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KHS XCT 555-The Best Bang for the Buck

Posted by RL Policar On August - 25 - 2009

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I’ve been testing the XCT 555 for a few months with an intention of using this bike for EVERY type of riding that I do.
khs xct 555
Originally I asked KHS Bicycles for a frame, but when the big cheeses told me they had a complete bike, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride it.

khs xct 555

Before I go on with the details of how this bike performs, let’s talk about the meat and veggies of this ride. Below are the specs…and if you notice, this bike doesn’t skimp on quality components.

Specs:

Cost: $2299
Frame AL6061 4-bar Horst bearing linkage, 5.5″ Travel
Rear Shock Rock Shox Monarch 3.1, Solo Air, ext rebound adjust and floodgate dial
Fork Marzocchi 44 TST2 140mm w/15mm drop outs, air preload, TST2, Lock Out, Compression & rebound adjust
Headset Cane Creek ZST2 Threadless, Zero stack
Rims WTB Speed Disc doublewall, w/eyelets
Hubs Front: Alloy disc, Rear: Shimano disc, QR
Tires WTB Wolverine 26X2.2, folding, 60TPI
Spokes 14G black, 32°
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear Derailleur SRAM X-9
Shifters SRAM X-7 Trigger
Chain KMCZ9000 w/Missing Link
Crankset Truvativ Firex 3.1, 44/32/22, Alloy CNC Outer ring
Bottom Bracket Truvativ GXP outboard cartridge bearing
Cassette SRAM PG-950 11-34 9-Speed
Pedals Shimano PD-M505 clipless (not included with my test model)
Seatpost Q2 Light alloy
Saddle WTB Silverado
Handlebar Truvativ XR, 31.8, Butted, 20mm rise
Stem Truvativ Team
Grips WTB Weirwolf
Brake Levers Hayes Stroker Ryde
Brakes Hayes Stroker Ryde, 7″ front/6″ rear
Color Afterburner Gray
Frame Size S, M, L


Photos courtesy of JS3 Images

khs xct 555
Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get movin’ on the ride details of this bike. If you’ve been keeping up with MtnBikeRiders.com, you’ve seen multiple articles, talking about the KHS XCT 555. One of the things I wanted to really find out was to see how versatile this bike was. KHS Bicycles designed their XCT line with the consumer in mind. They wanted a bike that someone could use for all their mountain biking needs. The intended customer for this bike would be a person that rides XC, fast single track, and even the occasional butt hole puckering gnarly and technical trails.

Photos courtesy of JS3 Images
khs xct 555
With that in mind, my heart was focused on seeing if the intent of this bike could be fulfilled. One thing I am certain about the XCT 555, it is SUPER durable and after many…many crashes with it, the wheels are true, the bike still shifts like butter and it still shines as if was new.

Photos courtesy of JS3 Images

Let’s talk about the XC side of this bike. I weighed the the XCT 555 and it came in around 27lbs. Not bad, but it also isn’t anorexic. For XC riding this bike is light enough, but if you’re a weight weenie, it may not make it on your list of light bikes. For the weight that it is, the bike isn’t sluggish. It responds well, super quick, very nimble and can climb like a billy goat. I’ve taken this bike through various trails in Southern California and I gotta tell you this bike knows XC riding like a favorite uncle.

Since we’re done talking about XC, let’s get into the real fun stuff…Downhill. Yes I said downhill. Believe it or not, but the XCT 555 makes an EXCELLENT downhill bike. Trust me on this…in fact, the KHS Factory Team often use the XCT 555 on certain downhill courses when racing…its true, I’ve seen them! Anyhow, I’ve taken the 555 to Fontana many times and I LOVE how this bike handles. I can pedal up the hill, then lower my saddle and bomb down just as fast…or faster than some guys with 8″ travel DH bikes. Oh and get this…the bike LOVES it when you take it through technical courses. The Horst Link in the rear makes for some awesome riding. The Rock Shox Monarch is buttery smooth and it has never failed on me. The Marzocchi 44 TST2 140mm fork does a great job in soaking up rock gardens, drops and single track. I almost forgot to mention that the XCT 555 comes with a 13.1″ bottom bracket clearance, which is great when needing to clear a rock garden or a log on the trail.

I know what you’re thinking…”The KHS XCT 555 only has 5.5″ of travel, how can you take that thing downhilling?” Well to answer that question, I just do and guess what… you can and its SUPER FUN! There’s nothing like riding a short travel, DH bike…I feel that you get more control and response from a little bike than you would on a big bike.

