Receiving the CX200 marked my first foray into cyclo-cross riding. And it proved a fine introduction over the six weeks the KHS was in the RCUK test stable.
The paintjob on the double butted aluminium frame is a limited edition UK only pearlescent white which, when pulled from the bike, gives the illusion of a considerably more costly bike – the CX200 retails at £799.99 (here’s the full spec). Of course, it’s a colour easily sullied when riding ‘cross but nothing a quick post-ride wipe down doesn’t see off.
The beauty of ‘cross riding is in its spontaneity. For me, a 10-mile hop through south west London and an on-road lap of Richmond Park, where the bike proved capable through speedy, sweeping corners.
But off-road, with the knobbly Kenda Kwicker tyres set at 60psi, is where the ‘crosser belongs; ducking and diving along tree-lined trails, carving up gravel tracks and hopping over roots and rabbit holes.
That’s where the CX200 is in its prime – on ground too demanding for a full-fledged road bike but too easily gobbled up by a mountain bike. It’s cycling as exploration, and why most of us jumped on a bike in the first place.
As usually found on ‘cross bikes, cantilever brakes provide the stopping power. As well as drop ‘bar brake levers, auxiliary brakes are also in place – a sure-fire sign of an entry-level ‘crosser but also very handy on the urban commute to combat wayward motorists. These, of course, can be removed.
KHS have opted for a chromo fork which is as strong as they come – key when putting the bike through its paces off-road. The fork also has mudguard eyelets and rack bosses.
The fork, however, adds considerably to the weight (22.5lbs) of the bike, particularly when compared to a machine like the Boardman CX Pro with its full carbon fibre monocoque fork – but £200 dearer. The CX200 is, however, comparable in weight to similar models from Focus and Scott, and lighter than the Charge Filter Hi.
And when looking at the CX200 next to the Boardman, the KHS is more obviously a ‘cross bike, with the super strong fork and external cable routing. It boils down to personal preference – a case of weight versus rigidity, and price.
Otherwise, the CX200’s Shimano Tiagra front derailleur and shifters, and Shimano 105 rear derailleur, are spot-on for the price point. Reliable and accurate shifting.
The prolonged cold snap that has hit us at the start of this winter has seen ‘crossers come to the fore for roadies. With full mudguards fitted and knobbly tyres in tow, the CX200 made light work of London’s snow-covered roads.
And when the slush has cleared, throw on a pair of racing wheels and slick tyres and, with mudguards, you have a quickly-converted, albeit heavy, winter hack. That’s the key with an entry-level cyclo-cross machine like the CX200, which, capable as a bad weather commuter, winter hack or outright ‘crosser, ticks more than one box.
But the CX200 is, of course, most at home as an out-and-out ‘crosser – an affordable route into a whole new area of pedal sport.