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  1. #1
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    Is Chris King really worth the $$$

    I know there are Chris King fanboys out there who are gonna hit this thread, but I am gonna ask anyway. I am shopping for a new 1 1/8 headset. I looked at Cane Creek, Chris King, FSA, Nukeproof, etc......

    Is Chris King really, honsetly worth the extra cost? Or, Is it just the "cool factor" of having a King headset?

    I am in no way knocking any headstets, I am asking an honest question before I make a purchase.

  2. #2
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    With Headsets? No.

    Chris King or Cane Creek?

    I love their rear hubs though

  3. #3
    Dirt Junkie
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    I've never owned any Chris King components and I really don't have a big hole in my life. If you can afford it why not? But, I believe it's become more of a "Bling" factor any more as other manufacturers have gotten much better than they were 10 years ago.
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

  4. #4
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    I have both in 2 different bikes. The King is 15 years old and has been in 5 different frames throughout the years. The Cane Creek 110 is 4 years old and is still in the same frame. Both are great and have never had any problems. Based on the performance and durability that I've had so far, I'd get another King for the next frame.

    Good luck

  5. #5
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    I have a high end crank brothers headset that needs constant adjustment. All of my Kings just keep going year after year. F bling, I just get a black one and use a sharpie to black out the brand name.

  6. #6
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    Just go with the least expensive Cane Creek that has sealed bearings....

  7. #7
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    No!
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by haymitch View Post
    I
    ..........................Is Chris King really, honsetly worth the extra cost?....................
    From a quality standpoint I think they are excellent and I like the fact that they are made in the U.S. That isn't important to some people, but it is to me. I also like that they are nicely finished and come is good color choices. Again, that doesn't matter to some people but it does to me.

    Are there headsets out there that function just as well for less money? You bet ya.

    I have 3 King headsets right now and have owned a couple of others over the years. I also have 3 sets of wheels with King hubs. I like King stuff and it is worth the extra money to me. It is top rate quality and made in the U.S. I am OK with paying the extra money and have always been happy with what I got for the money.

    That said, King headsets did have some problems in years past with creaking when used with longer travel forks. They have that taken care of now, but there are people around that did not feel like they were worth the money.

    I have 2 Cane Creek 110 headsets in my bikes with longer travel forks. These have also been excellent quality. They cost pretty much what Kings do, but I am happy and feel like they were worth the money too.

    When you mention that there are King fanboys, remember that there are at least as many King haters. Products like King that are expensive and popular seem to have a pretty polarized following.

    Honestly, in my opinion, you are the only one that can answer the question about if it is worth the money. It is your money and you are going to trade it for something. If you are happy with what you get then it was worth it. I know that doesn't help you make a decision before you spend your money. In the end you are going to have to make a decision and find out.

    From a quality standpoint I think they are excellent. They are worth the money to me.
    I'm not very smart, but I can lift heavy things

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11 Bravo View Post

    Honestly, in my opinion, you are the only one that can answer the question about if it is worth the money. It is your money and you are going to trade it for something. If you are happy with what you get then it was worth it. I know that doesn't help you make a decision before you spend your money. In the end you are going to have to make a decision and find out.

    From a quality standpoint I think they are excellent. They are worth the money to me.
    This. The three kings that I still own are over 10 years old and have been on multiple frames.

    To me, they're very similar to Thomson seat posts. They cost more but have lasted longer and more reliably than other components that I've tried.

    Are they the best? Don't know, don't care. There are other oems who make great components but I've not had a reason to change.


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  10. #10
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    I'm a hater and a fan. The older style headsets were junk (for 29er's) in my book. The new (corrected) style is a good buy. Headsets come in various levels of quality and price ranges. Always get the best one you can since it's a component that you want to set and forget. That said, if you don't want to pay King prices, most Cane Creeks are good buys.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dubthang View Post
    I'm a hater and a fan. The older style headsets were junk (for 29er's) in my book. The new (corrected) style is a good buy. Headsets come in various levels of quality and price ranges. Always get the best one you can since it's a component that you want to set and forget. That said, if you don't want to pay King prices, most Cane Creeks are good buys.
    I guess I've been out of the upgrade business for a while. I didn't realize there was a 29" specific headset.




