs these are all made in–house so you won’t find them anywhere else”.

Look, all this is stuff you can read on the web, including ease of service details, 5 year warranty on all conditions and a huge swatch of colours. Do they stand the test of British winter riding? Are they a class apart? Well, good bearings with an urgency to upload your power into forward motion is something you’d have thought to be a basic that all wheels had, but strange how so many get it wrong. I’ve ridden several two grand carbon wheelsets over the past few years that simply don’t come up to scratch, certainly not to the standard of these boys.

After more than a year of hammer, through power washing and racing events such as last year’s filthy Alpine Battle, in which many other parts faltered, these hubs/wheels have remained without fault. This is down to excellence in wheelbuilding and brilliance of engineering.

I still cannot confess to having been inside the King’s so here’s some insight from Rob ‘Box’ Cooksley from behind the workbench of Bad Ass Bikes. “I had a pair in two years ago and they were so rough and battered that I phoned the importer and said send a new set of bearings over, the guy in tech told me that I wouldn’t need to replace the bearings because with the surgical grade steel all you need to do is flush out completely and redress with heavy oil and you should be fine. All the while I’m thinking ‘well with twenty years experience as mechanic I’m telling you that I need some new bearings’. He then told me to please try it first before he sent any replacement. So I did this and to my absolute amazement the hub came back as new. I’m not joking it blew my mind. Same goes for bottom brackets I’ve fitted to bikes four years ago. Brought them back from the dead.”

Not cheap, but frighteningly reliable when compared to the utter tat that’s currently around, the King’s pretty much rule the world when it comes to hubs. For me it’s the silence and speed of these Portland parts that stand them apart. The truth of the matter is that Chris King are one of the few companies that can really truly declare that quality craftsmanship underpins everything they do. Refreshing excellence and value.

Chris King Rear £378.99, Front £190.00


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