Surly Krampus: the anti-Santa 29er

(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.

Hasty Build

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)

Rabbit Holes

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.


The Krampus. A fully rigid 29er, drawn with monster clearances for a new breed of large volume tyre. Surly see this as a trail bike – which unfortunately translates to a lack of water bottle mounts on the fork, my favoured way of transporting H2O with a framebag. From my experience so far, I’m inclined to disagree. My initial impression is that the Krampus, with a few modifications, could prove to be my ideal all terrain, bikepacking machine.


Room to breathe. Even shod with 3in tyres, there’s ample mud clearance all round.

And big those tyres certainly are, seen here next to some Tioga 2.25s.

And big those Knards certainly are, seen here next to the tubeless Tioga 2.25s I’ve been running on the Ogre – both on Rhyno Lites.

The Knards have a blocky tread that feels relatively fast rolling on pavement, which lots of grip on loose, scrabbly turns. They'll be available in a 26x3.8 size too.

Their blocky tread feels relatively fast rolling on pavement, with bags of grip on loose, scrabbly turns. My test tyres weighed a hefty 1.15kg, but some 820g folders are available too.


However, running 3in tyres incurs some chain line issues. Athough a front derailleur is possible, the simplest, most economical way of building up the Krampus is with a 1×9 (or 1×10). This should be fine for most unladen riding, and even ultralight bikepacking. A Rohloff would work perfectly, offering a full compliment of gear while negating any potential tyre rub conumdrums.

Big tyres mean an extra wide cassette is recommended for steeper climbs. This one is 'just' 11-34t. I'll be fitting a 12-36t soon.

For the same reason, an extra wide cassette is recommended for tackling steeper climbs. This one is ‘just’ 11-34t. Shimano have just released a Deore-grade 12-36T in a 9 speed, which I’ll be fitting soon. The rear dropout is à la Karate Monkey, rather than the Ogre’s multifaceted number. Note: somewhat strangely, given the lack of other braze-ons, there are fender eyelets. This includes one across the seat stay bridge, so you could fit a rack of sorts – if you could find one with long enough legs.

Compared to the Ogre I've been riding, the Krampus's low slung geometry features a longer top tube, designed to be run with a shorter stem for snappy steering.

Compared to the Ogre, the Krampus’s low slung geometry features a slightly shorter seat post and a longer top tube, designed to be run with a shorter stem for snappy steering. Coupled with the longer fork, this means the ride is quite distinct from the Ogre’s. Still, it’s nothing so unusual that I couldn’t imagine a comfortable, multi-day ride.

And the Krampus

The Krampus, with ‘skinny’ 2.25s. The decrease in BB height hasn’t been an issue.

Compared to the Ogre, with Jones H Loop bars.

Compared to the Ogre, seen here with Jones H Loop bars.

Rabbit Hole rims next. These will spread out the tyre, allowing lower pressures.

And the fabbled Rabbit Hole rims, weighing in at a surprisingly svelte 700g a piece. Their extra girth spreads out the tyre, allowing for more stability at lower air pressures.

More on how it rides soon!

Surly’s Krampus out on my now local Santa Fean trails. Future plans include hopping across the border for a two week trip to the Sierra Madre’s Copper Canyon, with a certain Pugsley rider.

And in unrelated news, thank you Chloe and Alexei for this cool little prayer flag (-:

56 thoughts on “Surly Krampus: the anti-Santa 29er

  1. Andy D.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the Krampus. I’d like to see it peppered with the same braze-ons of the Ogre, but I’m sure you’ll figure something out.

    Congratulations on the new kid! There is nothing more fun than riding together with your little one and seeing everything for the first time again through their eyes.

    1. While Out Riding Post author

      Agreed. In some ways, I can see why Surly might prefer to market it as a trail-orientated bike – but if I had it my way, I’d have rushed it down to the local framebuilders for mods as soon as it arrived! (It would be a shame to tarnish that lovely finish so soon though…)

      P-clips will have to do for now.

      I’m looking forward to getting Sage into a trailer (-:

      1. Andy D. (Big Dummy Daddy)

        I think the backside of all fork blades and the underside of all downtubes should have bottle mounts. People expect the standard two sets of bottle mounts in the main triangle, so why not raise expectations a little? It can’t be more than a few bucks extra to install them at the factory. It would be a shame to ruin the terrific green finish of the Krampus by brazing them on after the fact.

