Fixed Gear Friday: KHS Flite 100 Review

The KHS Flite 100 is KHS’ offering for track racers and bike messengers. Here are the specs of the bike:

Frame: Reynolds 520 Double Butted full CrMo
Fork: CrMo track
Headset: Cane Creek A-Headset
Rims: Weimann SP17 Alloy, Doublewall, black
Hubs: Alloy Flip-Flop Track, black
Tires: Kenda Koncept 700x23c, Kevlar
Spokes: 14G Stainless 36Β°, black
Chain: KMC Z30
Crankset: FSA Vero Track, 165mm x 48T, black
Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace SS-7600, 16T
Pedals: Alloy road w/toe clips & straps
Seatpost: Alloy micro-adjust
Saddle: San Marco Ponza Lux
Handlebar: Alloy track bend, black
Stem: Alloy 3D Forged, black
Tape: Cork Tape, black
Brake Levers: Tektro alloy top mount, Front Only
Brakes: Alloy dual pivot, Front Only
Color:Flat Dark Gray
Frame Sizes: 50, 53(tested), 57, 60cm (measured center-to-center)

Weight as tested:20.05lbs

Here’s some info about me and my commute: I’m 5’7″, 160lbs and 37yrs young. My commute is 23.6 miles round trip and it is mostly flat. I ride from Whittier, CA to Downey CA in Los Angeles County. 90% of my commute is ridden on the street and the rest is on the San Gabriel River Trail Bike path.

Aesthetics:
The KHS Flite 100’s flat dark gray/black scheme reminds me of a Stealth Bomber; the bike is very unassuming, it has proper track dropbars instead of risers and there are no trendy Deep V rims here. KHS did add a little touch of ‘retro’ with its fork:

KHS also added a front brake to this year’s bike; you can also add a rear brake since the frame is drilled for one.


These cracks on the road help me determine the bike’s ride quality.

The ride:
The KHS Flite 100 is one fast machine: once you are up to speed, you can cruise at 19-20mph effortlessly; if you want to sprint, the Flite 100 feels stiff with no noticeable flex. The steel frame absorbs most of the road chatter; however, the 150 psi tires will make the ride uncomfortable. I usually inflated the tires to 100 psi and I had no issues. The San Marco Ponza Lux saddle is rather hard, but once I dialed it in, I got used to it. The Tektro front brake did a great job slowing the bike down in conjunction with my legs, being able to use your legs to control the speed of a bike is one of the great things of riding a fixed gear bike.

I found the 48X16 gear combination to be adequate for my commute, it does take the Flite 100 a little time to get up to speed, but when it does, it flies. The last half mile of my commute is a gradual incline, it does take a little bit of more effort to get up the road, but that is how your physical condition is improved by riding a fixie/singlespeed bike.

Things I would like to change:I complained about the lack of water bottle bosses, so I asked KHS why is it that they are missing. Their answer was that the KHS Flite 100 is a true track bike that it is used for competition and it is also mostly used by messengers that ride short distances. My solution was to add a handlebar water bottle mount which kind of ruined the look of the bike, but another alternative is to get a water bottle holder that clamps to the seat tube or the downtube. I also didn’t care for the pedals; I know that this is a personal preference, I just like the easiness of entry of clipless pedals.

Should you buy one?
Riding a fixed geared bike is an experience that I recommend trying, not because it is the cool thing to do, but because of how much your pedal technique and your physical condition improves. The MSRP of this bike is $549, which is pretty much the average. Although the bike is a great seller among track riders and messengers, I also think that this bike is a good medium distance, flat terrain machine. If you are looking for a decent Fixed Gear bicycle, check out the Flite 100, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, go to www.khsbicycles.com


25 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider July 11, 2008 1:58 pm 

    I like it…super-stealth, and the fork crown detail is a great touch — so much nicer than the unicrown ugliness that usually comes with bikes at this price range.

    A couple of stainless steel bottlecage clamp bands from Velo Orange would eliminate the aesthetic problem of hanging a bottle from the bars.

  2. mike July 11, 2008 6:36 pm 

    nice bike, no water bottle bosses? is this being sold as an urban bike or as a track bike?

    and to nitpitck:
    “it does take the Flite 100 a little time to get up to speed”

    i’ve never really understood what this means when talking about human powered vehicles. without the rider, the bike isn’t going anywhere – it sounds a bit like a sports car review

  3. 2whls3spds July 12, 2008 11:20 am 

    You could use a Camelbak…but that might affect the aesthetics of the rider LOL

    Aaron

  4. Ghost Rider July 12, 2008 12:33 pm 

    Moe likes to squeeze the excess water out of his “Power Rangers” vest…

  5. outofluck July 12, 2008 6:22 pm 

    too bad this review came so late. i tried to get this bike back in may and it was sold out already… throughout canada

  6. Shek July 13, 2008 11:14 am 

    how does this bike compare against the Redline 925?
    Has anyone tried it against the Bianchi San Jose?

