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I have Ksyriums and ChrisKings/OP - here are my observations *long*(26 posts)

I have Ksyriums and ChrisKings/OP - here are my observations *long*sodade
May 7, 2002 8:01 AM
I have just spent the last two months (~1000 Miles) on both wheel sets and I figured that my impressions would be valuable to the group. Here is my story:

My awesome new Merlin came with Velomax Orions. From the beginning, I could easily flex the rear wheel into the brakepad. After 3 or 4 rides, the rear was noticably out of whack. I am 160 (155 now :o) and I ride nasty New England roads, but I did not hit anything unusual. Here's what I decided to do:

The Orions went to a lighter ebayer for a good price.
I bought a set of Excelsports OpenProCDs laced to Chris King hubs. 28 2x revolutions in front, 32 3x double-butted in the rear, alloy nipples. These are my "all-weather" wheels. They have close to 700 hard miles on them now and are still perfectly true. I also ordered a set of Ksyiums (ssc sl) from sdeals (sadly out of the internet business now). The Ks came about 3 weeks ago and I have maybe 300 miles on them and they are still perfect. I got them to be my schwanky, go fast wheels.

These are my observations (ymmv):

1. The CKs engage faster - yes I notice it and I like it a lot.

2. The Ks spin up faster and generally feel lighter even though they aren't - also very noticable.

3. Heavy crosswinds push you around on the Ks - this can be scary when you are on crap roads and you are tired and not paying full attention. Does it slow you down? I don't think so, but I am no aerodynamics engineer.

4. The CKs are loud like a fishing reel - they have gotten much quieter after the break in period (500 mi). This does not trouble me as usually the only time I am coasting is when I am going very fast and I can't hear it much anyway with the wind rushing by. Also, it is useful as a noise maker when I am on bike paths to alert the meandering peds. Soon I will have perfected my "wolf-whistle" and then I will rule 'cause all the chicks will dig me. (PC alert - just joking)

5. Chris King is a great company to buy from - here's why:
a. Their website rocks! Just go look at the videos that show you how to rebuld their hubs. Campare and contrast to Shimano's crappy non-informative site.
b. Awesome tech support - I called them up yesterday to ask a couple of "what do I grease" questions, and the guy I talked to was awesome. He talked to me for 15mins, was extremely knowledgable, friendly and helpful.
c. CK will directly sell me any tiny part that I might need for wholesale forever (they still sell parts to the first product that they made).
d. No planned obsolesance - this is more of a feel-good kinda thing, but you can tell that they take pride in thier products and that they want you to keep 'em for 10 years and brag about them to your riding buds.

6. When it comes time to rebuild, the Kyseriums are gonna be problematic (i.e. I don't know what I'm gonna fricking do).

7. The Ks definitely have a high schwank factor.

Conclusion:
I am glad that I could afford both wheels and didn't need to choose between them. (if I did have to choose, I probably would have picked the CKs for pragmatic reasons). I fully expect the barrage of "you should have saved money and bought Dura-Ace hubs," but, for the reasons above, I am pretty stoked that I got the CKs. These wheels are gonna take a beating (soaking) as I am sticking to my schedule no matter how much fricking rain dumps on me and I will service/rebuild them frequently (with the help of the AVIs on the CK site and their tech support). When the sun is shining, I will put on my speedy, stealthy, schwanky Ks and hope that I get used to being pushed around by the crosswinds.
If you could only buy one or the other,steve1244
May 7, 2002 8:28 AM
but not both, which one would you buy, and why?
The Chris Kings /OPsodade
May 7, 2002 8:57 AM
Mostly for pragmatic reasons. Things like rebuildablity, warranty, etc...
Nice reviewNessism
May 7, 2002 10:23 AM
It's good to hear from someone with first hand experience.

One thing worries me about King hubs using an aluminum freehub body, loose individual cogs can dig into the freehub damaging the splines. I know this is a problem with the older 8 speed Dura-Ace cassette but I'm not sure about the newer stuff. I think this is the reason Shimano uses Ti or steel freehub bodies. Single cogs, like the smaller ones, can't dig in and tear things up.