        My youngest daughter was in a trailer by six weeks old. I fastened a car seat into the trailer. It seems to put her to sleep, which is a big plus. As you are making the circuit of all of Surly’s bikes, you might look into a Big Dummy in a year or two. Some of the funnest riding I’ve ever done has been with my older daughter on the back of our Big Dummy.

        1. While Out Riding Post author

          Thanks for your comments, Andy.

          I’m a big fan of the Xtracycle concept. I converted the first bike I ever toured on into an Xtracycle (Spesh Rockhopper, late 90s) , then I progressed onto a Big Dummy when I was living car-free in the UK. I was sorely tempted to take it away when I first went to Alaska, but my love of singletrack took precedence…

          I completely agree re water bottles and rack eyelets. Unfortunately, I think too many people have a tendency to pigeon hole such bikes into being capable of only touring and commuting, rather than seeing a few extra braze-ons for what they are: the potential to expand horizons.

          Surly normally transcends trends, but the emphasis with the Krampus is firmly on its trail-slaying credibility (a job it does very well). But a bike’s a bike – and I think it’s capable of a lot more than that! I did hear a rumour that an aftermarket fork with Anything Cage mounts would be available, but I’m not sure if that will come to fruition.

          What kind of trailer did you use? Was it enclosed?

          6 weeks? That’s only a few weeks away!

      2. Andy D. (Big Dummy Daddy)

        I had a test ride on a Krampus a month ago and thought it to be a very inspired design. It’s a fun and credible reinterpretation of what a trail bike ought to be, so Surly hit the bullseye. If there is any criticism to be made, it’s that the bike is missing the bevy of braze-ons that would have made it perfect. If you’re interested, I wrote about my impressions here: I’m hoping to get a set of Rabbit Holes and Knards to make my Pugsley into a Krampug.

        The trailer I used was a second-hand Burley single-seated model from circa 1994, with a 2012 Britax Chaperone seat. I temporarily removed the Burley sling seat and built and installed a plywood mount in the trailer that mimicked the seat base for the child car seat. I zip-tied the base to the trailer’s frame in multiple locations. I could then open the top canopy, click the seat in place, then close the canopy. The Burley that I have has a mesh canopy screen that allows the wind through for ventilation while keeping out debris, as well as a clear plastic version that is wind and rainproof. With the baby, we mostly ride in nice weather, but a few times there has been a little rain or wind, and with the rain cover down she is well protected. The setup worked very well. Here’s a post with some photos of it in action:

        If you go this route, I would recommend finding a two-seated trailer, as a little more room to fit the bulky car seat would have been nice, and may even be necessary depending on the model of car seat. It’s also handy to have the extra room as the kid grows or to bring a friend or groceries. I’ve since dismantled the car seat rig, as my daughter outgrew the infant seat and grew large enough to ride in the Burley’s sling seat, with padding on each side for support. I’m in the process of modifying the trailer to run on skis, so I can pull it behind my Pugsley.

        Good luck with your trailer efforts, and on getting some sleep. Down the road, if you acquire a longtail again, another plus as your kid grows is the the ability to carry a kid along with a kid-sized bike while they are learning. Here’s how I did it:

        1. While Out Riding Post author

          Thanks for the inspiration Andy! I hear what you’re saying re the supreme versatility of your Pug. I toyed with the idea of getting a Mukluk (I like the idea of symmetrical rear triangle) for the very same reason.

  2. Jason Evans

    Hi there Cass,
    Hope Sage is going well and that Nancy is getting enough rest.
    I was wondering if you could place the Knard front wheel into the ogre and check clearances for me. I am running P35 Velocity rims with my orge and would love to try a 3inch tyre in the front. I have taken measurements and it would be close, but hopefully it will fit with enough room.
    Also how long have you had Jones loop bars on the ogre and how do you find them?

    Thanks mate


  3. While Out Riding Post author

    Jason, I should really be sleeping by now, but any excuse to tinker with a bike (-;

    There’s room for a Knard. I wouldn’t call it a massive amount, but clearances aren’t paper thin either – about 8mm, I’d say. My front Knard is currently mounted to a Salsa Delgado, so it probably sits a bit narrower than your P35. The tyre pressure is about 18psi.

