Chris King's Noble Vision: Products Near Perfection and Earth-Friendly Manufacturing

May 21, 2012
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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A lot has been said about Chris King Precision Components: bicycle jewelry... precision defined…gorgeous, but so expensive…worth every penny…too expensive...environmentally responsible…finicky - you need proprietary tools to service them… Some people love them; some people think they are nothing but hype. What’s the real story?

Words and Photos: Colin Meagher



Chris King: The Turning Point

In the '70s, a sometime bike builder and machinist in Santa Barbara, California, named Chris King sought to find a better path. It was the era of flower power and free love. Mountain Bikes didn’t yet exist. Road biking fandom was innocent of the drug-fueled scandals of today. And bicycle headsets pretty much sucked.

Chris grew up well entrenched in that hippy culture. “California was full of hippies and tree hugger types. I was just one of those guys,” stated Chris, as we discussed his formative years in becoming the industry icon that he is now.

All of this dedication is the result of the innovation of one man Chris King. You can find a middle ground in becoming more technologically advanced as a race and a species. You just need to figure out how to not destroy your world at the same time that you are advancing like that. I figured well I should be able to find some kind of middle ground I could pursue that while having some elements that could be considered destroying things would at the same time be considered as contributing to our advancement as a race . And ultimately bicycles made a lot of sense super efficient and yes it s technology but its one of the smallest environmental footprints that you can imagine as efficient transportation.
  Chris King: "You can find a middle ground in becoming more technologically advanced as a race and a species. You just need to figure out how to not destroy your world at the same time that you are advancing like that. I figured, well, I should be able to find some kind of middle ground I could pursue that, while having some elements that could be considered destroying things, would at the same time be considered as contributing to our advancement (as a race). And ultimately bicycles made a lot of sense: super efficient, and yes, it's technology, but its one of the smallest (environmental) footprints that you can imagine as efficient transportation."


At this time, Chris was working to pay the bills, welding up a few frames to feed his bicycle centric passion, and (of course) riding bikes. In his spare time, he’d tinker with bits of bikes in the machine shop, and share those bits with his fellows at the “pro” bike shop in Santa Barbara. A then well established individual in that shop who was normally disinterested in Chris’ bits finally took aside this young Chris King and offered him a piece of what is now sage advice:

bigquotesIf you really wanted to make something cool, you'd make a better headset.

He then went on to explain what was wrong with current designs, and off Chris went.

“We tested one of the early ones on a guy who raced in Europe all summer. He deliberately rode it loose almost the entire season,” recalled Chris when I toured the Chris King facility this past February. “When he got back, we tightened it up, and it was perfect. Mind you, this was in an era when guys who rode a lot would go through a headset a month. On the road, of course—mountain bikes didn’t exist yet. We were all blown away.”

This simple display at Chris King s desk marks the humble beginnings and the current place in bicylce history for Chris King an original headset a current headset and a piece of the Camino Cielo roadway in Santa Barbara the original home for Chris King and the namesake for his line of bicylces. The black headset on this stand was used by Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.
  A simple display at Chris King's desk marks the humble beginnings and the current place in bicycle history for Chris King: an original headset, a current headset, and a piece of the Camino Cielo roadway in Santa Barbara, the original home for Chris King, and the namesake for his line of bicylces. The black headset on this stand was used by Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.


Baby Steps, Dumb Luck, and the Advent of the Mountain Bike

How did King do it? By his own admission, he ‘stumbled’ into it. Chris worked in a medical tool manufacturing facility. Some of those surgical devices relied on bearing assemblies, and since they were designed for surgical procedures, they required absolute precision. However, the process of continually sanitizing the devices during surgical procedures would essentially “kill” the device by spoiling the grease in its moving parts, requiring it to be sent in for service. As luck would have it, the bearings cast off from the warranty service department’s repairs were “about the right size for a headset.” And since the surgical sanitization procedure killed off the lubrication, but not the bearings, Chris had a ready supply of cast off surgical grade cartridge ball bearings to work his magic with.

That barstock leaves as a piece of bicycle jewelry.
  Headset cups fresh from the Anodizer await assembly at Chris King's modern factory.


Consider that the bearing assemblies of the time used absolute crap for material. If it had been wine, it’d have come in a leaky box that even your most down trodden wino’d pass on. Even the good stuff of the time—the then revered Campagnolo steel-race headset, while mechanically sound, was prone to failure within a season for the simple reason that the materials were not hardened enough to withstand the rigors that cycling placed on them. Now, all of the sudden, Chris was making a headset that was a vintage wine of the finest quality. Because his was made using surgical grade material that was hardened all the way through: crème de la crème. And then some. Once word of Chris’ incredibly durable headset trickled out, demand—and a very limited production—followed.

And then along came the mountain bike. Many cyclists snubbed this upstart way of approaching two-wheeled transport, but a fair number of Chris’ customers were game to give it a go. But the cheap headsets of the era would literally last a day or so “klunking” on the local fire roads. It was only a matter of time before the riders in the know were pulling their King headsets from their road bikes to place in their new “mountain” bikes. And the legend began.

Manufacturing Should Not Destroy in Order to Create

Chris King went into business making headsets and doing contract machining in 1976. It wasn’t overnight success, and King was forced to step away from his first love of building bike frames (since resurrected with the Cielo line of craft Road, CX and Mountain Bikes); but in time, he was able to focus on manufacturing only cycling components. The best cycling components he could - but with an ethic behind them.

bigquotesManufacturing isn't just about making the very best final product; it's about responsible management of the process through every step. - Credo espoused on the King website

In a nutshell, the Chris King credo turns industrial manufacturing on its head. It is manufacturing with a conscience, with an eye towards sustainability. Heavy industry is typically anything but that. It is creation that comes with a heavy dose of destruction. But King Components does its best to mitigate that destruction where and whenever possible during the manufacturing process and always with an eye towards a greater good.

At the end of the day it s not only the human touch that defines Chris King s approach to manufacturing his components but the responsibility for that manufacturing process. Every piece made creates waste metal and waste cutting fluid - in the image pictured here steel shavings called chips and soy oil. King uses sustainably grown domestic soy oil exclusively as a cutting fluid and as lubrication for the machines in his factory. But this fluid coats each and every chip making them difficult to recycle.
  At the end of the day, it's not only the human touch that defines Chris King's approach to manufacturing his components, but the responsibility for that manufacturing process. Every piece made creates waste metal and waste cutting fluid - in the image pictured here, steel shavings (called chips) and soy oil. King uses sustainably grown domestic soy oil exclusively as a cutting fluid and as lubrication for the machines in his factory. But this fluid coats each and every chip, making them difficult to recycle.


“Doing this whole manufacturing thing… I figured ‘this kind of stuff goes on.’ You can either avoid doing it and be idealistic to that point, or you can say ‘I’m gonna find a better way to do that’,” mused King. “Doing it with a conscience, right? Knowing that I worked well with my hands and knowing that I worked well with this kind of (sustainable) thinking… I made that choice to pursue that [sustainable manufacturing]. I just looked at it with the thought that, ‘this comes to me easily, so why not pursue it? But let’s find a path through it that makes sense’."

Chip recycler
  Recycling metal chips a simple economic necessity in an industry that "wastes" so much material in process of creation. But dirty chips are much, much harder to recycle. At King, all remnant chips are collected, placed into appropriately labeled bins (steel, ti, aluminum) and then subjected to the tender mercies of 400 tons of force from a hydraulic press that squeezes nearly all the remnant soy oil from the chips and forms them into the infamous King "pucks." The compressed biscuits allow the metals to be recycled as a higher grade than would loose chips.


This is the ethic that makes King products so unique. Yes, his components are manufactured with precision in mind: every part uses the best materials possible and they are touched by hand multiple times during the creation process, making for an insane level of quality and control. The key, though, is that every part is created with the concept of sustainability in mind: all waste manufacturing materials are recycled to a degree virtually unheard of in industrial manufacturing—98% of his waste lubrication is reclaimed and re-used; waste water enters the sewer system nearly drinkable. Each step along the way allows for creation of an end product that, if properly maintained, will last the lifetime of a bike or more, thus creating an even smaller footprint than a similar but ‘disposable’ component that needs to be replaced constantly.

Ethical, Expensive - and Economical?

Pure and simple, King’s approach to manufacturing costs money up front. But in the long run, it actually costs less, both to your wallet and to the environment. How? Do the math: on the one hand, you can purchase one headset that costs $130 or so retail and lasts 10 years or more if properly maintained. Usually more. Or you can purchase a $30 headset that lasts for a year or less. Yes that’s $130 up front, but over the course of five years of $30 headsets, it’s a net savings financially as well as significantly less waste material entering the environment. Even if you don’t really care about the environment, you can’t argue with the economic savings of purchasing one component one time vs. multiple times.

