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by James Huang
May 21, 2020
Photography by James Huang
Got Chris King hubs and Campagnolo components on your current road bike? You’d better sit down for this one: Chris King is no longer producing Campagnolo-compatible freehub bodies for its R45 road hubs.
“Over the past 43 years, we have added and added to our assortment of standards,” said Chris King’s head of digital marketing, Erik Fenner. “With the boom of new hub and headset standards in the past ten years, we found ourselves pushing the limits of our manufacturing capacity. We had an immense assortment of parts, and in attempting to keep making them all and make them all in nine anodized colors, we often found ourselves out of stock on our most popular and current products.
“We made the tough decision in 2019 to reduce our assortment to continue making current and forward-facing product. Along with this reduction, we had to make the choice to stop making a handful of headset sizes and hubs. Campagnolo was one of these hubs as the demand could not justify keeping them in the assortment. We still support Campagnolo product that is in market, it’s just not in our current assortment. We are still compatible with Campy drivetrains through the use of Edco cassettes.”
There’s a lot of work that goes into making something like this, and making one for Campagnolo unfortunately now isn’t worthwhile for Chris King (a Shimano-compatible freehub body is pictured).
Lest you see this as a sign of impending doom for Campagnolo, consider the significance of Fenner’s last sentence.
The issue doesn’t seem to stem from any lack of desire to support Campagnolo users, or even shrinking demand. Campagnolo hasn’t exactly been crushing it on the sales volume front, of course, but while the brand’s market share continues to be minuscule compared to Shimano and SRAM, its loyal fans seem to have been holding steady for the last several years.
Nor does the decision seem to be related to Campagnolo’s 12-speed cassette sprocket spacing, seeing as how Fenner specifically mentions continuing compatibility with 12-speed Edco cassettes (not to mention the fact that Chris King R45 hubs also work with SRAM’s latest 12-speed AXS drivetrains, which use similar sprocket-to-sprocket spacing).
Campagnolo’s own 12-speed cassettes, however, have a series of small tabs on the inboard side that are designed to keep the chain from getting lodged in between the spokes and sprocket in the event of a dropped chain – a rather ingenious feature by many accounts. But unfortunately, those tabs can also create clearance issues on hubs with driveside spoke flanges that are pushed particularly far outboard — which apparently include Chris King’s R45 model.
See those little tabs sticking out from innermost cassette sprocket? My guess is that these are the problem here. They prevent the chain from jamming between the cassette and spokes in the event of an overshift, but can also create clearance issues with some hubs and spokes.
As a result, it seems that Chris King would have to redesign its R45 hub shell design to accommodate the change. That’s obviously possible, but here’s where Campagnolo’s small sales volumes comes into place. With such a tiny percentage of the road market, Chris King apparently just can’t justify the development work to accommodate. The company will maintain a small stock of parts for warranty purposes, but that’ll be it.
Sad days, indeed.
You can find out more over at www.chrisking.com.
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