If you have a serious bike obsession equal to mine, shopping for new bike products can break the bank. Thankfully, Nashbar is a competitively-priced company that carries a plethora of products, including bikes, like this offering, the $500 Bee’s Knees 650B Single Speed.
The Bee’s Knees is a simple, fully rigid singlespeed with working man’s components that, while on the entry-level side, will likely last a while. Notably, the Alex XD-Lite rims, Kenda Nevegal 27.5 tires and FSA Hammer headset all took a beating and remain ready to handle more.
The chromoly frame uses horizontal dropouts, a square taper bottom bracket and a standard 1-1/8 headtube. Unlike its more expensive sibling, the Avid BB7s, the Bee’s BB5 brakes lack the ability to quickly adjust the pads inboard and outboard, but the brakes still did their job so this wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. The bike comes stock with 620mm handlebars, which offer a little leverage when cranking up climbs and aid in control on descents.
The stock 38/16 gearing is more suited to commuting, not mountain biking, and I quickly swapped it out for a more manageable 32/20 for easier assenting on those long climbs we all love to hate. When asked about the gearing choice, Nashbar said, “It was based on feedback and all feedback on the gearing will be taken into account and may effect changes in the future.”
Update 5/23/14: Thanks to customer and other feedback, Nashbar has switched the stock gearing to 32/18.
The front end was lofted easily, given the relatively short 17-inch chainstays and confidently rolled rocks and logs alike. Going downhill the Bee’s Knees was a capable bike, cornering well and inspiring confidence in rough stuff despite the lack of suspension (just keep pedaling). The 70.8-degree head angle is on the steep-ish side, but I never felt like I was hanging out over the bars and for a fully rigid bike it feels about right.
The emergence of 27.5-inch wheels has been regaled as the greatest thing since sliced bread and it is pretty cool. It has the ability to roll over obstacles yet remain nimble, and these are becoming hallmarks of the wheel size. Being a little taller than the average height woman in the U.S., the 27.5s are not as overwhelming to me as a 29er can sometimes feel. Being able to maintain focus on skill building techniques and not just plow over things, as I tend to do on a 29er, is enjoyable and rewarding. Something to consider for those who fall below the five-foot-five stature, this wheel size can be a great compromise when a 29 is just too much.
Overall, this bike is a perfect starter for anyone who wants to jump into the 27.5 wheel category and is a great value at $500. Although singlespeeds are not for everyone, if you’re willing to put in a few extra bucks for some minor upgrades, you can get yourself a legit mountain bike for less than your annual cable bill.
- Country of Origin: Taiwan
- Price: $500
- Weight: 26.49lbs
- Sizes Available: 15”, 17”(tested), 19”, 21”
Note: This review first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #170.