After recently riding and testing 5 of the hottest 650b/27.5 All Mountain bikes on the market today, I recently received the polar opposite end of the spectrum. The Nashbar Bee’s Knees is a single speed hardtail that sells for $500. That’s right, a complete bike for 5 Benjamins. To be perfectly honest, there is nothing in common between the $5000, full suspension, all purpose rigs we tested in the 650b Round Up and the this bike save wheel size. Does that mean a bike that costs 1/10th of the others will only deliver 1/10th of the fun? We aim to find out.
The bike hasn’t touched dirt yet, but we wanted to post some photos and initial thoughts on the bike. Lovers of fine bikes we are, bike snobs we are not. But we can’t help but say that the single biggest strength of this bike (low cost) is directly proportional to its single biggest weakness (weight). On the official Mtbr shop scale, the Bee’s Knees weighs in at 26.49 lbs (without pedals). For a single speed hardtail with no suspension fork, that’s heavy.
What is also heavy is the stock gearing. The 38 tooth ring and the 16 tooth cog are more oriented towards commuting than ascending mountains. We will be switching these out ASAP. We will also be swapping out the stock 620mm wide handlebars for something a bit longer with more leverage for tackling those stand up and grind single speed climbs.
Of course, at this price the frame is chromoly, thus the weight. The paint and welds are surprisingly clean. The dark green with white (only color option) has a nice clear coat on it. The pure white on the down tube seems ripe for stickers, so go crazy. The rear brake is located inboard (between the seat stay and the chain stay) which is a nice touch. The frame uses horizontal slotted dropouts and also features a standard 1-1/8 headtube and a square taper bottom bracket, so your options are limited on certain upgrades. Tire clearance is not an issue on this bike.
Standout components are the Kenda Nevegal 650b tires, the FSA Hammer headset and the Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes. (Yes, at this price, the BB5s are a standout component.)
As far as durability, ride quality and fun factor – stay tuned for our extended review.
If single speeding is not your game, the Nashbar Bee’s Knees is also available in an alloy framed 2×10 configuration with front shock as well.
For more info: www.nashbar.com