If you're unfamiliar with the Surly Krampus, it can be a little tough to describe. Fortunately, this video--with Austrian concision--explains everything you need to know about this bike without mentioning bikes at all:
Mr. Waltz's comparison of the American and Austrian Christmas celebrations is an apt comparison of the Surly Krampus to what most of us think of when we think "mountain bike." Indeed, universes part one from the other.
What most of us think of when we think "mountain bike:"
Most of us think mountain bikes are full suspension, as light as possible, preferably made of carbon, stiff, plush, fast, and nimble. Most of the trouble with suspension has been engineered out--you can climb without bobbing and brake without diving. Your suspension will remain active while braking and the bike will squat when you turn. These bikes are marvels of engineering, and they can drastically improve your confidence. In a way, these bikes are very much like Santa Claus; they will give you what you want. Want to be fast? Want to clean that gnarly line? This bike comes with praise and presents. Merry Christmas.
The Surly Krampus
In film and literature, the Devil always gets the best lines (the Joker, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter). Counterintuitively, the fully rigid Krampus takes the best lines as well. Rigid does not mean incapable, boring, or slow. In fact, the extra air volume in Krampus's 29x3.0 tires will change the way you think about riding a rigid bike forever. The traction is obviously fantastic, and you can roll over everything. The large tires have the small bump compliance of a suspension fork and none of the bounce you might feel on a 4.0 or 5.0 fatbike tire.
Not surprisingly, technical sections are where Krampus feels most unlike a bike with suspension. Krampus won't smooth out the trail for you; you won't forget you are mountain biking. However, Krampus has no trouble navigating coarse trail. Jump it. Drop it. The harder you push Krampus the better it performs. Your tires may ping, your cables may rattle, but the bike will rocket onward and your mouth will make the shape it makes when you've found bliss.
When he won the DH World Cup without a chain, Aaron Gwin proved that there are things a rider can perceive as a limitation that are in fact not that limiting at all. If you are accustomed to suspension, the Krampus will certainly change the way you ride. That doesn't mean it will slow you down or ruin your fun or force you to walk over obstacles. In fact, my experience has been exactly the opposite.
As Mr. Waltz said, Krampus comes from a culture of traumatization. It wouldn't be difficult to incorrectly associate the term 'traumatization' with how a rigid bike leaves you feeling after a ride. And it's kind of true; if you're afraid and tense and crouched over your bike in terror, Krampus will probably punish you for it. If you behave how Krampus wants you to behave, though, and get low and loose and relaxed, then you will become smooth where the trail is not.
Even if you upgrade the stock build with a dropper post and hydraulic brakes, the Krampus Ops costs about $2300 and is as fast, fun, and capable as the last carbon, full suspension bike I owned, which cost than three times as much. I don't mean to diminish any of that technology when I say that the Krampus is as good a trail bike as I've ridden despite rejecting much of that technology. Krampus does exactly what you want it to do (or vice versa, maybe).
There's no one bike that's perfect for everyone, and some people may prefer dropper posts, suspension forks or carbon wheels on their Krampuses. (The head tube will accommodate tapered steerer forks, and the rear dropouts will accommodate a 135mm quick-release or a 12x142mm thru-axle, but you can catch up on tech specs at Surly's website). As it is, though, the Krampus is already pretty darn perfect.
The mythological Krampus may be difficult to love, but the steel Krampus will ever be your dark companion.
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Some of the most amazing handmade masks you'll ever see: