Mention Chris King in a room full of cyclists and most will think of either a headset or a set of hubs. A few lucky souls may even have a matching set, but whichever way you spin it (pun intended) the company has an industry leading reputation for making top quality spinning things, so making the leap to a full wheel build can hardly come as a surprise. With the new GRD23, it’s offering riders a carbon rim which, unlike most others on the market, is totally recyclable.
Carbon fibre components are all constructed in much the same way across not only the cycling industry but also aerospace, aeronautics, automotive etc. Carbon fibres are set into an epoxy resin in different layers to create the desired mechanical properties (for more details see our guide on how bikes are made). While carbon fibres themselves are inert and recyclable, the epoxy in which they are set definitely isn't, and so carbon components almost invariably end up in landfill, where they will stay for tens of thousands of years. Maybe a tiny fraction will end up in Silca sealant, but it’s not really a solution to a global problem.
Chris King has, instead of using epoxy, utilised what it calls FusionFiber technology, whereby nylon fibres are bonded in place of epoxy to tie the structure together. As well as being totally recyclable it is claimed to have 50% better damping as opposed to traditional carbon fibre, which is potentially a good thing over rough ground as long as the overall ride feel isn't floppy (which it is naturally claimed not to be). It’s not a tech that's exclusive to Chris King, but there aren’t many others out there using it.
Fully recyclable carbon is definitely to be applauded, as well as the claims of zero manufacturing waste, zero carbon dust and ⅓ less energy usage compared to other composite manufacture.
As a final cherry on the approach to sustainable manufacturing cake, Chris King already has the recycling path in place, rather than leaving the onus on the consumer to sort out disposal should their wheels break. If they do break they’re also covered by a lifetime warranty.
The wheel build
Naturally the wheels come with Chris King hubs (24 hole R45D models), making them a disc-specific set. The internal width of 23mm is at the wider end of the gravel landscape, and although tyre compatibility is 28-50mm they’re best used with something between 32 and 45mm, which puts them squarely into all-road and gravel, rather than an out and out road wheelset - perhaps given the damping properties this is where the tech fits best alongside a sister MTB wheelset, the MTN30.
The rims are hookless, like many of the best gravel wheelsets, and come setup ready for tubeless with tape and valves already installed. Sapim CXray spokes are used front and rear, and the wheels can come with a choice of nine hub colours. Shimano and SRAM are catered for, and fans of ceramic bearings can pay a little extra for the ultimate invisible upgrade.
If you want to roll out on your next group ride on a set of these you’re going to have to fork out $2,650.
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Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.
Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross
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