    Although you have to squeeze the Knard through the brake bosses a bit, there’s no need to let down the tyre. I’ve not had a chance to try it outside in this incarnation, and see if the slightly slacker head angle makes a noticeable difference.

    I’m borrowing the Jones bars. I’ve had them on for several weeks now and I really like them. I don’t feel overly compromised off road, and definitely love the position for dirt road and pavement riding. I’ve flipped them upside down, which seems to work really well. They put me in a position that keeps my back extended nicely, and my wrists relaxed. I thought I’d use the front of the loop to stretch out even further, but in practise I haven’t needed to.

    How are you getting on with the P35s? Have you been running them long? They’re on my shortlist…

    1. bicyclenomad

      I’ve a P35 700c that I’m using up-front on my fat-bike with a suspension fork. Not had it long enough to offer much comment yet, but talking to others it does have a reputation for getting ‘dinged’ quite easily – though not with any functional loss. Mine was nice to build up.

      1. While Out Riding Post author

        Thanks Tom.

        Compared to a fully fledged fat bike (which I was itching to invest in), I’m curious as to whether the Krampus is too much of a compromise for what I might aspire to do, or perfect for what I might actually do….

        1. bicyclenomad

          The search for one-bike-to-rule-them-all 🙂 We’re currently on the hunt for one-frame-to-rule-them-all, and I’d be reluctant to settle for ‘only’ 3″, rather than fatter (while being very keen to be able to choose that if I’m in the mood).

          If you’re already in Rohloff territory, then a 135mm symmetrical fat-frame is pretty close. You are stuck with the Rohloff if you want to run anything more than 29×3″ out back, and probably limited to 26×4″ (HuDus) on Marges (Lite or otherwise) – given the 54mm Rohloff chainline. But you can run what you like at the front – just swap your fork around. The fork on my fattie can take Big Fat Larrys, and will do for a ride in 2013, but it can also run skinny road wheels if I wish. With the assymetrical 135mm rear you’re limited to Rabbit Holes for 29er rear aspirations, but with the 135mm symmetrical you can run any 29er or 700c road wheel you like (both front and rear with disc brakes though).

          Unfortunately this frame doesn’t exist in mass-production 🙁

          Bottom line – the Krampus will (given the addition of various mountings) probably get you to 90% of the places you’d want to go. (I’m still not tempted, though)

    2. Jason Evans

      Thanks for getting back to me Cass.
      With the P35’s, I tried to build a bomb proof wheel (if there is such a thing in 29ers). So far so good, I haven’t had them for long and haven’t ventured out yet fully loaded, so fingers crossed. I am running a set of duremes at the moment, so I am fairly happy.
      With the Knard, I take it is approx 8mm each side. This should be enough to give it a go. I probably wouldn’t run with them with a fully loaded bike, but I think bikepacking or just messing about on trails would allow the knard to prove itself on the front.
      I have a jones loop bar still in its box, just waiting for a chance to try it. Is yours alloy or titanium?
      Thanks again

      1. While Out Riding Post author

        Yes, 8mm per side.
        In terms of bombproof builds, I can recommend the Rhyno Lites. They’re a touch heavier, and narrower, than the P35s, but I’ve been really impressed.
        The Loop bar is ‘plain old’ aluminium. The ti version would no doubt be a delight…

    3. bicyclenomad

      I also like the Loop H-bars – and also haven’t found myself wanting to use the multi-position nature of them at all. I do sometimes hanker after something just a little bit wider, and wonder about the On-One Mary Bar…. (Did you get a look at Lael’s?)

      1. While Out Riding Post author

        I’ve tried some Marys before – had a set on my city bike in the UK. Definitely a fan, though for me, the loop bars (flipped upside down) just felt ‘right’. The Marys sure beat them on price though…

        The idea of a bike that can take ‘everything’ still appeals, especially if it’s as fun to ride as the Krampus. I do like my day trips!

        As a Rohloff owner, the route you mention is the one I’d go. 135mm symmetrical spacing at the back, with a Rohloff-laced fat tyre (4in sounds ok to me) and a front 135mm/singlespeed ‘just in case’. That would be my core setup. Then I’d have a spare 1×9 29er wheel/derailleur if I felt like riding a 29er. Or a second Rohloff (-;

        The reason I was tempted by the Mukluk is its relative affordability. It would rule out Rohloff use but mean I could build two strong wheelsets around its (somewhat pricey) 170mm hubs.