These pucks then sit until the remaining soy oil drains out of them. This allows for King to not only recover 98 of the manufactuing oil but that soy oil is then filtered clarified and sent back out for re-use in King s machines. It s not a perfect system but darn near. It takes more effort but it reduces King s environmental footprint considerably. Additionally these clean pucks of metal have a higher recycling value as there is less burn off in the recycling process than there would otherwise be without the puck system. This in turn also allows the material to be re-used at a higher grade than it would be without the puck system adding more life to the material before it ultimately becomes so degraded as to be unusable. Manufacturing is not by it s nature a
  King recovers 98% of the soy manufacturing oil, which is then filtered, clarified, and sent back out for re-use in King's CNC machines. It's not a perfect system, but darn near and it reduces King's environmental footprint considerably.


Sustainability. Quality. Precision. Conscience. This then, is Chris King. It is not only each and every component that bears the name Chris King, it is also each and every person putting time in at the former coffee roasting house that now houses Chris King Precision Components and Cielo Bicycles. And King's ethos extends to his employees as well. Over the course of 2011, King employees commuted to work 70% of the time by bicycle. And there's a readily available reason to ride in: riding miles for cafe credit and vacation days.

"Riding miles are determined by how far away you live and what mode of transportation you are taking. I live 6 miles away and get $4 a day in cafe credits when I ride to work," stated Dylan VanWheelden, CK's PR point man. "Additionally, twice a year, CK has a month long commuter challenge that rewards employees with time off based on a percentage of the commuting they do by bike. Chris gave away almost $28k in 2011 in cafe credits, and awarded 230 paid days off in return for commuting by bicycle."

Cafe credit for commuting is a big carrot on a short stick. He employs two chefs Robert McSpadden and Brittany Hazlett - as in the real deal went to culinary school kind of chef - to make affordable healthy and downright dee-li-cious meals for staff. Here we see Robert dishing out bacon wrapped pork tenderloin medallions served with oven roasted potatoes and steamed seasonal veggies tossed in a vinaigrette. And it is Portland after all so full vegan options to the menu too. The cost of one of these gourmet creations 5. Yeah that s right 5.
  Cafe credit for commuting is a big carrot on a short stick. He employs two chefs (Robert McSpadden and Brittany Hazlett) - as in the real deal, went to culinary school kind of chef - to make affordable, healthy, and downright dee-li-cious meals for staff. Here we see Robert dishing out bacon wrapped pork tenderloin medallions, served with oven roasted potatoes and steamed seasonal veggies tossed in a vinaigrette. And it is Portland after all, so full vegan options to the menu, too. The cost of one of these gourmet creations? $5. Yeah, that's right, $5.


“I believe that you can’t just isolate yourself away on some commune,” states Chris in a measured tone. “The ‘let’s just live off the land mentality’ - that was pretty popular back when I started. That’s what a lot of them [hippies] did. But the rest of the world goes on around you. And it’s raining pollutants onto your compound when that happens. So what do you do? You gotta work with the system if you want to effect a change. And this,” he says, gesturing at the factory surrounding him, “is the result of that thinking.”




Follow a Chris King Hub From Bar Stock to Final Assembly

We followed the life-cycle of a Chris King hub from its origin from a length of aluminum bar, through final assembly at the factory. The process moves along with quiet surety and there are quality-control checks at every step along the way. Entire batches of finished parts have been rejected in the past simply because the color of the anodizing was not a correct match. Over the top? Perhaps, but CK has never wavered from his best-or-nothing approach to manufacturing. As a result, King makes almost every part of his hubs and headsets in house - even some of the bearing assemblies.

The main floor of the King facility lathes CNC machines...and a floor damn near clean enough to eat off. Not what you d expect in a manufacturing facility but CK takes pride in a clean and orderly work environment.
  The main floor of the King facility: lathes, CNC machines...and a floor damn near clean enough to eat off of. Not what you'd expect in a manufacturing facility, but CK takes pride in a clean and orderly work environment.

Every piece that leaves the Chris King Facility enters as either steel aluminum or titatnium bar stock. This barstock is sourced only from North American mills with verified responsible manufacturing and labor practices.
  Every piece that leaves the Chris King Facility enters as either steel, aluminum or titatnium bar stock. This bar stock is sourced only from North American mills with verified responsible manufacturing and labor practices.

Raw bar stock has to first be cut down into the proper sized pieces before it can be fed into the ravanous CNC machines and lathes that dot the main floor at Chris King HQ. Sustainably produced domestic soy oil is used as a lubrication fluid for the machines as well as cutting fluid for all steps of the manufacturing process.
  Raw bar stock has to first be cut down into the proper sized pieces before it can be fed into the ravanous CNC machines and lathes that dot the main floor at Chris King HQ. Sustainably produced domestic soy oil is used as a lubrication fluid for the machines as well as cutting fluid for all steps of the manufacturing process.

The guts of a CK CNC machine.
  The guts of a CK CNC machine.

A hubshell mounted and spinning on a CNC machine for shaping.
  A hubshell mounted and spinning on a CNC machine for shaping.

Precision is part of every step--as is the human touch. Here an axle is skimmed down to it s exact size.
   Precision is part of every step--as is the human touch. Here an axle is skimmed down to it's exact size.

As mentioned in the previous image each hubshell sees about 20 minutes of hand-polishing before going to anodyzing. What most people don t realize is that every single piece that comes out of Chris King sees that same degree of hand finish and attention to detail. As a matter of fact every employee - from machinists to administration assistants - spends about two weeks during training learning the key processes of how Chris King makes their components.
  As mentioned in the previous image, each hubshell sees about 20 minutes of hand-polishing before going to anodizing. What most people don't realize is that every single piece that comes out of Chris King sees that same degree of hand finish and attention to detail. As a matter of fact, every employee - from machinists to administration assistants - spends about two weeks during training learning the key processes of how Chris King makes their components.

Chris King componenets have a reputation for precision quality and a hefty price tag. There s a reason for that expense too... Like a good chef King sources only the best ingrediants high grade everything goes into the process--including people. Especially people because every single piece is touched by hand every step of the way. This simple polished hubshell displayed by John Howe for example represents 20 minutes of sweat equity on a polishing wheel.
  Chris King components have a reputation for precision, quality, and a hefty price tag. There's a reason for that expense, too... Like a good chef, King sources only the best ingredients: high grade everything goes into the process - including people. Especially people, because every single piece is touched by hand every step of the way. This simple polished hubshell displayed by John Howe, for example, represents 20 minutes of sweat equity on a polishing wheel.

Once a piece is polished it is re-inspected for imperfections. Again when you buy a Chris King part you are paying a premium for a reason attention to detail on a level that is seldomly seen in today s industrialized world.
  Once a piece is polished, it is re-inspected for imperfections. Again, when you buy a Chris King part, you are paying a premium for a reason: attention to detail on a level that is seldomly seen in today's industrialized world.

Blue jewelry freshly anodized disc hubshells in queu for laser etching. Anodizing is currently the only process that CK outsources to one of two local companies . Anodizing is not an environmentally friendly process but CK is currently working on bringing that process back in-house in order to utilize a closed process to limit environmental harm.
  Blue jewelry: freshly anodized disc hubshells in queu for laser etching. Anodizing is currently the only process that CK outsources (to one of two local companies).

Every Hubshell--every single one--is measured by hand before assembly. One more Q and C step that makes the end product so damn good.
  Every Hubshell - every single one - is measured by hand before assembly. One more quality-control step that makes the end product so damn good.

Glen Going channeling Jerry Garcia as he inspects a hubshell load for proper alignment before racking it into the laser etcher.
  Glen Goin channeling Jerry Garcia as he inspects a hubshell load for proper alignment before racking it into the laser etcher.

The magic spark of laser etching dances across headset cups.
  The magic spark of laser etching dances across headset cups.

Ready for assembly Hubshells waiting for axles.
  Ready for assembly: Hubshells waiting for axles.

Pick an axle...any axle... Rear axles for rear hubs from 135 x 9mm QR to 150 thru axles. Basically for disc hubs we make a single speed 135 QR 135 Thru 142 Thru and 150 Thru. The 135 s and 142 are all interchangeable with a quick one bolt axle swap. -Dylan VanWeelden PR point man for King Cycles.
  Pick an axle...any axle... Rear axles for rear hubs from 135 x 9mm QR to 150 thru axles. "Basically, for disc hubs we make a single speed, 135 QR, 135 Thru, 142 Thru and 150 Thru. The 135's and 142 are all interchangeable with a quick one bolt axle swap." -Dylan VanWeelden PR point man for King Cycles.