On one of the downhill shuttle runs we did, we drove to Top of the World in Orange County and dropped into Telonics. This trail is super steep and very fast. Parts of the single track is carved out like a chute. This was the first real time that I was able to test the Hayes Stroker Ryde, with the 7″ rotor in the front and 6″ rear. In previous rides, the brakes stopped me like a bad habit. No issues whatso ever. But during the ride through Telonics, I experienced brake fade. At one point, we’re going so fast that when I grabbed a fist full of brake, I’d started to slow down, but then the rotors got too hot and then the power went out. I had to feather them on the way down just so I wouldn’t over heat them again. It seems like the faster I go on this bike, the better it performs. I kid you not, the KHS XCT 555 is one serious bike!

By the way, the XCT 555 is an awesome 4x bike. I’ve spent many occasions practicing the 4x track at Fontana. All I can say is that this bike is pretty much the perfect bike…It can do just about anything you want it to do…well except make you breakfast.

Did you know that there are other brands of bikes out there that have the same amount of travel as the 555, but their frame alone cost as much as the complete KHS. Crazy eh? What’s cool about the XCT 555 is that you get a boutique quality bike but at generic prices…Plus you only need one bike to do everything you want to do on a mountain bike.

As I’ve mentioned, the KHS XCT 555 is the best bang for your buck, why? It’s simple really. The way the bike is spec’d, there’s no need to change anything out when you get it from the bike shop. The bike is ready to roll! Take it XC riding, or go to your favorite downhill trail, once your done with all that, take it to the BMX or 4X track and have some fun. This bike literally can do anything you would want a mountain bike to do, its light, fast, very flickable, and its ultra durable. You also have to consider that for the price of the KHS XCT 555…around $2300, you’re getting 3 bikes in one…a fast XC bike, 4X Machine and Downhill Rig…and that’s exactly why the KHS XCT 555 is the best bang for YOUR Buck!

Don’t waste your money on “brand name bikes” get yourself the KHS XCT 555, you won’t regret it…trust me.
khs xct 555

39 Responses to “KHS XCT 555-The Best Bang for the Buck”

  1. Raymond De Jesus says:

    Thank you for the review.

    I am in the market for a new frame and I want to use my existing parts from another bike (an Ibex Atlas single pivot frame) to the new frame.

    From your review, it looks like you really like the bike. Anyways, I am new to Mountain Biking and for the most part I will be riding on the trails up Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. The trails are fire roads and some single tracks. How well does the frame handle climbing? The trail my brother takes me to has a lot of climbing. He enjoys the challenge of climbing especially with his Ibis Mojo SL.

    Will this be a good choice for me? I want to transfer my Rock Shox Monarch 4.2 rear shock (7.5 X 2.0) and my 2009 Rock Shox Revelation (120mm-140mm adjustable travel) to this bike. Do you think it will match the frame spec wise?

    Sorry for all the questions.

    Thank you.
    Raymond

  2. RL Policar says:

    Raymond,

    Thanks for your comment. I LOVE this bike. It climbs with conviction. Even though the bike is built as an AM bike, it doesn’t pop the front end up as you’re climbing. There’s a trail that I rode a few months back where it was a long way up, I think it was a few miles of climbing. I just stayed focus and kept pedaling.

    The bike is light weight and very nimble. You’ll love this bike, it will be an upgrade from your Ibex.

    RL

  3. Raymond says:

    RL,

    Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your input as someone who enjoys riding and actually rode the bike. I just started Mountain Biking and I also just found your site. I hope to get strong and skillful enough to ride with you guys someday.

    Raymond

  4. RL Policar says:

    Raymond, if you’re a socal local, let me know. You and I can hit up a trail so you can give the XCT 555 a try.

    RL

  5. Raymond says:

    RL,

    I am in Granada Hills. If you don’t mind riding with a newbie, I might take you up on your offer.

    Raymond

  6. Micky says:

    It sounds like you have ridden several bikes. I am thinking of the 2008 KHS XCT 555 since there are all these deals floating on the net. Would this be a good bike, I am coming from a 2004 Iron Horse Hollowpoint. I need a bike that can be ridden on the road to trails, pedal uphill (on rocky trails), deal with desert rock gardens (I live in El Paso, TX) and very rocky descents. Is this bike going to bob a lot, have any (rock) clearance issues, be comfortable on the descents. In other words will it be able to hold its own with the likes of Specialized, Giant, Santa Cruz etc.

    Thanks in advance.

