- 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.
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.
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.