The heart and soul of a Chris King rear hub - the patented ring drive system. This is what not only makes the bitchin angry bees sound of a King hub available on line as a ringtone at http chrisking.com hubs but also allows for what is darn near an instantaneous engagement of force to the drive train when a rider stomps on the pedals.
  The heart and soul of a Chris King rear hub - the patented ring drive system. The spiral draws the spring-loaded star ratchet freehub clutch together as pedaling torque is applied. Ring drive is what makes the bitchin' angry bees sound of a King hub (available on line as a ringtone at http://chrisking.com/hubs) and also allows for what is darn near an instantaneous engagement of force to the drive train when a rider stomps on the pedals.

Axle assembly.
  Axle assembly

The magic in the matrix Precision hardened bearings.
  The magic in the matrix: Precision, hardened bearings.

Bearings being loaded into the ball dropper used for loading bearing assemblies.
  Bearings being loaded into the ball dropper used for loading bearing assemblies.

Installation of an axle.
  Installation of an axle.

Rear Hub final assembly pressing the axles into place.
  Description: Rear Hub final assembly: pressing the axles into place.

This is one of the last stops in the assembly line for a hub installing and tightening the axle.
  This is one of the last stops in the assembly line for a hub: installing and tightening the axle.


The guts of the finished product. How many hands touched this beauty before final assembly No way really to tell. But more than a few that s for sure -Dylan VanWheelden
  The guts of the finished product showing the Ring Drive mechanism. How many hands touched this beauty before final assembly? "No way, really to tell. But more than a few, that's for sure!" -Dylan VanWheelden




King's Search for a Better Bottom Bracket

Chris King designed and produced a bottom bracket to the same high standards of his headsets, but the square-taper design was obsolete as soon as it was finalized. Along came the Octalink system from Shimano and the competing ISIS system from everyone else. That effectively tabled the creation of a King BB for the simple reason that King would have had to make two different bottom brackets from the ground up that met his standards. However, the arrival of the external BB and its oversize, tubular axle fit within King's ethos as a single BB design hat could be used to match up with Shimano and SRAM standards via an adaptor.

Ahh the mythical Chris King Bottom bracket. How many years was this particular item in development This early rendition lives on Chris personal 1992 Yeti Arc on view in the hallway leading from reception back to the bike room. Chris actually rode this up until 2008--it still turns butter smooth. This was a square taper design as soon as it was finalized to be up to King standards along came the Octalink system from Shimano and the competing ISIS system from everyone else. That effectively tabled the creation of a King BB for the simple reason that King would have had to make two different bottom brackets from the ground up that met his standards. However the arrival of the outboard BB fit within King s ethos as a single BB design could be used to match up with Shimano and SRAM standards via an adaptor.
  Ahh, the mythical Chris King Bottom bracket. How many years was this particular item in development? This early rendition lives on Chris' personal 1992 Yeti Arc, on view in the hallway leading from reception back to the bike room. Chris actually rode this up until 2008--it still turns butter smooth.

King BB bearings come with a five year warranty. Yes they are that good.
  King BB bearings come with a five year warranty. Yes, they are that good.

Servicability on a King BB is a breeze with the proper tools. There have been other lube systems that have allowed a BB to be serviced but the King BB takes it up a notch. Gone is the easily reached port for a grease gun on the outside of the BB cup that other systems have used. Yes it was easy to get to but by it s nature it was also a place for contaminants to enter and it made for inequal distribution of replacement lubrication. The King approach replaces that old port with a grease gun attachement shown that pushes back the lip seal inside the BB assembly. This allows for a clean and even flow of fresh grease to push out the contaminants. Yes it adds a step over the port system--the removal of the cranks but the re-lube process is more thorough this way ensuring a longer life for the component. Properly maintained a King outboard BB should easily outlast the 5 year warranty.
  Servicability on a King BB is a breeze with the proper tools. There have been other lube systems that have allowed a BB to be serviced; but the King BB takes it up a notch. Gone is the easily reached port for a grease gun on the outside of the BB cup that other systems have used. Yes, it was easy to get to, but by it's nature, it was also a place for contaminants to enter and it made for inequal distribution of replacement lubrication. The King approach replaces that old port with a grease gun attachement (shown) that pushes back the lip seal inside the BB assembly. This allows for a clean and even flow of fresh grease to push out the contaminants. Yes, it adds a step over the port system--the removal of the cranks; but the re-lube process is more thorough this way, ensuring a longer life for the component. Properly maintained, a King outboard BB should easily outlast the 5 year warranty.

Genuine unicorn horn Chris King Ceramic Ball Bearings. A 4 inch by 4 inch dish layered three deep in these babies will set you back about 2000USD. Ground unicorn horn indeed. They can be found in the ceramic bottom bracket.
  Genuine unicorn horn: Chris King Ceramic Ball Bearings. A four by four-inch dish layered three deep in these babies will set you back about $2000USD. Ground unicorn horn, indeed. They are a bottom bracket option.




End of the Line at the CK Factory

With worldwide demand, CK has yet to need an advertising program, but as you may expect, King's no compromise ethos continues from the first slice of bar stock through shipping and receiving, where customers can mix and match colors and options - and in rare cases, obtain custom one-off treatments if the project warrants such extravagance.

When you place that order for a King headset BB or hub rest assured that at the other end of the line Killian Funk--or another of the warehouse employees--will make certain your order goes out the door asap. Start to finish purchasing something from Chris King means starting a process that is powered by human ingenuity and with a personal touch that is increasingly difficult to find in an industrial age.
  When you place that order for a King headset, BB or hub, rest assured that at the other end of the line, Killian Funk - or another of the warehouse employees - will make certain your order goes out the door asap. Start to finish, purchasing something from Chris King means starting a process that is powered by human ingenuity and with a personal touch that is increasingly difficult to find in an industrial age.

Cherry picking the colors allows for individual expression vs purchasing pre-packaged component. Not many manufacturers allow that sort of freedom of choice to each and every customer out there. But King does.
  Cherry picking the colors allows for individual expression vs purchasing pre-packaged component. Not many manufacturers allow that sort of freedom of choice to each and every customer out there. But King does.

Again every Chris King component is assembled checked and packaged by hand.
  Again, every Chris King component is assembled, checked, and packaged by hand.

This special white treatment on this headset was a one off for a Cielo show bike for the North American Handbuilt Bike Show this past spring and is not available for the public. Unless you buy the bike. but it underscores the fact that Chris King components are jewelry for the finest craft bikes available...
   This special white treatment on this headset was a 'one off' for a Cielo show bike for the North American Handbuilt Bike Show this past spring and is not available for the public. Unless you buy the bike - but it underscores the fact that Chris King components are jewelry for the finest craft bikes available...

Greg Minnaar - Santa Cruz Syndicate uses King Hubs and Headsets
  ...And King components are also ammunition for winning races at the highest level of competition under the most brutal conditions imaginable. (Greg Minnaar training at Pietermaritzburg this past March; Santa Cruz Syndicate uses King Hubs and Headsets).
Must Read This Week

199 Comments

  • + 136
 Cool stuff! If I lived in US, I would definitely support them, but since I'm a Euro I support Hope. Local production FTW! You can pay a larger sum for something made by a Joe in your country, giving him a job, He and his employer will pay taxes and spend those earned money in your country. You can also choose to pay less for something made in Asia + for Joe's unemployment from your taxes - choice is yours. So some of those taxes that could go for health care, public investments will instead go for poor Joe that could have a happier life - it is as simple as that. Making things localy gives you also a better check on quality so it's not just about holistic approach to life.

I wonder if they could talk a bit more about environemntal concerns, who are their suppliers, do they use low-energy consumption shipping - I am all for hearing such marketing stuff rather than meaningless tech BS. I can pay more for company that does things in this way even though doing things right, usualy lowers costs, at least for bigger companies.
  • + 28
 Very well said Salute
  • + 0
 i cant agreed more,so tru
  • + 12
 Can't fault that logic. Though I can't help but to "support" both Hope and King. Wink
  • + 1
 after a few headsets.. including a Ti one.. i gave up on king.. mates of my ride them without problems.. i had nothing but..
and for 2 bearings.. i still think they are a bit overpriced...
but to see how it rolls down there.. was pretty nice to see,.. Salute
  • + 12
 hummm...and their meal looks delicious.....
  • + 12
 There is a problem with that logic: if we were all meant to live making such choices, to a high probability, we could not afford even half of the stuff we own today (is that a bad thing to happen, who knows?) Almost everyone's dream is owning a house, a car or two, a computer, a smart-phone, take holidays in some exotic place once a year, skiing in winter, having few hobbies - I am affraid without "offshoring" it would not be possible. We Westeners always had a new land to exploit, but it is over soon, Chinese are taking over Africa, soon they will have the same dreams as we do, their wages will go up and that's fair - but it's a planet, a physical limited space... Can we do something about it? We can press the brake lever a bit for start...
  • + 11
 I bought a Hope headset but after reading that wished I had bought a Chris King. They make every other CNC manufacturer look bad with their more sustainable manufacturing techniques and attention to detail. This is the most impressive write-up on a company I've ever seen on here, and Chris King deserves it. Hopefully this will motivate other manufacturers to take a look at what they are doing and take some steps to not be so wastefull and polluting in their processes.
  • + 6
 But Hope does great stuff too, I assume that in a very similar way
  • + 3
 Do that kind of article with Hope!