  7. RL says:

    Micky,

    I’ve never experienced pedal bob. This bike climbs and descends really well. As you read in my review, this bike can handle any type of riding. You can’t go wrong with it.

    RL

  8. dominic says:

    i am 12 and have the same bike RIDE FOR IT ALL OR GO HOME

  9. [...] WTB Wolverine tires came stock on the KHS XCT 555 that I reviewed. I’ve been riding with these tires for a few months now and I wanted to [...]

  10. micky says:

    I am ready to pull the trigger. I am about 5’7″, and about 170 (with beer in belly), do you have a recomended size. I dont know if these bikes run long or short and it would afect whether I get a small or medium.

    Thanks

  11. RL Policar says:

    Micky,

    Pull it! I’m 5’7″, I ride the medium. Awesome bike! You won’t be disappointed.

    The only thing I did when I got the bike was install a shorter stem. I have short arms, and the OEM stem was a bit long for me.

    RL

  12. Micky says:

    ok last question. How is the Marzocchi fork. I have not heard many good things from them, and I dont know if I should try to swap out the fork or live with it. Does it need servicing, do you get full travel, doe it absorb impacts well.

    Thanks

    Thank

  13. RL Policar says:

    I really like this fork. It’s pretty plush. It doesn’t take much air to fill it up. I think I have it set between 45-50psi (recommended psi for my weight). I messed with the rebound settings and I’m set. It has a handy lock out feature that is pretty nice when have to get out of the saddle during a climb.

    I’m getting full travel on the fork. Absorbs big and small bumps.
    RL

  14. Carlos says:

    Hey I love the article and it was very informative. I currently ride a 2006 rockhopper and want to move into full suspension. I have been looking into KHS because they have such great deals on their bikes with great components. I ride singletrack most of the time and want to start throwing in some downhill/freeride. I enjoy climbing and need a bike to be all around. The XCT 555 seems to hit spot but what is your opinion on the xc204, khs velvet, and xc604? Adrenaline bikes seem to have a great deal on all these bikes. Also its a lot cheaper than the specialized enduro that I wanted

    One more thing I live in San Benardino and was wondering if you could recommend some trails to me. I mainly do big bear, Ontario/Calimesa, and Yucipa.

  15. Carlos Morales says:

    Hey anyone think the khs lucky 7 would be a better buy for a couple hundred more?

  16. RL says:

    Carlos,

    I also own the Lucky 7. But the 555 and L7 are two completely different bikes. The L7 is more of a big hit/DH bike, it weighs around 40lbs. The 555, can be raced as a DH bike. KHS Factory racer Naish Ulmer raced the Sea Otter Classic DH race on his XCT 555.

  17. Tyler says:

    Does the XCT 555 have ISCG tabs?

  18. RL says:

    No it doesn’t.

  19. Tyler says:

    That is a shame, but I do appreciate you letting me know.

  20. RL says:

    Tyler, you know most chain guides come with an adapter if your frame isn’t set up for ISCG tabs.

    Check out this one I reviewed.
    http://www.mtnbikeriders.com/2010/01/05/e-thiteen-chainguide-lg1/

  21. Daniel says:

    RL – Have you compared the KHS XCT 555 to the Specialized Sumpjumper Comp? Are they in the same league?
    Most of my riding coleagues are riding specialized, but the questions is if the XCT 555 gets to the level of the Stumpjumper?
    I would appreciate any insight.

  22. RL says:

    Daniel,

    From what I understand, MBAction did a comparo test between a few bikes. One bike was the KHS XCT 555 and the other the Specialized Stumpjumper Comp. From what I understand, both bikes did well.

  23. sm says:

    I’m trying to decide on the KHS 555 or a Jamis Dakar XCT. The 555 looks great…has anyone ridden the Jamis? Anything you’d change on the 555 to improve it?

  24. RL Policar says:

    SM,

    I’ve yet to try out the Jamis Dakar XCT. However, it does look like a decent bike.

    As far as the KHS goes, the only thing I changed on that bike was my stem. I prefer to have a shorter stem on my bikes.

    http://www.mtnbikeriders.com/2009/10/29/truvativ-holzfeller-stem-review/

    Other than that, the bike is still stock to this day.

  25. RL Policar says:

    SM,

    One thing I may add, I’m not too familiar with Jamis’ “MP3″ suspension. Personally I’ve always been a HUGE fan of the Horst Link system that KHS uses on their bikes.

