Industry Nine vs. Chris King

by Robb Sutton
This post was edited on 2/3/2009

The hottest competition in mountain biking…

When it comes to component parts for mountain biking, there are many great rivalries.

  • Shimano vs. SRAM
  • Rock Shox vs. Fox
  • DT Swiss vs. Mavic

The Industry Nine vs. Chris King hub debate is one rivalry that has gotten a lot of press over the last couple of years. The rookie, Industry Nine, has stepped in to try to claim the title. In every great match-up, the race is pretty close. I have owned or currently own both of these incredible hubs. How do they measure up?

Note: I will be comparing Industry Nine’s straight pull hubs against Chris King’s. Industry Nine does make a “classic” hub that accepts j-bend spokes, but for the purpose of the head to head match up, I wanted to use the most popular of each.

ROUND 1 – QUALITY

When you reach this price point in component parts, there is a certain level of quality that is expected of the manufacturer. This is one area that both Industry Nine and Chris King do not disappoint. Both companies use the finest materials with very stringent quality control measures to insure that every hub that goes out the door is one of their best. Choosing one hub or the other at this level is almost impossible.

  • The Industry Nine hubs come standard with a 7068 alloy cassette body that is a claimed 20% stronger than regular 7075. King uses 7075 with a stainless steel option (I have that option) and there have been some reports of certain cassettes notching the cassette bodies on the aluminum 7075. There are also some fitment issues with certain cassettes and King hubs that require a spacer (Shimano XT). I switched to SRAM cassettes for this reason.
  • Given the right wheel builder, a Chris King wheelset can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Industry Nine wheelsets require constant attention during the beginning stages with several re-tensioning points. A recent set of Industry Nine’s made it to my doorstep with uneven spoke tension. This is something to watch from the I9 camp.
  • Chris King has the long track history of durable components over an extended period of abuse. Jury is still out on I9 for that kind of track record.
  • Industry Nine’s ano process can vary depending on the run. This can mean that a replacement hub will not match your existing hub. Chris King’s haven’t changed in years.

Round One goes to….Chris King

The designs are different but the quality is what you would expect from components of this caliber. The reason Chris King took the round is because of the of the tensioning, color and track record over Industry Nine. Overall, both of these hubs are premium quality components.

ROUND 2 – PERFORMANCE

Both of these great hub companies deliver in spades what most are trying to achieve. Industry Nine is the “king” of engagement. Their 6 pawl 120 point (3 degrees) engagement drive mechanism is the leader in the industry. With their 6 pawl design, 3 of the A-2 tool steel pawls are enagaged at a time providing 9 points of contact.   You truly don’t know how great the instant power transfer is until you ride I9 hubs and then switch to another brand. You find out what you were missing. The straight pull spokes also create a stiffer wheel design than your traditional j-bend spoke design when tensioned correctly. Stiffer wheels equal less deflection and a more stable ride on the trail. They also have several gauge thicknesses to choose from.

The Chris King drive mechanism is no slouch, and until Industry Nine entered the market, it was the drive to beat. Their patented RingDrive provides 72 points of engagement and is one of the quickest in the industry. King’s RingDrive engages all 72 points simultaneously providing a stronger drive mechanism. On the wheel build, you are at the mercy of the builder. Most qualified wheel builders can make a bulletproof set of Chris Kings. Chad at Red Barn Bikes built up my set for the Terremoto and they have been flawless through some intense thrashings. Some of King’s hubs in the wrong hands can cause you headaches. With different spoke options (gauge and straight vs. double butted), you can customize the build for your needs.

Round 2 goes to…Draw

9 contact points vs. 72…120 pt. engagement vs. 72…as you can see…each brand has their strengths and weaknesses. Overall, both built wheelsets deliver on their performance promises.

ROUND 3 – RELIABILITY

With these hubs, you expect them to last a long time with regular service for this price. Chris King hubs have been around since the early 90’s, and at every trailhead you can find a satisfied King customer. Their hubs are proven and they work every time.