And in general, MOAR OF THIS! Smile
  • + 7
 Never realised CK went to that much effort when it comes to doing the right thing by their employees, the community and the environment. Seeing that, I'm glad I've supported this great company for so many years. Now, their headsets, hubs and BB's adorn just about all my bikes. I wish we had manufacturers like that down under..
  • + 3
 I'm with WAKI. Good comment WAKI.
  • + 4
 I agree wholly with the above comments. I support both Hope and Chris King continually. Although, after reading this I have to give King extra credit for their attention to detail, sustainability, and overall just brilliant company structure. How awesome is that 'ride for cafe credit' program?
  • + 2
 @Ploutre

They did, but it was a video tour of Hope instead of text and photos.
  • + 3
 I've ridden both King and Hope hubs. Extremely happy with both in terms of performance as well as the sound and bling factor! no hate in either direction here. LOVE both companies.
  • + 0
 Chris King have a fantastic environmental record for their manufacturing processes, and are well known for the ethical way their employees are treated

but sad to say, I have always had poor results with their No-Threadset (headset), both for myself and for MTB customers here in the UK, and I switched back to using cheaper FSA headset with 0% problems!

Perhaps, now that the Dia Compe A-Headset patent has expired, and King have switched to using a floating compression ring (like most headsets) their legendary tolerances and bearing quality will survive longer than the short month I got out of both my 2 King headsets, no joy with the UK Distrib. "warranty department" either and both headset pressed using professional Park headset press tools Frown
  • + 1
 @mtaero yeah I remember but I would like one with that much details, pictures, ... Smile

And CK or Hope are definitely on my to-buy list for the headset and bb (I have some Reverse hubs, pretty good stuff Smile )
  • + 1
 I've had a CK headset for just over 4 years now on my downhill bike, never ever had a problem with it, bearings still feel as good as when i first put the headset on! Unreal quality in CK products, and the the finish on them is just incredible.

Now

Would someone like to give me a large some of money for a set of hubs? Razz
  • - 2
 This article has definetly improved my opinion of Chris King components, The only thing that bugs be is that they dont anodize their components in pairs. I9 make all of their hubs as pairs because anodizing is an inexact process and it ensures the colors are exactly the same. If you're gonna drop the big bucks on CK it'd be nice to know you're getting perfectly matching hubs. They're still pretty sweet though.
  • + 5
 @mretard

DH bike - do you mean dual crown forks?

not seen this problem on bikes with dual crown forks because the leverage of the fork onto the frame's headtube is shared by the stanchions running through both crowns

its single-crown forks where the CK headset has really suffered, not for "wheels on the ground" XC riders, but more aggressive all-mtn and freeriders running 150-180mm single crown forks

this problem with the older CK top cap (using an integrated compression wedge and "o" ring) is well documented by real world riders - headset will not stay tight, constantly working loose, making clicking or knocking noises, starts wearing a deep groove into the fork steerer tube where the o ring sits on the headset top cap

and because the headset is constantly coming loose, the bearings start to take damage, as happened with both my CK headsets within a month of ownership


as I previously said, now the Dia Compe patent has lapsed, CK are now selling their headset with a re-designed top cap so hopefully this serious issue has gone away....but as all the new headset standards came onto the market and CK were slow to react, perhaps the market for CK headset is smaller than ever?
  • + 1
 @Nobble

this is good information

I have seen this with Hope Pro II hubs, where the front and rear in "blue" are not a matched shade, because as you said, anodising is not exact unless the components are anodised in the same batch

there is nothing worse than custom building a "colour co-ordinated" bike with anodised parts, and then realised they are all "slightly" different shades of the same colour (i.e. red, blue or gold) because the human eye is very sensitive to subtle changes in colour shade
  • + 1
 I'm sure there was an article about Hope on PB too. And yes, everything they do is very similar to this - all assembled by hand. And for production they use same machines that Mclaren (British supercar maker) uses on their factory. This bit stuck on my mind and it is pretty impressive.
  • + 1
 Does this feel like a glorified advertisement to anyone else? I mean its great with the eco-friendly stuff, and I especially appreciate the 'all fair trade' stuff, but god this felt like a marketing campaign.
  • + 3
 Though I think CK is setting an excellent example of environmental stewardship in his business I had to laugh a little at this line:

"And ultimately bicycles made a lot of sense: super efficient, and yes, it's technology, but its one of the smallest (environmental) footprints that you can imagine as efficient transportation."

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the majority of CK products are NOT put on bicycles that are primarily used as commuters. Having a blingy commmuter is great if you have a safe place to lock it up, but if I buy one it will have to be a runofthemill klunker that won't attract theives.

CK parts are usually put on expensive competition or recreational bikes and recreational cycling (road and mtb), while better than say motocross, is not all that environmentally friendly. Many of us can't bike to trail systems, go on exotic cycling vactions, and fall into the "more, more, more" mindset when purchasing new parts. None of that is environmentally friendly.

Kudos to CK and Co. for doing an outstanding job, but I'm not going to label myself an environmentalist because I'm a cyclist or because I buy CK products.
  • + 1
 valtra - I think you are throwing few things into one basket
Nr 1 buying a product made localy like Chris King or Straitline is a good thing to do in many ways
Nr 2 making certain customer choices expresses someones personality

In one shot you can buy something to do a good thing, to feel better about yourself, to show off. You decide why you do, what mainstream thinks about it - who gives a fk?! Just do the right thing and leave it there, if someone buys superstar hub - who gives fk?

People do fall into the logic that buying organic food, fair trade, local produced hubs, clothes, makes them moral individuals. I also believe so to some extent, but there is a certain limit to which you take those things and one of my favourite writers Raj Patel, shows that limit by this example: You really can feel great about buying a fairtrade tea in a supermarket instead of corporate Lipton tea.

Nr1 - supermarket in the way it operates is the total opposite of fair trade
Nr2 - fairtrade is better than slavery but!There are situations like: you go to India to a tea plantation with workers coming from two villages - one fair trade, one with slaverish wages. This cash is all good to them, when the company owning the field pumps all water from their wells to irigate plantation and people have almost nothing to drink so they buy bottled water.
  • + 1
 I guess I got kinda sidetracked. What I meant to outline from that quotation is how I found it funny (ironic?) that Chris King originally got into the cycling business because he saw it as an environmentally-friendly and efficient mode of transportation, but now his products are mainly used for recreational/competition use instead of getting around. Having said that, I suppose that if you are going to damage the environment, minimizing that damage by buying CK is the right thing to do.

I agree with everything you posted and I'm glad you put a lot of stress on buying local/Made in Your Own Country.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns and @valtra

you both raise good points about the environmental issues

what would be REALLY interesting would be a factory tour of the typical Asian bicycle plant, their manufacturing footprint / environmental waste and the conditions their workforce are employed under

perhaps not the highest end manufacturers in Taiwan but an average plant in China, Vietnam, Cambodia turning up cheap bicycles

I am not ignorant to pretend these are slaves working in tin sheds off a paddy field, but some honesty from the bike industry which manufacturers the bulk of its production off-shore in Asia, would be interesting....

