It’s been awhile and we realize that. Much apologies to anyone who has followed the blog. With lack of a good working computer and living with just a tablet and smartphone, blogging hasn’t been the easiest thing to accomplish. Never fear, there’s much to cover and be discussed now that the Spoke Haven’s tech is now up and running again.
There are some new bikes in the lineup as of late 2016 and early 2017 and I can’t wait to share them all with you!
The first bike to join the stable was a Surly Krampus. The Krampus has been around for a few years. It’s what is classified as a mid-fat bike or plus sized bike. It has a 3″ wide tire spec’d on it. Surly has updated the Krampus for the 2017 model year with their knot boost spacing, the ability to add an internally routed dropper post, and a few other bells and whistles. Check Surly’s website for current spec’s.
I went for what is now referred to as a legacy Krampus. The bass boat green color cannot be beat. It’s probably one of my favorite Surly colors of all time. The bike just sparkles in the sunlight. So much so that I named my small sized Krampus Swampy Sparkles.
Before I delve into the overview, I want give a little history on Surly as a brand.
Surly has brought fat and plus sized riding to the mainstream. When the Surly Pugsley landed on the market, it was not soon after that we saw a plethora of fat bike offerings from bike companies big and small. Each one trying to capture this new wave of people who wanted to extend their riding seasons and be able to ride in places never thought possible. OmniTerra is the term Surly uses to describe their category of fat and plus sized bikes.
Now, Surly admits to not being the first company to use the fat tire or plus sized platform. That being said, they have been able to push the cycling industry forward with creating bikes that are accessible and relatively affordable. Being a part of the Quality Bike Parts (QBP) family definitely makes sourcing a bit easier and a little more affordable.
I have personally ridden damn near every iteration of a Surly fat or plus bike they have ever made. Notice I said I have ridden, not owned. I don’t have a money tree growing outside of my front door! The exception being the new 27.5+ Karate Monkey. I admit that if I ride that bike, I may want to ride that over my Krampus. Maybe not though. Although the Prince purple version of that bike tempts me every time I see it. *drool*
The Krampus is more nimble feeling than a traditional 4-5″ tired fat bike. It holds its own on groomed snow as well as on icy bike paths. With the name like Krampus, it’s surprisingly not marketed much as a snow bike. Rather, Surly deems it as a trail bike. Something you can do a great deal of exploring on, but it excels on dirt and loose rocky, rooty goodness.
That’s not to say the Krampus can’t be a fantastic off-road touring rig or a bike to use for snow riding. It just excels more at being a trail ripper that inspires confident riding. For those of you who are looking for a dedicated dirt tourer from Surly, check out the ECR. The ECR is on the same 29+, three inch tire platform- just different geometry and more mounts on the bike for attaching gear.
Out of the box the Krampus had some great things going for it. Shimano SLX and Deore components, a 1x drive train, mechanical BB7 brakes, beautiful paint, and a no-nonsense cockpit. I am usually one for taking a bike and pulling most stock parts off of it. I didn’t do much of that this time around. I didn’t feel the need to, as the bike was extremely functional and well performing.
I did swap out the stock chain ring for a wide-narrow option from Race Face. I also added some fun orange anodized headset spacers from Wolftooth components. I chopped about an inch and a half of handlebar off each side and slid on some Ergon grips. My friend’s over at Green River Cyclery in Auburn, WA hooked me up with the sickest decals ever. Some fun purple bar ends I had laying around, a set of Giant platform pedals and I was ready to go!
As an intermediate level mountain biker, the Krampus got me out of some riding situations I would that would have previously been either too sketchy or a death march on my fat bike. The width of the tires and the extremely low pressure they are able to run makes up for not having suspension on the front fork. They also provide amazing grip on even the greasiest of trails.
I have been also able to climb up some pretty technical, rocky ascents with the Krampus without hesitation. It has been a boost of confidence and allowed me to feel more comfortable riding more technical terrain as I develop my riding skills.
Overall I have really enjoyed the bike and it’s provided me some really fun riding over the summer and this winter alike.
Now, it’s not all butterflies and unicorns with the Krampus. The bike is quite beastly. There are a couple of local climbs I have either had to walk up or stop and take a rest on because the bike can take quite a bit of huffing to get it up some steeps.
I do sometimes wish it came stock with hydraulic disc brakes in some situations, but I like mechanical brakes in a touring or bike packing situation where they are more field serviceable. It’s kind of a wash, but it may depend on what you plan on doing with the bike. I hope to use it more for off road touring and bike packing in 2017, as I have added a full suspension 27.5/650b bike to my stable. More on that in another post!
Having the ability for a dropper post with internal routing would be nice, but that also adds weight. Same with adding a front suspension fork. All items being addressed on the current iteration of the Krampus. I personally don’t see adding a suspension fork to the bike anytime soon. There are quite a few folks out there in the blog world that have experimented with front suspension with some mixed reviews.
