Nashbar Bee’s Knees 650b Single Speed

One of the newest bikes to arrive for testing at MtnBikeRiders.com is this little steel beauty. This is the Nashbar Bee’s Knees Single Speed 650b.
Nashbar 650b

single speed 650b

Product description:

The new 650b mountain bikes are the next big thing and the Nashbar Bee’s Knees Single Speed 650b mountain bike is a perfect example of why. The Bee’s Knees Single Speed has the benefits of a 29er without the draw backs. Its bigger wheel size (about 27.5″) means you can roll over stuff that would stop most 26″ MTB’s, but it is smaller and more nimble than a full-size 29er bike. It’s a sweetly spec’d, super simple bike at a value you won’t find anywhere else.

Super simple single speed drive train is ready to tackle nearly any terrain with ease
650b chromoly fork is strong, lightweight and ready to crush some singletrack
Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power
Chromoly frame is stiff, lightweight and ultra-durable
Alex XD-Lite 650b wheels are lightweight and trail ready

Cockpit view.
bee's knees 650

Our test bike is a small.
650 single speed

Here’s the specs:

FRAME: 650b Chromoly, standard 1 1/8″ head tube, trail tuned chain and seat stays, disc tabs and water bottle mounts
FORK: 650b Cromoly, disc tabs, standard 1 1/8″ steerer
REAR SHOCK: None
HEADSET: FSA Hammer, 1 1/8″
CRANKSET: Alloy square taper 104mm bcd with 38t ring
BOTTOM BRACKET: Square Taper
SHIFTERS: None
LEVERS: Avid BB5
HANDLEBAR: 6061 Oversized Riser Bar, 620mm width, 25mm rise, 5 degree sweep
STEM: Alloy, 7 degree rise, 90mm
FRONT DERAILLEUR: None; Chainguard
REAR DERAILLEUR: None
CASSETTE: 16T
BRAKES: Avid BB5 mechanical
WHEELSET: Alex 650b XD-Lite, 6-bolt IS disc
TIRES: Kenda Nevegal, K-1010, 27.5×2.1 (650b)
PEDALS: None
SEATPOST: Alloy, 27.2x350mm
SADDLE: Mountain
CHAIN: KMC Z410
GRIPS/TAPE: Kraton Black

When we discussed reviewing this bike with Nashbar, they admitted that the gearing is a bit tall for it.They said that they have no problem with us changing things around to suite our riding and gearing preferences. We also plan on testing this bike as a commuter. We figured we might as well put that tall gearing to use before we make those changes we mentioned.

KHS SixFifty 606 review

MtnBikeRiders.com first heard about the KHS SixFifty 606 just before Interbike 2009. Excited with the 650b concept, I couldn’t wait to see it in person in Las Vegas. To date, there are only a few manufacturers entertaining this wheel size as part of their line-up. The 650b (27.5”) is the third option in mountain bike tire size. It falls in between the established 26” and the revolutionary 29er (29”). The 27.5” tire is fairly new in the current MTB arena however the tire size itself has been around for many years. The 650b is designed to roll faster than a 26” bike, yet is lighter than a 29er and will fit smaller riders.

BIKE SPECS:
Frame
650B” Full Alloy, Hydroformed Tubing, Gussetted Headtube
Fork X-Fusion Velvet, 650B
Headset Cane Creek A-Headset 1-1/8″
Rims Weinmann XM280 Disc Specific, Doublewall, Black, 650B
Hubs Alloy 6-Bolt Disc, QR, Cassette
Tires Kenda Nevegal Folding Kevlar, 650B x 2.1
Spokes 15G FT/14G RR Black Stainless, 32°
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX
Shifters Shimano Deore Pods w/Optical Gear Display
Chain KMC Z9000 w/Master Link
Crankset Truvativ Fire 44/32/22
Bottom Bracket Truvativ GXP outboard cartridge bearing
Cassette SRAM PG950 11-34, 9 Speed
Pedals Wellgo Alloy Platform
Seatpost Alloy micro-adjust
Saddle WTB Siverado
Handlebar FSA XC300 31.8, Alloy
Stem FSA OS190 31.8, 3D Forged
Grips PowerTools Dual Density
Brake Levers Hayes Stroker Ryde
Brakes Hayes Stroker Ryde, 6″ rotors
Color Gloss Red w/White Panels
SIZES: S, M, L, XL
MSRP: $1199

IMG_3164

ABOUT ME:
5’10” 195lbs, 40 year old male, mountain biking enthusiast.

TESTING GROUNDS:
SoCal’s finest: Aliso Woods, Whiting Ranch, Fullerton Loop, Santiago Oaks, Turnbull Canyon and Santa Ana Mtns. (Coal Canyon & Skyline).
IMG_3173

THE BIKE:
The KHS SixFifty 606 was ready to ride from the day it was picked up from the KHS office. Already pre-assembled, there were only minor adjustments and changes that I had to make. First were the pedals. The SixFifty 606 came with the generic plastic flat pedals. To give it a thorough testing, I installed one of my Crank Bros Candy pedals. I then made an adjustment with the handlebar position pushing forward by a few degrees. With its initial set-up from the factory, I felt cramped the way it was laid back. Last were the throw on the brake levers of the Hayes Stroker Ryde. These seemed to be installed right “out-the-box” where they were too far for my index finger to reach. From here I was ready to go! Later on I installed Ergon GC2 grips with integrated bar-ends.