        Secretly, I’m still envious of all you Fat Bike owners…

  4. Stijn

    You’re losing me a bit here. With the kind of mud I’ve seen you wrestling with in your pictures I’d say that chain/tire clearance is going to be an issue. Also the huge rotating mass of these wheels, is going to make this a slow machine on anything but a downhill (nothing wrong with going slow). I thought you’d hit the sweetspot with the Ogre (with added Rohloff of course). Also the minimum q-factor of this frame would kill my knees, but that’s a personal thing. Last but not least, tires are puncture prone and spares are hard to find. I question stability with luggage and low tirepressure on these. It’s unclear to me for what kind of riding this bike was concieved, it must be a very niche market. I’ll be following your updates with intrest. Love Surly though!

  5. While Out Riding Post author

    Hey Stijn,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I’m not sure that they’d be any major chain/tire clearance issues with a Rohloff, but you’re right, if those tyres pick up a heap of mud, they’re going to weigh a tonne. That said, the Krampus rides faster than you’d think – and even the 27tpi Knards are only a bit heavier than the CST Caballeros I took to Peru. I’ve yet to see how puncture prone they are – so far so good, but I’m aiming to run them tubeless as the South West is goathead paradise. For sure, they’re no match for a Marathon Plus.

    Incidentally, the Q factor is no different than a standard mountain bike, as the Krampus doesn’t need an extra wide, downhill-style bottom bracket, as with the Pugsley.

    For me, it’s the versatility (as ever) that really appeals, aside from its sheer sense of fun. The option of running massive tyres is there when you want it, offering a plush ride, phenomenal grip and some rock crawling potential, without the need for suspension. But you can just as easily run ‘standard’ 29er tyres (the bottom bracket is high enough that they work fine too) for extra mud clearance/weight saving. For this reason, I think a Velocity P35 would be a good rim, as it would keep your options open.

    I wouldn’t have conceived of taking a bike like this to Latin America, until I met the likes of Joe… ( With a lightweight, ‘bikepacking’ setup, I think stability would be just fine, even at lower tyre pressures.

    As it stands, the Ogre is, as you say, pretty much the sweet spot. However, you could also see the Krampus as an Ogre with extra clearance (never a bad thing) – but for the trail-orientated geometry and lack of eyelets. The former is easy enough to get used to in my opinion, and the latter could be modified.

    I agree that this bike is niche, but maybe it’s not as niche as you’d think…

    1. Stijn

      Hey Cass, Good thing regular cranksets still work, that’s a plus and I definitly see the fun factor in these monster tires too. I’ve read about Joe’s adventures before, very cool. I also met tourers on the GDMBR on Pugsley’s, which seemed to work for them too, they where travelling very lightly. Hopefully I will have a go on one myself sometime soon.

  6. gypsybytrade

    But why do you need such big tires? Surely, it will be very slow and painfully hard to pedal.

    Looks like fun! I have been fondling my 26×3.8″ Knards all morning, thinking about tubeless 120tpi tires and Marge Lite rims. Fenders and rack coming off the Pug soon, lighting and light wheels will remain. New chain and cassette too. Should be really fun.

  7. KZP894

    Cass, congratulations on your new family member.

    We have 3 boys and used a Burley D’lite trailer when they were small, starting off with a car seat strapped in. I’d go for something covered as it gives the child protection from mud / dust / spray coming off your back wheel.

    Thanks for your blogging, it’s a great resource! My bike of choice at the moment is an Ogre, great fun to ride and I’m appreciative of Surly including an XXL size. Still trying to decide in tyre choice as I commute to work on it as well as riding it off road. I built the wheels up with Sputnik rims which I think are meant for tyres up to 62mm, have you ever tried wider tyres on these rims?

      1. While Out Riding Post author

        Thanks! I’m glad you like the Ogre. As it stands, it feels like pretty much my ideal, off the peg, all round bike.

        I’m a big fan of those Sputniks, especially for heavier riders. I’ve met many a long haul tourer on them, and it’s always been big thumbs up all round. No split rims, slow wear rate.

