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Review – Chris King Classic Hubs for Road Use

Home » Equipment » Reviews » Review – Chris King Classic Hubs for Road Use

The hum of your tyres rolling across the road, interrupted by the occasional freewheeling sound, breaking the churning unison of your gears, is part of the pleasures that is bike riding. Your wheels are a major part of keeping that nirvana. Other than the 2 inches pressurized rubber, the hubs are a significant factor of the equation. In this day and age when shiny looks and lightweight have take over function and durability, it is refreshing to find that there are still products that are stylish, yet long lasting and crafted with passion for cycling. All that can be summarized in 2 words – Chris King.

Chris King classic hubs front pink
Chris King Classic front hub – 32h

While many associate the name with indestructible headsets, Chris King offers a wide range of hubs as well. Unknowingly to me, the roadie crowds do not seem to share the enthusiasm of mountain bikers and cyclocrossers that swear by the reliability of the aforementioned hubs. While looking for parts for my “do-it-all” wheelset, the Chris King Classic hubs had it all. The looks and the durability, and I am not just referring to the moving parts. The bicycle wheel when looked from behind resembles a pyramid, with the hub representing the base. The wider the base, the more stable the wheel/pyramid. The Chris King Classic rear hub has excellent spacing, creating a stiff wheel that even my 90kg (200lbs) cannot budge. The 32 hole front and 36 hole rear laced perfectly into a pair of Ambrosio Nemesis tubular rims. When clamped into my frame the pink anodized color would capture the few remaining autumn sunrays and spread a gentle glow from the hubs along the frame. The play of light only added to the mystique that gliding over the asphalt was.

Chris King Classic hubs rear pink
Chris King Classic rear hub – 36h

Mechanically Chris King has improved on something more than a century old – the classic ratchet freewheel. The hubs feature the so called RingDrive – 2 toothed rings spinning against each other until force is applied when they instantly engage. Having 72 teeth compared to the maximum of 36 found on other hubs makes a major difference. Whether it is gently pedaling after a turn or applying full power during a tightly packed criterium corner, the immediate power transfer is something I have never experienced before. Just like the freewheeling buzz sound, the instant engagement is something that you would be glad to have! Besides having to readjust the preload after a week or so of initial setting in the hubs have not needed anything besides the seasonal maintenance. Tearing the hubs down is very simple and all i needed was 2x5mm allen wrenches and a tiny screwdriver to remove the snaprings from the bearings. After a quick flush with mineral spirits and regreasing the hubs were ready to hit the road again.

Chris King Classic hubs maintenance
Seasonal Maintenance – Chris King Classic Hubs

One comment regarding the classic hubs is that they are overbuilt for hours of muddy mountainbiking, therefore the seals have quite some drag and even after many kilometers of riding some of that drag still remains; on one of my bikes slight backpedalling causes the chain to go slack. Whether noticeable or soaking up precious watts, it is a subject for debate. To address this issue Chris King have come up with their road R45 hubset. Needless to say, my dream racing wheelset is Enve SMART 6.7 rims and pink R45 hubs with ceramic bearings.

Conclusion

Although an established classic for over more than a decade the Chris King Classic hubs still give contemporary products a run for their money. At 276g for the rear and 136g for the front, they are in the same weight category as DT Swiss 240, Shimano Dura Ace and Campagnolo Record. With a 5 year warranty, user serviceability and renowned Chris King durability, no one comes close in that category. Prices are: $380 rear and $180 for the front. Additionally all Chris King hubs, except the R45 share a lot of the internal parts. You can convert axle spacing from 130mm to 135mm by swapping a single part or change the axle to a bolt-on heavy duty version. By using the Chris King Hub Tool you can even change the hub shells (when not laced into a wheel of course) to a ISO disc brake hub if you so desire. There is a stainless steel driveshell that virtually removes any notching normally associated with aluminum parts and loose cog cassettes. In my opinion all that Chris King stands for is embodied in the Classic hubs – durability and endless enjoyment of cycling.

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