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  1. #1
    KVW
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    09 KHS XCT 535 build for around $1200 (goal)

    Just thought I'd make a new thread with this bike build since this subforum is all about crickets, lol.

    Started off with this ebay frame for about $350 shipped from betterbikes (aka Bob's Bicycles).



    Goal is to give my girlfriend a better mountain bike experience after 'sparking the interest' with a downieville trip.


    She had tons of fun with a "commuter bike" turned off-road with a front suspension fork and knobbie tires, lol, hoping our return downieville trip will only be better with something more purpose built for the job.

    Frame arrives well wrapped and in mint condition from the ebay vendor - No complaints with the exception of one. The included headset is a $10 POS trash headset ... it will have to do for now but will likely have to be replaced soon.



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    First thing was to white out those horrible KHS graphics while waiting for all the supporting stuff to arrive:



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    Parts list & cost break down:
    $350 khs xct 535 5.5" frame/headset (ebay)
    $180 120mm rockshox TK silver fork (performance bike)
    $150 Elixer R hydro brakes kits 185mm front and 160mm back (HnR & ebay)
    $90 170mm Shimano LX crankset (jensonusa)
    $120 SRAM X9 9x speed derailleurs & shifters (aawyeah)
    $75 Tioga D-Spyder pedals (ebikeshop)
    $20 Race Face bashguard (ebikeshop)
    $20 90mm Felt stem (blueskycycling)
    $210 Fulcrum Red XL Wheelset (Bike-Discount.de - terrible btw)
    $40 Gloss white vinyl & 3M protective film. (amazon)
    $40 WTB Exiwolf Tubeless Tires (HnR)
    $35 SRAM PG-980 Cassette 9 Speed (CL)
    $15 Cutter 9 Speed Chain (CL)

    Total:
    $1345

    Left over stuff in my parts bin:
    $60 660mm low rise Carbon RaceFace handlebar (performance bike)
    $40 31.8mm/400mm Hylix Carbon seatpost (ebay)
    $20 OEM GT seat (performance bike)
    $20 misc' cabling (blueskycycling)

    Total if adding leftover parts cost:
    $1485

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    Building a bike: always a love/hate experience:



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    The Final product:













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    If you're curious of the total weight:



    The only thing that's exceptionally heavy is the rockshox solo air TK Silver fork at 4.4lbs. I imagine if we ever got the itch to upgrade it, we'd get a longer travel fork. Maybe a 140mm since right now the bike is running 5.5" travel in the back with only 4.7" in the front. Upgrading to a 140mm fork usually means an overall heftier fork which would probably be roughly the same weight so it likely wouldn't reduce the weight much, if any.

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    If anyone's curious about the real weight of those WTB Exiwolf tubeless tires vs claimed 595g on HnR:


    I do like these tires though. Airs up tubeless without issue - didn't even need sealant (although I added some anyways).

    One thing that surprised me is the lockout on that X-fusion frame shock. Wow! That thing locks so hard, it's as stiff as a hardtail! Going to be a great feature on those long climbs!

    We're going to take it on its maiden vogage this evening with a quick lil mountain bike run after work. But this this weekend we're going to REALLY break it in with a trip back to downieville!

    Will report back after.
    Last edited by KVW; 08-24-2012 at 06:03 AM.
    "Single track is for pansies!
    I blast down a mountain once, and in my wake, lies a new single track for the rest of you."-sm

  2. #2
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    Good Man!
    Hey K-
    You're not alone.
    I'm building a GT Marathon Sport squishy for my wife.
    Don't forget your follow-up.
    i'm sure it will be a blast!
    roccowt.
    rocnbikemeld

  3. #3
    KVW
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    Quote Originally Posted by zarr View Post
    Good Man!
    Hey K-
    You're not alone.
    I'm building a GT Marathon Sport squishy for my wife.
    Don't forget your follow-up.
    i'm sure it will be a blast!

    Very nice. I was going to build up the very same frame when nashbar was offloading them for so cheap but went with this KHS instead. GT makes some some sexy looking bikes with all those hydroformed tubes. Make sure to post up pics once you have it built for her!


