Surly Krampus Super Bike

After nearly 3 years of hard riding, my Krampus was due for a bit of a makeover. After all, I did some of my best work destroying the bike on the ride from Alaska to Banff. I decided if I was going to replace a few broken parts, I'd go full hog and turn the Krampus into a true "super bike".

I've written about why I love the Krampus before, and none of that has changed. In fact, if anything, I love the bike even more. It made my full suspension so jealous that it ran away, and I've not seen it in months. One of my only complaints I've had about the bike is it's weight. It is a bit of a pig, so I decided to put it on a diet.

Starting up front, I got a Whisky Parts Co #9 fork, which has geometry that closely matches the Krampus fork (a bit more offset), at almost half the weight, and uses a thru axle. I have ditched the dynamo hub in favor of a Hope Pro II Evo, laced to a Velocity Dually, my rim of choice.

Front hub, Hope Pro II Evo. Smooth.
Whisky fork, Crank Brothers bars.

To complement the crazy light fork, I went with a set of the Crank Brothers Cobalt 11 handlebars. I've used these bars on other bikes, and they are crazy light, durable, and nice and comfy. Seriously, the plastic they come wrapped in weight more than the bars themselves. These are the 780mm width, which I may end up cutting down in the future, but for now I am digging going back to the crazy wide bars on this bike. The extra width really helps manhandle the bike around.

The Cobalt 11 handlebars. Super wide and light.
Crank Brothers seatpost.

I replaced my super cheap and heavy Kalloy seatpost with the matching Crank Brothers Cobalt 11 seatpost. Once again, this thing is seriously light. The clamp mechanism is, in my experience, a bit cumbersome. It is held on with a single T-25 torx bolt, with two side plates, and an inner, plastic piece that holds the saddle rails. The side of the seatpost is curved and raised, which is what the side plates hold onto. In theory, this allows for unlimited adjustment, leaving you free to put your saddle at whatever jaunty angle your heart desires. In practice, it can be a tad cumbersome to get the saddle adjusted properly, as the clamping mechanism does not want to move without some coaxing. But, once it is set, I've had no issues with the saddle slipping whatsoever. The torque spec on the clamp is 12 NM.

The full frontal.

The biggest advantage of the OPS frameset (which is true for all OPS framesets from Surly), is their Modular Dropout System (MDS). Essentially, the frames use dropout chips, attached with two 5mm bolts. This allows the Krampus OPS to run a standard, vertical dropout, an forged track style dropout without a hanger for single speed use, and a thru axle chip compatible with direct mount rear derailleurs. Surly has even announced a new, slotted thru axle chip that allows the use of a thru axle with a single speed.

Rear end. Thru axle chip, direct mount XT clutch derailleur, 40 tooth cog.
Rear end. Thru axle chip, direct mount XT clutch derailleur, 40 tooth cog.

One of the many features that make the Hope Pro II Evo such an excellent choice of hub is the fact that they are easily converted between standards. With a simple end cap swap, the rear (as well as the front) is converted from a standard QR to whichever thru axle standard you prefer. I also got new bearings in the rear wheel, as they had been thoroughly thrashed over the last 3 years.

A new, non-bent, Shimano XT clutch derailleur is mated to a an 11-36 cassette with a 40 tooth Wolf cassette range extender cog. Set up is a breeze, I used their extended B-limit screw as well, but it may not be entirely necessary. A new, larger rear rotor completes the package at the back of the bike. I'm running 180 mm rotors front and rear.

Surly 28 tooth narrow wide chainring.

I've ditched the front derailleur, both for simplicity and to save a little weight. I'm still using the Surly OD crankset as it is a beast of a crank. I like having the ability of going back to a double easily if need be as well. I am using the Surly 28 tooth narrow wide chainring. This setup gives me a fairly wide gear range, although I may end up replacing the 40 tooth cog with a 42 if I find I need more on the low end.

Massive rubber

For new rubber, I have a set of Bontrager Chupacabras. In my experience, these are the best combination of grip, low weight, and low rolling resistance out there. Add in the fact that they are tubeless ready, and it is an amazing package of a tire. I do have a new set of Surly Dirt Wizards, which reportedly have a more robust sidewall and tubeless ready, but I've not tried them out yet.

The bike as is weighs in just a hair over 25.5 pounds, which is a solid 6 pounds or so lighter than my previous setup. There is still plenty of easy weight savings on the bike. Swapping saddles could save another half pound easily. I've only gotten one ride on it, but it is even more fun to ride than before. The thru axles make steering razor sharp and power transfer immediate. I will try and post a more thorough update on some of the components as I get more time riding. I am particularly excited and interested to see how the Whisky fork does down the line.

Thanks for reading. Leave any questions about the ride quality or setup in the comments.

-BR

 

UPDATE 1/17

I ended up ditching the Whisky fork and going back to the stock steel fork. The bike never felt right, it was twitchy and the bike auto steered like crazy. The steer tube on the Whisky is carbon and is quite flexy, which contributed some. The bigger issue, I think, was the increased offset of the fork (51mm versus the stock 47mm). Four millimeters may not seem like much, but, on this bike it took what was a perfect balance and threw it off.

Offset matters because, combined with headtube angle, it decides the trail of the bike. Too much trail and the bike will be lazy to steer, too little trail and it will be twitchy as all get out. The Krampus already has a low trail number, so with the increased offset of the fork, the trail decreased even further, resulting in a twitchy, unsettling ride quality.

I will say that the folks at Whisky were incredible to work with in resolving the issue. They went above and beyond what I expected and stood by their product. I wouldn't hesitate buying from them again, provided I do more research into the geometry of the product first.

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