Industry Nine is the new kid on the block and they are showing great promise in this area. Their standards for manufacturing should hold them among the top of respected mountain biking part suppliers.

Round 3 goes to…Chris King

Until Industry Nine gets the long-term track record like King already has…Chris King will rule the reliability category. This is not saying that I9 may not take this over…they just need more trail time to take the title.

ROUND 4 – MAINTENANCE

Both of these hub sets require regular maintenance. My King hubs required bearing preload adjusting after the first 6 hours and j-bend wheels require truing and tensioning on a regular basis (no matter who builds them) to make sure they perform correctly. The re-greasing procedure is incredibly easy and can be done by any rider with a willing to try.

Industry Nine is in the same boat as King here. It is recommended that the spoke tension is checked after the first couple of rides and re-greasing is with the Kings on the easy level.

Round 4 goes to…Draw

Every hub, or component for that matter, is going to require regular maintenance to insure proper function. The trick is making it easy for the end user, and both companies to do a great job at this. Both companies offer technical pdf documents on servicing their hubs. As a added bonus, Chris King also has a video section that you need to check out.

ROUND 5 – VERSATILITY

Industry Nine has brought hub versatility to a whole new level with their replaceable end caps. Now, the same front hub, can be for quick release, 15mm, 20mm, 24mm, or 25mm with the simple switch of the end caps. There is no other hub on the market that allows this kind of swap out. The rear can also be changed from quick release, 10mm and 12mm. So you bought a QR, 140mm fork and now you think a 20mm TA fork would have been a better purchase. No problem, swap out the end caps instead of the entire hub.

With Chris King hubs, you are stuck with what you purchased. There is no option available to convert your existing hubs. On the rear, King offers their “Fun Bolts” as a thru-axle type option, but you are not able to get a true 10mm for the 135mm width.  This year, Chris King finally introduced a 150mm wide hub for the downhill/freeride market with a standard 12mm axle.  This should make those riders incredibly happy.

Round 5 goes to…Industry Nine

The amount of options you have with an I9 hub is astounding. Moving wheels from bike to bike has never been this easy.

ROUND 6 – BLING FACTOR

Subtle bling vs. Out there color!
Each is bling’ed out in their own right, but Industry Nine made color cool again. From their wild fades to muli-colored spokes, color hasn’t been this widely accepted since the 90’s.

Round 6 goes to…Industry Nine

While the I9’s are available in all black, they have created a niche for themselves with the color options. Industry Nine produces the best-looking hubs on the planet. When you combine that with their spokes, the combination is unbeatable.

ROUND 7 – CUSTOMER SERVICE

Exceptional customer service at this level is expected, not a bonus. I have dealt with both companies on certain CS levels and while neither one is bad…Chris King has a leg up on Industry Nine.

Chris King does a much better job of providing information online for it’s users. There is a multitude of explanations and technical information. Currently, Industry Nine’s website is difficult to manuver at best. During a tour of the I9 plant, I did get the inside track on their new website that is going to be released sometime in the future. I won’t say much, but just imagine building your own wheel/color combo with real life pictures before purchasing.

Long lead times and order mistakes keep Industry Nine’s customer service at a level below that of the Chris King’s. When a customer needs a part for their new ride…they don’t want to wait 6 months for a new set of wheels. Industry Nine needs to step it up in the business department if they want to hold a candle to the service that Chris King is able to provide. Rumors of order mistakes after the long wait also keep I9 behind the eight ball. It’s time to step it up!

Round 7 goes to…Chris King

Chris King has been the go to company in the industry for this long for no reason. They have kept happy customers for over a decade and continue to impress. Industry Nine needs to put their customer service and manufacturing on par with other component manufacturers in the industry if they want to be there for the long haul.

ROUND 8 – PRICE

Both of these sets are high priced hubs.

Round 8 goes to…Chris King

While not getting into too much price detail, a better deal can be found on the Kings when comparing black hub/black spoke combos. When you add in Industry Nine’s wait time, Chris King takes this category without much argument.

