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Archive for April, 2012

Well, this post has been a long time coming. In fact, I’ve only been pushed to penning it down because I’m so excited about my upgrade that this needs to be put out of the way in order for me to talk about that.

So here goes my review of the stock 2011 KHS Alite 1000. But, putting this down involves a little introduction as to how I found my inner mountain biker.

Part 1 – How it happened

The truth is that I was a man on the roadie-mtb fence. I had a hybrid and it seemed fine. I was enjoying 70km rides with a few fellow urban adventurers and had no plans to pick a side anywhere in the recent future. That was for the first four months that is.

It so happened that my Dad was due to retire some time April last year. I was racking my brain for a good retirement gift when my mum happened to mention that Dad was toying with the idea of an old beat-up bike to potter around on when he retired. This cleared things up in quick time. A bike it had to be. But what sort of bike? A comfortable one! How is this related to my Alite 1000 you ask? Well, allow me to lead up to it.

So, I paid Venky (at Wheelsports) a visit to see what he had to offer. I had seen a couple of Merida Crossways and they seemed like nice hybrids at a decent price and decided to investigate. After 5 mins of inspecting the Crossways, I had made up my mind. These were a real disappointment – not terribly pleasing looks, average specs, ok-ish price and sub-optimal finish.

On turning around though I stopped at the sight of an infinitely more pleasing machine. It was a mountain bike. And it was red! It was the new KHS Alite 150 and it was downright hot. I’d seen pics of the KHS range online and wasn’t overly impressed. In the metal however, it was a different story entirely. They were gorgeous! I checked out the specs and the entire range (150, 300, 500, 1000 and 2000) blew the competition out of the water on every. Understand that this lad had no clue whatsoever what this whole mountain biking thing was all about. The only offroading I’d done involved lugging my Trek 7100 to Sarjapur to join a crew who were recceing the route for the BBCh XC race in 2011. It was tough going that day what with my 700x35c tyres making life in the sand rather difficult.

After an evening talking to Venky, I went back home with a few thoughts to ponder. I figured that the most comfortable ride my Dad could get would actually be a hardtail – front sus and fat tyres taking any possible edge off a commute. Speed wasn’t even a consideration since it would be used for general pottering around and my Dad is in no hurry to get anywhere. Then, to take care of any possible fit issues, and to take into account the fact that my Dad would be riding again after a gap of 40 years, I decided that an adjustable stem wouldn’t be a bad idea. Bounced the idea off Venky and he was happy to oblige. I figured the 150 was just too low-specced for my liking and the 300 hit the price-performance sweet-spot, so the Alite 300 it was.

Adding a twist to the tale, I saw the 2010 Alite 300 lying there which looked even better than its more recent counterpart. It turned out that it was a 15 inch frame which would work well for a lady because of its rather low top-tube. The Better Half’s (TBH from now on) birthday was a month away and I had been seriously considering a bike as a gift. Stumbling across this one was something of a sign which I just couldn’t pass up.

So, after having visited Wheelsports to check out the feasibility of a hybrid, I walked away with not one, but two KHS Alite 300s. Venky was really helpful and was happy to customise one of them for my Dad and hold the other for a month until TBH’s birthday came around (we both like surprises you see). The silver coloured ride was loaded into the car and I drove it down to Madras to show up on my Dad’s first day of retirement with a present he never expected. The black and red beauty showed up in our living room a month later with a red ribbon around the top tube to much astonishment and petting (as one can hardly help stroking beautiful metal).

Over the next couple of months I discovered the joys of bouncing a fork and trying to pop wheelies on a mountain bike that’s a little small for you. In fact, I found myself having so much fun in my basement on TBH’s bike that, in my mind’s eye, the sheen on my snappy (relatively new) Trek 7100 was beginning to dull. We also took the Alite 300 back to Venky a couple of times for a little tweaking. Each time we did, my eye lusted after a ride which usually lay in a corner – Naveen’s Alite 1000. The 2011 Alite 1000 actually has an identical paint job to the 2010 Alite 300 so it actually looked like TBH’s bike’s elder sibling. After much soul searching, and keeping in mind the fact it wouldn’t be great to bust TBH’s new ride, I decided I had to have a hardtail. Again, Venky and Naveen went way beyond any call of duty. I was lent Naveen’s Alite 1000 to ride for a few days to see whether it suited me. I swapped my 7100 with him so he could commute on that while I tried out his bad boy.

The very first day I took it home, I was mucking around in the basement parking area. I’d never used disc brakes on a bicycle before so I had no idea what I was dealing with. I grabbed the front brake and ended up doing a stoppie which threw me over the bars! My left knee painfully whacked the bar and that was that. I spent the next week or so limping around with my knee swollen. My obsession with the bike though, would brook no opposition and I ended up doing a 15km ride where I ended up pedalling with basically one leg.

I could stand it no longer. I had to have it!

Venky, as is his wont, gave me a fabulous deal and I rode the 15kms home with my new bike.

That was in June 2011.

Over the last ten months I have ridden the bike almost exclusively offroad. I have ridden XC around Sarjapur, Turahalli and Airport road and taken many a (painful) toss on it while attempting the downhill track at Turahalli.

There are things I love about it and some things I hate about it but, in its entirety, it has helped me understand the kind of riding I enjoy and the kind I don’t. I’ll get into those details in my next post.

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