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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC View Post
    I guess I've been out of the upgrade business for a while. I didn't realize there was a 29" specific headset.
    Oh buuurrrnnn!

    Acutally, what he's on about is King headset's lack of a proper compression ring set up to dodge the Cane Creek/Dia Compe patent.

    It left them very prone to creaking and premature bearing wear when used with tall forks, especially 29ers and downhill bikes. Now that the patent has expired they're using the same system as everyone else, like it's suddenly a new thing. Whilst King as a whole are very good company, this is a black mark against them. They should have just paid the small licensing fee and stopped selling products that were not as good as they could have been, especially when the price of them is brought into account.

    But in the grand scheme it's not a huge deal, the headsets were still nice quality, they just could/should have been better.

  13. #13
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    Get a cane creek and call it a day. The Chris Kings are kind of ugly anyways. Such a silly bulbus shape.

  14. #14
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    Have been a CK fan for many many years.......used their headsets on all my bikes for the last 12 years. One headset was on 5-6 different frames in that time.

    With that being said......the $159 price tag for the newer CK headsets is getting ridiculous.

    Just built up a new Highball and decided to make a change.....went with the Cane Creek 110. Really impressed with it. Light, smooth, looks very nice, easy to install, no knocking/creaking......and they offer it in Blue.
    I resolve to constantly assert my honest opinion on anything and everything - whether it is requested or not.
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  15. #15
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    Chris King is the closest thing I as a man gets to jewelry. "BOMB PROOF JEWELRY"
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  16. #16
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    so far the major point for king seems to be reliably over the years. If I were buying a headset for an off size headtube (my case 1.5 headtube to fit a tapered fork) i would go for something cheaper as I don't think that I would have use for it if I switched frames - seeing as a full 1.5 seems to be a thing of the past

  17. #17
    Custom Wheelbuilder
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    I think they are definitely worth the money. They are consistently durable, easy to adjust, and they have a 5 year warranty which is always nice.
    Check out www.zencyclery.com for fully customizable, handbuilt wheels.

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  18. #18
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    I like Kings, but you can't beat the 110 year warranty of CaneCreek, you know, just in case

  19. #19
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    More of a fan of the CC 110. Mostly due to the split ring design, which the patent has now expired. I like CC 110, CK then Hope when it comes to high end headsets.

    Seeing how Im married with kids now. CK hubs are no longer in the budget. Ecxellent hubs, but Hope is more practical for me. I hear divorce court is expensive.

  20. #20
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    When I've been running the same discgotech rear hub with the original bearings for the past 13 years, yeah I'd say they are worth the money.
    Same goes for my headset, though I did upgrade to the griplock bearing cap, still on the same bearings, and multiple frames.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11 Bravo View Post

    That said, King headsets did have some problems in years past with creaking when used with longer travel forks. They have that taken care of now, but there are people around that did not feel like they were worth the money.


    When you mention that there are King fanboys, remember that there are at least as many King haters. Products like King that are expensive and popular seem to have a pretty polarized following.
    .
    This isn't really fair. The CK had problems with loosening, creaking, and scoring steerer tubes due to a design flaw. The reason they polarized so many people is that they would blame it on the user and installation every time. Now that the Cane Creek (previously aheadset) patent has expired, they've fallen in line and use the superior compression wedge design that pretty much every other headset maker has used for years. Previously, CK relied on a rubber o-ring to keep the headset centered and preloaded, but obviously rubber flexes and as the fork gets longer, this is a big issue. It's not just for long-travel forks, 29er forks have longer axle-to-crown distances, imparting the same forces as "long travel" forks.

