The Chris King aluminum puck does not belong in “Matter.” We cover things like the first hydration pack, the first threadless headset, and the first lock-on grip. Flash points in evolution that changed the bike industry. The Chris King puck did not do that. In the nearly 20 years since King started compacting its shaved aluminum byproducts, you could argue that the industry has trended toward practices that are less environmentally friendly, not more. But during those years, outside forces opened our eyes to the enormous impacts that humanity’s tiny actions are having. Hurricanes, wildfires and man-made earthquakes have made the health of our planet top of mind. Or, at the time of writing this, at least in the top three.
“When I first started out, I was a tree-hugger environmentalist back in the mid-70s,” recalls Chris King. “To me, profits were less important than having a good life.” That position motivated him to take a hard look at his manufacturing process. He started not with the aluminum, but with the coolant—the liquid you see spraying at the business end of a lathe or a CNC machine. Usually, it’s a solution of 20-to-one water-to-oil, dissolved with an emulsifier. You can tell it’s water-based if it’s milky white. Water is an excellent coolant because it has a higher heat capacity than oil.
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