Chris King Headsets? Worth It?

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  • Chris King Headsets? Worth It?
  • messiah
    Member

    In my experience the headsets are the closest you get to a fit and forget components. Some people have problems with them but all of mine have been great unlike all the other headsets I have owned.

    Bottom brackets I have no experience of.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    I’ve always thought that marginal returns for extra £ were spectacularly diminished by the time you got to King prices.

    When I was putting together a slightly tarty build earlier this year, I found one in a pretty colour for £76 at cycle surgery, which just about sneaked it into “Go on, then!” territory.

    My mileage on this legendary headset is well into 3 figures now, and I have to say it’s been absolutely faultless. True fit-and-forget technology.

    Except you won’t forget, cos it’s so pretty.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    BBs – I’d rather have 8 XT BBs than one CK, and still be able to use the tool I’ve already bought.

    xiphon
    Member

    I bought a second hand one (2006 model) about 3 years ago for £40. It’s still going strong.

    robinlaidlaw
    Member

    As above, I have no experience of the BBs, but the headsets are superb. I actually do move them from one frame to the next. The only reason I can see to buy a replacement for either of the ones I’m running will be buying a frame that it doesn’t fit into.

    Premier Icon Onzadog
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t cut corners on something else to fit a king headset and other stuff over the years has really closed the gap. However, if it’s the last bit on a swanky build, then we’ll worth it.

    Bottom brackets I’ve not tried. There’s a new realworldcycling angular contact bearing bb that I fancy trying.

    Rogan Josh
    Member

    Headsets are brilliant, and so sexy, although I can’t say they’d do anything a hope one wouldn’t.

    I’ve got a couple of second hand ones from classified or eBay on fixie/winter bikes and they’re spot on, just the odd bit of cable rub. A new king headset on a new frame however is a luxury that I have and will never deny myself! Do it.

    DanW
    Member

    They really are fit and forget headsets. Even the best tend to go a bit stiff and grindy with enough winter much and abuse but for some reason CK don’t. When you have one you wonder why other manufacturers can’t make their bearings last as long!

    mindmap3
    Member

    My experience of the headsets has been great.

    I had a Rasta one a few years ago that I bought secondhand and used fir five years on various bikes with no issues. I then sold it for more or less what I paid for it. Got another one in the BFe.

    They’re not that much more than a Hope one at rrp.

    Try a used one if you don’t want to fork out 80+ for a new one. There are several on pinkbike from 40 upward and i have seen similar prices on here recently.
    Personally i allways go for hope often used, can pick them up here in the £25 range and never had any issues with them.

    coogan
    Member

    Got two headsets, one is about 10 years old now I think and still running as smooth as it was when I first got it. Only gets blobs of grease when the forks are off. Second one bought second hand and had it over 5 years on top of however old it was when I bought it and as above, smooth as ever.

    Never used their BB’s though.

    rosscopeco
    Member

    CK headsets are good and as others have said, more or less a fit and forget component. In saying that, I’ve also got 2 x Hope HS which are both over 5 years old with no issues.

    As for CK BB’s, I’ve gone through 2 and am now back to Hope. I sent both back to CK, through my LBS, and they replaced them with no quibble. In each case the BB’s literally disintegrated. I would also add that I used the CK proprietary grease injection tool with high quality grease at the recommended service schedule.

    On a slight aside, I’ve also had a CK ISO front hub flange break on me. Admittedly, it was VERY cold (-10 + windchill) and I was braking VERY heavily.

    To be fair to Hope, I’ve never had a bearing failure on a headset, BB or hub for that matter.

    Premier Icon P20
    Subscriber

    I’ve had two king headsets for 13yrs+. One has been regreased a couple of times, but otherwise just left, it’s been in 4 different frames. The other hasn’t been touched.
    Three sets of king hubs. One set is again 13yrs old. I’ve snapped a rear axle on them, but an occasional regrease and they are like new.
    One king bb. About 3yrs old now, flawless so far.

    If you’re thinking about king, there’s normally 2nd hand ones kicking about for £50ish

    Premier Icon notmyrealname
    Subscriber

    I’m just getting parts together for a new build and I’m looking for a headset.

    Are the Chris King headsets worth the price?
    I’ve seen the one I need for £80 but I’m not sure whether to try something cheaper.

    The same goes for bottom brackets, is it worth paying £100 or so for a King BB?

    boxfish
    Member

    My CK headset is on it’s third bike in 9 years. I took the seals off once to check it but a regrease wasn’t required.

    Premier Icon shortcut
    Subscriber
    ti_pin_man
    Member

    I’ve had 3 or 4 bikes and used king headsets on them all. Over 20+ years riding only one failed and it was 14 years old at the time. I think they are value for money.

    aphex_2k
    Member

    As soon as my 6 year old FSA Orbit headset dies…. I’ll spend 20 quid and buy another one….

    I had a BB, it was s/h when I got it and did 2 shitty winters and a shitty summer. Never gresed it and it eventualy dies when trying to swap it between bikes and the race had siezed to the axle so the bearing came appart.

    I’d have one again, I’d argue it’s certainly no more expensive in the long run than XTR even with XTR on sale at Rose, I’m not expecting more than about 1500-2000 miles from each one, so as the King did double that with me, and probably douible again without a service, that’s pretty good going.

    And they’re anodised and look pretty.

