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mtbrer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m a long time Chris King hub user. I’ve had several hub sets and have been very happy with them.

But the I9 Hydra hub has my attention. I first looked as CK doesn’t offer a microspline drive shell. I also like the crazy points of engagement, and the rear hub is nearly 3 ounces lighter than the CK.

While Hydra is new and not proven have I9 hubs been reliable over the years? Would I find it to be a comparable in to the Chris King ISO hubs?

For references: I weigh about 220 and ride XC & Trail. Not terribly hard on equipment.
 

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Bodhisattva
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I have years of experience with CK & I9 Torch (pre hydra) and have only positives to say about both. Both are well built, well supported and durable.

Last night was my maiden voyage on a new wheel set with Hydra hubs. So I can't speak for durability, but the engagement is crazy quick - it might as well be infinitesimal engagement - and despite having more points of contact, Hydra are significantly quieter than the I9 torch hub

I've had outstanding customer service from both CK & I9 in the past, on the few occasions I needed something.
 

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Wanna ride bikes?
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Both are high quality hubs Made in the USA. The biggest difference aside from the obvious weight and engagement is the service. King hubs has extremely durable bearings that need to be serviced with special tools, but generally live "forever."

I9 bearings historically don't last long but are cartridge units and easy to replace. Not requiring special tools. The new ones are dead simple to work on, I've pulled the endcap/freehub off a couple hubs, no tools required.

Supposedly the new i9 Hydra hubs are 20% stronger than the Torch series too, time will tell.

CK has priced themselves out of the conversation IMO. There's a lot of other good manufacturers making high quality stuff that is less expensive.
 

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mtbrer
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys.

Yeah, I’ve never had to replace bearing in a CK hub, and I’m able to pull the seals, clean and relube them without any special tools. They’ve survived periods of neglect and have gone from bike to bike, wheel build to wheel build.

I have a set on the tandem MTB which has tolerated some serious weight an torque flawlessly for 15 years.

Axle spacing has changed and time to consider new hubs. While I9 are a little less costly same ballpark. But saving a few bucks and a few ounces, maybe I’ll try something new. On the regular bike - I’ll stick with CK on the tandem.
 

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Funny - I am actually having the same debate (and Onyx would be considered if the conversation if they ever release Vesper). Back to CK vs I9....

While I have not destroyed an I9, I have stripped the driving ring in a P321 hub. If not identical, they are very similar to the I9 drive ring. I bring this up because you are 220lb, and regardless of how aggressive you ride, you can likely put the power to the ground. I am a 215lb (former D1 running back). After exhaustive research this seems to be VERY uncommon. As for CK, the drive ring that engages the aluminum hub shell has a spline interface. Comparing the two just from the interface standpoint, my opinion is that it is far more likely to strip a CK than an I9/321
 

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mtbrer
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Funny - I am actually having the same debate (and Onyx would be considered if the conversation if they ever release Vesper). Back to CK vs I9....

While I have not destroyed an I9, I have stripped the driving ring in a P321 hub. If not identical, they are very similar to the I9 drive ring. I bring this up because you are 220lb, and regardless of how aggressive you ride, you can likely put the power to the ground. I am a 215lb (former D1 running back). After exhaustive research this seems to be VERY uncommon. As for CK, the drive ring that engages the aluminum hub shell has a spline interface. Comparing the two just from the interface standpoint, my opinion is that it is far more likely to strip a CK than an I9/321
You will not strip a CK drive ring.
I've put many miles on a CK hub on the back of a tandem MTB with two powerful riders putting the torque to drive a 450+ pound bike. The CK drive ring is VERY robust and I am completely confident you will not strip one.
 

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You will not strip a CK drive ring.
I've put many miles on a CK hub on the back of a tandem MTB with two powerful riders putting the torque to drive a 450+ pound bike. The CK drive ring is VERY robust and I am completely confident you will not strip one.
I don't think any drive ring will strip. They are made of steel. It's the aluminum hubshell that strips. A threaded hubshell is continually tightening. Thread any steel bolt into an aluminum female threaded hole and you have to pay very close attention to your torque.

The first thing that comes to mind is over torquing spark plugs in aluminium heads.....
 

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Ride Fast Take Chances :)
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I9 rings are threaded. It is very very rare for this interface to fail regardless of how much u weigh or the power u put out. Plus they would warranty it if you did.
Kings use a toothed interface.
 

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I don't think Kings are threaded. You're not pulling a king apart destructively.

A better way to look at Kings is that they're tandem hubs. If you have 2 people power housing it up steep climbs, Kings will hold up. I9 probably wouldn't hold up to that, nor would most hubs. Kings are a different level of strong.

I don't need anything close to that, so I'll i9 looks good to me instead! I wouldn't break an i9.
 

