Chris King Headsets & Hubs- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Chris King Headsets & Hubs

    Ok, so what's the deal with Chris King headsets and hubs?

    It seems that all the "cool kids" have them on their bikes. One look through the "Show us you SS" thread shows C.K. headsets outnumbering all the rest by far.

    Are they THAT much better than other brands to justify the cost? Or are they more of a status symbol? If they are that much better, what other brands that can compete?

    Greg

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregzilla
    ...............Ok, so what's the deal with Chris King headsets and hubs? Are they THAT much better than other brands to justify the cost?............
    Trying to justify cost is an ugly thing in my opinion. How do you justify the cost of a SS bike that cost a couple thousand bucks? My answer is that you don't. At that level you buy things because you want them. Is a bike that cost 2K THAT much better than one that cost 1K?

    I buy Chris King stuff because I want to. It is top quality stuff. You always see people saying "It is just as good as a King but costs less". What does just as good mean? I suspect it means different things to different people. A big deal to me is that King makes their stuff in the U.S.A and runs a very environmentally friendly company. Does saving a few bucks on a part that comes from a no human rights polluter nation make it just as good? Not in my book.

    I look at the quality of the part. I look at the company and how they conduct themselves. What kinds of things they do and what they don't do, what type of activism and causes do they support (if any). If I like the company and the product they make I will buy it.

    Figure out what is important to you and buy what you want.
    I'm not very smart, but I can lift heavy things

  3. #3
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    Just search all of the forums. They have this argument almost everywhere. Just know that it is a personal choice.

  4. #4
    Five is right out
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    Excellent response, which hopefully derails the usual "CK is great!" "CK sucks!" arguments that such questions usually generate

  5. #5
    MLH
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    I agree with 11 Bravo. When the funds are available, I like knowing that what I have was made in the U.S. by a company that does business ethically, responsibly, and does something good with some of its profits. I also like companies that stand firmly behind their products through warranties, pride, and an obsession with making sure the customer is statisfied. King fits that description.
    I am glad to see that there are others out there with the same standards.
    Mike

  6. #6
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    I'm not going to save the planet by buying King stuff. That said, I have a half dozen King headsets and at least 3 King hubsets (just had to mention this to prove I'm a cool kid).

    I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Cane Creek headset in lieu of a King.

    King hubs are light, strong, easy to service, pretty and have that cool kid bling. But they're noisy. This is the singlespeed board, right? One sweet thing about singlespeeds is they lack that obnoxious chain clatter and monkey motion squeakage of FS gearies. In fact it's quite possible to build a virtually silent singlespeed. Whenever I fly down Alpine Trail aboard my Vulture with its King hub, I wish my hub would shutup.

    Am I going to get rid of my King hubs? Oh hell no.

    --Sparty
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  7. #7
    MLH
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    I'm not going to save the planet by buying King stuff.
    I don't remember that part, but I do remember the part about U.S. made. Ever been to Detroit ?
    Mike

  8. #8
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    Ok, good reasons for buying King... So it's safe to say that they're the Patagonia of the bike parts world?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregzilla
    Ok, so what's the deal with Chris King headsets and hubs?
    My FSA headset was shot after buying it used as a part of the whole used parts for my new bike, and using it for another year. When I was considering the next set, my bike shop told me that CK headsets had 10-year warranty. There is the justification of the cost.

    My bike shop also told me something similar to what 11 Bravo said, when I was asking them questions about my "bicycle and bike part needs": "we are not in the need business, we are in the want business!" How true...

    Ali

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregzilla
    Ok, good reasons for buying King... So it's safe to say that they're the Patagonia of the bike parts world?
    Ha, that's a really weird brand association you just made there. Completely at odds with how I perceive Patagonia (which is one of my favourite brands)

    BTW, last time I checked, Patagonia manufactures in China.

  11. #11
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    Agree w/ the "need vs. want" statements.

    For me, the CK headset is the only one (not that I haven't had others). I think it's the sexiest bike part in existence.

  12. #12
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    They, at least the headset, are a "set and forget" part for me. I have a coupla king headsets that have been doing service for at least 7 years with not a stitch of maintenance over that time. Albeit I live in the desert but still I have one 1" one that I bought in 1992 and it still does service on my road bike and did service for years on my mountain bikes in the canadian winter and the arizona desert and I have quite literally never touched it.

    That said I also have a raceface and a syncros headset that have weathered their own share of storms without any help from me.
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  13. #13
    Jesus Freak
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    I like King stuff but tend to opt for the more affordable Cane Creek Solos headset or the new 110 which is just sexy IMHO. I can't compare or say which is better between the King and Creek but I will say that my Solos headset is well made, operates smooth, comes in cool kid colors, and I think it also has a 10 year warranty(if memory serves). The 110 at canecreek.com says it has, you guessed it, a 110 year warranty.

    Just buy what you like

  14. #14
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    When you measure purely by price you get the wrong answer. Try working it out on $/mile and they look worthwhile.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  15. #15
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    Fortunately, I don't have to ride in extreme weather conditions. But where King products really excel is in the extremes. Riders will tell you that King rear hubs have performed flawlessly where others have seized up in freezing temperatures.

    I neglected my King classic hubs for about 8 years. On a whim, I finally decided to open up the drive shell, flushed out all the black gunk, greased the bearings, and will probably neglect it for another 8 years. They literally feel the same as the day I bought them.

  16. #16
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    re: frozen hubs

    Quote Originally Posted by tburger
    Fortunately, I don't have to ride in extreme weather conditions. But where King products really excel is in the extremes. Riders will tell you that King rear hubs have performed flawlessly where others have seized up in freezing temperatures.