THE WINNER BY UNANIMOUS VOTE

CHRIS KING PRECISION COMPONENTS

Chris King keeps the top spot. This post was originally posted on June 4th 2008 (I9 was the winner at that time). Today (Feb. 2, 2009), things have changed a little bit. Increasing quality issues by rushing out orders that were late by months have plagued Industry Nine with some growing pains while Chris King continues to put out an exceptional product. If Industry Nine wants to truly be the best wheelset on the market, they need to tighten up on their business practices and quality. They have the ability to be one of the best manufacturers in the industry, but they need to tighten up some.

Chris King…you still hold the best hubs on the market due to industry leading performance, reliability and exceptional customer service.

Note: Many of the comments left on this post were previous to the revision. This post was not changed due to the comments left…a difference in opinion by Mountain Biking by 198 readers is always welcomed and encouraged. The reason for the revision was due to different circumstances from the original article date.

Which hub do you think wins the match-up?  Submit your comments below and vote in the poll.

[poll id=”7″]

Resources:

16 comments

16 comments

JustAGuy August 1, 2009 - 7:57 pm

A good combination, for the the practical mind at least, would be a CK at the rear (for all the good features mentioned above) and a I9 in the front. No, I’m not talking about a full wheel, but of a I9 hub with a J bent interface. That way one will benefit from the I9 adaptability (from QC to 9mm etc).

And if the fashion police objects (“Oh my god, he’s got a different front and rear hub!”), most of us still have an middle finger to show them…

Reply
mudd May 9, 2009 - 3:10 am

You mention the notching that happens with the CK drive shell sooo…? Yes this does happen. There is absolutely no detriment here. I’ve been riding the same CK hubs for ten years now…nothing’s ever been replaced…and the small notches in the aluminum, once in place, have stayed exactly the same. CK explained it to me just as I did to you. This notching or bunching up is just not a problem. Ten years man…ten fricking years and no problems…ever!!! The problem now though is that my hubs are so old that they can’t be upgraded to the new standards. When I get the new SC Blur LTc I don’t know what I’ll do with the old hubs. I can’t imagine selling them. I’m getting emotional already.

Reply
Goit February 5, 2009 - 4:08 am

Can’t believe you have not included Hope hubs in this shoot out. Not only are they reliable, high quality, trendy, simple to convert and totally simple to work on but they are a fraction of the extortional price charged by CK and I9. Its one of those cases where people assume that the most expensive must be the best. Not so – Hope is way up there and you don’t have to sell your body to afford them.

Reply
Heavyweight Hub Battle - A Revisit | Mountain Biking by 198 February 4, 2009 - 5:01 am

[…] in June of 2008, I did a “Heavy Weight Hub Battle” between Chris King and Industry Nine. Both companies provide a very premium component to the […]

Reply
mk February 3, 2009 - 8:03 pm

Baloney review. In your quality section, you compare the material of the drive shell to chose the winner? That’s probably one of the most irrelevant elements of the hub. If you’re looking at materials, how about comparing the materials of the engagement mechanism? Or how about comparing several elements? How about mentioning the really high-tech way I9 are machining their ratchet ring?

Chris King can handle more torque than I9, how is that for better performance? Yes, engagement is quicker, but that’s not all. How about durability of the pawl system vs. ring drive? There’s a huge difference in engaging in 9pts vs 72!

Standard wheels do not require re-truing and re-tensioning on a regular basis; unless they’re built poorly.

I’ve had good experience with both companies in terms of customer service. In fact, I’ve been more than pleased with Chris King.

I don’t buy this review.

