First Look: 2013 Surly Krampus

Surly Krampus, Blister Gear ReviewBike: Surly Krampus

Size: Medium


  • Chain Stay Length: 17.6”
  • Head Tube Length: 3.7”
  • Stand Over Height: 31.5”
  • Seat Tube Length: 16.7”
  • Effective Top Tube Length: 24.0”
  • Wheel Base Length: 43.9”

Days Ridden: 15

Ride Locations: Park City, Draper, and Moab, Utah

“And now for something completely different….”

For the past 10 years, I’ve ridden full suspension mountain bikes 99.99% of the time. Seriously, I can count three actual rides (not demo-type events) that I’ve done on hardtails: two on a Spot Longboard and one on a Kona Honzo. Both great bikes—especially the Honzo—but still not something I felt that I needed to add to the quiver.

But about a month ago, some of you might have felt a disturbance in The Force. That was me, cackling like a madman as I got to know and love the Surly Krampus. The Krampus is not just a hardtail, it’s also sporting a rigid fork, 29” wheels, and 3.0 tires on 50mm wide rims. Surly calls it 29+. I call it “effing brilliant.”

Surly has never been afraid to let their freak flag fly. They build the bikes they want to ride—from their rather conservative but infinitely customizable Crosscheck, to their more outlandish and genre-defining Pugsley and Moonlander. When confronted with design limitations from existing standards and technology, I’m pretty sure they shotgun a PBR and then design their own product solutions. The Krampus continues this lineage of self sufficient—”holistic,” if you will (I doubt the boys at Surly will)—bike design.

The Krampus is essentially a “from-scratch” bike. Surly designed the Rabbit Hole rim (50mm wide, mostly singlewall with cutouts and a welded seam) alongside the moto-inspired 3.0 Knard tire. The middle of the rim is singlewall (and cutout) to save weight, while the outer portions by the bead have hollow tubes to increase strength and rigidity.

Surly Rabbit Hole Rim, Blister Gear Review
Surly Rabbit Hole.

The Knard tire has an oval profile with knob coverage down to the vertical sidewall for maximum “lean-ability” and grip. The knobs are simple rectangles, with a tighter grouping down the center for faster rolling, and some shorter knobs in the transition area. It’s not a drift-to-grip, square-off-the-turn shredder tire, but more of a lean-it, grip-it, trust-it tire. And the beauty is that you can trust it. The immense size of the contact patch combined with the huge volume makes for unreal traction and grip, even when leaned at high speed.

Surly Krampus Knard Tire, Blister Gear Review
Knard Tire on the Surly Krampus.

Beyond tire fitment, the frame was designed for speed, stability, and fun. The front end of the bike has a 44mm headtube, and runs a 120mm suspension-corrected rigid fork for a headtube angle of 69.5 degrees. Not crazy slack, but certainly not twitchy. The Krampus has a longer top tube than the Surly Karate Monkey and the chainstays are as short as they could get them (17.6”), which makes for a surprisingly quick handling but stable machine.

8 comments on “First Look: 2013 Surly Krampus”

  1. NIce writeup Shabadood. Where in Moab did you ride it? I’ve been eyeing one for down here in Phoenix just because it looks so fun on choppy loose trails.

    • Hey Scott,
      I took the Krampus on an out-and-back on 7-Up, a new addition to the Mag 7 network. Its mostly classic Moab old jeep road with some sections of singletrack built in that goes about 9 miles from Hwy 313 to the top of Bull Run. It shined in the loose, sandy turns where my buddy TJ was moto-footing as his bike slipped to the outside, but the Krampus would just stand up and float and grip on the sand.
      I don’t know if those buff, rolling trails still exist in Phoenix (Pima? Dynamite?) but the Krampus would be a blast on that kind of stuff too.

  2. That’s the same one I test rode. What did you think of that 39t front ring? I will need a 32t. :). I loved the bike A LOT! Still trying to find out what grips those are too.

    • I’m digging the 39t ring. With a 36t cog on the cassette I haven’t felt too maxed out gear-wise on the stuff I’ve been riding. A 36t ring might be a good thing if I was going to take it on bigger rides with more extended climbing and higher altitudes. I think climbing on a rigid bike is so novel to me that the 39t hasn’t been an issue, just stand up and put the hammer down.
      I went out to my garage to check what grips those were and there aren’t any logos. They aren’t Salsa, Lizard Skins or Odi, I checked all their sites…but they are lock ons. Hmmmm. I never even thought about the grips. I guess its a good thing when you don’t even notice them.

  3. I would agree on the grips. They are fatter than the clamps. Me likey them. I so can’t wait to get mine and build it up. Thanks for looking at the grips for me.

  4. Hi,

    Nice review. I’m very interested in this bike. But I’m not sure what size. I’m between the two, either med. or large. You reviewed a medium size bike.
    How tall are you? What is your inseam size?


  5. Perfect review summarizing the unbelievable abilities of this magnificent invention called the Krampus. This bike is so amazing I bought two of them setting one up with a rock Shox Bluto and the other rigid. Works great in the most severe rock sections imaginable and with the thudbuster can reduce impact to the tail bone big time when you do have to sit. With a 30 degree stem and 2 ich rise bars man this feels like the best factory setup MONTESA trials motorcycle. This bike is one serious off road weapon and gone is my full suspension stumpjumper which this thing eats for breakfast lunch and supper its uses most FS mountain bikes for traction

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