The UK doesn’t get many visits from the Chris King head office in Portland and so, even though they were only showing road stuff, we sent top endurance racer chap Aidan Harding across town to meet up with the King and Evolution guys in Bristol last month. Here’s how Aidan got on:
The recent UK launch of the Chris King’s updated road hubs was not the kind of thing you might expect a mountain biker to attend. However, many of us have a road bike in the shed/garage/bedroom and there was a new cross bike from King’s frame brand, Cielo, to look at. So, it was (slightly) more than an excuse for riding in the sunshine and eating someone else’s sandwiches.
First, the big news in Chris King road hubs: Campagnolo compatibility. Finally, you can run a Campy cassette on your rear King hub without any compromise. Not only will this be an option on new hubs from January, but the axle and freehub fitting for Campagnolo can be retro-fitted to existing R45 wheelsets.
The second piece of big news is ceramic bearings. Chris King have always made their own steel bearings to exacting standards, but the ceramic option allows for less grease and therefore less drag. Of particular interest to mountain bikers is that the ceramic bearings will shortly be an option on King’s road AND mountain bike bottom brackets. There will also be upgrade bearings available in a few months.
In use, especially with deep-section carbon rims they build into lovely stiff wheels that laugh at the the bouncing weight of a singlespeed mountain biker. They roll smoothly, pick up fast and make a happy buzzing sound. The road version of the RingDrive freehub has 45 teeth (the lower rings in the photo, above) compared to the mountain bike version’s 72 (upper rings in the photo) which allows for lighter lubrication. Less teeth and lighter lube mean less noise and drag.
Cielo might sound like a new name, but Chris King started making frames way back in 1978. He just got a bit distracted by the whole headset/bearing/hub business. The name is back and the results look like a very tidy meeting of old school aesthetics and modern technologies. Here’s their cross bike in subtle white and green:
For more things King, Cielo (not to mention Yeti…) have a look at http://www.evolutionimports.co.uk/