Welcome Nick DiBlasi To the MtnBikeRiders.com Race Team

Please welcome the newest member of the race team, Nick DiBlasi. Nick is relatively new to the whole sport of cycling in general. He’s been road riding for the last 2 years with his wife Megan. Nick got into BMX and mountain biking within the last 4 months. He’s been racing at the Orange Y BMX track in Orange, Ca. His first win and race for biking was during a BMX race last week. With all this talk about BMX, how does Nick fit into the team? The way we see it, we’ve pretty much got all the disciplines covered by our racers, we compete in XC, Super D, Downhill, Single Speed, and Endurance. But there’s been a void that we’ve had this whole time and that’s 4X/mountain cross. Given Nick has some great BMX skills, we’re thinking that he could do some fancy pedal work and bring on some badassery in the name of MtnBikeRiders.com.

Nick with the red bike.

A little bio on our friend Nick. He’s seen the movie RAD, so that makes him cool already. Plus he’s a Sr Technical Sales person at JE Pistons and has been there for 6 years. Prior to that he owned a fabrication company in Lake Forest where they developed race chassis and engines. Prior to that, he worked for an engineering company in Foothill Ranch doing medical electronics R&D. So do you know what all that means? It means Nick can pretty much make anything out of metal! In fact he and I have been in discussion about modifying my tandem bike, but more on that later.

So with all that being said, welcome to the team Nick!

KHS XCT 555-The Best Bang for the Buck

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.


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

Encore-24 Years Later

One of my good friends, Loren Brewster used to be a BMX race back in his prime. He used to race at the Orange Y track in Orange, Ca. He was pretty decent and even made it up to the Nationals. Since I knew he used to ride BMX I figured he’d know how to handle the 4X track in Fontana, Ca. So I asked Loren if he’d be interested in riding the track to see if he still has it going on.

On Saturday morning, we drove to Fontucky, suited up and since I didn’t know how to really ride 4x, I followed Loren and mimic his moves. What was cool about our experience, I was able to see Loren become more and more comfortable on his bike…until it had problems.

There was a table top that was at least 10 feet long and I wanted to practice jumping over it. I ended up clearing it the first time, and then the second time I cased it on the transition. No harm done, I still felt good because I didn’t have to roll through it.

I saw that Loren wanted to try jumping, but since his bike was out of commission, I lent him the KHS XCT 555. He must have done 7 runs in a row and each time he got on the bike, he was going faster and faster! Here’s what he was able to do…