  26. sm says:

    thanks for the reply. your review is one of the reasons i’m considering the 555. you downhill more than i do (i’m in las vegas – so more desert rolling terrain than big mountains) so hopefully it will be good for xc with some hard trail/all mtn when i make it up to the local hill (mt charleston area).

  27. RL Policar says:

    SM,

    I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all. If I’m not riding my cross bike on the trails, the XCT 555 is my xc bike. You’ll like it, trust me!

  28. sm says:

    got a screamin deal on an 09 555! picked it up friday & took my first ride on it sunday. what an incredible difference from my old 100mm!! climbed good, downhilled through semi-technical singletrack even better. nice & easy adjusting the shock/fork stiffer for the climb & full open for the descent. all around great bike. the only thing i’ve noticed is the seat is pretty hard…and mine weighed in at 31 pounds (i was hoping for the 27 you had in your review).

  29. RL Policar says:

    Congrats! Ya that saddle is pretty stiff, but its light weight. What size did you get?

  30. sm says:

    i got a medium.

  31. sm says:

    just an update on the khs…have been riding it all over cottonwood (las vegas desert trails) & it continues to perform flawlessly. love the suspension, the brakes give great confidence in technical situations & in scrubbing speed quickly on the downhills. again, love the bike…thanks for the original review rl!

  32. RL Policar says:

    Hi SM,

    Glad to hear that the 555 is working out for you. This is still my favorite bike out of my stable.

    RL

  33. NT says:

    Would a guy at 5’11″ be okay on a medium 555, do you think? I usually ride a large, or 19″ bike, but have been offered a medium 555… I’d be riding as much up as down, just a one bike for all riding style.

  34. RL says:

    NT, you might be too tall for a medium.

  35. sm says:

    nt – i’m the same height & i’ve been riding the medium 555 since june. it fits me fine. the bike it replaced was a 19″ so i had my doubts as well…but the medium khs works great. i use it for everything – street, trail & the occasional dh. i like not feeling quite as stretched out as i did on the large frame of my old bike. plus you save a bit on the weight ;)

  36. NT says:

    Thanks guys, I ended up ordering the bike off craigslist before I saw these replies. I think the size is definitely workable. Strangley, after paying for the bike, but before receieving it, I checked this site for replies to my question, and while mosying around the site, ran into the name of the guy I had ordered the bike from. Turns out he is or was a KHS sponsored Super D racer – sometimes listed as a Factory racer, and sometimes as B Squad (he had only mentioned to me that he was a cop at a school). And the bike he described as being in ‘awesome condition’ turned out to be pretty beat. Of course, he had never mentioned racing, saying the bike had only been ridden for a year and he didn’t know how many miles were on it, but that it was in ‘awesome condition.’ The most amazing thing is that there are picures of him racing the bike on the web in full KHS garb, and now I get to see first hand what that really meant… the steerer is hacked off at a crude angle, the rear hub was completely loose and misaligned, the rims are banged up, one BB cup appears to have been put on with a pipe wrench (stripping 1/3 to 1/2 the threads in the process), the lower front caliper post mount is completely stripped and the mounting bolt was covered in teflon tape in an attempt to get it to stick in the hole… the list goes on. Do these guys really race stuff like this? Does KHS Racing provide a mechanic, or does each rider maintain his own bike? When I have time, I’ll post all the details, with photos, on the KHS forum of the MTBR site, in case anyone is interested. I guess it might be a testament to the bike, if a person can still successfully race one in such mistreated and unmaintained condition. But KHS Racing is looking positively farm-leaugue from this perspective. Lets hope Melissa Buhl doesn’t have 5 washers shimming out too-long brake caliper bolts… I have to wonder if some of these guys joke about the sucker they pawned last year’s bike off on. I’ll get the ’5′ going again, and this time it will be done right, and I’ll ride the wheels off it. In the mean time, here’s to hoping this racer-boy responds to an email…

  37. NT says:

    Oh, and RL, thanks for the great and entertaining reporting! Your review here is the primary reason my friend ended up getting her 555. Your fun-loving, real world approach is much appreciated. Tell KHS to get you a 556… I’m sure many would like to see that review as well…

  38. RL Policar says:

    NT,

    Thanks for the compliment. Guess what, I spoke to KHS Bicycles, and they are setting aside a new XCT 556 for me to test. I should be able to pick it up by next week.

    RL

  39. [...] SRAM, Shimano, WTB and many more. The KHS XCT 556 was a direct replacement of its predecessor, the XCT 555, which we awarded the Editor’s Choice Award in 2010 for “Best Do it All Mountain [...]

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