One of the happy denizens the Surly Empire happens to live not to far from me over in Decorah, IA. He also happens to be a giant, like me! Aaand, it so happens that he just took delivery of his very own special Krampus! Joy!
So I says, can I ride it? Sure! Says the giant gnome.
Color me happy. See, for those who don’t pay attention to the intarwebs, or the cycling press probably don’t know that Surly has done it again. First, the Karate Monkey, then the Pugsley, and the Big Dummy. They have this knack for creating bikes that fill a niche, or create a whole new niche. Obviously, the niche we’re interested in here is the Fat bike realm. The one created by what can arguably be called one of the greatest mountain bikes made, the Pugsley.
Those 4″ wide tires opened up a whole new world of terrain to us adventurous types. Snow, sand, lake shores, river banks, river beds, open forests, serious rock crawling. It was [ and frankly IS ] cool. I love what they can do, where fat bikes can go. Supremely capable bicycles for sure. About the only issue though, is that pushing those honkin’ big tires around can get kind of old and tiring after a while.
I heard a few rumors of a fat 29″ tire roaming around the QBP facilities, then I saw some of the first grainy images, and I got real interested. I knew that I’d be real interested in what came out of these thoughts from the diabolical [to your wallet] minds of Surly. At this point we know what this was, and the fat bike geeks and 29er geeks alike are just itching to get their hands on one.
And I just did. So what’s it ride like? Pretty damned good. Pretty damned good. Rolling through town, it felt pretty much like any old fat bike. Big squishy tires, a bit of hum, but rolled faster cause there’s less resistance. If you ride Nates, you know what I’m talking about! Once the tires hit dirt[hero dirt no less!] things got decidedly more interesting. The trail went up, over loose shaley limestone. The kind of climb that on a normal bike is difficult. Fat bike no problem, and the same thing with the Krampus. It climbs really quite well. The lighter tires certainly make climbing an easier chore on this bike. Normally, I’m a fan of short chainstay bikes. In order to fit the big ass 3.0 Knard’s, Surly had to lengthen out the stays on this bike. Yet it remains well balanced. Bonus there.
Once up top, the trail mellows and begins dancing through the trees. With the 30″ bars this bike had, I was a bit worried about my knuckles. That width was nice on the climb, but here? I dunno. I shouldn’t have been worried though. the bar width was minor, and once used to it, was fine. I was expecting a bike with such a slack headangle to a be a bit slow in the twisties, kind of like the Mukluk I own. Sure wasn’t though. I had to keep in mind the bar width, but that was the only thing slowing me down there.
Slowing down on this bike is something that I doubt will happen much, especially when you get it pointed down hill. This thing just flat out RIPS. Other than the few FS bikes I’ve ridden, this is the most fun bike going downhill that I’ve had the pleasure of riding. Stable. Steers from the hip with just a flick of the bars. Comfortable, confidence inspiring in the bike feel. The Krampus is easily lofted over roots and drops. If you have the room to let this bike free, you will be quite well rewarded. It wants to go fast. Just let it go. It won’t bite you.
Good luck with your impatience. Now that I’ve had a bite, its gonna be even harder for me to wait.