Its something that has been raised with large corporations, supermarkets, clothes retailers and even Apple computers!
  • + 3
 As consumers you have the power to choose where you spend your money and we have always supported the idea that consumers should, when possible, use their buying power to purchase quality, environmentally conscious, locally produced goods. These are important factors to how we envision the overall value of a Chris King product; we strive to provide the user with the most value at the best price. We applaud and support Hope and other high-end component makers who maintain a similar ethos and production standard.
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  • + 12
 As a future mechanical engineer I love to see these factory tours. There's something about high quality CNC stuff that just feels like porn to me. Man, how I would love to spec my bike with CK, but till I graduate Superstar will have to do the trick.
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  • + 10
 My next head set would be CK for sure , we need to support that kind of attitude , recycle almost all of thier waste , make best quality product. quality not quantity.
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  • + 10
 I would like a angled headset please! My Cane Creek blows! They should make keychain/bottle openers for us with the pucks!!!
  • + 3
 Cane creek failed me as well, twice in a row with their 1.5 headset before Chris King developed their bomb-proof version complete with an awesome thru-clamp. I'm about ready to break my second Marzocchi fork (based on the creaking steertube in the crown) but the headset remains solid and trouble-free. Thank you Chris King!
  • - 2
 I find it funny people think CK would be an uprade over CC. They must not remember CK headset problems before the cane creek patent expired.
  • + 3
 +1 on 1.5'' CK headsets. They're on another level from anything I've used in the past. My last 1-1/4" MTB is going out the door as we speak.
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  • + 8
 no one's commented on how sick those polished hubs were 0_0 Chris, if youre reading this, hold me back a pair of those puppies! they looked so sick.
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  • + 6
 It should be noted that machining metal IN PRODUCTION CNC MACHINES is not a very dirty or poisonous process in itself. Nothing is burned, so fumes are basically water vapour. Machining plastics and resins is a different matter, but we very seldom do that. I think that most machine shops recycle the chips, the scrap yard pays for them. All the fluids in the machines are recirculating, nothing goes down the drain. The lube oil is skimmed off and collected by the machines, and recycled. So that's just par for the course for the machining end of things. Anodizing on the other hand is poisonous and fumey and chemically. I commend Chris King on their anodizing. BEST IN THE INDUSTRY and cleanly done. Also, I think that with the new split wedge design, the previously mentioned problems with headsets are a thing of the past.
  • + 4
 I am a CNC programmer in the aerospace industry for the last 15 years and nothing is wasted. We dont recycle our oils, fluids and metal swarf for environmental reasons, it is purely economical! At $2000 for a 55 gallon barrel of Blasocut and solid Aluminum scrap fetching a buck a pound we dont waste anything. even our worn carbide tools and inserts are recycled. we use the most energy efficient lighting and climate control possible. My job is to find the most efficient way to cut the part from billet to reduce its cost. Most environmentally conscious manufacturers save enough money reducing waste to make up for the expense of being environmentally friendly.
  • + 2
 For sure, RoverDover and leverfingers, any machining operation recycles, etc--it's simple economics. However, what separates the CK operation from most machining operations is the fact that they are reclaiming 98% of their machining lubricants and cutting fluids and re-using those. It's not a closed loop, but it is at a higher level of efficiency than many manufacturers. Additionally, the puck process of dealing with their chips also allows their waste metal to be recycled at a higher grade than most machining operations, adding additional life to the metal vs. companies that aren't following as exacting a process of cleaning the chips.
  • + 2
 The environmental focus of our manufacturing processes is detailed and there are many subtleties that were left out in order to not overburden this article. As an example, a major factor in the decision to use high quality soy based cutting oil in our manufacturing is that it balances environmental features while allowing us to provide consumers with reasonably priced goods. What does that mean? When compared to widely utilized water-soluble cutting oil, soy based cutting oil has a much lower environmental impact, both in its production and disposal. Soy based cutting oil is also easier on our equipment, increasing the life span of our machines by as much as 50% when compared to machines running on water-soluble cutting oil. The nature of soy oil allows us to easily filter and reuse the oil. This reduces both costs and waste while at the same time maintaining a healthier environment for our employees and passing along the savings to our consumers.
  • + 2
 In terms of recycling we can only assume that most manufacturers have appropriate channels by which they recycle their waste. The US and other developed countries have well-defined regulatory laws governing industrial waste. The same cannot be said for manufacturing locations in the developing world. We know that we are able to salvage 98% of our cutting oil; this is oil that will not be burned off into the atmosphere during the recycling process. Before we send our chips off to the recycler we make pucks. Raw metal chips are collected from the manufacturing process and fed into the pelletizer, a machine that Chris designed. It takes about 2 seconds for a 400-ton hydraulic ram to transform a scrambled pile of chips into a compact puck. These pucks return a higher monetary value from the recycler. This entire process allows us to reduce our monetary investment, keeping consumer costs down while reducing the amount of waste product entering the environment. If you are interested in more specific information visit our website chrisking.com/company/sustainable_manufacturing or email us at info@chrisking.com we are happy to share.
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  • + 7
 wow, awesome article! if i had money, i'd definitely be convinced on chris king kit. i have a tonne of respect for that level of sustainability and attention to detail. props to chris king and his whole crew!
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  • + 5
 Full respect to the Chris King's firm as they still keep the tradition of hand made products and not just slinging them into a fully automated processing factory!
I will get all of chris king products on my bike once i can afford them Smile
Keep up the good work crew!
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  • + 8
 wow! love these articles
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  • + 3
 Hands down the most comprehensive write up ever, especially on such an icon in the industry. I was absolutely blown away by his committment to a cleaner and more sustainable industry, and his meticulous attention to detail. The bike world needs more people like Chris King!!!
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  • + 3
 I just have to say that I have a really hard time reading or hearing that people have had issues with King products. I've used them in a variety of applications, and on many different types of bikes, for extended periods of time, and in rain, mud, and even sandy, gritty, riverbed environments. I have NEVER had a SINGLE issue. No matter how dirty any of my King bearings have become from the outside, they are always, at least, clean on the inside. Sure, the grease needs to be replenished from time to time, and they have dried out a bit after a year's use without service. But they have NEVER failed me, and I think that says a lot. If you don't have the money for them, don't buy them. But I also don't see complaining about the price of something. I'd love to have a lot of things I can't afford; arguing that they should in some way be cheaper certainly doesn't do a single thing to get me closer to owning or having in my possession whatever it may be. Of course, I do understand that there are certain aspects of the sport--like extremely heavy DH riding--that I have not practiced on a regular basis. And, with any good product, mistakes can be made, or errors can surface. Nothing is 100% perfect. But if you take the time to carry out some extremely simple maintenance, periodically and depending on how often you ride, your riding conditions, etc., you should almost NEVER have issues with King bearings of any sort. I'd love to work for the company someday, will certainly visit the facilities next time I am in Oregon, and put King stuff on any of my bikes (from commuters, to single speed 29ers, to all-mountain/enduro bikes, to freeride and park bikes). For me, the cost is easily offset by the satisfaction of a component that functions beautifully, looks awesome, and is easy to service on my own with standard shop tools. Boom.
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  • + 3
 I have a question for Chris King, I had one of your headsets on my old supreme dh, thing is after some time the crown race started to become warn and creeked to the point where it pisses you off, as if it looked like it had not been sitting on the bearing properly, I thought maybe this was due to me not having the hole thing not tight enough, so I got myself another crown race and after about a month same marks (grove) appeared, but the bearings were unmarked? (bearings being a harder material i guess?) this time though I made sure there was nothing loose and beleave there wasnt! but I didnt over tighten them! I mean these things aint cheap! I was gutted!

maybe some one can help me?
  • + 3
 Did you have your head tube faced?

A precision part like a King headset is only going to work to 100% of its' capacity if you do your end of the install. In the case of this bike, that sounds like a headset facing.
  • + 2
 the old king headsets relied on a little O-ring in the top bearing cap to keep the steer tube inplace. You put a fork that can apply leverage to that o-ring (such as a long travel single crown or dual crown fork) and the steer tube will shift slightly as well. Their new grip lock bearing cap solves this problem by putting in a cone shaped collet piece like pretty much every other threadless headset has. I had the same problems with the king headsets I have had in the past. Ditched them because of it. Now with the grip lock deal I might go back.
  • + 1
 The problem is that the chris king headsets dont use a split compression ring like fsa and cane creek (think can creek hole the patent). So, on longer travel forks and 29er forks the leverage is greater than that of the much much smaller a-c forks of the 80's and 90's so the problem never presented itself.
The bearing cap on the kings is a good fit yes but its not perfect. Big hits and stuff (from longer forks) can knock it out of place. The split ring sits right down in there and doesnt move. The king cap can only go so far.

I think Chris thought his design want inferior to FSA/cane creek and obviously many many headsets dont have this problem. They introduced the scuff wahser but that wasnt the problem. They also recommended that you replace the bearing cap and scuff washer yearly.

Now they have the griplock as above.

Supposedly at the PUSH factory the have a few steerers where the bearing cap also scored them due to this problem.

