Monday, 20 May 2013

My thoughts on my Chris King 29er single speed wheels

Chris Bloody King wheels. The nerd in me is in love.

I've always wanted a set of Chris King wheels. I fell in love with Chris King components when I saw one of their headsets on a bike when I was first getting into riding. It looked like pure sexiness incarnate and sandwiched into a frame.

I've had a few of their headsets over the years and each time they've performed marvellously and I've never had any complaints. I've had an inset type too and that was great and looks the nuts. No love for the bike shop that fitted it with the wrong tool
however, but testament to the headset quality their monkey-wrenching didn't ruin the feel.

I have one of their bottom brackets too and again, they are sublime. I'm not sure what the reviews have said about them, but I've found it long lasting, light and it works well. Looks good too.

But, the wheels, well the hubs are where the real Chris King joy can be had.

Why did I buy Chris King wheels?

They are easily the most expensive wheels I've ever bought and they are easily more costly than an equivalent set of wheels from a competitor (DT Swiss being an obvious comparison), but they are Chris King.

So was it just the brand name? Well no, not at all. I would classify my purchasing habits as quality first and price second. I'm always looking for the absolute best components I can buy and I define best by the durability and reputation of the parts. So are Chris King parts better than DT parts? Probably or at least I personally have heard more good things about Chris King than I have DT. Did price affect my choice? Not really, I was lucky enough to have the money to spend as I saw fit.

So they have the reputation, but what is that reputation?

  • Engineering prowess
  • Angry bee noise
  • Hype
  • Expense
  • Status
That's my honest opinion of Chris King. DT hubs are probably just as good as Chris King, they are half the price and they would do the job, which is riding a single speed 29er around a local bike trail, perfectly well. Hell, even the hubs it replaced did a fine job.

But it's the emotional connection, the instant status when you can discuss Chris King wheels from an owners perspective to those who have yet to taste the "awesome".

It's perhaps pure marketing or luck on Chris King's behalf, but I've bought into the brand and, this is the most important part, it makes me happy.

Would I recommend them to someone else?

If you have the money, most definitely.

  • They are a work of art to look upon
  • They sound awesome whilst out on the trails
  • The engagement up and down hills is a wonder

If you don't have the money, then I'd look elsewhere. DT Swiss or even better, Hope. They do a fantastic wheelset for half the price of the Kings and Hope are another brand with legendary durability and they will probably be easier to maintain too.

Price is clearly the biggest barrier here.

What are they like to ride?

Beneficial. Confidence inspiring. Not as noisy as I'd thought.

Beneficial and Confidence inspiring
Riding up hills you feel the near instant engagement of the 72 points of engagement. It's the direct action from you applying pressure to the pedals that gives me the tingles. There's no major pedal movement before your power starts to turn the rear cog, it's just there straight away.

It's also great when you need to change your lead foot, because again the power is there as soon as you need it. I also found it helped me perform better tail whips too.

Not as noisy as I'd thought
For some reason I was expecting this hub to basically be like a can crushed against my tire and making a racket. But actually, it's quite quiet. Sure you can hear it, but the trail buzz and air / wind resistance blocks out most of it.

Where did I buy them from?

I had mine custom built from Clee Cycles in the UK. They were awesome. Helped with a few questions and the build was fantastic. The price was great too. Check their custom wheel building section out on their website Clee Cycles custom wheel builds.