Like a 10 year old with a Bazooka – Surly Krampus

I love this bike. I went out to Vegas just to ride it. Of course there were beers and friends that I only see about once a year, and more beers, but this conglomeration of steel and rubber was the focus of my trip. I was pretty sure I was going to get one, but after riding it I’ve decided F*$% YEAH I’m getting one.

I really like my fat-bikes. I like the fact that they aren’t for everyone. I’d rather stand up and mash my pedals than carefully pick my line in roots and rocks. I have a perfectly fine El Mariachi sitting in my basement. And that is where it sits. I did make myself ride it a couple of times this summer. That’s right, I had to force myself to take it out and ride it. It’s a nice bike.  It’s light, carbon fork and Hope Evo hubs and SS, but it’s just not nearly as fun as my fat bikes. But when I did finally take it out, it was noticeably faster and lighter than my Pugsley, but not as fun.

Enter: the Krampus

Pug – Lander – Krampus
The Krampus I rode was about 6 lbs lighter (in the range of 29 lbs.) than my pug. The Krampus was set up as a 1×9 and bars wide enough to comfortably fit an orangutan. It did feel a little tall, but that feeling went away quickly as I started tearing around on it. There is plenty of tire to absorb rocks and roots and such while not sacrificing as much speed to the weight of the tires, tubes and rims. You can really tell when you have too much tire pressure. We let air out a few times to get it right

I wouldn’t call the Krampus a Fat Bike, I’d call  it fat-ish or Fat-like. I say that because it’s not a fat-bike. Yes, it has big wheels that are fatter than your standard mountain bike, but these 29+ tires are not going to give you the float that a Pug or Lander will in the snow. However, on the trails I feel like it does give you some of the fatbike advantages (traction, less likely to pinch flat, looks cooler than everyone else’s bike) without the fat-bike weight, especially the rotational weight. It eats trails. Eats ’em. And eats ’em up fast! I can’t wait to set up a single speed.

Weight? – Lighter than my Puglsey.

Toe Rub? – Get outta here.

Geometry? – Rides like a bike.  A Monster Truck Bike.

Larry, Nate, Knard

In closing, my opinion is this: I don’t think that this bike is the answer to a single bike that will ride trails like your 29’er and ride snow like your fat-bike. It’s the next big thing in the mtn bike/29’er arena. It will probably be better at riding snow than your existing 29’er is, but I wouldn’t say it’s the silver bullet do all be all MacGyver ride for any and all situations. I definitely think MacGyver would ride one of these, but he would also have a fat-bike for the snowy rides.

You should too.

One of the test riders happens to be a world class photographer. You may have heard about his famous “That Tree” Project. He also owns the farm that hosts Chain Reactions’s Block House Roll Mtn bike race each year just outside of Platteville, WI.

Here are some of his photos from his test ride.

About Spinner 30 Articles
Milk Fed Minnesota Farm Boy, who is now becoming a Beer & Brat loving Wisconsin Bike Boy. I ride bikes and put out fires.


  1. As a rider who doesn’t yet own a fat bike or a 29er in his stable, I was hoping the Krampus would meet my needs for both roles. As Spinner noted, its just not quite enough rubber on the trail to fulfill the role of a fat bike.

    I love the simplicity of the 1 x 9 set up. I also grooved on how the Krampus and the Knards annihilated the farm trails. My trails are the real deal with big assed climbs, creek crossing and tight twisted single track. On all fronts, the Krampus and the Knards devoured the terrain.

    I climbed everything the trails had to offer never feeling short changed on traction or gear selection. Many of the fat bike guys assured me that on a long snowy ride, I would appreciate the extra gears offered by a 2 x 9 setup but having never owned a fatbike, I have no point of reference.

    I was less than enamored with the ultra wide handle bars. I actually ran into a couple of trees in the single track because I hooked a bar and due to my speed, got steered off course. There were also areas on my trail where the clearance was nearly impossible. My first order of business if I purchased one would be a handlebar trim!

    In summary, the ideal scenario would be to own a Krampus and a true fat bike. My hope is that by this time next year, Surly will be introducing the big brother in the Krampi line-up in the form of a true 29er fat bike.

    In the meantime, if a Krampus showed up under my Christmas tree, I would happily make believe it was a fat bike!

  2. Great “real rider” review. I’ll add that; I’ll bet that 90% of the fat bike riding most of us do would be fulfilled by the Krampus… it’s only those who do the no matter what conditions rides that a full fat bike is a must. But please don’t call ALL Fatbikes heavy… only some are heavy…

  3. This was in reply to a deleted comment.
    The comment was: Is the Krampus accepted in the fat-bike world?

    Accepted? Like a fat bike club house with a sign that says “No Krampuses Allowed”? Typically when I’ve put on a fat bike specific race or event or party or orgy, I post a disclaimer that to be eligible for places and prizes that tires have a minimum width of 3.5 inches. It used to be 3.7. I was going with the standard Endomorph and Larry width. This might need to be revisited as more and more tires and rim widths are coming out. If you mean the fat bike world as sand and snow and such, you’ll have to ride one and find out. Maybe it’s not Fat, It’s just Big Boned, or Big Wheeled, or Husky… I like that the best. It’s HUSKY!

    In all honesty, I think this is a whole new animal. There will be a huge blown up discussion about what’s better, 29 or 29+ just like the whole 29 vs. 26 thing. And some will swear that the best thing ever is a 29+ front tire and regular 29 rear, etc. etc. etc. Feel free to discuss and blog and fret the strength and weaknesses. I’ll be riding this thing and worrying about the next time and place I can ride it, and where the closest PBR (Post Bike Recovery) drink is, rather than what other people think about it.


  4. heyya just got my Krampus today 😀

    anybuddy want to throw out some info on tire pressure here? I’ll play around with it for sure, but I’d like your opinions as well.

    btw I’ve been to Krampus in Berschtesgaden, Austria — I’m sure this is where the bike got its name — and it was one of the best parties I have ever been involved in. sloshing around in the streets and getting whipped by demons, hard enough to get kiddie screams out of me. I have to be honest that was about 15% of my motivation to pull the trigger on the bike 🙂


    • Off road I’ve been running 13 rear and 10.5 front (psi) – Road 20 front and rear – gravel 18 rear, 15 front – YMMV

    • I’m running around 20 on single-track. I started out a little higher around 25-26 psi but I had trouble staying accurate in the corners and tacky on the climbs. Now that I’ve dropped it down there are no problems at all.

  5. As a “one and done bike” how does it handle gravel roads? I’m moving to Scandinavia and am thinking about trading in my Cross Check and Rigid SS 29er for one of these guys to simplify the moving process, at least for now.


Comments are closed.