Chirs King's R45 hubs are lightweight and feature a jewel like finish. Their beauty is not only skin deep as these hubs have over 100 professional and elite victories in just 2 years. The Chris King R45 hubset is 20% lighter than the Classic hubset. This diet comes from designing a driveshell with a twin bearing design that carefully removed as much weight as possible from the inner components without compromising safety. Chris King's patented RingDrive engagement system was redeveloped resulting in a quiet and fast-engaging 45-tooth stainless steel system unique to the R45 rear hub.
Hubs are judged, ultimately, on how they roll and this is where the Chris King R45 excells with their made in Portland stainless steel sealed bearings. Making the bearings in-house allows each bearing to be hand inspected for precision and smoothness. R45 hubs also feature lightweight, low friction seals that can be easily serviced using only a single 2.5mm hex wrench and a pen knife. Find the Chris King R45 Hub Service Manual here.
Made in the USA
Stainless Steel Sealed Bearings
215g Claimed Weight
28/32 Hole Options
Shimano/Sram style R45 hubs do not come with cassette lockring
I'm a bit of a wheel snob. I almost only build my own wheels because I don't usually trust the component spec or finishing quality of factory wheels for various reasons. Also does save a bit of cash. When I went to build a new wheelset for my custom road bike, I went back and forth between many many hubs. My research eventually settled between two hubs, the DT Swiss 240s and the Chris King R45.
Basically, you can't go wrong with either hub. ENVE specs only those two (and their own carbon shelled bling bling hubs) on their wheels because they determined they have the most resilient drive system after torture testing many different hub brands' models. I came down on the side of Chris King because I admire their environmentally friendly manufacturing principles and there is an inherent beauty in the engineering and design of the hub. I also wanted to support the American domestic economy for personal reasons.
Why spend a lot of money on a CK hub when you can buy several perfectly decent off-brand hubs for a fraction of the price? I have built and ridden nice 6-pawl Taiwanese hubs, and they are hit and miss. Sometimes they would work great, other times they would suffer very premature failure. I feel like the weak point was the pawl system itself. The freehub pawls eventually stop engaging all at the same time (usually they engage in groups of three) due to contaminants (and did clean and regrease my freehubs regularly). The problem is that during quick pedal-setting and high torque riding the pawls would skip, and might not have adequate time to actually all engage at once. One pawl would be left to shoulder the load, which eventually leads to breaking the pawl and freehub failure. I once actually sheared freehub pawls out of the freehub body on a very hard effort, leaving me stranded on a trail. I'm no monster... I just think the hubs had a flawed design and metallurgy. You get what you pay for with a $150 hub.
CK circumvents that with a totally different engagement system that is basically "always" engaged, and actually becomes more securely engaged the harder you pedal. It is also a better-sealed system, albeit at a weight penalty compared to other "weight weenie" hubs. I would rather have a 100% reliable hub that doesn't leave me stranded than a light hub that might just fail on me in the middle of nowhere.
How do the CKs ride? WOW, these hubs have a very different "feel" from other hubs. Smooth as butter. There is no "skipping" or hard "impact" and bounce back when you suddenly mash on these. Everything is smooth and just meshes silently without skips. I guess it's due to the ringdrive mechanism on the inside. I've ridden DTs and their engagement is harsh, and not as fast as the CKs.
These hubs are also incredibly stiff... Hard to gauge whether it's the complete wheel or the hub itself but cornering feels great and there is very good feedback from the wheel in terms of stiffness. I have found that the frame is the limiting factor in stiffness, not the wheel.
The only issues I have come across is, yes, these are a little draggier than the other cartridge bearing cheapo hubs that I've ridden. But the ride quality, stiffness and sealing is better, so yes, you're going to get a little drag with better sealing. It's not significant wattage being lost. Also, during the initial bed in phase of the seals and bearings, I have had to adjust the cones several times to get the proper bearing preload. This is to be expected though. The downside of CKs is that due to the angular contact bearings you do have to keep an eye on the bearing preload, but having the ability to adjust them is nice. You wouldn't buy a fancy car and never take it in to get the oil changed. You definitely need to keep an eye on these, but they will reward you by lasting many many times longer than budget hubs. In my mind they've already paid for themselves... I wish I had just invested in these sooner.
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