(update: latest thoughts on the Krampus here)
With the new website still in the throws of construction, and Sage-induced sleep deprivation to contend with, this is just a short post – a sneak preview of my current ride, Surly’s just-released, and distinctly voluminous Krampus.
Voluminous? Surly call the Krampus a 29er+, on account of the gargantuan, 29x3in tyres around which it’s drawn – as apposed to the 26in rims that conventional ‘fat bikes’ favour. And why the big tyres? I’ve increasingly become a fan of big volume tyres in favour of suspension – and the Krampus promises the wholesome simplicity of a rigid bike, but with extra grip, extra cush, and extra fun.
Ogre, Troll, Big Dummy, Karate Monkey… As some might know (and typical to Surly humour), the Krampus’ name derives from a demonic Alpine beast, notorious for stealing naughty children come Christmas. Perhaps in twisted reverence, it’s finished in an appropriately glittery Christmas green that dazzles in sunlight. Having received the frame and fork on loan only last week, my current build is a hasty one. Inevitably – compared to the complete bike that’s also available – it’s something of a mongrel, pieced together with old parts cannibalised from my Ogre and (I’m ashamed to admit) Nancy’s Troll.
Krampus Frame and Fork (size large)
Cane Creek EC 44 headset
Specialized 90mm stem (+8, -8, +16, -16 degrees)
AM Peirce titanium handlebar, 22 degree bend, 700mm wide
Ergon GP1 cork grips (small)
Shimano XTR brake levers
Avid BB7 brakes (160mm)
Paul Thumbie adaptor and Dura Ace 8/9 speed shifter
Thomson 27.2mm layback seat post
Fizik Gobi saddle
Truvativ Firex crankset
On One 32T stainless steel chainring
On One bashguard
Jump Stop chain guide (1-1/4)
Sram PC 951 chain
11-34T Sram cassette (soon to be replaced by Shimano 12-36T HG61)
XT rear derailleur (ideally to be replaced by mid cage SLX model)
Delgado rim/Deore front hub and Rhyno Lite/XT rear hub (soon to be replaced with Rabbit Holes)
Knard 29x3in tyres (27tpi)
In my impatience to get riding, I’ve yet to build up the new rims around which it’s designed – the 50mm wide Rabbit Holes. For the first few rides, I’ve been happily tearing around the local trails on a wheelset transplanted from the Ogre – after all, in its simplest form, the Krampus is just a rigid 29er with massive, mud-devouring clearances. Frame angles are different – longer top tube and slacker head tube – but once get used to it, any bike’s a bike.
More recently, the 3in Knard tyres have come out to play, finding temporary homes on a Rhyno Lite rear wheel (27.5mm), and an underfed Salsa Delgado (25mm) up front – which, I should add, Surly don’t recommend. Their literature suggests a minimum rim diamater of 35mm, like a Velocity P35. In my mind (and having yet to try the Rabbit Holes), such a rim could well offer the ultimate in touring versatility, allowing a spectrum of tyres from a fast rolling 50mm Schwalbe Marathon Dureme to a kick-ass 3in Surly Knard.
Anyway, so far, so good – I’ve been running my makeshift wheelset at a relatively firm 20psi to reduce any tyre roll from the narrow rims, and they’ve certainly given me more than a taster of what the bike is capable of: insane velcro grip! With Rabbit Holes, I expect sub-15psi is easily on the cards – low tyre pressures are what this animal of a bike is really about.
That’s the basics. More on how the Krampus rides, and what I have in store for it, coming up soon…
9/12/12: notes on the hubs and Rabbit Holes
12/12/12: I’m now running the Rabbit Holes and Knards – and the difference is very noticeable. The extra rim width allows the tyre to be spread out considerably further, which means lower air pressures, with the knock-on effect of extra cornering grip, climbing traction and comfort.