        I really can’t see a problem going a bit beyond 2in tyre. I’m pretty sure I ran mine – at a time when touring rims were the easiest ’29er’ rims to come by in the UK – with 2.2s mtb tyres. It’s worth bearing in mind though, that the higher the volume, the less tyre pressure you need. I’ve DT Swiss TK7.1s split, probably from over inflation.

        1. bicyclenomad

          Would agree on low tyre pressures – for off road handling and comfort I’m running a Maxxis Ardent 2.4″ on velocity p35 700c at 10psi (front) and could possibly go lower.

          1. While Out Riding Post author

            Tubeless, I take it? That’s the way I intend to go with the Krampus. Nick’s going to give me a hand building up the wheels on Thursday, then we’ll see how tubeless friendly the Rabbit Holes are… Exciting (-:

            2.4 front and rear Ardents on P35s would be a cool combo on the Krampus. I heard those tyres roll pretty nicely, considering how meaty they are.

  8. gyatsola

    It would be even more fun I think if it had a chain stay splitter for a Gates Belt Drive with a Rohloff or Alfine – I think that would be the way to go for an ultra minimalist (in everything but cost) approach. But it looks good anyway. I’ve a tour lurking in my mind involving going around Ireland by beach and cliff trail only- a bike like that would be perfect I think.

      1. gyatsola

        I guess I’ve been intrigued since I went through three chains on the Great Divide. They seem a really good idea. But I’ve too many bikes now to justify yet another expensive experiment… oh well, maybe next year.

  9. bicyclenomad

    Cass – I’ve not got onto tubeless for either the fat wheels or Ardent/P35 wheel…. (yet). It’s on the list of things to do. I spent a restful (breath-catching) while watching Scott struggling with his tubeless Ardent/P35 (or possibly No-Tubes something), so was a little put off – especially as i’ve not had any pinch flats with the 29er front as it is (again – yet).

    I’m also not going to be using the fatties tubeless for the big trip next year, so I’ll probably only get onto tubeless for them when I get back in late August.

    If you have a way of sourcing Rabbit Holes minus the Krampus frame, I’d be extremely interested 🙂 The debate then, would be whether to justify a second Rohloff, or go for a Jeff Jones style limited rear cassette on a SS/Trials hub….

    1. While Out Riding Post author

      Wow, I’m amazed you’ve fun 10 psi up front with no pinch flats! Nice! Tubeless has other advantages here – mainly that it works an awful lot better than filling tubes with sealant for goatheads. In terms of riding though, I’ve found being able to run lower tyre pressures has really improved the way I climb, and the tyre just seems to grip better too.
      I think Scott is running Stans – so I’m surprised he had any problems. I heard the P35s convert pretty well. Once you unravel the mysteries of tubeless tyres, they’re actually a lot simpler to set up than you think. Generally… Wide rims and cut out holes sound like they’re a different matter…

      After some deliberation with Nick, I’m thinking of removing a couple of cogs from my 9 speed cassette, inserting some spacers, and turning it into a 7 speed ‘Megarange’. It will be a big jumpy, but should deal with tyre clearance issues for a small 22T cog – a necessity on those long steep climbs, as the plan is to head back to the Copper Canyon over the New Year! I’ll probably just move it by hand, to avoid investing in a direct mount front derailleur that the Krampus demands.

      1. bicyclenomad

        Both of us can vouch for the easy gears needed in the Cañon del Cobre!!

        Nick’s the ‘reckoner’ extraordinaire 😉

        There are no lack of fat-tubeless threads on MTBR-Fat bikes forum, including a see-through tape version so that you can see just what your sealant is up to!

      2. bicyclenomad

        I ‘titrated’ tyre pressure to performance – the P35/Ardent felt overly ‘jumpy’ at higher pressures, so I just kept letting it down until it felt better. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough – not getting snakebites…?! The low pressure has helped to offset the loss of grip going from 4″ to 2.4″. When I rode Scott’s Hunter, I had to increase the tyre pressures as I was bouncing off the rims with my weight compared to his… My fat-tyres are still at 4psi from a weekend of beach riding 🙂

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  11. dexey

    If 1×9 or 1×10 derailleur is sufficient why think of the expense of a 14 gear Rohloff?
    The Alfine 11 has a good range and reasonable gaps at a fraction of the price.
    Sorry if this has been said but I haven’t read all 39 comments.

