By Vernon Felton
Chris King, both the man and the company that bears his name, are not known for their tendency to jump on the technological bandwagon. In fact, you might even call King a bit stodgy when it comes to releasing products that are compatible with the latest standards. It took something shy of an eternity, for example, for Chris King to release their version of the external-bearing bottom bracket....right about the time that the bike industry decided to kill the external-bearing bottom bracket in favor of press-fit versions.
When it comes to trotting out new products, Chris King is about as fast out of the gates as Axl Rose is with new Guns 'n Roses albums.
King, however, is not about chasing trends. They don't give a damn if anyone specs their product as original equipment on their 2014 line of bikes. They don't care if magazine editors or the cycling public are clamoring for them to keep up with the cutting edge . Chris King has made a habit of sitting back, doing their due diligence on the R&D and then, after a good stretch of testing, trotting out a new product. It's not fast. It's not hip. It's probably nowhere near as profitable a business model as the bike industry's standard M.O., but at the end of the day, the parts that bear the Chris King label tend to live up to the stratospheric expectations that go hand in hand with that brand's reputation.
All of which probably explains why Chris King is just now announcing several new products that, by bike industry standards, aren't particularly new or novel. That said, if you boycotted ceramic bearings and press-fit bottom brackets in the past because you felt the designs were more about hype than substance, well, here comes Chris King with exactly those products and the promise that their stuff will hold up.
Chris King will soon be selling a ceramic-bearing equipped version of their ISO mountain bike disc hubs. The Santa Cruz Syndicate has been riding the hubs for some time and King, like many manufacturers before them, claim their ceramic bearings are lighter, harder, and more perfectly round than their stainless balls. The end result, claims King is a bearing with exceptional speed, strength and durability.
Here are the bullet-point marketing blurbies for the hubs:
• Patented RingDrive system for immediate and secure hub engagement
• Fully-serviceable, sealed ceramic bearings
• Easy axle interchangeability for effortless cross compatibility
• Available in 10 anodized colors
• 5-year warranty
• Utilizes Chris King's legendary in-house bearings
• 100% Made in Portland, Oregon USA
PRESS-FIT BOTTOM BRACKETS
Look, you either love these things or hate them. I see the logic, from the frame design standpoint (press-fit BBs allow for larger downtube/bottom bracet junctions, which can help stiffen things up), but I've also dealt with my fair share of slipping, creaky press-fit bottom brackets that seem to require generous amounts of Loctite and daily prayer to just keep on keeping on.
Then again, most of my favorite bikes are now equipped with this technology, so I guess resistance is futile. So long threaded bottom bracket shells, I’ll miss you dearly.
Anyhoo.... There are plenty of people who love press-fit bottom brackets and those folks will be pleased to hear that King will soon (this Spring) offer both 24 and 30-millimeter press-fit bottom brackets.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Expect to see a rash of additional new products from King this Spring (including disc-compatible road hubs, as well as both a redesigned 150-millimeter rear hub and a brand new 157-millimeter version aimed at the full-face set.