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Quick Review: KHS Flite 250

KHS Flite 250

For this review I’m doing things a bit different. I’ll start off with my overall experience then go into the mechanics of the bike.

Summary:

This has to be THE Smoothest Bike I’ve commuted with EVER! Yes I’ve said it and I know its a bold statement. But I really do stand behind my claim and say that this bike is a legit commuter bike.

What makes the KHS Flite 250 a smooth riding bike? Could it be that it’s a steel frame, married to a carbon fork and Kenda 700x26c tires? Could it be the curved seat stays or could it be that the geometry is just right, that it makes a harsh ride more pleasant? It’s possible that all those things I mentioned have a synergistic effect on the overall ride.
khs flite 250

Specs:

Frame: CrMo 4130 Double butted 3-main w/carrier bosses
Fork: Carbon w/Alloy steerer
Headset: Cane Creek Aheadset
Rims: Weinmann XTR16 Doublewall w/CNC sidewall
Hubs: Formula alloy QR, Cassette
Tires: Kenda Kontender 700X26C
Front Derailleur: Shimano FD-R440
Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-2200
Shifters: Shimano ST-R221 for Flat Bar
Chain: KMC Z82
Crankset: Alloy Forged 50/34
Bottom Bracket: Sealed cartridge
Cassette: SRAM PG-850 11-28, 8 Speed
Pedals: Resin w/steel cage
Seatpost: Alloy Micro-adjust
Saddle: KHS Road Padded
Handlebar: Alloy Flat Bar, 580mm
Brake Levers: Shimano ST-R221 for Flat Bar
Brakes: Alloy dual pivot
MSRP: $599

lhs flite 250

One of the great things about the Flite 250 was the flat bar configuration. Being a mountain biker, I really like the feel and control I have with flat bars. The Flite 250 had comfy grips; I never felt my back hurt during my rides — and you know what, the saddle was plush too.

Though the front fork doesn’t come with eyelets for fender mounts, the frame is equipped with bosses to allow a rack and fenders to be installed. If you really needed something for the front to act as a fender, a Grunge Board from Planet Bike might be a good accessory.

The flite 250 is equipped with:Front Derailleur: Shimano FD-R440, Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-2200 Shifters: Shimano ST-R221 for Flat Bar. Upon receipt of the bike, Flite was ready to ride. I didn’t have to tune/adjust it before, during or after my rides. In fact, the accuracy of the shifting was like magic!
The 50/34 double cranks were enough for flat land sprints yet forgiving enough to allow me to climb a large hill on my commute. I almost forgot to mention that the braking power on this bike is superb. I’m about 190lbs on a good day, and the bike had no problems stopping me after bombing down a long hill.

Handling on the Flite 250 was quick and nimble. It corners like a cat; it’s a lightweight, yet strong commuter that seems to scream for more when putting some power to the pedals. Don’t let the bike’s humble looks fool you, this baby can rock if you really want to. I can totally see how you could easily do a tour or a century on this bike.

Some things worth mentioning:
Test Bike only weighed 23.4 lbs
Nimble handling, I could easily throw the bike around if I needed to maneuver through some tight spaces.
Flat bar position allows for a comfortable geometry and “heads up” view of the road.
Carbon fork makes a HUGE difference on ride quality.
Never had a flat during testing.
2009 model is a sexy black!
Wonderful commuter bike!

So if you were to ask me what I thought of the bike other than it being super smooth, I’d say it’s a great ride. Definitely worth checking out at your local KHS Dealer. I think you’ll be quite happy with the experience.

Bicycle Bash by the Bay 2008: A Photographic Tour

The 2008 Bicycle Bash by the Bay was held today at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were thick and the enthusiasm for all things bicycle was strong and friendly. Of course, Bikecommuters.com was there to tell folks about our website, meet fellow commuters and give away some goodies provided by our wonderful site sponsors KHS Bicycles and the good folks at Xtracycle. We gave away literally HUNDREDS of flyers, “Gas Sucks” stickers, Bikecommuters.com stickers, KHS and Xtracycle catalogs, Hillsborough County Bike Maps and a variety of other pamphlets, pens and literature, and we spoke to hundreds of bike fans of all types. Great times were had by all!

For those of you unable to attend, I shot a bunch of photos and a couple videos to share so that you can experience this event “virtually”. Let’s proceed, shall we?

My partner for the day was Terry Eagan, fellow librarian and employee of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. He was chosen by his agency to represent sister agency Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization. Terry was extremely helpful and friendly and helped get the Bikecommuters.com word out, allowing me to wander the event, schmoozing with friends and strangers alike for most of the day.

terry

Check out some of the crowd — bicycles and bicyclists of all types…recumbents, roadies, fixed-gears, ratrods, choppers, trikes, BMX bikes and mountain bikers galore:

crowd

Here’s a wide shot of the enormity of this event — 70+ tents, thousands of visitors (estimated at 3000 or more):

wide

Vendors were varied this year…everything from bike shops to component manufacturers, advocacy groups, regional transportation planning agencies, bike clubs and co-ops. Here we see the lovely ladies of The St. Pete Skirts, fixed gear badasses and incredible vegan bakers:

skirts

Right next door we have the Tampa Bike Co-op. The Co-op volunteers did seminars and demos throughout the day, from repairs to loaded bike touring. They were selling really incredible t-shirts to raise funds for the Co-op, and I was happy to add one to my shirt collection. Here they are fixing bikes and telling folks how they can do it themselves:

co-op1

Here’s another one of the Co-op demos — this one the finer points of loading bicycle touring. This demo drew quite a crowd, and they had a sweet tourer to show off:

co-op2

Manny Sierra of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium chatted up passerby and did some bike tuneups of his own. CBE is my absolute favorite bike shop in the Tampa Bay area — they’re super-friendly, talented and knowledgeable. They have a really good understanding of the needs of bicycle commuters, as many of the employees there are out mixin’ it up with traffic every day.

