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KHS XCT 556 Review

Posted by RL Policar On June - 28 - 2011

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When I first took delivery of the KHS XCT 556 a few months ago, I was pretty excited about trying its 30 speed drive train. The bike was redesigned for 2011 with swooping, hydroformed tubes and a bold color scheme. It’s spec’d nicely with name brand/model parts such as Rock Shox, Mavic, 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 Bike.”


Who should buy this bike?

-The KHS XCT 556 is perfect for the guy or gal that wants a bike that can do pretty much any thing he/she would want when riding. It can be ridden on an all day XC epic or for the weekend warrior who likes to race Super D. Downhill? Sure, places like Fontana’s Southridge and Telonics can easily be handled by the 556.

Rider shown-Team Racer: Corey Pond

-The test bike we have weighed in at 29lb (medium frame with pedals)

-KHS’s MSRP is $2799.

What makes this bike stand out?

-The XCT556 is equipped with the Rockshox Revelation RL. This fork is pretty plush and was super easy to tune to the rider’s weight thanks to its air pressure chart that is located right on the lowers. It also has the ability to lock out. This option made climbing on the bike easier.

The fork was matched with a Rockshox Monarch RT3. I’ve been a long fan of the Monarch line because of its no non-sense usability. All I would have to do is air it up and set my sag at 25%, adjust the rebound to my liking and I was off riding!

The pièce de résistance with this bike was its 30 speed drive train. Truth be told when I first got on this bike, I thought that a 30 speed drive train was interesting. Then I saw its 36t cassette and thought that it was a bit of an over-kill. But during one of my test rides through a trail called Cholla, I quickly learned the benefits of the 36t cassette and all of a sudden I was able to clear some of the most technical portions of the trail. I couldn’t believe how well the XCT’s drive train worked.

However, there was a kink in the 30 speed armor. For some odd reason, when I would shift between the big ring (44t) down to the middle ring (33t) I would occasionally experience chain suck. This would also happen when I’d shift from the granny gear to the middle ring. I found this to be unusual because the bike is brand new.

Favorite part of the bike
-Other than the 36t cassette, my favorite was the Avid Elixir 5 brake system because it provides great braking power, and adjustable reach. Front rotor is 7″ and rear is 6″. No brake fading experienced. It comes down to this, when I pulled the levers, it wasn’t just on, but I could gradually feel the brakes engaging depending on how much I pull the lever.

How does it climb?
-Like a slow goat. The 36t cassette will help you get to the top, but at a slower pace.

How does it descend?

-Like a Boss. Plush fork, squishy rear shock that is complimented with its highly acclaimed Horst Link rear triangle. The XCT 556 soaks up small to large bumps, drops and jumps with ease.

-Ok, hate is such a strong word. But I’ve got a dilemma here. I love the WTB Wolverine 2.2 tires, I think they are awesome! These tires are fast, and offer great grip…as a rear tire. For a front tire, I would have preferred something more aggressive like a WTB Prowler or even a Kenda Nevegal, then again that’s more of a personal opinion than anything.


The KHS XCT 556 may not be someone’s dream XC race bike due to its weight, but don’t be shy to race with it. Priscilla used it during the Knobby Time Series Race #2. She did well enough to podium

In conclusion
-The KHS XCT 556 is a versatile machine. It performs well as an XC rig and if you’ve got the balls to do so, it can handle Super D courses as well as the occasional dirt jumps. During the extended testing period we had with the bike, nothing failed on us. No signs of fatigue or wear. The only issue we had was the intermittent chain suck in which we’re not sure what caused it. Perhaps I was simply cross chaining it. Other than that, its a superb bike.

Our review disclaimer

7 Responses to “KHS XCT 556 Review”

  1. Mel C says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but that looks almost exactly like a Giant Trance. As a matter of fact, I have a Giant Trance X0 with a Rock Shox Revelation RL just like the KHS.

  2. RL Policar says:


    Ya they do look similar. But the 556 has Horstlink and the Trance has Maestro. You know who uses that similar sloping top tube design, Fezzari.

  3. Mel C says:

    OK…I had to look up what makes up a Horst link. I can see the difference now.

  4. [...] onto the lifts. However, you’d be fine riding a 5-7″ travel bike. Priscilla rode the KHS XCT 556 while I was on the KHS XCT 555, both 5″ travel bikes. Some of the areas could have been more [...]

  5. [...] Fontana Nationals Super D Posted by Corey On April – 14 – 2012  Powered by Max Banner Ads Finish line jump on the 4X trackTeam Big Bear rolled through Fontana on March 24 with their latest bag of endurance offerings and I was on board for the super d. For those of you who are unaware, super d is an awesome combination of downhill and cross country with a spirited amount of pain and suffering mixed in. The course designers at Fontana created a beautiful pair of courses which appeal strongly to gravity riders but will punish those who aren’t fit. There is a short course which races in about 4-5 minutes and a long course which is about 6-8 minutes in length. Each of the two offered a good mix of climbing, technical descending and both ended on the four cross track pushing riders abilities there as well. This would be my second super d race and, having learned my lesson from the first one, I put a lot more effort into my preparation. My cardio was better adapted for races of this length, I knew the courses better, and I was much more used to the bike I had been using which was the KHS 556. [...]

  6. gary mallinger says:

    The chain suck i believe is caused by the cheep hub on the rear wheel. I had noticed after purchasing the bike that the rear wheel had a little drag to it but thought it would loosen up with time. after a few rides i had a lot of noise coming from the cassette being loose on the hub, but after looking at it determined it was the hub itself. khs sent a new wheel and after a few more rides the same thing happened. it was a cheep ball bering hub that came with the bike. i replaced it with a sram x9 and now it has no problems. with the original hub if i back pedaled even a little i would get the chain suck.

  7. [...] OCD Handlebar and the Repute Stem for testing. KORE OCD Handlebar These items were mounted on the KHS XCT 556 during the test since this my AM bike that I typically spend my time riding. Though these worked [...]

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