    Congrats on the baby. I’d forgotten babies but now have a grandson :0)

  12. While Out Riding Post author

    The Rohloff? I’m referring to the uber-hub, as I already own one! And they are real investments – mine has gone with me from bike to bike over 7 years or so, so I feel I’ve got my money’s worth.

    A1x9 is just fine unladen, but I’d struggle with steepies off road. It’s cheap and gets your riding.

    I’m sure an Alfine of some kind would be great – I haven’t used them enough to know which to go for. The range is more limited – which could be an issue depending on the terrain/your load – and I expect the long term build reflects the price difference with the Rohloff. But for most applications, an IGH of any kind would be great with a Krampus.

    Thanks for the congrats!

      1. Charlie the bikemonger

        Beach, I don’t know yet as I rode a demo bike around Ashton court, Bristol, during a race. The uk bikes are about 6 weeks away still… I can’t wait. At Ashton court it was great, very fast in the corners, great at short sharp climbs , felt like nothing would get in its way. I suspect it will be ok on sand, but nothing as floaty as a pug or moonie.

  13. larshenning

    Hey Cass,

    Hello from London. I really enjoy reading your blog. The Krampus build looks amazing!

    I am currently building a trail friendly 29er for a tour through Central and South America. I plan to run FS and disc brakes. I’ve seen the Rhyno Lites and Rigida Sputniks recommended on your site and a few other places. Would you recommend these even for a bike without v-brake mounts? In other words, are the Rhyno Lites innately tougher even for a bike that can’t support rim brakes or am I better off going for disc specific rim profiles?

    Currently, I am having trouble finding can find 700c Rhyno Lites in the UK. I can’t actually find a place that sells them! Is there a more suitable alternative? I don’t really plan to run low PSI because I will be on pavement off and on. Therefore, I don’t think I need to go as wide as something like the Salsa Gordo, but perhaps the Sun MTX33 or Inferno 27? I was thinking about Marathon Mondial on the rear and Marathon Extreme on the front (as per your recommendation).

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Lars Henning

    1. While Out Riding Post author

      Hi Lars,

      I really like the Rhyno Lites as they offer a great strength ratio. The Rigida Sputniks are heavier – but maybe they’d be a better choice, depending on how much you intend to carry, given the length of your trip. It would be the ‘peace of mind’ option.

      I don’t think the fact that both are rim brake compatible is an issue in terms of their strength – it just means you’ll be carrying some extra heft you won’t be using. I don’t have any experience of the other rims you mention I’m afraid.

      Given you’re riding a 29er, I’d be more inclined to run wider volume tyres and do without suspension. That’s the way I like to travel, adjusting air pressure where need be. It’s not quite the same as having a 80/100mm of suspension, but it’s close enough for me, and it’s one less thing to deal with. To me, that’s one advantage to touring with a 29er – it allows a rigid setup that’s suited to unladen mountain biking too. In any case, make sure you don’t over inflate your tyres. High volume/high pressure doesn’t get on very well.

      I wasn’t aware that Extremes are still being made, unfortunately. Are you planning dirt roads or keeping to asphalt? Depending on when you’re heading off, keep an eye on Schwalbe’s new stuff. The Big Bens look interesting. Again, I’d go with the widest volume I could get my hands on.

      What bike are you riding? When are you off?

      1. Lars Henning

        Hi Cass,

        Thanks for your wise words. I take your point about ditching front suspension in favour of bigger tyres running on lower pressure. I am hoping for trail riding on the non-travel days, but I think I will need to go on asphalt for a fair amount of the journey if we are going to make the whole distance (from near Mexico City to Santiago) in around a year or so! Perhaps I’ll go with one of those Surly Karate Monkey rigid forks instead and just run the pressure a little lower when I find some trails.

        I went ahead and ordered a pair of Rigida Sputniks and Marathon Mondials and one extra Marathon Extreme all from Spa Cycles at a really good price. They seem to be the only place around stocking all of these at this price. I am thinking of running the Mondials most of the time for daily base miles and swapping the Extreme onto the front for some rest day trail rides. I guess I could also add another larger tyre to the arsenal later if these are still not big enough. I will be towing a one wheel trailer in order to take more of the load between us.

