KHS was one of the first brands to wholeheartedly embrace 27.5 wheels, putting its first model on the market in 2009 and now offering 19 models across the line. It was able to do so because it is one of the largest manufacturers in the bike industry, building its own bikes as well as those of other brands. Interestingly enough, it also builds and distributes Yamaha motorcycles and instruments for the Taiwanese market.
The SixFifty 7200 is squarely aimed at the all-mountain and enduro crowd, with 160mm of travel through KHS’s four-bar, floating shock suspension design dubbed F.A.S.T. Key geometry numbers are a 66.5 degree head tube angle, 75 degree seat tube angle and 17.1-inch chainstays.
With input from KHS gravity athletes Kevin Aiello and Logan Binggeli the bike is heavily biased towards descending, as you might expect from a bike designed by a pair of downhill champions. When I first got on it seemed even more slack than the numbers would suggest, with a bit of wheel flop at low speeds.
Despite the long travel the excellent RockShox suspension keeps things composed under power and Binggeli had no trouble keeping up with the whippet XC dudes on our group ride (this author, not so much). The 7200 feels extremely stable down hill at speed, but requires a bit more body language to steer and it took some getting used to the timing required for tighter turns.
The 6061 aluminum frame is offered with a Shimano SLX 2×10 component kit, KS dropper post, and RockShox Pike RCT3 fork and Monarch RT3 shock, the $3,699 asking price is very competitive. There is also a 7500 model with SRAM X01 for $5,549.
We also got a look at the prototype version of the next-generation SixFifty currently being ridden by Aiello and Binggeli. We spotted key changes like a fixed rear dropout, forged frame elements, a one-piece rocker link and a longer front center. Look for those changes to make it to the next generation model.
Are 24-inch wheels making a comeback? No, if you can believe it those are 29-inch hoops on the massive KHS “Big N Tall.” Recognizing the lack of options for riders taller than 6-foot-4, the BNT is made from Reynolds 520 steel and is offered in XXL and XXXL only, effectively 23-inch and 25-inch models. Attached you’ll find a 120mm Manitou Marvel fork, 36-spoke wheels and 200mm crank arms. The BNT retails for $1,969.