Reply
E January 7, 2009 - 7:28 pm

This review seems extremely biased and doesn’t take everything into account. I’m currently shopping for a set of wheels and was down to either I9 or CK hubs. There is quite a bit of complaining on the net about I9’s bearings… like they need to be replaced often because the hubs do a bad job of keeping dirt and water out. And there are 4 cartridge bearings in the rear… comes out to $120 to replace all the rear bearings!
I can find nothing but positive reviews on CK, and from people who have had them for years and years without issue. One guy mentioned his CK hubs outlasted 4 frames and countless rims over 20,000 miles! I also think that Simon’s comments (above) are right on.
For now I’m going with Kings – I know that I’ll be a happy customer for a long time (thanks for your comments Simon!). I’d rather not be a guinea pig with I9’s. Maybe they’ll turn out to be a great hub in the long term… or maybe they’ll be expensive to maintain with the spoke and bearing issues. Time will tell, but it seems crazy to say that I9s are a winner over Chris Kings.

Reply
MTB Buyers Guide - Mountain Bike Suspension Forks | Mountain Biking by 198 December 29, 2008 - 9:42 am

[…] If you are using a front hub that can not be converted to the new size…like the offerings out of Chris King…you are going to have to build a new front wheel around a new front hub. This is going to add to […]

Reply
simon December 26, 2008 - 8:54 pm

I’ve never read such a biased ‘review’ of anything, could you have tried to ‘queer the pitch’ any more?

let’s set some redress here.

There is no huge I9 vs CK battle, I9 are a relative unknown, hell they don’t even have a rider team on their website, go figure. That battle exists in the minds of the marketing kids at i9.

Round 1. CK tell customers to choose the SS freehub option if they are using separate rings or part blocked cassettes. I9 don’t have an upgrade option. Round to CK surely for having more options to suit a wider range of needs, lighter or stronger, rather than one size fits all.

Round 2. Engagement, the I9 hub is a 6 pawl design, you can stick as many dots on the face of those pawls as you like, it’s still only six points of contact. It does have good pick-up due to clever geometry internally, but claiming 120 points is bullshit, there’s not 120 of anything inside that hub, that’s misdirection.

The CK hub does have 72 seperate gear lines machined into the body and gives you a genuine 5 degree pickup.

So maybe 1/2 point each, I9 get theirs for stretching a mathematical point from a marketing principal and CK get there’s for making the higher load rated and easier to service drive mechanism.

Ooops, forgot the spoke thing. Aluminum has no minimal fatigue loading limit, if you flex it enough times, no matter how small the loading, it will fail. Steel on the other hand has a minimum loading, below which an infinite number of cycles can be sustained. That’s why steel framed bikes last almost forever, and alloy frames are useful for nothing more than garage decorations after 5 seasons max.

Some wheel builders are good, some are crap, get used to it.

Round 3. Reliability.
Well you got this right, come back in 20 years and let’s see how I9 are doing.

Round 4.Maintenance.
A draw, both are fully user servicable, CK having the benefit of much greater parts availability and a huge online knowledge base.

Round 5. Versatility.
Yup I9 walk this, Ck can learn from the new boys here. I have no doubt that they will, 15, 20 24, 25mm TA front axles are available from CK now, are they nearly have their 5hit together with the rears.

Round 6 Bling.
Seriously, what planet have you been on, CK pioneered quality anodised finishing and have been producing them none stop since day one, they own the product finish category in the MTB market. Take a look at the pics on the I9 website and compare the alloy finish, the thread cuts and the anodising to the images on the CK site.

There’s no comparison, the CK stuff is vastly superior in finish.

And they even make specific colors for charity.

Round 7, Customer Service.
I can’t comment on I9 as I9 don’t exist over here in the UK, obviously none of the decent importers are interested in another me-too hub brand that is recycling ideas from late 80’s component manufacturers.

I’ve been riding CK for 25 years though and i’ve never had any issue with them that’s needed customer service, and unless someone knows better the very best customer service is the one you never have to call upon. Service starts with product.

Round 8 Price.
I’ll take your word on it.

I guess if all you want is a hub that you can use on any fork then I9 has you covered, if you don’t mind the high cost, long wait, poor availability, limited rim choice from a 2nd tier rim maker, mid-range product finishing and spokes that will snap eventually no matter how gently you ride them.