    Headset’s are probably better value, IME I never get more than a year out of the default Orbit or S3 (mid priced FSA and CC headsets are one of the cases where they really do all come from one factory, TH Industries). And they’re far harder to swap than a BB (although you can just buy the same again and swap the seals and bearings,leaving in the cups). So if it lasted 10 I’d be happy. The downside is I’ve never kept a frame 10 years except the road bike!

    Now you will find out if it’s worth it! 🙂

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Considering that you get years of good service out of a Cane Creek or FSA costing £25 (and it’s under a tenner to replace the bearings), in order to get a good return on a Chris King it has to last about 20 years. Without you changing to a different headset or fork standard, obviously.

    Meanwhile, I have a set of Boxxers with a nice slot worn in the steerer by the previous owner’s King headset. Which is the other reason not to buy King- they refused to pay the licence fee in order to make a proper headset, and used a dodgy design that damages forks while insisting “This is totally the best way to do it”… then the second the patent expires, changed the design. And kindly offered to sell the corrected part to existing customers.

    yes definatly worth it fit and forget

    Premier Icon notmyrealname
    Subscriber

    Now you will find out if it’s worth it!

    Should do!
    At that price it’s worth taking a chance on it. Still not sure about the BB though.

    The new frame doesn’t arrive until next month so I’ve got time to make my mind up yet.

    Premier Icon jimmy
    Subscriber

    have had 3 and never a problem with any – still going strong. I even re-greased them a couple years ago for no reason, just thought I should but really no need.

    I’d never buy anything else for headsets tbh.

    bones76
    Member

    Yes yes and another yes! been running them on 3 out of 5 bikes that i have and have never had any issues what so ever and once the others need replaced i will be replacing with King headsets…

    Premier Icon curiousyellow
    Subscriber

    How do you know when the headset needs a re-grease/bearing replacement? Is it when it feels a little bit “grindy” when you’re turning the handlebars with the front tyre off the ground?

    Crag
    Member

    Headsets last pretty much forever but as Northwind says, they can score forks. For that reason alone I don’t think I’d ever buy another (Lyriks started to develop a couple of marks which CK ignored when questioned). I’ve got Hopes on both bikes at the minute with the CK sat as a spare in case I ever get another frame with a standard headset.

    Bottom brackets are a bit bobbins. Yes, you can regrease, but you have to be careful not to blow the rubber seal out when regreasing or it becomes a bit of a faff. Plus, you need to buy the specific greasing tool which is quite pricy.

    I generally get a couple of years out of a Shimano BB so its a bit of a false economy spending loads on bottom brackets when XTR can be had for about £20. I sold my CK when I changed frames and won’t be buying another.

    nikk
    Member

    I went for a Cane Creek 110 rather than a Ck, due to carbon steerer and the above mention scoring problem from CK.

    Went with the CK BB though, happy so far, have the greasing tool and will regrease every 6 months or so depending on use, we’ll see how long it lasts.

    brakes
    Member

    do they look tatty after 10 years?
    I had 10 year old hope one (original bearings) that had been swapped between several frames and retired it because it was scratched and dinged and scraped – still worked though. Just.

    slimjim78
    Member

    out of interest, for those who have experienced scoring on their steerers – where your headtube faces reamed?

    In my experience the King headsets are built to super high tolerences, and a wonky or unreamed headtube, or even a steerer that isnt perfectly square on its crown, can cause the scoring some people (including me) have experienced.

    I often switch Kings from frame to frame, and on the one frame I expereineced issues with, the same headset was perfect on another frame.
    On-One carbon fork not allowing the baseplate to seat precisely was an issue once.

    I love Kings, its always the best finishing touch to a build.

    Thrustyjust
    Member

    Lots of King headsets on bikes in my garage. I didn’t think about greasing my first one and after 5years decided to have a look and the bearings were shiny, shiny but no sign of grease visible. Usually grease once a year , takes 5 mins and all is good. The BB I have is very nice, but have an Uberbike one, which spins free er, is £30 and has replaceable bearings. I would stick one of those in. Run so smooth compared to shimano jobbies for the same price.

    Edric 64
    Member

    The OE headset on my Dawes did 8 years I then spent 20 quid on the new one .I dont need CK ones at that wear rate

    jonba
    Member

    I’ve got a superstarcomponents one on my commuter. 4 years it has been on, ridden nearly every weekday so as a rough estimate 10,000 miles through all weathers. £20. I would have refitted it to my new frame but I didn’t like the colour as it didn’t match.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    The steerer scoring was because CK were too tight to pay the license required to use the Cane-Creek tapered split ring patent, and so persevered with a slightly flawed design.

    When the patent expired CK starting using it.

    slimjim78
    Member

    When the patent expired CK starting using it.

    Interesting.
    So King now utilise a split ring? I havent bought one in a while

    pipnet1
    Member

    As soon as my 6 year old FSA Orbit headset dies…. I’ll spend 20 quid and buy another one….

    This, meaning…

    Chris King Headsets? Worth It?

    No, not even close. And after seeing a mate break the flanges on 2 ISO hubs, I’d say the same about those.

    Premier Icon mattbee
    Subscriber

    When my Hope one dies I reckon I will get a King one.
    Mind you, the Hope was from the first batch they ever made, per ordered when I saw the ‘coming soon’ thing in MBUK, must be 12 years ago now. Been in a fair few bikes now and still works perfectly.

    manitou
    Member

    I’d say a big YES.. fit and forget. If you like taking things to bits and constantly fettling then perhaps no.

    riderideride
    Member

    Its just bling,i always take my headset out when i sell a bike

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