    So the test run last night went without a hitch. There was, of course, a bit of an adaptation period - coming from a XC'ish commuter oriented bike, it wasn't just getting used to all the squishiness but also the more "AM'ish" geo changes. The extra wide handlebars also was an issue but I told her that's definitely worth getting used to, I felt the same way but absolutely love my 711mm handlebars now!

    Before even the half way point she had already adapted and was blasted over our familiar spots at full tilt.. but this time with smiles and comments of how comfortable the ride is now.

    One thing though, 5.5" travel in the back makes for a pretty tall bike! Jump off the bike and the sag disappears leaving her with almost no stand-over clearance! At least she doesn't have any manly bits to worrry about.

    The suspension appears extremely plush - FSR and X-fusion works great!

    Before we set off, I snapped off a couple pics of the bike with my trusty Sony P&S camera to give the bike some justice instead of that grainy mess above.

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    Downieville here we come!
    "Single track is for pansies!
    I blast down a mountain once, and in my wake, lies a new single track for the rest of you."-sm

  4. #4
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    Now that's a nice bike!!
    It's goona be a while, but soon I'll finish getting the parts together and post up my wife's Marathon.
    I got a Marathon 9r for myself during that big sale, so hers first, then mine.
    Enjoy!
    ---zarr
    roccowt.
    rocnbikemeld

  5. #5
    KVW
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    Figured I'd do a follow up as promised.

    Downieville was a blast and she immensely enjoyed the bike. One of the main differences she noticed from last trip was the ability to sit down and pedal far more than her hardtail which allowed her legs to recover easier while making her 15 mile descent down the mountain. Less tired means more energy and vigor for necessary body english over the gnarly stuff. The wider 660mm handlebar width finally "felt perfect" once I swapped out her stem for a shorter 70mm, -7* raceface stem.

    I took an opportunity to test ride the bike and wow, what that suspension is active and plush. I really does feel bottomless back there and the linkage just feels so silky smooth without any hint of flex (I'm about 180 with gear) or binding against itself (guess that's the proven FSR linkage). It's too bad betterbikes doesn't have any medium sizes for sale or I might be tempted to pick up one for myself!

    Love the stance and geometry of the bike - the steering has the perfect amount of heaviness to keep it stable without that awkward feeling of an overly tall/slack front end (something I recently encountered with my 29er fork upgrade from 100 to 120mm on my Jamis). I do have to note though her, RS fork barely has enough rebound even while maxed out (perhaps one of the downfalls of the cheaper "solo air" TK recon fork).

    I can't say enough good stuff bout that X-fusion shock, unlike the RS fork mentioned earlier, that thing has extreme adjustablity across the board. Want to slow the rebound to snail crawl, go for it. Want to make it bouncy like a pogo stick, sure! Want to lock it out and make your bike feel like a effing' hardtail, you can do that too. It's almost like they gave that range of adjustability to show off as I can't imagine you'd ever want to ride with such extreme settings. Whatever the reason, it's quite awesome and I'll be looking in to X-fusion in my future suspension upgrades. I'm a fan.

    One last thing I love bout the frame is its simplicity. All suspension hinges are visible and easily accessible for self servicing if and when the time comes to replace bearings and such. Even if the price was quite a bit higher than what they're selling it for, I would have no regrets.

    My only gripe with the frame is its poor taste in unremoveable ugly graphics (clear coated on top of it) and universally painted black swing arm. You can tell they did that for budget reasons but if you look online at various pictures of these year KHS bikes, on lighter color models, it looks like the rear of the bike just disappears and you're just riding around on a front triangle. It also visually exaggerates the length of the seattube which is also visually awkward. This is why i found it necessary to add the white vinyl to the swing arms to correct and the end result is an ugly duckling of a frame turned beautiful. It's a shame really, I bet they would have sold more had they considered this - people are superficial afterall, don't believe me, just look at what happen to Acura and their fourth gen TL model car. One of acura's most popular models sold like sh!t for several years simply because of horrible styling change despite it being an amazing car mechanically speaking.

    Anyways, I'll leave it at that. If anyone is on the fence bout picking up one of these older discounted frames, go for it.

    We're enjoying the hell out of it and I'm sure you would too.

    "Single track is for pansies!
    I blast down a mountain once, and in my wake, lies a new single track for the rest of you."-sm

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