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For better or worse, I have to say that I'm pretty married to my present frame (Redline Monocog, 26" wheels). I really love the nimble feeling of 26" wheels and the BMX-like handling of the Monocog. I paid a weight penalty switching to this frame, but the fit is better so I'm happy. It's likely I will race this bike for at least the next two to four years (assuming my knees hold out).

I have slowly been upgrading from the stock parts, and it seems that my next step, at some point, will be to upgrade the headset and hubs (I already upgraded to Truvativ Stylo cranks and they're SO much better than the stock Firex that the bike came with).

Over the next four or five months -- after cross season ends but before I begin racing short track (on the same bike) my next step is to upgrade the wheels, especially the hubs. I'll stick with 32h front and rear, because I'm not getting any younger -- or lighter.

I'm considering Chris King, because they're local to me and because I can get a shop deal.
However, I just came off of the muddiest race I've ever done, and I wonder at the wisdom of using such high-zoot parts with close tolerances and brand-specific tools for something as gnarly and trashy as cyclocross. What kind of maintenance am I looking at if I get King hubs (SS cassette, 135 spacing in rear, with my library of interchangeable Surly cogs) gunky with mud? Am I looking at a relatively short lifespan for a pretty expensive part? Are there better choices that will give me nearly the same longevity and lighter weight but maybe aren't quite as high-zoot and potentially fussy?
(I'd thought of Phil Wood but they're also spendy, and farther away if I need to service them.)

Also -- although I do my own overhauls, I'm working on pretty old-school stuff -- installing the GPX bottom bracket was a new experience for me. How much will I love or regret having to buy specific tools for Chris King components? Feel free to suggest rims, too.

Thoughts and suggestions? Thanks --Beth

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Beth, you'll be more than pleased with the King components. Not only are they amazing, the folks at King are generally more than exceptional at the customer service end of things.
If you do get the hubs, and are comfortable working on such things, I would highly recommend getting the King hub overhaul tools, it make working on them a snap.
In terms of maintenance, there won't be much to do often, just periodically relube the free mechanism. I believe the owner's manual outlines the time frame.
Match those hubs up with a set of Stan's Notubes rims and you'll have svelte, reliable package.
I have used King components, as well as a wealth of my customers, here in New England for a long time with no complaints.
I'll second what Adam said. King components are as good as parts get. The hubs ARE expensive, so are the tools, but you get what you pay for. A King hubset will last indefinitely, and they are easy to service when needed.

I think "that" sound makes you go faster too. You have to keep pedaling if you want the hub to be quiet.
Yeah I will +1000.

You can't go wrong with King stuff. If someone says otherwise then they just were the one in a million who did. Great stuff, they make cross specific hubs, but their road, mtb, or classic would all do well. I have the tools and it is super easy to work on them. The videos on the site showing you how aren't bad either. Go for it!
I can tell you that Chris King is by far the very best. You do pay for quality but if you think big picture it all makes sense. Precise performance, longevity (especially in the mud) and superior customer service. King components are also very easy to maintain. Buy the tools and do it yourself. If you have questions you can just call them. The shop guys there are really cool and know their shit.
I have two 29er wheelsets built around CK hubs and Stan's rims. I think tubeless is a great way to go. The pairing has been literally bullet proof and fast!
Good luck Beth.

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