Its quite naughty of king really to charge that much and then not give a shit that there is actually a problem. Griplock is £25 if you have an older headset which doesnt come standard with it!
  • + 1
 Yeah i was told because of the stupid adjustable headtube that'll cause problems!
  • + 1
 The other issue with King stuff is the tolerances. They are super fine tolerances, like 0.0005" on some stuff. While its totally awesome that they do that, I feel its totally unnecessary, especially in the MTB department. I have had 3 of their rear hubs that I have had to send in to get oversized bearings put in because the press fit loosened up on them. Wheels were all built properly, and hubs were fine for the first 3-6mo but after that much hard FR/DH use they would loosen up. But because the bearings need a certain press fit (to the 0.0005" or something like that) and there isn't a ton of material on the OD of the drive side hubshell bearing, they loosen up. Over all their stuff is great for a majority of riders out there, but for the DH FR stuff i find them lacking, always have.
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  • + 3
 Nice work on this story, Colin. I agree with WAKI's comment above saying it would have been good to know more about how CK maintains its enviro-friendly perspective with its sourcing of metals etc, but what you've presented is more than enough info to get the point driven home. I don't think every reader would be as interested in the more industrial side of the story. This article is a nice upward bump in the quality of PB content.
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  • + 3
 This article makes me even more stoked to own CK components. I knew the quality and performance was second to none from the get go, but had no idea about how eco friendly of a company CK was. Chirs King FTW!
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  • + 2
 If a cnc machine spits out the parts it doesn't matter if its in japan the US or the far east, i run cheap FSA FUNN and CC for years with zero problems (on different bikes!), why pay more ?, if you save on components (without compromising on safety) you can invest your money on saving the environment where it matters!, ie a newer car, better electric appliances etc... , why do we need to pay for a chef that makes fancy dishes when you can getaway with noodles,rice??(without any disrespect to the noodle people!).
  • + 2
 Good points. It's harder to asses what's happening in the far east(hopefully threads like this will shed some light), and the pollution used to ship materials/products from there is huge compared to buying in your own country. I guess it's a bit dependent on where the raw aluminum is shipped from also, something not mentioned(I mean where it's mined from).
Buying new "environmentally friendly" products isn't always environmentally friendly. If you don't need something, don't buy it. Te carbon footprint from producing products and distributing them is huge, ad can easily outweigh the gains made by being more environmentally friendly to run etc.
Although possibly not the best way to do something green with your money, by buying from these sorts of companies, you're voting with your money, and that's pretty much the only power we have left nowadays.
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  • + 4
 I am one of the people who is lucky enough to have a chris king headset and the are so smooth you can't even compare them to anything else
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  • + 4
 thanks for the insight on the 'How To" end of it, but more so with the PRIDE the company shows. Hands on quality......I like that!
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  • + 5
 got my king hubs15+ years ago. One of the best decision I ever made.
4 bikes later, and they're still riding like new.
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  • + 2
 There's really no noticable difference between Hope and King, I've owned both and run both for years and now times are tight I've opted to support the UK seeing as thats where I'm from. For me Hope is a lot easier to service on your own and yes King you need specialist tools whihc aren't cheap. Don't get me wrong when King parts were half price from the USA I was all over them and they are great but Hope is just as good and cheaper for me
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  • + 5
 This was a great read. I can see a few King Components finding their way onto my bike soon.
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  • + 2
 You know a company makes good components when you start contemplating future bike setups based around your already in-use components. I have CK hubs, head set and recently got a BB. Super nice, clean, easy to service stuff that's made in the USA.
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  • + 2
 Chris King's products are: high quality, local, and beautiful but perhaps the most telling aspect of all is that it's usually the last Headset or BB you will ever buy for that bike. The stuff is solid....does not ever...EVER break. Come to Portland and you will see CK bling on many many cyclecross bikes. Why? Because our seasons are brutal and no other product will ALWAYS make it through multiple seasons....

Keep at it CK!

(and thanks for letting John Howe showcase his talents in your shop....he's like a kid in a candy store when he talks about his job.)
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  • + 2
 By far one of, if not the best article I have ever read on PB! It doesn't matter what a bunch of people online claim about how good or bad they think CK parts are. Clearly they are doing something right. I don't think PB would share such a great article if it wasn't a great product. Everyone who I have ever met is as passionate and happy with their Chris King products as I have been. Happy customer for 15+ years.
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  • + 3
 Well done, sticking by his ethics/ideals while so many others take the short cuts to profit without conscience. I'll be buying more King stuff, and researching other manufacturers processes.
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  • + 6
 If only my wallet would agree with me to buy Chris King parts..
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  • + 6
 This makes me want to purchase chris king components even more.
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  • + 2
 Humans are so diverse!! Translation: some people just love to bitch, one-up, correct, clarify, etc, etc, etc....IT'S JUST AN ARTICLE! And I understand the internet gives us all the 'right' to say whatever we want. Bottom line is CK factory does things better and more conscientious than just about everybody else, regardless if you toasted a CK headset because of your mad DH skills. What a cool place to work even if the piece was written without the 'cons' included - PERIOD! Now all the haters? Think about where you work - not quite as cool I bet. And one more thing: If YOU were boss/owner of a company - could you do it better? And don't give me that BS o-ring or whatever design lame-ass answer. NO company that manufactures items is perfect. They ALL have their turds. And failures?? Her's a fact: some riders are way harder on components than others going down the same trail. I always like an inside look at a cool factory. 'How it's made' Lives!!!
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  • + 2
 King rocks. Great hubs, headsets, BBs, and Salt & Pepper shakers. I haven't personally used their espresso tamps yet though. I'm sure they're also prime.

What's really great about King is that they keep spare hub shells around so that if they don't have what you want built up, they will assemble it for you in a few days. Not a single other company has ever offered to do that for me or for a customer.
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  • + 2
 Dear Chris King, Your parts are highest quality products. They do their job on my bikes without problems for years and years. But please do me favor and sell Your parts in turquoise, purple and apple green again. I loved these colors back in the days.
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  • + 1
 Darn cool, always liked running King Headsets. Both King and Cane Creek in my opinion, and from using both on my bikes, are of excellent quality. I for one, will now more happily pay a few bucks more for King stuff knowing how it's produced. It's just money anyways, meant to be spent somewhere, you get to chose where. So when I next buy King, I'm buying top quality machined parts and supporting a company that cares a little more than the others and isn't afraid to hope that a few of its customers do too. PB - Now I'd love to see this type of inside look at Industry Nine's 8 person operation in NC...
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  • + 1
 Im glad that i chose to buy a CK rear hub. It sounds amazing, customer service was awesome, and it is the easiest to adjust and rebuild. I have broken a few other hubs rachet systems, like the star rachet DT has and the rachet sytems on some shimano hubs, from pedaling hard under suspension compression. But my CK hub feels sooo much more solid! has never even come close to slipping and engages so fast.
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  • + 1
 Industry Nine hubs are much better...I've ridden both for years and on several bikes (DH & Trail). The Kings do not roll as fast no matter how much you tune, lube, etc. I'm using a pair of Easton Havocs now....they even roll faster than the Kings (and the wheel set cost about as much as one King hub).
  • + 1
 Good to know, never ridden a King Hub, just run King Headsets and BBs. Ridden my I9s for a few years now and love 'em. PB It would be very cool to see a head-to-head comparison of high-end hubs with super quick engagement. I9, Chris King, Hadley, any others I'm forgetting?
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  • + 1
 Great article, Colin. I appreciate the in-depth view here. The pics, as usual, are outstanding. The coverage was great, and I learned that ceramic is an option for BBs. I am surprised though, that zero-stack/1.5" and internal headset bearing options weren't mentioned here. Just as with the long-delayed/eternally-bemoaned development of the BB, new-school headset standards were not embraced until relatively recently, but CK can accommodate for many applications now with InSet headsets.
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  • + 2
 Had my iPhone read this article to me. Awesome ! 16 years on a single bottom bracket. That's craaaazzzyyyy. I went through a bottom bracket every 3 days on my first dirt jumper.
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  • + 1
 This article is nothing more than a politically correct advertisement for King. I like their stuff and own some of it now. But let's cut throught the BS.
All CNC operations recycle cutting fluids,lubes and chips as a matter of standard operating procedure due to the cost. Maybe in the dark ages theywould toss it don the drain, but those days were gone long ago. To claim that this is now some hippie driven ethos unique to CK is just ridiculous. The meal thing is a nice perk, like lots of people get, this one is less of a perk since to get it requires you actually participate and support CK's core business.
While it's nice CK does some of this stuff, let's not assume he is the only shop doing this. All of them do, but they don't promote it as some collectivist vision of utopia.
More important question: Why did he move from expensive and massively enviro regulated California to much less expensive and busines friendly Oregon??
  • + 4
 Concerning our move from California to Oregon. Chris King currently employs 96 people, the majority of whom are trades people and blue-collar workers. During the real estate explosion of the mid to late 90’s, Chris realized that if he stayed in southern California his work force would soon be priced out a of a reasonable living. As it happened, during his last years in Santa Barbara he had employees commuting over two hours to work. The move to Portland via Lake Shasta was a way to locate his business in an environment where his employees could afford to live and where Chris could afford to pay them. California’s environmental regulations were not a reason that Chris King moved to a less strictly regulated state. In fact, we do more here regardless of what’s required by this state than we did in California, not that we didn’t do a lot there.
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  • + 1
 Awesome look into the process behind King components, I love the kit I've gotten from them in the past and will continue to support what they do in terms of environmental ethics, amazing products and quality control. However, I do cannot support the quality control behind the writing of this article... the mistakes in terms of grammar and syntax were constant and disruptive, actually making it difficult to understand the meaning of several sentences. Work on that pb.
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  • + 1
 i have a titanium CK headset running perfect, front and rear disc hubs running perfect and also made an alloy CK headset explode hahaha no matter how much they are compared to other company components they are outstanding workmanship! worth every single penny, THANKS Mr King for amazing bike parts. There has to be a top notch manufacturer in every sport, hobbie and you've managed that for the bikes.
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  • + 3
 I bet if you speak to Hope about bearings not lasting too long they'll send you out some for free, they have been sending me small parts for years if I ask nicely.
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  • + 1
 Unfortunely components lasting more than 5 year will be probably "obsolete" by new standards, none of my old headsets can be used in my new bikes anymore same for BB, seatpost ,bars.that keeps me from paying more than 200 for a hub.
  • + 1
 BB seat post and bars have not changed much in the last 5 years. Companies switch up what they use sometimes but there will always be a company out there that uses the size/style you need.
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  • + 1
 Great article, if it weren't for the quick evolution of the headset standard (1 1/8th to 1.5" to tapered to adjustable, ad nauseum) I'd rock my pink King (Pretty And Strong Susan G Komen limited edition) nothreadset forever. Oh well, I guess I'll just clean it up and stick on a display case in my living room and keep it as fine art.
  • + 1
 Susan g komen edition? Whats different about that one?