Ed
Thanks. About the aluminum freehub body...sodade
May 7, 2002 10:52 AM
This sounds like it would be covered under the 5 year(!) warranty. Besides, I could buy a spare one from CK directly at dealer cost.
CK Freehub Bodyjpa
May 7, 2002 2:57 PM
FCK freehub body is available in steel or aluminum and interchangeable. I have a set with an aluminum FH on a pair of MTB wheels that did get a bit chewed up after 6 years of use. Replaced it with aluminum and didnt notice any difference in performance from the chewed up one that I replaced. My conclusion and recomendation would be to not worry about this issue if your using it on a road bike or cross country/trail MTB. Go steel if you freeride or downhill.
Damn, and I just gort a set of K'sRoyGBiv
May 7, 2002 11:06 AM
It's early yet, but so far so good.
Thanks for the review.
Brian C.
but I like the Ksyriums - read closersodade
May 7, 2002 11:11 AM
The speed and sexiness factor makes them my preferred wheelset for non-wet riding and they seem sturdy enough so far. I will probably take my Chris Kings on tours though. You need another set of wheels anyway - you don't want the Ks as your only set - primary yes, but not only...
Yer right about the schwank factor.RoyGBiv
May 7, 2002 11:49 AM
I can hardly wait to impress the babes at the local patio bar district this summer. (Ya right.)
The old Ambrosios are still there for heavy hauling.
Thanks again
why not?bikerfox1
May 7, 2002 9:46 PM
What's the problem with taking ksyriums on a tour or as a primary set of wheels? if you have extra spokes and are knowlegeable about replacement, what's the big deal?
I guess that my reasons are...sodade
May 8, 2002 3:09 AM
that I am not too comfortable with working on the Ks. It's not like I am a mech wizard anyway, and the CKs are a standard wheel that any bike shop dude can figure out. Yes, you can bring an extra spoke, but if you break two - you are hosed.
I have one question, please...Uncle Tim
May 7, 2002 6:46 PM
That is a super review and product comparison, but I don't know if it answers this very fundamental question:

Which wheelset makes the bike go fastest and/or climb better? What about descents?

You refered to the K' spinning up faster and feeling lighter, but you never really say...

Thanks in advance.
I have one question, please...atpjunkie
May 7, 2002 7:45 PM
You are the only guy besides me who equates CK's with fishing reels. Bombing a hill is like hooking a Marlin. Props to you!
(It also means you have a life outside of cycling) Double Props!
Sorry - I didn't make this clearersodade
May 8, 2002 3:35 AM
The Ks don't give any noticable advantage when climbing. Getting up to speed and at speed (including descents)they are faster - not a huge difference, but noticable. I should also say that they are a little stiffer - this combined with the aero factor is why they feel faster. I am also guessing that, while the Ks weigh the same as the CK/OPs, the Ks rims are lighter and weight is most important on the outside of the wheel.

While speed is a fundamental question, I think that there are other important ones (depending on your intended use):

1. Durability (they both seem equally strong to me know, but I don't really have enough empirical data)
2. Rebuildability (the Ks seem to be pretty sucky in this regard)
3. Schwank factor (you must wholeheartedly embrace your bike narcissim and the Ks score a 9 and the Chris Kings score a 7). Both wheels' front hubs look too big on a road bike though...
4. Cost (the Ks were about 80$ more including customs, but they are grey market which means no warranty)
5. ease of repair (again, the CKs stand out)

So, in the spirit of most good comparative reviews, my final answer is: "it depends"
Have you ever repaired a Ksyrium?TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 9:10 AM
You say a few nasty things about Kysrium rebuildability (the word "sucky" was used) and you say that the King's stand out for ease of repair. My experience with rebuilding Ksyriums was mostly positive. We rebuilt one from scratch (well, old hub, new rim, new spokes), and everything went very smoothly. It was a much simpler rebuild than a traditional wheel is- albeit you had to have the parts. Replacing spokes is just as easy.

Bottom line, if you have the parts, it's a snap. If you don't, it's a hassle. But have you ever had to send a hub back to CK for warranty?...(I have; it's not as nice as they make it sound on the phone).
Good point...sodade
May 8, 2002 9:30 AM
I was hoping that someone would refute me on this.

How did you get the parts you needed? Were they resonably priced? Did you rebuild the hub?

My "sucky" comment was mainly directed at the crappy Mavic website and the availability of parts. Compare and contrast the manual that comes with ChrisKing hubs and the one that comes with the Ks. Also compare the Mavic website to CK. No word on the Mavic site about adjusting, or servicing. The Chris King site rocks - every bike co. should follow their lead. Also, with the Ks, you've got to get a special tool to true and a special magnet for the spokes. For these reasons, I think that "sucky" is justified.

So you found it easier to rebuild the Ks than a standard wheel? Is that because they are radial spoked?
Good point...TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 9:55 AM
Websites aren't everything. Mavic parts are not designed to be user-serviceable. They do this on purpose. They would rather have a qualified, professional mechanic fixing your Mavic stuff, than have you dig into the bearings. Also bear in mind that there really isn't any service you can do to a Mavic hub, short of replacing the sealed bearings- and that's not hard.

