Surly Krampus: Drive-By Review

On Saturday, I had a chance to do a ride with and a brief ride on a demo Krampus.

There was my Muk, BPaul’s Necromancer, the Krampus, and Nevdal’s Ti Mariachi, hittin’ the trails.

The flat, flat, flat trails.

We rode trails, did a bit of fatbike bushwacking, and otherwise had a blast.  The Krampus demo was courtesy of the folks at North Central Cyclery, who tend to be the origin of all things cool in the Northern Illinois cycling scene.

As for the Krampus, riding it makes you want to be more radical.

Tobie, airing it out.

Giant BMX Bike.

I am greatly intrigued by the one-piece bottom bracket area yoke.  It’s a pretty elegant piece of design, and shows a commitment to doing things right.  Instead of weirdly bent tubing or hacked together weldments, Surly designed and built a specific piece for this application.  It looks elegant, and is perfect for the requirements of this bike.  I like parts of bikes that show forethought and consideration.  The yoke is pretty high up there on both elements.

Nice little frame details abound.

1x up front with a Paul chainkeeper.

1×10 SLX in the back…11-36t.

Knards look Knardley.

Along with the Rabbit Holes.

Definitely rocking the short stem/long bars combination.

Ample fork clearance for Knard.

I didn’t get a chance to weigh it, but reviews show it around 30#…I’d guess it’s just a bit heavier than my pretty heavily modded Mukluk, heavier than a Beargrease, but lighter than most stock fatbikes.

The short stem/wide bars coupled with the view of the tall 29+ tire up front dominate the handling of the bike.  It’s quick handling but not twitchy.  It wants to turn.  It wants to roll over things.  It wants to hop little berms in the trail.

I can see a temptation to put a set of riser bars and a taller stem on the Krampus, but I think that would kill its BMX-y vibe.  Geometry is more BMX/mountain oriented (think Pugsley) than the relaxed riding position of a Mukluk.

I didn’t get a chance to do a ton of riding on the Krampus, so my impressions are pretty limited.  In the fatbike world, there are people that are going to go ga-ga over the Krampus, and add it to their fleet.  I also think it will be a gateway drug for people who are intrigued about Fat, but for whom the 3″ tires on the Krampus make more sense than 3.8 or wider tires.  The Knards roll fast and are great trail tires.  The rumored 3.8″ knards should be well received.  I’m very pleased with my current Husker Düs, and I think the Huskers will do better in show, but I can see a place in the world for the Knards.

Am I going to run out for a Krampus?  No…it wouldn’t replace my Mukluk, and I’m not hard core enough to need another trailbike.  That’s where I think the Krampus is oriented…trailriding.  The lack of a double or triple chainring is going to hold it back as an exploration or race bike.  Yes–there have been times that I’ve been geared out in the Mukluk with a triple up front.  Barry Roubaix’s downhills come to mind, as do some strong tailwind/gravel road situations.  But I do think the Krampus occupies a unique niche…and its playful handling characteristics are likely to sell a lot of bikes.  It’s a bike you should ride to experience.  I think the perfect home for one would be some alpine trails with log crossings, rocks, creek crossings, and some banked corners to rail.

Of note, one of the demo Krampii that NCC had was set up with 29er wheels and some regular 29er tires (2.2s?), showing that the frame does have quite a bit of flexibility.  I can see this as a bike that woudl kill with a suspension fork.


4 thoughts on “Surly Krampus: Drive-By Review

  1. A number of folks that have ridden that bike hard in demos have reported a lot of rear end flex. That funky yoke takes away a lot of the stiffness inherent in a tubed structure on a conventional bike and replaces it with a thin vertical strip of metal that will flex side to side easily. Not sure that’s a killer solution.

    The same area on my Pugs uses tubes all the way to the BB and then is cross-braced in front of the wheel for a much stiffer connection between the rear of the bike and the BB.

    What the skinny un-braced yoke does is allow a normal width BB to be used.

    It will be interesting to see if that design element survives a couple years of production riding or if Surly changes it.

    • It will be interesting to see how their design evolves over the next few years, but if you’ve seen one in person, I don’t think anyone would describe the yoke as either “skinny” or “unbraced.” It’s pretty beefy.

      • Just look at the ends of the yoke where they meet the chainstays. That’s where the flex is going to happen. Fairly frequently companies design beefy parts for their bikes with some weak point and assume that if 80% is beefy than somehow that carries the weak spots. It doesn’t.

        The yoke ends are thin metal strips which are inherently flexible compared to a tubular structure like the same area on a Pugs. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the yoke is 300% over built.

        See this photo of my Pugs for a comparison:

        I’m sure Surly is aware of this compromise and decided they’d rather deal with it rather than have to use a 100mm BB so there was room for a conventional tubed BB/chainstay design.

        Since the yoke is the same across all sizes the amount of flex will vary depending on riders’ weights and how aggressively they ride. A light rider who just cruises probably won’t have an issue.

        Just a point worth considering if people reading this are considering a Krampus without a test ride – which would be most potential customers at this stage.

  2. Yeah, that’s just it.

    I did see it. Touch it. Ride it.

    The yoke isn’t made of a “thin metal strip.” It is a custom formed piece. At the thinnest point, it’s still at least 3/16″ thick and 1″ wide.

    Sure, there’s a difference between tube and flat steel. The tubing in your Pugsley is flattened and bent, which compromises its strength in some directions, in comparison to unbent tubing. In seeing the bike in person and riding it, I don’t have any concern about the beefiness of the yoke. I just think you’re unfairly characterizing it as “thin”, “weak”, or “inherently flexible.” It isn’t thin, it didn’t feel and doesn’t appear to be weak, and I don’t agree that it is inherently flexible.

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