KHS 6600 LONG TERM REVIEW – A CARBON TRAIL BIKE VALUE
Knowledge, health and strength—three things you value in your trail bike
KHS is a Taiwan-based manufacturer with long-running operations in California. While perhaps bestknown for its entry-level and BMX bikes, KHS bikes at all price points have a reputation for being packed with exceptional value. KHS bikes utilize proven designs and materials, and spec the best bang-for-the-buck components to extract quality performance without blowing up the price tag.
The 6600 is the mid-travel trail bike offering from KHS. The front and rear triangles are full carbon and come with a tapered head tube, a Boost 148 axle, an internal dropper and shift cables. Out of the box, the 6600 is a striking bike. The sculpted carbon tubes, clean suspension, and balanced stance give it a look that rivals that of bikes that are twice the price. The metallic Raisin paint job is truly eye-catching in person, although the purple hue will have its haters.
While some brands offer bikes in this category in as many as six sizes, KHS offers the 6600 in four, with the small having 27.5-plus-inch wheels and tires, while the medium, large and extra large are outfitted with 29-inch wheels. Our size-large test bike has a 65.5-degree head angle, 78.1-degree seat angle and 472mm reach.
Shimano’s SLX drivetrain is more than welcome on a bike at this price and worked flawlessly during our test. Similarly, the MT420 four-piston brakes provided ample stopping power with a great feel overall, although they lack Shimano’s Servo Wave technology that helps keep the levers feeling consistent under heavy braking. The Fox Rhythm suspension fork soaks up bumps and is quite tunable with air pressure, but uses the most basic damper and is heavier than the Performance line fork that is spec’d on some other bikes in this price range.
Component spec is where KHS has shined in previous MBA value comparisons and shootouts, but KHS doesn’t seem to be making the value proposition with this bike. For nearly $5k, we hoped to see SLX componentry throughout without the small downgrades to things like suspension and brakes. KHS delivers a full carbon frame, whereas others utilize less expensive alloy rear stays, which may explain the cost savings on some component specs. The other possible explanation is that the days of an SLX bike being easy on your wallet are over. Increases in component-spec cost to the manufacturer may mean this is the new standard for a value bike.
The 6600 uses a Horst-link, four-bar suspension with a Performance-level Fox Float DPS shock that gives the bike 135mm of travel. The design is one that’s stood the test of time and delivers a predictable feel that’s relatively easy to tune. The travel feels active on small bumps but benefits from the use of a compression damper to keep it from bobbing when pedaling. The suspension feels progressive and controlled, even deep in the stroke on big impacts. This is the kind of well-executed, relatively simple design that makes a bike easy to set up, ride and understand. In front, you’ll find a Fox 36 Rhythm fork with 150mm of travel and a GRIP compression- and rebound-adjustable damper.
KHS built the 6600 with a geometry that favors climbing. With a steep, 78.1-degree seat angle, the bike puts the rider in a powerful position right over the bottom bracket. The mid-travel bike feels right at home, earning climbs rather than shuttling or taking a chairlift, although the suspension design needs some help to keep from bobbing and robbing power. The Fox Float DPS shock comes with a three-position compression switch to firm the shock. It’s located at the bottom end of the shock, which makes it a long, inconvenient reach. Nevertheless, we found ourselves reaching for the firmest mode on fire roads and the medium setting for mixed terrain.
The 6600 is built as an all-around trail bike meant to descend a wide range of trails at a wide range of speeds. KHS takes a tempered approach to geometry and built the 6600 with angles that make sense for every rider, not just the fastest racers. The geometry is stable and confident but not so slack that it’s difficult to manage in tight terrain or at slow speeds. The relatively steep (these days anyway), 65.6-degree head angle helps give the bike a balanced feel that’s not easily deflected off the line accidentally but feels nimble for picking the best line down technical trails. It’s still plenty confident at speed and is a blast to ride on rolling terrain with technical descents and punchy climbs.
MODS AND UPGRADES
Our test riders immediately noticed the relatively short, 125mm dropper post, which limits the extension of the seatpost. Our tall test riders, who typically fit large frames with ease, couldn’t make this bike fit properly. Since the dropper post has only 125mm of travel and the bike would benefit from much more drop, this may be on the upgrade list for many potential 6600 buyers anyway.
KHS went out of their way to pick a paint job that would stand out from the crowd. They left off any type of protection for it, though. The 6600 comes as naked as can be and has no frame armor of any kind. At a minimum, riders should take time to add protection from chain slap on the chainstay and inside of the seatstay. To protect that fancy-looking metallic purple paint, vinyl frame protection is a good idea.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The 6600 is labeled as an enduro bike, but its ride is really closer to that of a trail bike—one that works well in most conditions. With a well-balanced geometry and suspension, the bike is as happy climbing to the top of the hill as it is going down. It has a fun and forgiving style on the trail and feels stable at speed but not as “slacked out” as some other bikes with the same travel. The 6600’s handling is sharp and confident, and it feels like a trailbike through and through. The full-carbon frame, coupled with a tried-and-true suspension design, delivers performance that any trail rider would value. The build kit ticks all the boxes when it comes to reliability, although upgrades to components like the fork and dropper post will be the first things riders will look to invest in.
WHEEL SIZE: 29″
SUSPENSION: 150mm (front), 135mm (rear)