manny

Next to them, we’ve got the cool folks and ultra-badass wheels of American Classic. American Classic’s headquarters is right down the street from my house…too bad they don’t give “good neighbor” discounts!

am classic

Here’s the line for the St. Petersburg Bike Rodeo program. These folks gave away hundreds of bicycle helmets to kids in attendance today…each one with a personalized fitting. Bravo, Bike Rodeo!

rodeo

The custom-printed Bikecommuters.com jerseys were a gigantic hit at the Bash. We were asked dozens of times if we had any for sale, and were asked to get some made pronto in sizes all the way up to XXL. We’re sitting on a fashion goldmine, folks! Here, the boys from Bikecommuters.com model these awesome jerseys…comfortable on a hot and breezy day — we’re bringin’ sexy back:

sexy
(Thanks, Moe, for the wicked “One Speed” socks…another big hit)

Speaking of sexy, my wife and son came over and spent most of the day with us. Leah helped out a bunch, chatting up visitors, fetching lunch for us and passing out stickers and flyers. She’s a dedicated bike commuter, too, so advocating for us came naturally:

supersexy

I brought the Recycletron 1000 to display — man, the Xtracycle was a HUGE hit with this crowd. We gave away dozens of Xtracycle catalogs and literally hundreds of business cards. Folks had a million questions and most came away convinced to add one of these to their lives. Xtracycles sell themselves, really, but the real thrills came when I took my son out for loops around the park — we were being stopped every 20 feet or so to answer questions and we received lots of smiles and thumbs-up. One of the shops had a Kona Ute under their tent…and it languished all day in the shade. Xtracycle ruled this day! People were truly excited by the prospect of hauling groceries, children and anything else aboard an Xtracycle.

xtra

Toward the end of the day, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker made an appearance and spoke to the gathered bike throngs. This guy is SERIOUS about making St. Pete a truly bike-friendly city, and he’s made tremendous progress in getting things done there. I had a chance to speak with him during his tour of the event, and he’s very personable, passionate and dedicated to bicycling as a valid transportation alternative. Kudos, Mayor — you rock!

Mayor Rick Baker

Here’s a Flip video I shot — one quick loop around the park. I’m calling out highlights as I see them, and you’ll be able to see what a huge event this was for the Tampa Bay area:

We’d like to thank site sponsors KHS and Xtracycle for sending goodies our way to distribute (we’ll be giving away some KHS “Gas Sucks” t-shirts and cycling socks soon…stay tuned for details) and Alan Snel and the shops of SWFBUD (Southwest Florida Bicycle United Dealers) for putting on this amazing event for its third year.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual “taste” of the Bicycle Bash. Perhaps we’ll see you next year?

KHS Flite 250 Update

Today was actually my first day to ride the KHS Flite 250 to work and I have to say…ready for this…”This has to be one of THE SMOOTHEST bikes I have ever ridden!”

Yeah, out of all the bikes I’ve commuted with, this one takes the cake. My main commuter bike is a Redline 925, steel. That thing is nice, but for some odd reason the KHS Flite 250 is just a smidge smoother. Perhaps it’s the combination of the steel frame and carbon fork that does the trick, or maybe the tires that are mounted on it. But whatever it is, this bike is something to write home about.

My route starts and ends me with a large hill. So that means I was able to see how well this baby climbs. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I’m a big fan of flat bar road bikes and because of the bars, I felt like I had more leverage to pump and pull in order to help me get up the hill.

I better stop now before I get carried away! But I’ll leave you with this bit of info, I like this bike. It’s smooth, shifts well, it’s fast and it’s strong. More to come about this bike in the next few weeks.

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 36°, 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

Fixed Gear Friday: KHS Flite 100 Update

I’ve gathered a few observations from riding the KHS Flite 100 to/from work. But first, here are a few tidbits about my commute: I ride 21 miles round trip from Whittier, CA to Downey CA. 2 miles of my commute are on the San Gabriel River Trail, the rest is on the mean streets of LA. I’ve been riding the Flite 100 fixed gear style, my demo bike didn’t come with a freewheel.

The Good: The KHS Flite 100 is a nice looking, well made bike; the bike received a lot of positive comments at the Urban Bike Commuter Expo. The 520 Reynolds steel frame is light and smooth. The handling is quick and precise, the single front brake is more than sufficient to stop the bike (with the assistance of your ‘leg brakes’). The 48X16 gearing is adequate for my flat commute, it does take a little to get up to speed but when you are rolling, the pedaling momentum of riding a fixed gear bike is quite a joy.

The Bad:Not every bike is perfect, and I do have a some personal issues with the Flite 100. The first one is the lack of water bottle bosses, yeah this bike is directed to Track riders/Messengers, but for us who ride longer commutes, we need to hydrate.

The San Marco Ponza Lux saddle has this weird hump in the middle, that causes my ‘nads to go numb. I’m going to do some minor adjustments, but I’m thinking of switching it altogether.

Lastly, the KHS Flite 100 comes with 150 psi tires. They may be great for the smooth surface of a track, but for everyday street riding, they are harsh.

That’s it for now, the full review will be up in about a month.