    CK used to make some of the lightest hubs due to their aluminum freehub body. Shimano always used steel because they realized that this part sees a LOT of stress. This has been an issue over the years with cassettes with no carriers. For a while, even the higher end SRAM cassettes had no carrier, making it extremely difficult to remove the cassette, as it would "score" the freehub body. Shimano eventually decided to make some lighter hubs, and they chose to use titanium, which isn't as soft as the aluminum that CK and others used to save weight in the same area. As even SRAM cassettes have gone to using carriers, this isn't "as much" as a problem, but you'll still get scoring and still might need some extra force sometimes to get the cassette off. This is maybe not as serious a design flaw as the above, but CK also sold a steel freehub body to deal with the problem, funny though that their "money is no object for quality" attitude didn't lead to a Ti body though...The good part about their hubs is the angular contact bearings. These and shimano's cup-n-cone are the two best systems out there. The cup-n-cone is very sensitive to being adjusted correctly, although very low drag and strong in more than just one direction. CK gets most of the benefits without being as sensitive to adjustment, which is pretty neat. Most other hubs use various levels of cartridge bearings, which don't offer very much lateral support or resistance to torsion, the plus is that they are inexpensive (relatively), light, and somewhat easy to replace (although they can require a press and "setting" to install). Then there is the freehub mechanism itself. The cool part of the CKs is that they have many points of engagement, many more than shimano and others. It's "instant" hookup. If you've never tried it, you don't know what you are missing. If you do, sometimes it's hard to "go back". It kind of depends on how you ride. For those that "stop and start" a lot on technical climbs, it can be really neat. It's also very strong. As a comparison, DT hubs generally use cartridge bearings and a ring-drive freehub mechanism. This is really neat because it is extremely strong, very resistant to torque and SSing type stuff, kind the CK design. It's also simple and easy to replace without tools if it ever fails (very unlikely), also not expensive to replace either. These hubs are generally lighter than the CKs, due to them being a bit more modern design and other design features. The shimano hubs use a rachet-and-pawl system, generally one of the weaker, but they have a new one that doubles up the pawls (intended for 29ers). They aren't fancy, but again the freehub mechanism is usually fairly easy and cheap to replace.

    Many other hubs these days are ligher, but the CKs are pretty solid hubs, not much to ever worry about and they stand behind them pretty well.

    Generally, one of the problems with CK has been that they have a problem admitting when they mess up or are wrong. They do make some very good products to high quality, but some components like headsets don't really see very much stress (compared to things like hubs, etc). It's a relatively simple system and most other headsets last for years. My FSA 1.5 has angular contact bearings and has lasted for years, same with my CCs. They do make some good stuff, but realize that it's nothing that can't be duplicated with many other manufacturers, and some have design features that are arguably better.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  22. #22
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    Not IMO.

    I tend to look at mid-priced headsets from Hope & Cane Creek; I have recycled ONE headset, an OEM into my daughter's bike, never a high-dollar one. (Hell, the CC I run NOW was $19 clearanced, the "Tank" model, and it may be a candidate!)

    CK makes good stuff, but I can't justify the $$, don't believe they're THAT much better.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC View Post

    To me, they're very similar to Thomson seat posts. They cost more but have lasted longer and more reliably than other components that I've tried.

    Are they the best? Don't know, don't care. There are other oems who make great components but I've not had a reason to change.
    My thoughts exactly

    Love the hubs, headset, and bottom bracket. I don't care about the "bling" factor. That's not why I bought them. I purchased them from word of mouth/experience from my friends I ride with.

  24. #24
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    More choices always a good thing. May be the $60 seal bearing hs is plenty good but some would then say why not color or bling options.


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  25. #25
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    I had a King headset on my last bike, but now have FSA Integrated because it came with the frame. To be honest, performance-wise I cannot tell the difference. We will see with longevity. I need to speak on the rear hubs though..... To be clear, I have nothing King on my current bike. Am using Hope rear hub which I like alot....great POE super loud, super blingy, etc....BUT. I am currently at UBI, and on Thursday we had the opportunity to take apart king rear hubs. The tooling provided by king to service their stuff alone is unbelievable quality. Like stuff you would hang on a wall. The axle, freehub body, and ring drive mechanism in the King is stunning! Every axle inside the hub has it's own individual run number based on the diminishing tolerances of the tooling used. They are that anal. To order the correct axle for your hub if ever needed requires the exact run number for perfect tolerance. The axle is polished, the interior of the freehub is polished and the ring gears themselves are beautiful. I will not hesitate for an instant to make my next hub a king. We also took apart DT Swiss 350's and 240's. While nice, they were no where near the attention to detail that the Kings had in my opinion.

