I like brands that go their own way. It’s possible that I feel an affinity for those companies that forge their own direction. And that’s just the case with KHS. They are perhaps best known as an alternative brand in bike shops, filling in gaps at the more affordable end of the market and doing niche-y bikes that the big guys won’t touch.
One such bike is the Hot Rod, above. Riffing on he Schwinn Stingray, the Hot Rod features 20-inch wheels, a retro-style springer fork, ape-hanger bar and banana seat. At $329, it’s not an entry-level kid’s bike, but somehow I suspect that much of the target market for this bike has checking accounts. Corduroy and dirt jump not included.
The Flite 747 caught my eye—how could it not?—thanks to its 64cm frame. Yes, 64; that’s not a typo. The 747 was a joint project with Lennard Zinn to bring some really big bikes (there’s also the 29er called the BNT—for Big ‘n’ Tall) to the market at affordable price points. The Shimano 105-equipped Flite 747 comes in just two sizes, 64 and 67 and retails for $1799. The wheels employ 36-spokes front and rear and the crankset is 200mm, while the bar is 46cm. It’s incredibly well-thought.
The Flite 450 is the least expensive disc-equipped road bike I’ve encountered. At $1099, it’s an impressive package built around an aluminum frame and Tiagra components. It actually includes basic pedals because they figure this will be purchased by a beginner.
While Kryptonite is the household name in locks in North America, Abus is king in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands—hell, all of the EU. They have consistently introduced fresh ideas in bicycle security and produce some of the most foolproof bicycle locks imaginable.
My favorite of their different locks is the Bordo line. This is the new Bordo Big, an eight-link hardened steel masterpiece of security. The 5mm-thick hardened steel bars are all covered in a cushy plastic to prevent damage to a bike’s paint and decals. Its total length is 120cm—long enough to lock up two bikes to a rack. Abus uses a rather strange scale to compare security, so while I can tell you this gets a 10, security-wise, their scale goes to (no, not 11) 15. They’re a German company, so I know they must have a good explanation.
One of Abus’ big selling points is that they use very high-quality tumblers. Most of their locks are sophisticated enough that they can host hundreds of thousands of key variations, though a few go as high as 1.2 million possible variations. No one is going to steal your bike with a ball-point pen while you’re using an Abus.
We managed to get in a couple of rides during our days and they gave me a first taste of Ridley’s redesigned Noah SL. I’ll be reviewing it in the not-too-distant future.