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mbtr member
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You will not strip a CK drive ring.
I've put many miles on a CK hub on the back of a tandem MTB with two powerful riders putting the torque to drive a 450+ pound bike. The CK drive ring is VERY robust and I am completely confident you will not strip one.
The XT hub at the back of my tandem is the only shimano freehub i've never had to replace. They're reliably **** on all my other bikes. Although a tandem crew can put out more power on average, tandems don't seem to be very hard on hubs.
 

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psycho cyclo addict
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I'd rather stick with what works rather than throw a new hub into the mix.

I have a small herd of King and DT Swiss hubs (only one set of DT 240s were purchased new; all of the others are used and many of them are 10+ years old now).

King bearings last forever with minimal maintenance / no special tools and they ride on a solid axle all the way though to the dropouts. DT's are also very good however I can't crank down the fun bolts nearly as tight as King's. The DT bearing end caps sit against the dropouts which can stress bearings if you crank down the fun bolts (on 135mm rears). I tend to rattle rear bolts and even 142x12 axles loose which may not be as much of an issue for others.

King's and DT's (in 18/36 or 54t) have more than enough POE for my purposes on geared and single speed 29er MTB's and gravel CX bike.
 

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Id rather throw a new hub in than buy the same one twice, even if it does break :lol:

The only really questionable hubs these days are cheap imports, and shimanos. You can buy basically anything out there and it'll be amazing. A hope will last most of us just as long as a king, but its 1/4th the price. Past a (pretty low) certain point, we're just buying hubs for fun.

Its rare that someone really needs DT or king strength.
 

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It's worth noting that the stupid high engagement on the Hydra hubs isn't a goal in and of itself. It's simply a means to an end. The end being increased bearing durability, which is achieved with the processional ratchet mechanism and stupid high engagement.
 

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Really looking at it, I think anyone not using angular contact bearings isn't engineering a hub with maximum bearing durability in mind. We side load the hell out of hubs, it's weird how uncommon angular contact bearings are.

We'd rather have easy service and just throw bearings in every few years than have an adjustable collar.
 

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I don't think Kings are threaded.
You are correct. The drive ring/hub shell interface is splined.

At the end of the day, I stripped a threaded interface. I know I am not the only one. What does it mean? On that day it meant a push out...it was a "catastrophic" failure. I've also exploded a sprag retainer in an onyx. The Onyx retained enough friction to pedal out. I can't see a splined interface stripping under human power.
 

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Really looking at it, I think anyone not using angular contact bearings isn't engineering a hub with maximum bearing durability in mind. We side load the hell out of hubs, it's weird how uncommon angular contact bearings are.

We'd rather have easy service and just throw bearings in every few years than have an adjustable collar.
Agreed. It's probably because that collar must be properly adjusted or the angular contact bearings will die prematurely...which would give the hub manufacturer no end of warranty and reputational issues...because many peeps don't check or maintain their bikes
 

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I was in the same boat as the OP up to about a week ago...

I grew up as a trials rider so damn near instantaneous engagement is critical. Back in the day as a teen ager working at bike shops and pizza parlors to support my riding, shimano silent clutch hubs were my only option. I was also 135 lbs wet and rode a very specific trials only bike.

Fast forward to now- riding endure/downhill/all mountain and fortunate enough to have the pocket book to support purchasing upper level components- I was looking at CK and I9 Hydras as well.

I have ridden many different sets of CK's over the years. Always top-notch and never any real issues except for when the needed to be serviced. Finding a shop with their proprietary hub press was hard ten years ago. I don't think you would be disappointed going with a set of CK's laced up to a rim perfectly matched to your riding style.

Then I looked at I9 Hydras. I was blown away. Most people say you wont be able to feel the difference between 72 pt engagement and 690 pt engagement. I can. It is very noticeable to me. The build quality is AT LEAST on par with CK.

For me I ended up going with I9 Hydras laced to RF ARC HD 30's. I don't think I'll ever need to shop around for wheels again.
 

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mtbrer
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So, I’ve read a few reports that using the grease in the hydras quotes them down, but the quiet only lasts a few rides. Has anyone else, hydra users, encountered this?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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So, I've read a few reports that using the grease in the hydras quotes them down, but the quiet only lasts a few rides. Has anyone else, hydra users, encountered this?

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
That goes with any pawl type hubs. They get louder with time since the lubricant breaks down. The Hydra is much quieter than the Torch to begin with. I don't think the Hydra will be as loud as the 'quiet' Torch with thick grease even if you run the Hydra dry. My Hydras came with grease and they're fairly quiet. I've had about a half dozen rides on them and I'd venture to say that the noise maybe got slightly louder, if at all.

Whatever the case may be, the Hydras will never be as loud as the Torch was.
 
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