As for special tools, last I checked, you needed a special tool to open the CK hub. Parts for Ksyriums are all available from Mavic USA. The rim was ~$100 and I think the whole wheelful of spokes was ~$50. They're easy to build because the spokes literally will only go in one way- directly to the correct eyelet. I think King is all hype, even more so than Mavic (but probably not as much as Litespeed), and that's a bold statement.
Good point...TrekFurthur
May 8, 2002 10:34 AM
I opened a King hub with two 5mm allen wrenches.

I'm pretty interested in this trend among ALL manufacturers to make their products and repairability specific to their own tools, etc., as opposed to the not-too-distant past when components from different manufacturers could be used together and taken apart with a good multi-tool (not that we had those in abundance either). What have we given up for technology?
Good point...TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 10:57 AM
So you don't need one of these:

http://www.chrisking.com/tools/tls_hubs.html

to do an overhaul anymore (not just 'regular maintenence')?
"not required for adjustment or regular maintenance"sodade
May 8, 2002 11:23 AM
You are right TJ, but at least you can open it up yourself.
I don't even have a fricking clue how to simply adjust my Ks. I think that the website matters a lot. I want to learn how to do most maintennance myself and when I am grase deep, I find it comforting to know that I can get a knowledgeable tech on the phone who can talk me through a tough spot.

Chris Kings = Hype?
Here is my list why I think not:
1. Good information (hard to beat howto videos on the web)
2. Usable tech support (try to get that from the arrogant a**wipes at Shimano and I bet Mavic is no better)
3. Rebuildable (sure you need a special tool, but you can!)
4. Instant engagement (this is noticable and awesome)

Is all this worth $200 over DuraAce? To me - yes...
my favorite form of maintenance is still no maintenancegtx
May 8, 2002 11:40 AM
maybe that's why I like Shimano--the stuff is cheap enough to pretty much ignore and doesn't seem inclinded to wear out that often either. Though on my road bike(s) I'm still trying to kill off the same three sets of Record hubs I bought in the 80s--I've rebuilt the wheels on them all at least once. I've repacked the hubs a few times, too, but it didn't really seem to make a difference. I like my King front hub on my mtb but the rear Kings are way too loud for me--have an XTR on the back, which I totally ignore. Seems fine--I'll look closer next time I rebuild the rear wheel.
Mavic hub disassembly,TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 11:41 AM
To disassemble your Mavic hub: use the tool that Mavic gave you (it has a semi-circle with a bunch of pointy things sticking out), unscrew the cap, hub effectively falls apart in your hands. This can be a fun excercise, but unless you plan to replace the bearings (and I have known VERY few people who have worn out a set of Mavic bearings), there is no maintenence to do.

Which would I rather, maintenence with good tech support, or no maintenence at all? I take the latter. If getting greasy is fun for you, enjoy disassmebling your hubs...

How to adjust your hubs? Did you read the manual that came with your wheels, or were you just hoping the info would be on the web? It's all spelled out right there- and it's much easier than adjusting a King (or any other) hub.
Well, the Chris Kings are my "rainy day" hubs so...sodade
May 8, 2002 12:26 PM
I expect to have to rebuild them. If I rode my Ks in a downpour (you must know about that New England rain eh?) I would expect that they would need maintenance.

I will look again at the manual (massively multi-lingual poster) when I get home, but I sure don't remember any mention of adjusting or servicing. And yes, I would hope that they would put some real information on their website. What's wrong with that? I was going to just buy DuraAce hubs for my rain wheels until I saw the detail on the Chris King site. The mantennance videos sold me. Even if I never use them, just knowing that they are there makes me feel warm and fuzzy for supporting a company who actually treats thier customer with respect. Unlike the arrogant bastards at shimano (and probably Mavic).
re: I have Ksyriums and ChrisKings/OP - here are my observationslegs
May 8, 2002 10:38 PM
I wanna hear how you like your merlin...
re: maintenanceTrekFurthur
May 9, 2002 5:25 AM
Out of curiosity, just how much maintenance is anybody having to do on either of these hubs? King recommends yearly maintenance (more if you ride in the wet Sodade, hehe), but so do most hub manufacturers, Mavic included, I'm sure.
re: maintenanceTJeanloz
May 9, 2002 6:05 AM
Mavic has no 'scheduled' hub maintenence. There's none to do. One day, the bearings will be shot and need to be replaced. There is no bearing repacking to be done with a Mavic hub- which is what most hub manufacturers are refering to when they recommend annual maintenence.