KHS's newly redesigned SixFifty 6700 boasts a brand new carbon frame, 150mm of travel, and a wonderful SRAM X01 1x11 drivetrain. Listed as a trail bike, the SixFifty 6700 should be KHS's jack-of-all-trades ride. With a more conservative history and average-guy reputation, the 'early 2017 model' carbon SixFifty 6700 is a bit of a welcomed deviation from the norm for KHS.
We put some time in the saddle of the brand new SixFifty 6700 to find out what it's capable of, and more importantly, we see if the 2017 carbon SixFifty 6700 is a long awaited step in the right direction for KHS.
There are 7 bikes in the KHS SixFifty line of 650b trail bikes: 2 each at 120mm, 140mm, and 160mm, and the new full carbon SixFifty 6700 sitting alone at 150mm of travel. The previous 140mm and 160mm models of the KHS SixFifty share the same frame design, with the rear shock passing through the seat tube - a design that has been somewhat of a KHS signature over the past few years. The new SixFifty 6700 is still made in the Astro factory in Taiwan, but is a completely different frame than any of the previous renditions. In size large the 6700 has a chainstay length of 440mm, effective top tube length of 620mm, reach of 447mm, and a relatively steep head tube angle of 68.5 degrees. The bike is 12 x 142 at the rear axle and is not PLUS compatible.
Boasting 150mm of travel, the 6700 looks like a Specialized/Ibis hybrid in a good way. The new frame uses MSD carbon for both the front and rear triangles and the lines find the perfect balance between straight and curved. The paint is a simple, yet striking, gloss black and neon yellow with standard KHS logo graphics. The linkage is clean and subtle, with no big rocker arms or exposed pivots, and the angle alignment of the rear shock and the top tube definitely helps the bike's sleek and professional looks.
KHS was smart enough to include a replaceable plastic down tube guard that actually adds to the looks of the bike, although I found dirt could get into the seams between the carbon and the plastic, so frequent cleaning is recommended. The 6700 definitely has a more professional, high-end look than any previous KHS. Ok, I'll come out and just say it; with a history of simple and unrefined looks, the 2017 SixFifty 6700 is the best looking KHS to date.
The suspension layout looks like KHS took cues from virtual pivot point (VPP) design, and the ride is quite similar as well, with a supple, yet supported feel to its stroke. KHS spec'd the newest suspension from Fox, with a Kashima Float DPS EVOL CTD rear shock and a Kashima 34 Float FIT4 CTD fork - excellent choices that pair well with the suspension design of the 6700. DT Swiss M1700 tubeless ready wheels wrapped in Maxxis High Roller II 2.3 3C EXO/TR tires get the bike rolling, and an absolutely stellar SRAM X01 1x11 complete drivetrain handles the power. Brakes are SRAM Guide RSC, dropper seatpost is a KS Lev, and the cockpit is fairly standard Kore Q2 carbon bar and Kore Repute alloy stem.
The ride of the KHS SixFifty 6700 was surprising. The full MSD carbon frame and top shelf build kit ride incredibly well, with fantastic climbing capabilities and no pedal bob while on flats. As always, the Fox suspension provides plenty of adjustments and gives a well-supported ride. The Fox EVOL rear shock really proved itself under my 200+lbs., giving me a way more supple ride than expected, especially while riding some of the more DH style terrain. The frame looks lightweight, but I never felt any flexing issues. Again, I was surprised with both the stiffness and smooth ride of the MSD carbon frame.
The SRAM X01 drivetrain is next to flawless. There really is no reason to not be running a newer 1x11 system on your bike. Even if you have an older ride, the upgrade to entry level SRAM NX is worth it. The shifting of the X01 is quick, precise, and never slipped or dropped the chain.
I found the choice in geometry of the 6700 interesting. The 68.5 degree head tube angle seemed quite steep for a 150mm travel bike with meaty Maxxis High Roller II tires. When I first read the spec sheet I thought the 68.5 was a typo; compare the 6700 to other bikes in the 140-160mm travel range and you would be hard pressed to find many other bikes with a head tube angle as steep.
With that being said, the steepness of the head tube angle and the superior performance from the Fox suspension really made the bike climb well. The 150mm trail bike felt a lot more like a stiffer 120mm XC bike on the way up.
On the descent, the 6700 was a little slow. The 68.5 head tube angle would fight me in the fast corners and was a little too twitchy to comfortably keep up with those running a 66.5 head tube. The bike would resist cornering hard at high speeds and it felt like the front end would break loose at any moment. The suspension did a remarkable job of keeping the tires planted and definitely allowed me to push the 68.5-degree head tube further than you would expect.
The KS Lev is a decent dropper post. I've spent considerable time using one in the past and have found the performance to be inconsistent at times, especially when the bike is new. A cable actuates the pneumatic cylinder within the post, and the cable's tension can change resulting in issues with the post. There is a large barrel-type adjuster on the cable near the bars that you can quickly turn to adjust the tension on the cable, but sometimes this can get turned accidentally by brush or even while toting the bike around, resulting in your post creeping up or being stuck down during a ride. I would always double check that my post was working properly whenever I would stop riding to take a breather.
Yes, the 2017 SixFifty is the best looking KHS to date. The MDS carbon frame has a sleek, high end look and the build kit also reflects that. The combination of the Maxxis High Roller II tires and Fox suspension works so well that they almost compensate for the steep head tube angle on the descents. The ride quality is great, climbing fantastic, drivetrain is stellar, the dropper post is decent, and the brakes are good... all to be expected of a bike with a price tag of $5929 USD.
A couple comparable bikes to the 6700 show similar geometry traits with one major difference. The new Scott Genius comes with 150mm of travel and adjustable angles that put the head tube at either 67.9 or 68.4-degrees, and the 2016 Rocky Mountain Altitude and its proprietary Ride-9 geometry chips features 150mm of travel and an adjustable head tube angle of 66.6-68.3 in its steepest setting. Both these bikes are comparable in travel and in use, but both bikes utilize adjustable geometry, something that is missing from the SixFifty 6700.
So, is there a slight shift in geometry coming for 2017? Steeper angles for 150mm trail bikes? Without the aggressive tires and superb Fox suspension, the 6700 would have been a challenge to descend at a good pace, making me question the need for 150mm of travel in the first place.
Overall, the SixFifty 6700 is a step in the right direction for KHS, with its carbon frame and top of the line build kit. What I feel is missing from the 6700 is adjustable geometry. The 68.5 head tube angle combined with the suspension design makes the 6700 a joy to climb, but without the ability to slacken the geometry, you may find yourself at the back of the pack on the descents.