  7. Ghost Rider July 13, 2008 12:10 pm 

    Shek, the Flite 100 has a much tighter and twitchier geometry than either of the other bikes, which are more suited to road riding. This bike has “classic” track geometry, and might beat you up accordingly.

    The San Jose has to be one of the more comfortable singlespeeds I’ve had a chance to ride — fast without being too twitchy and an easy, relaxed geometry that suits commuting and recreational riding better than a track bike.

  8. Shek July 13, 2008 3:49 pm 

    @ Ghost Rider
    Thanks. Definitely comfort over twitchness. I am just getting my arms around trying to understand how these bikes feel. I think any single speed should be able to give me a better work out while commuting. I guess I should visit the local fixed gear bike store (cycledelic-fixity) to test some out.

  9. Ghost Rider July 13, 2008 5:34 pm 

    Oh, you’ll get a workout, alright! Any singlespeed, whether fixed or free, will force your legs to become stronger (unless you gear it like grandma’s beach cruiser…then you’re on your own!).

    Cycledelic-Fixity looks like a really cool shop — I caught some coverage of it over on BikeJax.

  10. luis July 14, 2008 11:15 am 

    nice bike and cool ride. though i currently live in denver i grew-up in montebello/ela (garfield and whittier). i regularly biked the san gabriel river to long beach with my friends. my dad still lives in downey. great to hear reports from the block! keep it up.

  11. davewins July 18, 2008 1:53 am 

    quick question..

    is the flite 100 gonna be a bad choice for a 14 mile ‘hilly’ round trip? I do this daily and have been riding in 3-7 on a 24 speed shimano group for weeks now prepairing for a single speed..

    but this whole ‘twitchyness’ thing you speak of.. wtf is that?!

    Im currently on a giant sadona dx and upgraded to sealed bearings and road slicks for my wheel set recently and i really like um. point is; I hear the stock wheel set on these ‘sucks’, are they sealed bearings? am I going to wanna upgrade the things right away?

    I ordered one of these things at my lbs a month and a half ago, thats why i ask all these random questions. its late..

    p.s. i searched on bikeforums.net, velospace, etc. and there is no damn info on these fkn bikes anywhere, so any help on what to expect would be sweet

    thnx.

  12. Ghost Rider July 18, 2008 6:11 am 

    davewins, if you’ve never ridden a track bike before, the “twitchiness” is hard to describe…the bike can feel unstable (even wobbly) at low speeds. This is due to the steep head tube angle, short overall wheelbase and low-rake fork. These bikes are designed to be ridden at speed, though, so those attributes are NOT a design flaw.

    Don’t believe the hype about sealed-bearing hubs vs. traditional cup and cone hubs. The only real benefit to a sealed bearing is the maintenance/dirt-blocking aspects — cup and cone bearings require periodic adjustment and regreasing/rebuilding. Many cup and cone hubs roll smoother than their sealed counterparts. The wheels on the Flite 100 are nothing particularly special, but they shouldn’t need an upgrade unless you’ve got money to burn.

  13. Moe July 18, 2008 7:06 am 

    I would like to address the ‘twitchiness’ factor of this bike, yes, the bike is more responsive than a mountain bike or a hybrid. However, I can say that at low speeds, this bike handles like a mid level road bike. In fact, I think that my Bianchi Via Nirone is more responsive and “twitchy” than the Flite 100 at low speeds.

    As far as riding this bike on a hilly 14 mile commute, it is doable if you are in good physical shape but I wouldn’t recommend it.

  14. Ringer July 24, 2008 2:06 pm 

    I ride a singlespeed on moderate hills in NH, and I love it. Sure, there are some hills I have to stand up on, but you get used to it. And people think you’re cool. I have an SE Lager, and I find that the gear ratio (not sure what it is off the top of my head) works pretty well on various terrain–except really steep hills, of course.

  15. fish August 13, 2008 5:57 pm 

    I love this bike. I live in LA and ride 12.8 miles round trip from Hollywood to Culver City every day and I’ve never been in better shape. I bought my 57 cm Flite 100 about three months ago and It’s my first fixed gear. I love everything about it; it’s fast, it’s pretty and it’s very solid and well put together. It feels like an extension of my own body. I’ll never go back to gears!!

  16. brent kirk October 21, 2008 8:07 pm 

    I bought this as a sweet deal.I thought I was getting a single speed but it end up being fixed gear 48×16 gear ratio.I had to relearn how to ride a bike for a couple days,But once I got the hang of it,I decided not to change it to single speed.If you live in NY city the tires do suck.Just keep your air pressure up and its golden And I changed to a 48×18 ratio and It is perfect for fast take offs and climbing hills.Great Bike!!!