The pretty and strong ones have been added to their lineup for a while now.
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  • + 5
 Interesting article, but I'm still not quite convinced about the pricing.
  • + 2
 I heard this many times in a bike shop: "You get what you pay for". Truthfully I haven't seen cheapo/OEM headsets returned en masse, but I think that for riders who demand the best components recognize that a King headset is great value.
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  • + 1
 I love chris king componants, the only time one has ever let me down. was when i tried pegs on my rear King BMX hub. But that was more me letting the hub down! The bolts got ripped out, along with the thread, and seeming i couldnt get hold of any bmx axle replacements, i had to sell it =(
I wonder if the workers have acess to a staff shop ? Wink
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  • + 1
 2 words: over priced. i've had affordable headsets that work and last as long. headsets are very simple. i can't believe such things can be over priced. i can't say the same for hubs though.
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  • + 4
 Awesome article. So glad to support such a great company!
  • + 0
 best hubs for sure!!!
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  • + 4
 ... and misanthropic prices ...
  • - 2
 but it's justified by their higher ethics, and you have a chance to save the planet with your headset
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  • + 2
 For those of you who have had performance issues with our product we want to know. Please email us with a description of your issue at info@chrisking.com.
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  • + 4
 Thank you Mr. King and staff for quality and ethics done first class!
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  • + 0
 i live in central oregon, Bend, and my bikes have never been ridden in the rain or through a puddle. i have been working with COTA on the trails since 06' and don't ride when the trails are damp since it messes them up so bad (volcanic soil) that being said is why i am so disappointed with Chris King not standing behind their products in reference to the engagement issue on my rear hub after two seasons.
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  • - 1
 Chris King rules... Now, if only they made an AngleSet.

...This bit did make me laugh though "Road biking fandom was innocent of the drug-fueled scandals of today"... Apparently the author either conveniently forgot or just doesn't realize that drugs have pretty much ALWAYS been a part of road biking... even Merckx and Coppi were caught doping. The only thing that's changed is the media coverage and public spotlight now put upon 'dopers'.
  • + 10
 Um, badbadleroybrown... I said "road biking fandom". Sure, drugs have been part of cycling since forever, but the fans, the public, were generally unaware of how much that was a part of the culture until the 90s. --Colin Meagher aka, the author.
  • + 2
 I am tired of doped roadies arguments... Drugs are a part of any endurance sport that has developed as far as Road biking did. C'mon there were scandals with Baseballers taking dope - who doesn't then? Soccer seems to be cleanest - aha yhm yea, maybe 30 years ago, but now a guy that does sprints for 90+ mins doesn't?! In a sport where some 3rd league guys die from heart attacks due to fatigue - At least road cycling pretends they want to deal with it, for mainstream sports that problem don't exist at all - "Good" business just cannot bare control and regulations
  • + 1
 Web should all do drugs.
  • + 0
 nfa2005 - I must say I experiment with drugs a lot, my latest one is my 6 month "old" daughter going through software update. Everytime a child goes through some tough time it screams a lot and does not sleep too much at nights waking up quite often - after a week with next to no sleep, duuuuude I'm trippin!!!
  • + 1
 @meagerdude... yes, you said "fandom" which refers to FANS... who were well aware that their hero's were doping dating back decades. The difference is today, every idiot and casual news reader knows. For the "fandom" this has always been common knowledge. For people who think the Tour de France was created around the same time Lance Armstrong started winning them, it's a new issues... to the actual fans, it's old news.
  • + 1
 @Waki - For once I actually agree completely. All of sports is pretty well commited to drug use. Whether it's just over the counter "supplements" or full on steroids, there's really no one in pro sports who's performing at a high level without a cabinet full of something or other. Every sport walks the line between what's legal and presumed healthy and illegal and deadly.
  • + 2
 This just made me wonder if or how many DH FR pros use enhancing drugs. Something iv never heard anyone talk about, hopefully it doesn’t exist.
  • + 1
 It really depends on what you consider a performance enhancing drug but, in the strictest sense, pretty much every single one of them is using something. If you're drinking gatorade, you're using a 'drug'... That being said, I don't imagine a lot of DH/FR riders are using anything other than recreational drugs like reefer and over the counter stuff like maybe some creatine or something. I'm sure there's a ton of XC guys who are doping like the roadies and maybe some of the 'enduro' guys as well but DH & FR wouldn't see as much benefit from that type of stuff.
  • + 1
 Redbull, Rockstar, Monster.There's 3 drugs that almost all of us are guilty of using to boost our performance. I'll drink one every once in a while, but that stuff's GNARLY! I'm going to play it safe and stick with bong-rips from now on.
  • + 2
 I don't care what top sportsmen do, even without the dope, most of them put such a strain on their bodies with the volume of training they do that it is unhealthy anyways. But what should matter to us average Joes is that whatever drug you take: gatorade, coffe, energy bar: no clue + no fitness -> no results. People need to get smart, even on simple things: if someone skips breakfasts, doesn't eat 2h before training/race, doesn't warm up before training/race, doesn't do fundamental conditioning on regular basis like running (just walk for an hour a day) basic gymnastics, stretching - but believes that energy drink before the race will move him up on list of results - then hello... change the hobby, move to Korea to become a pro gamer, maybe snooker, chess, golf.
  • + 0
 This article was meant to be focused on the King, not doping in cycling, but since this thread seems to want to go there... the DH and the XC guys get tested just as hard by the UCI as the roadies do. My main gig is as a World Cup MTB shooter for PB, not a tech writer. I've been doing this work for over a decade. I can attest that every top five rider and five random riders from each race last weekend at La Bresse were escorted off for a piss test immediately after podium--I know, I was there. And it's not just the elites, either, but the U23 racers, too. Plus there are random, out of competition tests. And it's no different at a gravity race, either. THC is on the ban list, so anyone doing a World Cup runs the risk of getting caught for reefer and subsequently banned (check out Houseman's 'win' at Grouse back in '02 or '03--he wasn't stoned when he won, but he tested positive for THC immediately post podium and was instantly stripped of the win and banned), and Creatine increases testosterone, which will raise a flag in testing. Bottom line? Cycling has been dirty for decades. It's still not pure as the driven snow, but it's getting better. Mountain biking is substantially cleaner--the money incentive to dope just isn't there like it is in road cycling (the entry level division one roadie makes more money than all but a handful of the top tier pro mtb racers). But at the end of the day, Chris King components will still be making great products that enhance our riding experience and our day to day environment... And that's what this article is focused on.
  • + 2
 LMAO... NO cyclists get tested more than roadies and they're still dopers... And creatine most certainly does NOT increase testosterone in any significant way. Get your facts straight before you get all worked up over something. Testosterone is a hormone, creatine is a nitrogenous acid that facilitates ATP transport mechanisms and intra-muscular hydration... totally different thing. A slightly tangental discussion doesn't take anything away from the article and no one is accusing anyone of doping. YOU chose to bring up doping in the article... if you don't want it commented on, don't include it.
  • + 2
 @meagerdude- . I was just making a (somewhat offhand) remark on someone else's comment about doping. So let's focus on king for a moment. As another viewer pointed out, he picked up his company and left Santa Barbara for Oregon to (speculation) save on business expenses and evade Cali's MUCH stiffer environmental laws, and as anyone in California will tell you, we definitely need as many jobs as we can keep in our state. In the 805 area code, which is where Santa Barbara lies, handfuls of companies have shut their doors to move to more "business friendly" states in order to produce higher profits and save on labor expenses, leaving many without jobs and some without homes....so meager...if you write an article about a company, praising them for all the good they do, be sure to do your research and add the con's to your pro's list. At the very least you will become a much better and more believable author. That being said, I will be purchasing a King headset and possibly Bottom bracket next week. Thank you but please un-bunch your panties.
  • - 1
 Mendo - the thing you are complaining on is like saying: Latifornia has established the law that puts pressure on business owners and insurance companies to increase social benefits for employees. Therefore the employment costs went up, a lot of busineses closed down and moved to another state - Mexas, where nobody gives a fk. Those politicians tk'r'jaeeeb!

