[First Look] Chris King ISO B / Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Wheelset


Chris King has been expanding their complete wheelset program with the addition of more rim options, providing complete wheels that range anywhere from a rather modest $999 up to around triple that. Over time, the Portland Oregon brand has risen to a cult like status, starting out with their legendary headsets. What really seals the deal (no pun) with King’s success across hubs, bottom brackets, tools (and at one point, even an espresso tamper) is their in-house made precision bearings and the phenomenal warranties they back their products with. Anyhow – not long ago, Chris King added the well received Santa Cruz Reserve rims to their list of options and they were kind enough to send us a set to test out.


Rim: Santa Cruz Reserve 30
Wheel Size: 27.5″/650b
Rim Type: Tubeless
External Width (mm): 36.4
Internal Width (mm): 30
Rim Depth (mm): 25.4
Available Hub Configurations: 28/28 ISO AB, ISO B (tested) and ISO SD
Hub Options:  Shimano or XD, 110×15, QR/100x15mm, 135QR/142×12/148×12
Spokes: Sapim D-Light
Nipples: Alloy Black(tested), Alloy Silver or Brass Silver
Lacing Pattern: 2-Cross
Rim Weight (g): 470
Warranty: 5-year on hubs / Lifetime on rims
Front Wheel Weight (g): 831 grams
Rear Wheel Weight (g): 1015 grams
Total Wheel Weight (g): 1846 grams (our scale, with rim tape and valves)
For years Chris King offered silver axles, but for 2019 they made the switch to a stealthier looking black anodized option. The polished silver hubs are still available with silver axles. Speaking of colors, they also added some very cool matte finishes to the 9 available colors.
As you could probably guess, the “B” in ISO B designates the hubs as having Boost specific spacing, but there’s more to the story than that. Compared to the classic ISO, these hubs sport a new shape that’s less bulbous and hey also feature hub flanges that have more cant to them, making for a stronger wheel build.
King call their hubs “responsibly lightweight”, meaning they certainly aren’t making any risky engineering  decisions. The wheelset we’re testing is laced 2-cross with Sapim D-Light spokes (2.0 – 1.65 – 2.0 mm), which are pretty tough and certainly not a gamble.
King hubs feature a threaded lockring to tension their angular contact bearings. There’s a 2.5mm allen screw and a little hole to the left of it, so you can use the end of said key to apply tension. Intentionally, they arrive feeling almost ever so slightly over tensioned, but the bearing races begin to burnish after a few rides and become blazing fast.
Continuing with the responsibly lightweight theme, King use one-piece axles. They feature stainless steel end caps. Speaking of stainless steel, that’s what the SRAM/XD driver body is made from. It might weigh few grams more than aluminum, but it’s tough as nails and built to last. The Shimano/HG driver is available in both aluminum and steel.
Just a peek at the roller bearings which sit inside the driver body and keeps the driver rolling smoothly on the axle.
Chris King and Santa Cruz have a great partnership which stems from the highly successful Syndicate team. And thus, the wheels we’re testing feature 30mm inner diameter Santa Cruz Reserve rims (which are also available in 27mm and 37mm). For middle of the road tire widths, 30mm seems to be where the industry is settling and we’ve had good results with that width in the past. The Reserve rims are asymmetrical and feature a 5mm offset, which provides more balanced bracing angles at the spokes from side to side, resulting in a stronger wheel.
There’s a 72 tooth drivering barely visible, hiding behind that big, fat, in-house made bearing. That makes for quick 5º engagement and provides the iconic Chris King “Buzz”.
Drool…In the coming months, we’ll keep you posted on how these hold up and publish a long term review on our findings. Thanks for having a look!
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