The Good Will of Chris King

Chris King HubsIt’s the pivot, the holding pin, the axis round which it all turns. It’s the hub. And who’s making these tough, light, finely manufactured hubs in colors for every taste? It’s Chris King, one of the 29 bicycle artisans featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

Of his own components, King writes:

“Inside the hubshells, the business transactions of putting your power to work, is where you’ll find what matters most…it’s our bearings, axels, and engagement system that have earned the trust of discerning cyclists. We make our own bearings in-house, each hand-checked for precision and built with a robust sealing system. Best of all? [You can] service them yourself. Our strong, constant diameter axels run through the bearings to the frame and fork dropouts for precise handling and stiffness under power.”

And Chris King isn’t just another Portland-based bicycle component maker churning out reliable, hand-crafted goods. They’re also a company that’s community oriented and philanthropic.

Chris King Precision ComponentsEver seen a bright pink Chris King hub and asked, why pink? Here’s the answer: Pretty and Strong. In 2004, the company launched a limited edition series of pink headsets and hubs to help raise awareness for breast cancer research, to which a portion of the proceeds are donated. They even encourage their customers to replace a ride with time out to take themselves or a woman they love in for a mammogram or clinical exam during the month of October.

Reasons to put them on the “nice list” don’t stop there. Chris King also makes limited edition headsets and other products for Wheels4Life, a charity founded by former Mountain Bike World Champion Hans Rey, providing bikes for people in developing countries in need of transportation to get to work or to school, including health care workers.

Chris King Precision ComponentsIn addition to their sustainable manufacturing and to encouraging their employees to bike to work, Chris King organizes the Gourmet Century, a 100 kilometer, non-competitive bicycle ride through pastoral, northwest Oregon. Through farms and barns, vineyards and fields, across a single track wooden railway bridge, throughout tree-shaded stretches of loose-stoned bridle-path winding across the arable land, participants ride by colonial-style clapperboard houses and churches, soaking in the scenery. Besides scenic views, this event serves up three strategically spaced epicurean rest points to keep “the appetite piqued and the legs energized.”

The next time someone looks at Chris King hubs, invokes the spirit of Gertrude Stein, and says, a hub is a hub is a hub, you can smile knowingly. Because there’s more to a Chris King hub than meets the eye.

This brief portrait of Chris King was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.
The Elite Bicycle TEB_96dpi_400pw_strThe Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.

The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.