AESTHETICS:
The KHS SixFifty 606is truly a good looking bike. The top tube is a unique hydro-formed shape that resembles a hexagon shape. It’s a solid hardtail frame. I love the color scheme of red, black and white. Looks very sharp and FAST!!!
IMG_3176

COMPONENTS:
The components paired up with the KHS SixFifty 606 would be considered mid-level. Far from the top of the line, however the performance was exceptional. First is the Hayes Stroker Ryde. Like its predecessors, it provided excellent stopping power. At high speeds I was able to control the corners on a fireroad descent with light dabs on the lever. The Shimano Deore shifters and the SLX rear derailleur performed really well. The shifting was precise and crisp. (during a race I had minor issues with shifting; it was later resolved with adjustments).
IMG_0086

The X-Fusion Velvet is a very good fork. For a 100mm of travel it performed really well through the trails I frequent. Although geared for XC, I did take it on a few runs down technical/rocky sections such a Rock-it in Aliso and portions of the Troy Lee trail in Corona. Short of additional travel, it handled the well.
IMG_3170

Rounding it off with Kenda Nevegals. All of my bikes are equipped with the Nevegals, so off the bat I’m already partial to it. Needless to say, it performed well to my standards.
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PERFORMANCE:
Climbing: Ascents on the 650b, whether it was on a long grinding fireroad or technical switchbacks, the semi-big wheel motored up without any issues. You are centered in the best position to make a quick fore-to-aft shifts in upper body weight that make a difference in handling. I always felt balanced on the SixFifty 606. When I was crawling up tight switchbacks the 650b felt like a 26” bike. On sandy sections where I had struggled on my 26” bike, the semi-big tires motored through it. Finally, climbing on and off the saddle felt great… off course it’s a hardtail.

Descending: Through the various trails that I rode the SixFifty 606, there were never any descents where I was uncomfortable on. The bike felt great and rolled exceptionally well over rocks. Off course I didn’t ride it on a six inch (or more) required gnar-gnar trail… after all, it is a XC bike. But for the likes of Chutes (Santiago Oaks), Rock-it (Aliso Woods) and portions of the Troy Lee Trail, the SixFifty handled really well. The 90mm stem placed me in a better position than the traditional 110-120mm XC stems.

Cornering: The SixFifty 606 was very nimble. It felt light and responded quickly to my steering.

I had the opportunity to race the SixFifty 606 at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Festival. The course laid out dry, sandy un-groomed trails as well as hard-packed dirt. The bike plowed throughout the course. Then somewhere in the middle of the race I started experiencing “ghost” shifting which hindered acceleration on certain areas. Never the less, I finished the race however did not place.

joe

At the same race but in the Pro category, a better testimonial came from a Charles Jenkins, Professional Racer who won on the KHS SixFifty 606. See video below:

WEAKNESS:
I found no weakness with the SixFifty 606’s performance. Other than the mis-shifting that I had encountered during a race the bike has performed exceptionally well on the trails. The gears shifted on queue, the fork was plush and reacted well to the trail.

One thing that it can benefit from is a diet. At 29lbs, for a hardtail there are plenty of areas where lighter components can be used. Short of wheel selection for the 650b size, the rest are standard in the market. However with an MSRP of $1199.00, it’s spec’d appropriately with the components listed above.

SUMMARY: The Good just got Better…
Since taking possession of the KHS SixFifty 606, I have logged approx 300 miles on it. Riding the 650b I did notice a faster rolling bike. In the beginning I wasn’t quite convinced, however I rode it frequent enough were I eventually felt the difference. It has many characteristics of the 26” yet the benefits of the big wheeled 29er. I would often switch between my 26” bikes and the 650b throughout the week and on the same trail. The SixFifty is so enjoyable to ride, that I would have smiles for miles on the trail. I wouldn’t mind having a 650b in my stable however I’ll have to rid some of my 26” bikes first 😉

For more information on the KHS SixFifty 606 visit www.khsbicycles.com.

FTC Disclaimer

KHS SixFifty 606 has arrived!

Last week MtnBikeRiders.com  took possession of the spankin’ brand new KHS SixFifty 606.  We have been featuring this bike prior to Interbike 2009.  For those that are not familiar with this bike, it sports the 650B tire size, a *new size that places itself in between the established 26” and the revolutionary 29er. (*new in the current MTB world; but the 650B has been around for quite some time.)

IMG3172 by you.SixFifty 606 at the top of Mini Moab

I had my first ride on the SixFifty 606 this past Thursday.  I picked up the bike from David “Sho-Gun” Sanderson.  The bike is absolutely beautiful… much better looking than I had remembered it from Interbike 09. I guess with the thousands of bikes I saw at the show, I had forgotten the finer details of the SixFifty 606… for one the hydro-formed top tube with a unique shape… see below.