No vaseline involved - I really, really don't get it, what kind of a problem you found in this article to go on Colin's ass
  • + 2
 I hate racists, you should use some vaseline to assist in the removal of your head from your ass WAKI.
  • + 0
 I hate racists as well! Just thought that Mexas will play on some redneck-wankers ego
  • + 1
 Racist... and ignorant to boot. Has nothing to do with social benefits. It's business taxes and environmental regulations. So, it's relevant because a company is being praised for the environmental responsibility after having left a state with extremely strict environmental protocols. The jobs loss aspect of it is just business being business caused by stupid political decisions by the state... Cali is first hand proof that the semi-socialist tax structure some would push upon the nation as a whole is a perfect recipe for business failure.
  • + 1
 WAKI,WAKI,WAKI.....jeez man, why do you try so hard to be such a c*nt. I'm a farmer/redneck who believes in the progression of the HUMAN RACE, I am also 1/2 British and resent your use of the term wanker. I formally invite you to visit the city of Ventura, Ca. and have a chat with me at my favorite bar on Seaward avenue. Not only will you learn some manners the hard way, but I will also gladly take you to my trail and teach you how to ride a bike.

Leroybrown......thanks for your input. not sure if you're from Cali or not but political views aside, you seem to hit the nail right on the head. Too bad it would be a crime to hit this a*shole on the head.
  • - 1
 Oh you are tickling my ego... racist?! If there is a race that is completely fine to waste resources, using more of them than the rest of the world, a race that supports invading many countries around world, holding them economicaly hostage to acquire those resources, a race that supports polution of earth air and water that slwoly poisons the children of all other races, a race that purely believes that their way of doing things, that their idea of democracy is the one and only good world order, that it is so great that it justifies doing all forementioned crimes against humanity - then yea I am a racist. I also hate pozers, puppets and commerce whores

You believe in progression of human race? Me too! It's just that I share one of final of mr Freud - we are still dangerous pieces of stupid crap and we should be controlled - I know he lost popularity in your country, unlike his nephew Eddy Bernays, and few others who believe that individual should free himself by doing whatever he wants, and relieve stress and express himself by buying stuff. Oh I know something about psychology as well... oh about riding it was - MendoBrando - what makes you so confident? I am a douche but I would not fk around that much without having some skills and fitness - at least I have abetter riding stance than bad leroy

P.S. I have nothing against farmers, I avoid supermarkets, buy local grown food as much as I can, and if not local then still organic, trying to support farmers that don't put their hands into toxic pesticides, herbicides, or soil depleting chemical fertilizers. I apologize for my misinterpetation of a word "redneck" - we have a saying in Poland, that the worst rednecks are not in country side but in capital.
  • + 1
 Waki... Shut the fuck up already. Your tired old anti-American shit is a waste of space. You're pissed that you live in a Polish shit hole while we're living it up in America, we get it. You don't know dick about my riding style or anything else for that matter... take your ignorant, biased, bullshit to a soapbox where someone may give a fuck, it has no place on Pinkbike.
  • + 0
 I am not anti American, that would be a generalization - I am against the executives of your top businesses, government and army leaders who all deserve a trial at Human Rights court in Hague - oh they are f*ckers as well, at least it's the highest authority... People believing in them should be immediately tought about brain washing their are being exposed to. I just hate stupidity and you two seem to live in US Big Grin


I don't know anything about your riding style- true. But I can tell a few things about your skills basing on your pics. Now you don't know shit about Poland, and I know a lot about US, really, really a lot (mostly good things) - who should sht the fk up here? You probably know less about Poland that I know about Tennesee - how many languages do you speak?

Go tell that long tongue liar,
go and tell that midnight rider,
tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter,
tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down

tralalalala
  • + 2
 LMAO... by my pics? OK, sure... I haven't posted a pic of my riding in roughly the last two years or so. Good luck with your assumptions dumbass, you know less about my riding than you know about politics and economics and you don't know shit about either of those.

Just shut up already, no one wants to hear about your ignorant views on government and business or how much you think you know about anything cause the reality is you don't know shit. Just go find some anti-capitalist fan club who might give a damn, preaching your ignorance on pinkbike is played out. Quoting Cash just makes you sound like even more of an idiot... Now run off and find someone who gives a damn.
  • + 2
 leroy-i like your pics, shows that you aren't afraid of dealing with a little pain in order to keep pushing your riding abilities further...wish my buddy's go pro didn't die before i ate it on the drop that cracked my helmet, that would have been a sweet video. I'll bet WAKI hasn't hurt himself on a bike since he busted his knuckle re-installing his training wheels a few weeks ago. Damn....getting so off topic 'cause of this douche.
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 what a great read!
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 One of the best articles I've seen on PB. Good work!
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 i had been dreaming of have CK equipped bikes since he started and finally was able to buy three headsets and two wheelsets. I was thrilled with my purchase in every way until one of my rear hubs started having engagement issues after two seasons and very few miles. CK told me i could service it myself (after buying their tool$$$$$$$) or send it to them, $$$$$$. so much for standing behind their product. at that price, i expected more. the cheapo DT hubs the bike came with are still flawless after 6 years of jump abuse with no service. every one always goes on about support american companies, and everytime i do i regret it. that is what america has become. screw you every chance. once they have your money.....yaaaa i said it!!!
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  • + 3
 Excelent article! Love Chris King components, true bike jewelry
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 Wow, I'm speechless!
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 Pure Class !!! You know you have a quality component when you have these hubs installed
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 Great article on a great product. Love their headsets!
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 Luckily, we have tune here in Germany. The prices are equally astronomic though. Big Grin
  • - 1
 Are their hubs reliable finally?
  • + 4
 You also have Acros.

Many people will lead many others to believe that a certain brand (for instance, King) are the best.
Strictly not true, for as long as there is money to be made, most markets will never have one 'best'.
  • + 1
 I don't know about their hubs, since I can't yet afford them. I think there are even more. But tune and Acros have that nimbus of extreme light components.
  • + 1
 The acros hubs?
  • + 1
 Are Tune german?
  • + 1
 yeah they are
  • + 1
 Oh cool, thought they were maybe yank.
  • + 1
 No, tune is from the black forest.
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  • + 0
 i support cromag and straight line thyeyre the main canadian companies but if i had the money id get chris king hubs and stuff i do have a headset hough
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 Excellent article!!! Very well written. To the point and extremely thorough. Nice Work!
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 cracking read, cracking pics.
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  • + 0
 F*ck, I just ejaculated!!!!
The hubs are just Killer!

Anyway, and as the first guy, since I live in EU I suport and buy HOPE or RESET.
  • + 1
 don't think it really matters where you live, I like HOPE components, they're amazing.
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 He didn't mention trials riders!!
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 i had a king headset, then bought a new frame so bought a cheaper token headset for 17 quid and it feels just the same and is great, no need to pay an extra 100 quid for a king
  • + 0
 i agree with that completley. I ride bmx and djs but i use cheap headsets and i have been running the same one in my bmx for 4 years now and nothing is wrong with it. there is no point in paying two or three times the price just for a name and an idea.
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 This is one of the best things i've seen on pinkbike.
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 He didn't mention trials riders!!
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 There is only one small problem. Hope is so damn good!
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 Love the king even tho i have shimano hubs BARP damn
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 Nice to see how stuff is made.
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  • + 0
 Yo, Chris. Have I ever told you how much I love you? My bike's hubs are starting to go on me.
  • + 0
 Should have got goldtecs.
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  • + 0
 that orange one looks edible...
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  • + 0
 who offers 10 year warranty, quality pays Wink
  • + 1
 Some do. Middleburn offer liftetime on their cranks and im sure some bearing manufacturers will offer way more than 10.
  • + 1
 you're right, then, I say that quality pays
  • + 2
 You do pay for what you get, often it also pays to read the t's and c's.

I bet somewhere some company has written 999year warranty.
Small print says - as long as it stays in its box lol
  • + 0
 Cane Creek 110 headsets have 110 year warranties. Kinda overkill though.
  • + 1
 They did that just to make fun of kings 10 year warranty actually, I own both companies headsets and they feel pretty well the same but both look bad ass.
  • + 2
 Chris King headsets will always look better than Cane Creek to me. Just personal preference I guess.
  • + 0
 I think theyre rather bland looking, but if it aint broke! It is looking at quality though.
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