  26. #26
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    I have and use both King and Cane Creek, and they
    have been trouble free.

  27. #27
    James.Hamilton
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    I was fortunate enough to get a CK bottom bracket and hubs on my bike when I purchased it used. It would be near impossible for me to justify spending CK money on these components. That being said, now that I have had the pleasure of owning/using them I am very spoiled. I liken it to closing a door on a Kia or on a BMW, you just can feel the difference.

    As to your specific component in question being the headset I do not own one but have used the others mentioned above. For me at least with an XC riding frame of mind I can see saving a few bucks on the headset with another brand and being just as well off. If you are one to re-use as others have said then the quality will show down the road, for me components go with the bike when I sell.

  28. #28
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    FSA Pig Pro. I don't care if its made in Taiwan. CK is good too but I don't have one. I also don't have HBO or Showtime.

    The Pig Pro. $35 at Pricepoint. Sealed bearings.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  29. #29
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    I have had the same King HS in three different frames over the last 10 years. It has worked perfectly. With that said, the quality of the King now does not justify its huge price tag.You can get serveral comprable HS's for around $50 less than a King! For example- I have Hope HS's on two bikes and the quality and performance is nothing less than outstanding. You can pick up a Hope for around $85....
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Is Chris King really worth the $$$-hope-headset-zoom.jpg  


  30. #30
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    I buy for a number of reasons made in USA and environmental sensitive manufacturing practices.

    Sustainable Manufacturing | Chris King Precision Components

  31. #31
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    For what it's worth the Cane Creek 110 headsets are made in the USA. Their production facility is just outside of Asheville, NC.

    No experience with CK but I have zero complaints about my 110.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    I had a King headset on my last bike, but now have FSA Integrated because it came with the frame. To be honest, performance-wise I cannot tell the difference. We will see with longevity. I need to speak on the rear hubs though..... To be clear, I have nothing King on my current bike. Am using Hope rear hub which I like alot....great POE super loud, super blingy, etc....BUT. I am currently at UBI, and on Thursday we had the opportunity to take apart king rear hubs. The tooling provided by king to service their stuff alone is unbelievable quality. Like stuff you would hang on a wall. The axle, freehub body, and ring drive mechanism in the King is stunning! Every axle inside the hub has it's own individual run number based on the diminishing tolerances of the tooling used. They are that anal. To order the correct axle for your hub if ever needed requires the exact run number for perfect tolerance. The axle is polished, the interior of the freehub is polished and the ring gears themselves are beautiful. I will not hesitate for an instant to make my next hub a king. We also took apart DT Swiss 350's and 240's. While nice, they were no where near the attention to detail that the Kings had in my opinion.
    This pretty much says it all ^^^^^ the attention to detail and precision is bar none. For a company to be so anal as to require the run number of an axle for replacement. This only makes sense for wear purposes during tooling. But I don't know of any other company that requires this for axle replacement. If they are that anal then you know every aspect of the build is top notch. I have been running CK hubs for 6 years and headset for 10 years. Amazing products but items you upgrade to unless the budget permits.

    There are plenty other brands that are more economical and perform with good reliability. If those are more in the budget that's fine. But if the budget ever allows step it up to CK you won't be sorry. CK products have always been at the top and are well known for being one of the few parts on a bike that gets transferred from build to build. Industry 9 makes a top notch product as well. One of the few other brands that are on the same playing field as CK.
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  33. #33
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    CK bad boy

    Chris King headsets are the Bad Boys... here is proof
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Is Chris King really worth the $$$-ck-headset-order.png  


  34. #34
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    My opinion... Chris King is all about bling. I've had them and I have installed a lot of them. CK makes nice stuff, but the value isn't there.

