Do you find that the Krampus is favorable to the Ogre for touring/bikepacking? I would think the Ogre would be a bit more versatile, am I correct? Also, my fiancé is looking for a bike to do some bikepacking, I immediately thought of the troll as she is 5’4″, do you feel that is a good choice? It is amazing how Surly can make so many bikes and make me want them all! Already have a Cross Check, Pugsley, Ogre and now a Troll….. Dylan.
(note: I’ve added a little footnote on the new and exciting ECR, which hadn’t been released at the time of this Q&A)
Agreed, I can’t think of a Surly I wouldn’t be happy to own. Affordability and versatility: it’s a killer combination. Still, with so much inevitable overlap between models, it can make figuring out what’s best for your needs a bit confusing.
So… this is my take on your question. For one reason or the other, I tend to differentiate between bikepacking and touring, even though the former falls under the umbrella of the latter. To me, the term bikepacking leans towards multi-day rides that involve a generous quotient of singletrack and/or dirt roads. The terrain tends to be more challenging, making a lighter (and rack-less) rig more suitable – the kind you can shoulder or hike ‘n bike if need me. As an example, think Arizona Trail or Colorado Trail (Bikepacking.net is packed with inspirational routes in the US). As such, the cool thing about bikepacking is that pretty much any cross country mountain bike will work – steel, aluminium, carbon… Basically, whatever bike you already you own.
So for this kind of riding, I’d say the Krampus is fantastic. Above all, it’s a real blast to ride. As for the lack of carrier eyelets, well, that ceases to be an issue, as lightweight bikepacking soft bags are all you need (and what’s more, panniers clatter around, weigh more or just get in the way). One issue to bear in mind though is that a Krampus, shod with 3in Knard tyres, runs a tight chain clearance – the neatest way of circumventing this, and running a suitably wide gear range, is by running an offset double or even better, an internal geared hub. I’ve also modified my own frame to take four (yes four!) water bottles on the fork, and one under the downtube. I find it a neater solution than hose clamps – but they work too.
There’s some geometry differences too. It’s worth noting that the numbers on the Krampus add up to a lower slung, slacker and more trail orientated ride than the Ogre. Again, I don’t see this as an issue for bikepacking. 3″ Knards are a wonderfully comfortable tyre for all day dirt riding, even if they come at the cost of some extra heft. And the cool aspect of the Krampus’ high bottom bracket is that not only does it minimise pedal strike over rocky terrain – it also means that running smaller diameter 29er tyres isn’t an issue either. In fact, even with 29×2.3s, BB height is still a touch higher than the Ogre. Again, the likes of a high bottom bracket and a lack of rack eyelets details aren’t what you’d look for in a traditional touring bike – but lightweight bikepacking throws out the old rulebook.
Conversely, I see the Ogre as more of a jack-of-all-trades. I love the way it rides as a cross country mountain bike. I’m as happy ‘touring’ on it (be it paved or dirt) with panniers as I am ‘bikepacking’ with soft bags. It will ‘only’ take a 2.4in tyre, but even a 2.4 run tubeless and at low pressure can be surprisingly comfortable without suspension. The riding position is different from that of the Krampus. With its shorter top tube and longer stem, I feel more in the middle of the bike: all things being equal, I prefer this geometry for longer distance riding. And, there’s all that inbuilt versatility – complete as it is with all the required braze-ons and eyelets. Commuting steed in the week. Singletrack slayer at the weekends. And… you can even run fenders…
Re your fiancé. I’m going to go ahead and suggest – although I know plenty of shorter guys and gals who love their 29ers and the way they roll – that at 5’4″, your partner is better off with a Troll, particularly if touring is its intended use. There’s a broad range of sizes – down to a 14in. The Troll can be run with or without suspension, Vs or discs. It has all the bits you need to travel with or without racks (like water bottle mounts on the forks), Rohloff or otherwise. With the same geometry as the 1×1, it rides great on singletrack too. As a small rider, she could most likely get away with a lighter frameset than the Troll, but it’s nice knowing that it can handle a knock or two, particularly if you intend to travel.
A final thought though – out on tour, there’s an advantage to running similar wheel sizes, in terms of sharing spares.
Hope this helps!
Now there’s the Ogre, the Krampus… and the ECR! At first glance, it seems like the ECR is the perfect lovechild of the 29in Ogre, and the 29+ Krampus. And for plenty of people, it probably is. Geometry is more akin to that of the Ogre (shorter top tube, taller headtube, shorter fork) – and it comes with all the added eyelets too. The ride is more stable and assured than the Krampus, at the cost of a little unladen liveliness. And just like the Krampus, there’s room for those goliath 29x3in tyres.
One point worth noting is that if you intend to run 29in tyres as well, be aware that the lower bottom bracket height of the ECR will mean pedal strikes are more probable when trail riding. Shod with 29+ rubber, and the BB height is more akin to that of the Ogre.
Disclosure: Although Surly have supported me over the last couple of years with bits to play with, I ride their bikes first and foremost because I think they build thoughtful, affordable frames. In the past I’ve been a happy Surly customer, having purchased the cargo-hauling Big Dummy and the Long Haul Trucker distance machine.