The Takeaway: A great riding road bike with upright positioning and surprisingly nuanced features for just $529
- Who Should Buy It: Riders looking for a reliable road bike that's just as good on a daily commute as it is on a MS150.
- What We Love: Medium reach brake calipers give the Flite 150 more tire clearance than most other bikes with rim brakes.
- Something We Don't: The 7 speed drivetrain has limited range and big jumps between gears.
Weight: 23.8 lb.
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I'll start by saying this bike surprised me. I'm a retired professional racer and I spent years riding top-of-the-line equipment, and preferred a very long and low riding position. This KHS is one of the cheapest road bikes available. It's riding position was shorter and taller than my mountain bike. I try to keep an open mind when testing equipment, but I'll admit that my expectations were very low when I was assigned this bike to review.
Those expectations, however, were more than exceeded from the first pedal stroke. Despite the very relaxed riding position and the very long, 210mm head tube on my size XL test bike, the front end felt stiff and steering was remarkably precise.
With an upright riding position and calm steering manners, this bike leans toward the endurance category so it's a great pick for a first road bike or for anyone eyeing up an MS150 or similar event. But its nuanced feature set makes it more than just a road bike. Front and rear rack mounts mean it can be set up as a commuter bike as well.
And though it uses rim brakes, its medium-reach calipers give it very healthy tire clearance. The Flite 150's stock tires are 28mm wide, but it has room for more. 30mm tires will fit, and some some 32mm tires might also, although actual tire widths can vary based on brand and the rim the tires are mounted on.
This isn't a fast bike, or a quick-feeling bike, so if you're looking for a starter race bike, there are better options. And the 7 speed Shimano drivetrain is slightly limiting for steeper uphills and longer downhills but adequate for flat roads and rolling hills—that's part of the trade-off for this bike's low price.
But it is a great bike for hitting the road and enjoying some good miles. And with better than average clearance it can also be set up with bigger tires for riding some light gravel. For just over 500 dollars, you can get on the road with a bike that's comfortable, versatile, drives nicely, and can handle fatter tires. You can't ask for more from a $529 bike.
Big Tire Clearance for Rim Brakes
Despite having rim brakes, this bike has surprising good tire clearance, thanks to medium-reach calipers. You miss out on the reliable, all-weather performance of disc brakes, but you still get the increased tire clearance over standard rim brakes and you don't get the extra cost or complexity that comes with disc brakes. The stock 28mm tires add a little cushion, and if you want more, it will fit up to 30mm tires, and probably some 32mm tires also.
Drivetrain: Shimano Tourney 2 x 7-speed
Tires: Kenda K-176, 700 x 28
Tire clearance: 700 x 30
Shimano Tourney 2 x 7 Speed Drivetrain
This bike is outfitted with a Shimano Tourney 7-speed drivetrain and a crankset with 50/34 chainrings. The 12-28 cassette makes even jumps in the lower and middle end of the range, from the 12 up to a 24. Then it bumps up to the 28, which makes for a nice bailout gear on steeper climbs but bigger hills may leave you looking for more.
If you're willing to spend a bit more, KHS has the Flite 280, with Shimano Claris 8-speed, for $799, as well as the Flite 223, with a Claris 8-speed triple group, for $629.
Short and Tall for a Comfy Ride
Short and tall is the story of this bike, which is ideal for an entry level endurance or commuter bike. A low position on the bike can limit the rider’s field of vision and feel uncomfortable to anyone not used to spending hours upon hours folded into a racing position. This bike solves those problems. But even compared to other endurance bikes, the Flite 150 is a short and tall bike. Riders with longer torsos may find it tough to get the fit they need on this bike.
My XL test bike had a stack height of 646mm, which is extremely high for a bike its size. At 633.8mm, a 60cm Marin Gestalt is pretty tall but is eclipsed by over a centimeter by the Flite 150. The Flite's reach is also very short for such a big bike. 392mm is a reach you can find on some 54cm frames. The comparably-sized Gestalt has 406.2mm reach.
Surprisingly Stiff with Sharp Steering
KHS’s Flite 150 is a no-frills bike that has everything you need to get out and start enjoying the beauty of bike riding. Whether casual rides for fitness, spirited group rides, or commuting, this bike has what you need to get rolling. It has only what you need, and nothing extra.
The aluminum frame has some minor tube shaping to enhance ride quality over round tubes and the gentle curves add some style. Still, this is a rather unassuming bike, but beneath the understated aesthetic is a solid bike that, put simply, works.
5 Things We Love About the KHS Flite 150
Bikes with handlebars as high as the Flite's will often ride like a chopper, with imprecise, sloppy steering. But despite the long, 210mm head tube and the relaxed 72.5 degree head angle, the bike was a pleasure to ride, steady in a straight line and reliable when leaning into sweeping bends at speed. Responsive to input both in and out of the saddle, I enjoyed cruising through the rolling farmland around the Bicycling office far more than I expected to on this bike. At almost 24 pounds, it's not as quick up the hills as a lighter bike, but at least it feels efficient.
The Flite 150 is one of the cheapest road bikes I've ever ridden. And though I assumed the worst, this bike did more than just surprise me. It proved to me that it is possible to get a great bike for just $529.