British company Identiti build tough bikes for tough riders, but once you get used to the solidity of the super sturdy 666X you'll realise what a well balanced and versatile bike it is. Well, apart from the fork, anyway...
The TAF (Tough As F**k) frame features a massive down tube gusset while the seatstays and top tube overlap the seat tube in each direction for an elongated weld junction. Towards the rear, chunky stays sit between the BMX bottom bracket shell and the ADS (Adjustable Dropout System) back end, which features sliding dropouts that let you adjust the singlespeed chainline and fit a 24 or 26in rear wheel, with small screw adjusters to stop the wheel shifting. There's a gear hanger ready for a rear mech, the frame is fully routed for gear cables, and adjustable Vbrake mounts work with 24in or 26in wheels and leave a clean appearance if you're using discs.
lighter Reynolds 853 tubed 666R version is also available
The 26in wheel-compatible dropouts mean the rear end is longer than on a pure 24in bike, but specific shorter S24 dropouts are available. A long top tube leaves more breathing space for speed work, as well as increasing stability, and a quick-release seat tube collar means you can hoist the seat up for thrashing around the woods XC style. The high weight (17kg/37.8lb complete) reflects the massive strength, but a lighter Reynolds 853 tubed 666R version is also available.
Identiti exploit the ADS versatility by offering the bike with either 24 or 26in wheels and knobbly Halo Choir Boy Lite or smooth rolling, indented tread Halo Twin Rail tyres. We'd go for the latter on smoother groomed trails or for urban work because the tall Choir Boy knobs tend to fl ex and slide when pushed hard in the dry. They increase the work needed to get the already hefty bike rolling, too.
The real disappointment is the Dirt Jam Comp fork, though. It absorbed some of the landing impact and we were certainly getting full travel, but the rebound top-out clang got louder and more worrying the longer we rode, until it was properly disturbing us.
The BMX bottom bracket used with 4-Jeri three-piece cranks also needed tightening a few times before it settled. Otherwise, the Gusset and 4-Jeri gear is all bomber tough gear, if seriously heavy, with the braced steel Gusset Prison-R handlebar getting particular praise from our test team. The brakes are cable discs and running the front brake hose through the stem leaves you clear to barspin. The 180mm front rotor adds power but we'd definitely go for the Diatech hydraulic option for £50 more. A 666X Pro version of the bike is also available for £699, with a 20mm through-axle Marzocchi Dirt Jam Pro fork, Gusset Waffen cranks, Halo SAS wheels and other upgrades.
If we're totally honest, most of our test team found the 666X really hard going at first - the knobbly tyres, long position and high overall weight make it a really labour intensive ride that'll need stamina and muscle power on jumps with fl at approaches. But the more we rode it, the more we liked it. Despite the long length, it actually lifts very easily, which was a real surprise, and once you're used to working with the momentum it really starts to flow.
Rider weight is placed nice and centrally too, so you don't have to throw your weight around much to keep the bike controlled and anchored. The longer wheelbase also keeps the bike very stable as speeds increase or trail surfaces deteriorate. If you like whipping and fl airing your air, we'd recommend the shorter 24in-specifi c dropouts to give a more flickable character than the bike has in standard form. On the downside, the echoing clang of the fork after every launch gets irritating very quickly, and it's not long before the constant jarring starts to bruise your palms.
Overall, the 666X Comp is a real beast of a bike - it started a long way behind the pack on first impressions, but once we'd tamed it and got used to bullying it along, it suddenly got a lot more friendly. The heavy weight means it'll always be labour intensive, but use the momentum and you'll find it's a surprisingly well balanced and workable flyer, with its massive strength guaranteeing frame survival when it all goes wrong. It's also a really versatile rig that'll accommodate whatever way your riding progresses, although we'd certainly advise you to upgrade the fork as soon as possible.