    I have had a Cane Creek S8 for over a decade. I have had a cheap-o Cane Creek S3 for even longer. I have installed a lot of FSA Pig headsets because they were $15 at one point and have never seen an issue with them. In fact, I have found that FSA Pig's are super easy to install.

    You want a headset to last? It's real easy.

    1. Face the headtube and install the cups one at a time, properly seated.
    2. Use synthetic greases on your bearings only. Petrol-based just collects dirt.
    3. Do not over tighten your headset.
    4. Service your headset anytime water is involved (washing or otherwise).
    5. Service your headset at least twice a year.

    If you really want one to last, use steel cups and anything other than loose bearings.

    Overpaying for things like handlebars, headsets, seatposts, stems... it's a waste. If you want to put some money into something that matters, buy some nice wheels and brakes. After all, it's a bike, it has to roll and stop.
    - The only thing that keeps me on a bike is happiness.

  35. #35
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    imo no way for headsets. fsa and cane creek are better for less money. as far as other stuff tough call, personally id look at other brands first.

  36. #36
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    They are a quality product for sure. Excellent customer service as well. I have used them a lot for both hubs and headsets in the past, but currently I have no CK stuff on my bike. Will I get some in the future? Ya, I would seriously consider their products for sure.

  37. #37
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    I am extremely happy with them......

    Bought a CK BB about 3 years ago when they first came out. About 4 weeks ago while installing my chainguide, the socket tool slipped and galled up the drive side up....to the point, that I had to nearly destroy it just to get it out of my frame. Call up CK to get an RA# to send it back to get a new cup installed. $65 I was told, plus I could change the color.

    Well today, my brand new CK bottom bracket showed up.....no rebuilt....but exchanged completely.....for free. Sweet!

    So yes, sometimes they are worth the money.
    I resolve to constantly assert my honest opinion on anything and everything - whether it is requested or not.
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  38. #38
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    I have one on my new bike and I'd say they are definitely not worth the money. No headset is really worth what they charge for them, honestly.

    The thing doesn't even make a full rotation. You can buy Gas Turbine Generator bearings that run at 16,000 RPMs at 700 degF for less than a bike headset that turns at about 1/40 RPMs...and not even a full R!

    (I may be exaggerating a bit on the GTG bearings but you get the point)

  39. #39
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    Is Chris King really worth the $$$

    Is it worth it to who? There are two answers: 1. Yes 2. No

    I have a King headset that has been on several frames (back when there was a standard, this was possible). I bought it when I had more disposable income and before many competitors were offering high end/high tolerance machined parts. 13 years ago, it was worth it to me. Today, maybe I'dale a different decision. But I don't have to.




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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmaHaq View Post
    My opinion... Chris King is all about bling. I've had them and I have installed a lot of them. CK makes nice stuff, but the value isn't there.
    AHEM major BS!!!
    plus+, plus+ = win:

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC View Post
    I have a King headset that has been on several frames (back when there was a standard, this was possible). I bought it when I had more disposable income and before many competitors were offering high end/high tolerance machined parts. 13 years ago, it was worth it to me. Today, maybe I'dale a different decision. But I don't have to.
    That's my take on it as well. 15 years ago, pretty much every headset except CK had a lifespan of around 2-3 years. If I didn't want to rebuild headsets every couple months and/or replace them every couple years, a CK was about the only option. So I got one. Headsets have come a long way since those days, lots of companies now make a headset that'll go 5-10 years with only minimal maintenance so there's no reason for me to shell out for a King. Currently running a Cane Creek 110 since it's sealed better and I hate working on my own bikes, anything that reduces service is something that I'll pay for.

    As for CK's other products, I like their front hubs but the rears seemed a bit finicky to me from my shop mechanic experience. They worked well but needed a bit more care than I'm willing to invest in my personal gear.

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