    I neglected my King classic hubs for about 8 years. On a whim, I finally decided to open up the drive shell, flushed out all the black gunk, greased the bearings, and will probably neglect it for another 8 years. They literally feel the same as the day I bought them.
    Interesting you mentioned extremes. Here's a short King hub story.

    Several years ago a few of us drove up to ride the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon. I think it was January or February. Anyway the temp at the trailhead was well below freezing (IIRC it was 19 degrees). Somebody's King hub freewheeled in both directions. They spent the day waiting in the car. Upon arriving home, they looked King up online and discovered that King makes a special hub lubricant for use in sub-freezing temps.

    I believe the (non)rider was Mountain Larry of the Disciples of Dirt, and Mudflaps was supportive enough to keep her (yes, Mountain Larry is a girl) company while she waited in the car. Either that or the other way around, company keepingwise.

    I have also been present on sub-freezing rides when a splash of urine was enough to thaw equipment enough to keep riding.

    Okay... I said it would be a short story.

    --Sparty

    P.S. FWIW I was also riding a King hub that day... mine worked fine.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus
    Interesting you mentioned extremes. Here's a short King hub story.

    Several years ago a few of us drove up to ride the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon. I think it was January or February. Anyway the temp at the trailhead was well below freezing (IIRC it was 19 degrees). Somebody's King hub freewheeled in both directions. They spent the day waiting in the car. Upon arriving home, they looked King up online and discovered that King makes a special hub lubricant for use in sub-freezing temps.

    I believe the (non)rider was Mountain Larry of the Disciples of Dirt, and Mudflaps was supportive enough to keep her (yes, Mountain Larry is a girl) company while she waited in the car. Either that or the other way around, company keepingwise.

    I have also been present on sub-freezing rides when a splash of urine was enough to thaw equipment enough to keep riding.

    Okay... I said it would be a short story.

    --Sparty

    P.S. FWIW I was also riding a King hub that day... mine worked fine.
    I remember that ride. 17 degrees F it was.
    It was my hub that freewheeled in both directions and ML hung out with me. We went for a hike if memory serves.
    I was on a beautiful sub 20 degree ride at Whypass two winters ago with Coonskins and Mountain Larry, where Coonskins used the urine anti-freeze trick for his hub. I also seem to remember a time in our old-old winter zone where you used your-ine to clear a frozen (or was it just muddy?) derailleur. Justin & I were laughing so hard we could hardly get back on the bikes.

    Flaps

  18. #18
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    If anyone finds a component manufacturer who advocates peeing on their equipment to keep it working in freezing weather, please send me the link so I can print it out, blow it up, frame it, and hang it on my bathroom wall. This is hilarious! I almost want to go out and find some freezing weather just so I could have a story to tell my friends.
    Just keep spinning.

  19. #19
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    I never would have considered dropping the money on a King headset. The one I have came free with an original Bomber fork in '98. Now that I've been on it for 9 flawless years, I actually would consider buying one.

    Of course, it's still a ton of cash, and plenty of people talk about other headsets at 1/3 the cost that also last for 10 years.

    US made and enviro-friendly are very good reasons to choose a product.
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  20. #20
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    In the years just before I got my first King HS, I went through a Shimano XT headset every 6 months to a year (this was in the days before suspension forks, and I am making a supposition that rigid is harder on headsets). My first King HS went seven years before I had to send it back to King for water damage repair, when they put in new bearings under warranty. The winters in Oregon are rather hard on bearing sets of any sort.

    Doing the math on cost of an XT vs. King headset at that time was a no-brainer. The King lasts effectively forever, let's say 10 years, and the XT was lasting 6 months. The price of the King was approximately 3 times the XT price.
    King = 100
    XT = 35
    meaning the King has 3 time the (price)
    Time factors in as follows:
    King = 10 yr
    XT = 0.5yr
    meaning the King lasts 20 times as long (life)
    Now for the clincher
    Dividing price by life 3/20 = 0.15, or the cost of the King was 15% of the numerous XTs I would have had to buy in ten years

    This was my experience only, and I know that since that time there have been many other nice headsets introduced that are all chasing the King quality standard, and some of them may have achieved it, but I know exactly what I'm getting when I buy a King headset, and will do so again. I also appreciate their ethics.

    Their hubs OTOH, are so noisy and so steeply priced that I will be looking for something quieter for my next bike.

    Flaps
    Last edited by Mudflaps; 12-01-2007 at 06:35 PM. Reason: Sent too soon

  21. #21
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    I put a King headset on my Ferrous along with a rear hub. I'm hoping the headset last as long as I think it will. The hub will last plenty long and I hope it remains as noisy years from now as they day I open the box from King. There's been plenty of races were competitors have commented afterwards they new I was behind then and closing because they could hear the King. *spin spin spin coast spin spin spin coast spin spin spin spin coast
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  22. #22
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    Amen Brother!

    Quote Originally Posted by 11 Bravo
    Trying to justify cost is an ugly thing in my opinion. How do you justify the cost of a SS bike that cost a couple thousand bucks? My answer is that you don't. At that level you buy things because you want them. Is a bike that cost 2K THAT much better than one that cost 1K?

    I buy Chris King stuff because I want to. It is top quality stuff. You always see people saying "It is just as good as a King but costs less". What does just as good mean? I suspect it means different things to different people. A big deal to me is that King makes their stuff in the U.S.A and runs a very environmentally friendly company. Does saving a few bucks on a part that comes from a no human rights polluter nation make it just as good? Not in my book.

    I look at the quality of the part. I look at the company and how they conduct themselves. What kinds of things they do and what they don't do, what type of activism and causes do they support (if any). If I like the company and the product they make I will buy it.

    Figure out what is important to you and buy what you want.

    Couldn't agree more!

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