        I’ve gone with the Inbred 29er frame for my bike and the Inbred 26er for my girlfriend. I love the look of the new Surly frames, but they’re beyond our budget for this trip. The Inbred just seems like such good value and makes sense for a first bike for this trip.

        I will have a SP PD-8 dynamo on the front for lights and USB charging. I might go ahead and get that Plug 2 charger thing. It seems like an elegant solution that ticks all the boxes for lighting, charging and battery.

        My girlfriend and I are going to fly into Querétaro, Mexico to visit my mum for a few weeks and then head off down through C & S America. As it’s our first tour, we’re currently reading lots of blogs like yours, so thank you so much for all the valuable info you have posted here. It’s really inspiring!

        All the best and keep it up!

        1. While Out Riding Post author

          I love the Inbred 29ers. I had one myself, and took it to India and China. Such fun bikes to ride. On One normally do a very affordable rigid chromo fork, but I can’t see it on their site at the moment. Although the Karate Monkey fork is a little lighter and more compliant, the Ogre fork is cool because it has water bottle eyelets.

          I think the Mondials will be perfect for day to day riding and getting in the miles. I guess you bought the Extreme in a 700x40c? The width is a bit narrow for what I’d like for mountain biking, so you maybe better off with suspension. This said, you could always keep it at home as a spare tyre to be sent out to a forwarding address, and pick up a couple of light, large volume, folding mountain bike tyres for your day trips – like Geax Saguaros.

          As you say, much of your riding will be on roads, in which case you may well be glad of a rigid fork. Depends on your priorities, and how much space/weight you want to carry (more extra weight in spare tyres, but less in the fork). Changing out tyres is kind of boring too – I’d recommend a Topeak Mountain Morph to make it more speedy if you do go that route.

          Certainly, in my experience, a rigid 29er with 2.2/2.3 tyres set to the right pressure performs really well for ‘proper’ mountain biking, once you get used to it. But I know it’s not for everyone.

          Have a great trip!

  14. Dougie fresh

    I just laced my rabbit holes 3 cross and cross-laced (right flange to left rim holes and vice versa). Thanks for posting the off-set spoke lengths, as it allowed me to predict accurately that I could get away with using the same length spokes for 3x cross-laced as regular 3x laced. Nothing funny happened, built up like a dream!

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      6′ 1″
      440mm seatpost.
      I loved to an XL frame, fits me great. An L works too, but I like the larger framebag space of the XL.

  15. Kacey

    Hey Cass,

    This blog is a great resource! I know this blog post is old, but it was pretty relevant to what Im working on, and now I have a Krampus question for you. I just got one of these crazy bikes, mostly chosen because I got a pretty good deal on it. I am using it as an all around bike for riding on poorly maintained streets, on and off sidewalks, through yards, and dirt and on some basic single track as well. A lot of my riding is done on pavement though, of some sort. I like this bike for it’s versatility, but the 3″ tires needing to be kept at a pretty low pressure, feel really heavy and slow on the road. Would you recommend a 2.4″ tire on that RH rim? Or getting thinner rims if I’m gonna run a smaller tire? I may eventually be putting a fork on there too, that I can lock out for the road, but that’s another project entirely!

    Also, it’s a small frame, and I’m about 135 lbs, not sure if that makes a difference for set up of theses bikes? I know that at the smaller sizes, the geometry can get a little weird on a 29er, or so I’ve heard…

    If you are ever riding though Austin, TX come visit! 🙂


    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Hey Kacey,

      I think a 2.4 is definitely on the skinnier side for a 50mm rim… but it depends on the tyre as well. In the Surly blurb, they say a 2.3-2.4 works just fine. Give them a try! I’m a fan of 3in tyres, so always default to them, even if they’re a bit slower on pavement. It’s something I’ve got used to.

      In an ideal world, perhaps a 35-40mm rim would be better (Velocity Blunt, or Dually?). Wide rims with 2.4in tyres work great, and offer loads of mud clearance too. The Krampus’ BB is high enough that ground clearance isn’t an issue with a big 29er tyre.

      Being 6’1″, best to ask someone with experience of riding a small frame about that. But if the handling feels good to you… then who cares what anyone else says, right?!


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