So it wouldn’t seem to be anywhere near as cut and dried as your ‘hatchet job’ review initially makes out.

Reply
198 December 27, 2008 - 10:07 am

Thanks for the input Simon. Looks like we agree on some but not all…different opinions make the world go ’round. I will say that recent increase in lead times out of the crew at Industry Nine make this a lot closer race than when this article was written. I can’t wait that long for wheels anymore…like most of the consumer market.

Take a look at the other wheel reviews on the site when you get a chance…Ellsworth, Hope and Hadley preview.

Reply
198 November 13, 2008 - 9:02 am

@Deon: Thanks for taking the time to comment on the article. As you stated in your comment…it is more of a comparison of companies and their most popular products. For the purposes of the article, I wanted to compare the wheelsets as the typical consumer would see them.

Head to head on Industry Nine vs. Chris King would be a much closer race and the edge would probably go to Chris King.

Update: Wait time now plays a much larger factor than before. The wait time for Industry Nine has steadily increased over time to the point that I got a complete custom steel frame and fork completely finished…including paint…in a shorter time than it took to get the wheels (and this was not a short period of time).

At this point in time…I would pick up a set of Kings over Industry Nine due to that wait time. The Chris King’s still perform at a level that is far above most hubs in the industry. It is great that we get to compare products at this level because there really is no loser.

-198

Reply
Deon November 13, 2008 - 5:04 am

The question is, what would happen were King to take up the challenge and develop a spoke system similar to that of I9?

That would really interest me as I do believe King is a truely innovative company. I’m hoping they are applying themselves to this matter!

Comparing the classic I9 hubs to Chris Kings would’ve been a fairer comparison of hubs, but then I guess you were comparing companies and as such it is fair. Where would you stand if you were to compare the classic hubs only?

On the subject of maintenance, what about the ease of maintenance of spokes? How many shops stock I9 spokes? Like I said, not a big issue, but certainly worth mentioning.

Yes, as an I9 user it might be easy to just keep spares with you, but for someone running normal j-bend spokes this is simply not a worry.

That all being said, I love my Kings, but if/when I get a 29er, I will certainly go for I9s as the added flex in 29er wheels irks me somewhat and any etra stiffness will be greatly appreciated.

Good review!

Reply
curt July 14, 2008 - 10:33 am

hmmm. a problem with this type of review is that it assumes all factors have equal weight. 2nd, its a 1-0 or 0-1 with no sense of measuring of how close or far off they are in one aspect. personally, i think reliability should weigh more than the others and assuming performance goes to I9, it is not a 1-0 probably 1-.9 for I9 fans. i definitely agree that bling goes to I9 a 1-.4 in my book.

Reply
ta June 7, 2008 - 9:29 pm

Great review RS, really good oil on two awesome company’s, Ive not had the pleasure of I9s other than some friendly info from my OS friends, but had a great 3years with my Kings, I loved your review formatt and thought it reflected nicely the new boys on the block and the industry leader heavy weights, Ive always admired Kings engineeering of the ring drive, so will be very interesting to see where I9 go and what they do and what CK do to counter puch there moves, can only be good for us and them!

I also have Hadley’s and have had a great run with them, what they lack though is the overall contact of these too, though I would not hesitate to but them again, but the review is about CK and I9!

I took from this the overall packages an information from both companies the CS the qualities, the niggles each may have, options etc, I may never afford to have the 19s but I can’t help admire them, though there options make it compelling in saving s over time, I also hope to have Kings again one day maybe on a single speed.

Cheers for the mention too, was a pleasure helping where I could!

Reply
jason June 7, 2008 - 11:51 am

still waiting to try my i9s, should be soon

Reply
198 June 6, 2008 - 8:14 am

@hellbelly: Hadley makes a great hub. You can also hear it from miles away!

Reply
hellbelly June 5, 2008 - 6:51 pm

I am boring so I’ll stick with my Hadleys.

hellbellys last blog post..My "punk" pages

Reply

Leave a Comment

Related Posts