IMG3165 by you.

The ride on Thursday wasn’t what I had planned for the first ride of this bike.  For one, it was a night ride; secondly with rain from the previous day, some sections of the Loop were too muddy which diverted from the normal route; the Loop typically holds up well after rain.  All in all there were too many distractions for my first ride on the SixFifty 606.

This Sunday, I took the SixFifty 606 up to one of my local training grounds – Coal Canyon.  I started the ride from my house in Corona and rode all the way to the top, which is commonly called Mini-Moab.   I was joined by my friend Val.  On the way up, we traversed through mainly fireroad and on occasion sandy sections.  From time to time there were corners with small baby heads.   The climbed to the top went exceptionally well.  The hardtailed SixFifty 606 climbed like a billy goat.  Crossing the sandy sections with the semi big tires, the bike motored through it where I had struggled through in the past with my 26” bikes.  

Reaching the top at 2300ft, we took a short break at Mini-Moab.  The long ride down Coal Canyon is always a treat as we’ll hit sections at 40+ mph (per Garmin 305).  The SixFifty 606 felt natural on the descent.  It was nimble and handled great on the steep sections.  Coming through the corners with baby heads, on the few that I couldn’t avoid, the SixFifty 606 rolled over them with control.   On some of the wider turns, I tried taking a sharper turn through them however I had a difficult time.  No biggie, this was my first real ride on the SixFifty 606.  As soon as I get acclimated to the bike the handling will be much better.   

Notes from the first two rides:  climbed great – on & off the saddle; nimble for a semi big tire, descended well.   I also felt taller, but obviously I have bigger tires.

I’ll be riding this bike through various trails in OC as well as a few races.  Stay tuned as I put miles on the SixFifty 606 and provide an in-depth feedback. 

About me: I’m 5-10″, 190+ lbs, 40yrd old mountain biking enthusiast.

IMG_0087 by you.

IMG_0086 by you.

IMG3170 by you.                       X-Fusion Velvet 650B

IMG_3168 by you.27.5 x2.10 Kenda Nevegals

IMG_5662 by you.Both Kenda Nevegals, 2.10″ tires. 26″ (L) & 650B (R)

Below are the specs:

Frame
650B” Full Alloy, Hydroformed Tubing, Gussetted Headtube
Fork X-Fusion Velvet, 650B
Headset Cane Creek A-Headset 1-1/8″
Rims Weinmann XM280 Disc Specific, Doublewall, Black, 650B
Hubs Alloy 6-Bolt Disc, QR, Cassette
Tires Kenda Nevegal Folding Kevlar, 650B x 2.1
Spokes 15G FT/14G RR Black Stainless, 32°
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX
Shifters Shimano Deore Pods w/Optical Gear Display
Chain KMC Z9000 w/Master Link
Crankset Truvativ Fire 44/32/22
Bottom Bracket Truvativ GXP outboard cartridge bearing
Cassette SRAM PG950 11-34, 9 Speed
Pedals Wellgo Alloy Platform
Seatpost Alloy micro-adjust
Saddle WTB Siverado
Handlebar FSA XC300 31.8, Alloy
Stem FSA OS190 31.8, 3D Forged
Grips PowerTools Dual Density
Brake Levers Hayes Stroker Ryde
Brakes Hayes Stroker Ryde, 6″ rotors
Color Gloss Red w/White Panels
MSRP: $1199 • COLORS: Gloss Red w/Whie Panels• SIZES: S, M, L, XL

650B, 27.5 INCHES

If you haven’t heard there is a new wheel size coming out of the woodwork and no, it’s not the 29er. This new wheel size splits the difference between the 26″ and the 29er wheels with a 27.5 inch wheel. Seriously.

Also known as the 650b, the proponents say the advantages of this wheel size is that it removes some of the 29er disadvantages (toe overlap problems & geometry issues on FS 29ers) for shorter riders while also keeping advantages of the 29er (rollover ability, longer contact patch, momentum) but in a smaller way.

Currently there are only a few players on board such as White Brothers which is making a 650b specific fork and Haro coming out with a bike, maybe at Interbike. But it is slowly gaining momentum. Tim Grahl has speculated that fear and jealousy is going to cause the 650b to grow while Graham from Go Clipless is hoping the 650b is killed before it starts. haha.

Me? I’m still on the fence especially since I’ve never been on one. I do agree that this new tire size is going to cause a lot of confusion for customers. If you think about it you currently have three same wheel size bikes, the 26″, 29er and 650b. Now add in three mixed wheel size bikes, the 69er/96er (29 front + 26 rear), a 650b front + 26 inch rear and a 29er front + 650b rear. That’s 6 totally different bikes with different geometry issues right there. If you’re not lost, I am.

Now I’m not one for posting speculations as to if this new tire size will have the legs to grow in popularity to the level of the 29er, let alone the 26 inch mountain bike. But who knows? It could gain that sort of widespread acceptance and maybe the 26″ wheel will go away entirely, although I highly doubt that. In the meantime, though we�ll will be watching this trend closely.