  17. Christopher December 10, 2008 3:20 pm 

    Why in the world would anyone want to commute on a bike with track geometry? It would be the most uncomfortable bike you could possibly ride. And I’ll give KHS a $100 for every messenger they can prove uses this bike.

    It’s a track bike pure and simple. If you want a commuter or messenger bike look at the KHS Urban Uno.

    It’s silly to pretend track bikes make good commuters or are good for bike messengers. A bike messenger needs to see and stock very quickly. The racer style geometry is not designder for a large field of view and track bikes are not designed for using brakes.

    Come on peeps, using your head is not a crime. it is a very cool track bike, period.

    Me

  18. it January 12, 2009 5:51 pm 

    I have had this bike for over a year and have not replaced any thing on it (except for tires and the seat).I was commuting 9 miles a day in NYC. First off riding a fixed gear is great you have to learn how to ride it safely,But as long as you don’t ride like an insane messenger its safe enough. When I bought this bike I didn’t really know the difference between track and road frames,but I do now.To be honest once you get used to the tight frame and the fixed thing you have just as much control as any other bike.I’m planing on doing NYC century on it just to show that track fixed gear can be done at any distance . The new flight 100 ’09 does not come with brakes which sucks,because while there is no problem in ridding a track bike on the road,riding with out a brake sucks. Especially when you been pedaling 9 miles and you want to stop.But this 08 is a great bike highly recommended to anyone

  19. Prophet February 5, 2010 4:41 pm 

    Thanks for posting the review Moe.
    I Just picked up a 09 60cm in mint green (Australia). A couple of things to add to the specs:
    The hubs are NOT sealed. I had a look at the cup seals in the shop and thought they were. I asked my salesman and he turned the wheel on the floor stock bike and said – “yeah they’re sealed”, I can only guess they must have beded on that bike already. I appreciate what Ghost Rider has to say about sealed vs cup and I’ve always enjoyed maintaining my bike, however it would seem that in basic quality – sealed sets a high benchmark in smoothness. I just thought I was getting sealed.
    Also the chain ring that came with the Driveline (not Vero) cranks is BCD 130 popularly used by Shimano. The bottom bracket is English thread. For those of you who may consider replacing the cranks with something really nice like a Campagnolo track crank πŸ˜‰
    There’s a lot of decals on this bike, if you’re thinking of stripping it back then you’re facing a challenge, from what I could ascertain they’ve been lacquered over.
    It’s certainly good value, I was attracted to the Reynolds 520 tubing with traditional forks. The down tube is oval, the top tube is oversized/tappered, so the main frame is not so traditional, I can only assume these features are to compensate for the fact that it’s welded instead of using crowning to join the tubes.
    Hope that fills in the blanks for any fastidious researchers πŸ˜‰

  20. Ghost Rider February 6, 2010 3:06 pm 

    Prophet,

    hubs (such as the ones on this bike) can still qualify as “sealed” but be cup-and-cone. Most traditional cup-and-cone hubs have some type of rubber or labryrinth seal to keep gunk and water out. I think the real distinction is if they are “sealed cartridge” rather than merely “sealed”…funny how bike companies play with those terms to potentially mislead a customer.

  21. Tyler Lentien May 1, 2011 11:42 pm 

    QUESTION: I want this bike, but a fixie means i cant pedal backwards right?? so how can i make this into a single, just change the rear cog??

  22. Cameron May 8, 2011 5:03 am 

    I am about to buy one of these babies – 2008 model with Campagnolo veloce brake calipers, Tekro levers and 175 mm FSA cranks fitted.

    I am 6’2 and the frame is 60cm size. This sized frame should be OK, correct?

    Cameron

  23. Cameron May 8, 2011 5:38 am 

    How does the flite 100 handle corenerign clearance?

    How aggressive can you corner on streets without impacting the pedals?

    As this bike is predominatly track (hence emphasised track geometry) – does it have a low BB or does it have a high enough clearance?

    And, what is the chain adjustment like on these bikes?

    Cameron

  24. scb August 10, 2012 4:27 am 

    I ride this bike in the worst of NYC streets: careless pedestrians, birdbrained drivers, unkept roads. i do daily round trip commutes (10 miles), and workouts (40 miles). this bike is light, responsive, and fast. it is the most fun i’ve ever had on a bike, even on hills. the only modifications i’ve done are the pedals, added a gel seat cushion, and i threw on gatorskin ultras.

  25. JCS Fixed Gear December 17, 2012 8:51 am 

    I’ve had three of these bikes, and every one was outstanding. They are virtually the same frame and fork as the Mercier Kilo TT, made from the same Reynolds 520 steel in the same factory, same welders. If you are a sponsored track rider with KHS, this is the frame and fork you get. The difference is with the components that you use for your build. It’s not at all “twitchy” if it’s built right. After all, triathlon bikes have a similar geometry. I’ve ridden these on more than in century ride.

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