KHS CX 200
Review: KHS CX 200By Inge Mares | Published Sep 19, 2010
Right Out of the Box
When our friendly UPS guy delivered the KHS, we pulled it right out of the box. I thought to myself that I have never seen a cyclocross bike in this color before. The Sub Lime Green paint job is quite bright, with a touch of pearlescent/mica undertone. Think shiny "Kermit the Frog" green. The black cork bar tape works well with the stylish KHS and Atomic "K" decals, making this bike pretty bright and cool looking. On closer inspection, we discovered that the CX 200 is meant to pull double duty: first as a cyclocross bike, then as a commuter bike. Front and rear mounted pannier rack bolts and fender mounts give the rider added flexibility in their bike arsenal.Ease of Assembly
The CX 200 was really easy to put together as it arrived about 90% pre-assembled. All we had to do was put the bars on, place the front wheel in the fork, attach the brakes and put the seat post in. This was by far the easiest build that we have had to date.Bling Factor
The pretty Sub Lime paint job is the bling on this bike. When the sun hits the paint, it's really quite vibrant.
Road Test Ride
The KHS stock gearing (12x25) is excellent for short bouts of climbing typical in a cross race and is plenty of gearing for a dedicated cyclocros racer. The bike climbed well when attacking short hills.Cornering
While it doesn't corner like my road bike due to the longer wheel base, bigger tires, and less aggressive geometry, the KHS will still go around corners quickly with the proper pilot input.Handeling
The CX 200 is not twitchy at all but is still responsive to the rider. It has a striking balance between responsiveness and stability. The bike really shines in sweeping corners and adds confidence in high speed turns.Ride Feel
With the big aluminum tubes, the bike feels stable but slightly sluggish due to the geometry and weight. However, that means that it won't get away from you. The front end feels heavy due to the full CrMo fork used on the frame.
Dirt Test Ride
As most cross racers know, choosing your line is a major skill in cross. When you are new to the sport, there is a lot to pay attention to, including navigating the course. The Kenda Kwicker tires seem to greedily bite into the gravel, dirt and mud and anything else in it's path, giving newer riders more confidence when climbing such perilous terrain. During extensive climbs, the aluminum frame is stiff and stable which allows all of the rider's power to go into propelling themselves up hill.Cornering
We took the bike out to two areas to test it's cornering abilities.Powell Butte has twisty single track and a wide-open high speed double track. In the dense forest of the single track, I found the KHS would do exactly what I asked it to do at almost any speed. It didn't matter if I was in the dense single track or the high speed double track. I really enjoyed taking the CX 200 through the wide sweepers in the single track. The CX 200 comes with Kenda Kwicker tires. Descending a gravel hill with a corner at the base was not as sketchy as it could have been. The Kwicker tires provided enough grip to prevent the front tire from sliding out.Handeling
The bike was tested in a different section of our favorite local park, Powell Butte. As this course was completely new to the evaluator, it was interesting to see how the bike responded. The CX 200 handled exceptionally well when traveling over roots, crevices, and rocks, minimally bucking the rider. Shifting was responsive, although could be quicker with an upgrade of the Tiagra shifters. I felt myself wanting to go faster due to the CX 200's stability at high speeds.Ride Feel
Accelerating and decelerating felt fluid with the rider's motions.As with most aluminum frames, they transmit every bump in the road to the rider. The KHS however had minimal feedback from terra firma
Race Test Ride
As we received the bike before cyclocross season, it was not tested in racing
The CX-200 is an excellent entry level cross bike for those new to the sport. With it's added support for pannier racks and fenders, the KHS is a dual purpose bike. Newbie cross racers can invest in the CX 200 without fear of being stuck with a bike if they don't like the sport and would easily morph into your daily commuter or winter training bike. The Sub Lime green is not common, but looks cool, and provides added visibility while commuting. It also looks nice on a Kurt Kinetic trainer. The Tektro brakes are a great value for a lightweight brake plus the stock Kenda Kwicker tires are a good feature when you are still learning about tire selection. Cable routing is located on the side of the top tube, which is out of the way of hand placement when you are going over barriers or running while shouldering the bike. The 46X 36 chain ring combination is exactly what you need when racing cross. It is also a good choice if you are commuting. Believe it or not, the KHS CX 200 is upgradable. Because it's a 9 speed bike, that means that you can upgrade this bike with upper end 9 speed components without braking the bank. There is plenty of 9 speed stuff still out on the market on eBay and Craig's list. This would be a good choice for a cost effective upgrade without having to completely buy a new bike.
We Didn't Like
For an entry level cross bike, the San Marco Ponza Power saddle was too hard for our bum. For newbie women, I would recommend a women's specific saddle with a little more padding such as the Terry Butterfly saddle. Women's saddles tend to have a wider sit bone area that makes it significantly more comfortable while riding. The bike is also heavier (22.3 lbs.) than it needs to be. The all steel fork is a boat anchor, making the bike weigh as much as it does. Lightening up the fork would go a long way towards reducing the overall bike weight. Lastly, the bike is sold in XS, S, M, L, XL sizes with no actual sizes or geometry available online. This makes it difficult for cross bike shoppers to figure out what size they need. Please post the KHS CX 200 geometry and sizing online.
The first upgrade would be to change out the fork. Just by doing that, the bike would drop a least a pound or more off the total weight which would improve the overall performance. The next upgrade would be the group. I would recommend looking for new or gently-used higher end (Ultegra & Dura Ace 9 speed) in secondary consumer channel like eBay or Craig's list. This is an inexpensive way to upgrade the bike and will pay in dividends in the bike performance.
The Final Say
The KHS CX 200 is an excellent entry level option for those new to cyclocross. This bike is meant for individuals that want to try cyclocross but will also use this bike as their commuter or winter training bike. With that in mind, this bike offers excellent value and performance. The CX 200 is also upgradable with available 9 speed parts through third-party sources. We see them all over Craigs list and eBay. When you know that you are truly committed to cyclocross, you can cross over to the 10 speed side. Whether it's 8, 9 or 10 speed, you can only pedal one at a time.
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- First Impressions
- On the Road
- On the Dirt
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- CX 200 (2010)
- 23.3 lbs
XS, S, M, L XL
- 6061 double butted alloy with replaceable derailleur hanger. Sub Lime Green color.
- Fully CroMo
- Alloy 31.8 Drop
- Tektro Oryx Alloy Canti
- Bottom Bracket
- FSA Sealed cartridge Power Drive
- Shimano HG50 12-25, 9 speed
- KMC Z9000 w/ Missing Link
- FSA Vero Cross alloy forged 46/36, Alloy/CrMo rings
- Front Derailleur
- Shimano Tiagra
- Rear Derailleur
- Shimano 105
- FSA Orbit A-Headset w/ hanger
- San Marco Ponza Power
- Alloy micro-adjust
- Shimano Tiagra
- Alloy 3D Forged, 31.8
- Kenda Kwicker 700 x 35c, Folding 120 TPI
- Q2 Quasar wheel set