Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the Bootleg Canyon demo loop. Keep in mind that a short ride is not a review, but merely gives us, (and you out there), some idea of what we’re looking at here.

Surly Krampus: by Guitar Ted

Twenty Nine Plus. That’s what Surly calls the newest platform for mountain biking here which is embodied in the sparkly green powder coat of the Krampus. When this bicycle was announced last summer at Saddle Drive, (a dealer only event), it raised quite a stir. Much has been written about this already, so I’ll just touch upon the salient points briefly.

The Krampus is based upon the same rim diameter, (700c/622ISO), as 29″ers are, but since the Knard tire fitted is so big, (claimed 3″ wide), and voluminous, it makes the wheels approximately 30.5″ in diameter, thus 29+. These wheels also feature 50mm wide rims dubbed “Rabbit Hole” rims which are cut out for lighter weight. The frame is steel, of course, and the bike is fully rigid. Basically, you could think of the Krampus as a Karate Monkey on steroids.

. In typical Surly fashion, I was summarily doused with water shot from a child’s water cannon upon my arrival at their demo tent to check out the Karmpus for a ride. Of course, the fact that it was nearly 100°F and there was no shade only made that a pleasurable experience, albeit a surprising one! (Thanks Eric!)

Would the Krampus be as surprising, yet pleasurable? The larger than life “29+” wheels shod with very rounded “Knard” 3.0” tires were said to be a lot of fun by others. Their overall diameter was definitely noticeable when looking at the bike, but not as discernible to me after mounting the size Large demo. If anything, I did feel a bit more “on top of” this rig than “in the bike”, if that makes any sense.

Not much room here for all that is going on.

The Knard’s width was noticeable, and so was the high crowning effect their casings have. You get a narrower contact patch to roll straight forward on, but Surly claims the profile works with the carefully designed tread pattern to give better traction in corners. In as far as those claims go, my impressions are there is something to this.

Final Impression: The Krampus has traction in spades, covers loose, rough grounds in a smoother fashion than any rigid 29”er I have thrown a leg over, carries speed quite nicely, and climbs without a glaring fault that I noticed. I will say that the Large felt a bit long in the top tube than older Surly’s of the same size, so you may want to check into that if this is on your wish list.

The Krampus will also easily fit 29”er wheels and tires, so this isn’t a “one trick pony”. The frame will accept a 120mm travel suspension fork, and retain the intended geometry, although the Knard/Rabbit Hole combo wouldn’t fit into any currently available unmodified suspension fork. ;) (So- don’t do that, okay?) The “bass boat” green sparkle is as amazingly cool as folks have claimed. But the bottom line here is spelled out in one word: FUN.

p.s.: Our European correspondent, c_g, already has one of these and is testing it. Look for his review to be posted here soon.