Update! Check out our latest Salsa Mukluk fat 29er review.
With 3-inch-wide tires, the Krampus from Surly looks like a fat-bike. But this to-be-released ride is actually a 29er mountain bike built to accommodate the big rubber of a new obese tire and touted to offer “more traction, a smoother ride, and better geometry for high speed” than almost anything on the market.
Unlike Surly’s flagship Pugsley fat-bike, which is built for snow and going slow in sand and mud, the Krampus is made for speed, singletrack, and boosting air. The company cites it as “confidence-inspiring like a fat-bike” but as nimble as a normal 29er.
Its bottom bracket is the standard 73mm wide. (The Pugsley has a 100mm bottom bracket, making for a wider pedal.) The Krampus is also compatible with standard mountain-bike parts. Typically, a fat-bike needs special hubs, cranks, rims, and so on. With this model you could swap on most of your normal 29er parts, including different wheels.
One word of caution: Multiple front chainrings will likely cause the chain to rub the tire. Surly recommends a single front ring for best results. As mountain bikes go, the Krampus is a bit of a brute, weighing in at 30 pounds for the factory complete build.
For now, there are no plans to make it suspension-ready. But the big tires run at a lower air pressure can provide adequate absorption for many trails.
These items will be available along with a frameset in December. The Krampus will be sold as a complete bike build for around $1950 starting spring 2013.
If you live in an area where there’s not much snowfall, but love the idea of more traction and the “blast over everything in my path” characteristics of fat-bikes, this new Krampus model may be worth a look.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.