So far I haven’t had any real issues with the bike, other thank experimenting with chain length when I first built it. I ended up shoving the rear wheel as forward in the dropouts as possible and shortened the chain accordingly. I do sometimes get chain rub on the rear tire when in the largest rear cog on climbs, but it’s not enough to really make me pull the crank or cassette off to put in a spacer to address the issue.
Overall I am happy with the bike and look forward to having it being something I can beat on and not feel all that guilty about. There is nothing insanely expensive on it spec wise and everything is pretty dependable component wise. I look forward to experimenting with some different setups on it for bike packing. I see a Jones H bar in Swampy Sparkle’s future. A Jones bar and possible the Krampus/ECR fork with braze-ons to make gear hauling easier.
If you are interested in checking out the Surly Krampus or any of Surly’s other bikes you can check out their Intergalactic Dealer Locator on their website. Almost all bike shops utilize QBP for ordering though, so you can pretty much source one from any shop in your area. I’ll be sure to post an update on the Krampus should it get a makeover, but for the time being it will be my outdoor winter bike, ready for the snow and slush!
Full disclosure: I was not paid by Surly to write a review for them. The bike was purchased via a shop discount through Fitchburg Cycles in Fitchburg, WI. All accessories added to the bike were also purchased by me and not paid for by any of the companies mentioned in the write up.
We are super excited to announce Fitchburg Cycles as a new club supporter. The shop is providing us with a start/end location for rides twice a month as well as in store discounts for club members. Fitchburg Cycles is also lending the club space for future workshops and clinics.
Owner Edwin Benet has spent his life in the cycling industry and works to create a welcoming space for all who want to ride. He, along with his wife and kids, opened the shop nearly three years ago and aimed to make the space warm and inviting. With its bright green walls, handmade wooden displays, and large bike themed paintings (all created by his wife Mary Benet Treleven) the space is unlike any other shop in the area. Customers are offered free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while they browse or wait for service repairs. Not to mention there’s always free treats for humans and pets alike at the front counter.
Fitchburg Cycles carries bikes from brands Giant, Liv, Momentum, Linus, Cannondale, and Borealis. The Liv brand is a dedicated women’s line of bicycles from the parent company, Giant bicycles. One of the largest and most revered women’s bike brands in the world.
Accessory lines from Pearl Izumi, Bell, Giro, Cat Eye, Topeak, Continental, Yakima, Thule, Saris, Brooks, Light & Motion, Knog, Blackburn, kryptonite, GU, Tifosi, Feedback Sports, Park Tool, Fizik, and Selle Royale offer a range of products that are well known by customers and trusted by Edwin and his staff alike. Benet stresses the importance of carrying products that are made well, have a good reputation, and he refuses to carry brands or products that he himself wouldn’t use.
We look forward to calling Fitchburg Cycles our home shop for the 2016 season! A huge thanks goes out to everyone at Fitchburg Cycles for opening their doors to us and supporting women’s cycling.
For more information on rides, please check our ride info page.
*full disclosure: club manager Cassandra works for the shop. She does not, however have any financial gain by promoting the shop or its products and services.
The Wisconsin Bicycle Federation is hosting the Wisconsin Bike Summit on Saturday, May 21st 2016. The Summit is being held at UW-LaCrosse in cooperation with the Midwest Active Transportation Conference (taking place May 20th).
Details on presenters and panels to be announced at a later time. Please check the Wisconsin Bike Fed website (www.bfw.org) or Facebook page for more details.
Please click here for information on where to sign up to attend.
Hi All! Cassandra checking in again. I hope you all noticed we’ve updated the website. We have a brand new layout that is mobile friendly (we’re all carrying tiny computers in our pockets-weird).
We’ve also changed the focus of the site to reflect what is going on with the Spoke Haven Cycling Club. We have ride info as well as information on how to join our wonderful club.
We’re super excited to announce that we’ll be partnering with Erik’s Bike Shop on Madison’s West Side to provide a meeting site for a WEEKLY, yes…you read that correctly, road ride! No more switching off Thursdays, we are are going to ride every Thursday 🙂
Partering with Erik’s will allow us to offer plenty of free parking, bathrooms, a chance to get any quick mechanicals checked out, free air for tires, and a place to fill your water bottles. Not to mention they have enough bike gear to supply an army inside the store. With that we’ll also be able to take advantage of a 10% discount in the store. It’s a win for the club and since I work there it also allows me to work with our management team to allow me to have time to ride my bike, instead of just talking about bikes all day.
We will of course still offer our monthly TACO TUESDAY ride of awesomeness…and tacos. The details on starting locations will be announced closer to when the rides start. We are going to shoot for May and hope for the best riding weather possible. Winter was pretty short and sweet this year, unless we get the dreaded April blizzard. It is Wisconsin and all!
CycloFemme is on the books for this year as well. We will be doing a more toned down version of it as we have something cooking for a larger women’s ride/event in coordination with Wisconsin Bike Week. We’ll be partnering with the Wisconsin Bike Fed for that one and hopefully it will be even bigger and better than last year’s CycloFemme event was.
Spoke Haven will once again have a team for Bike MS this year. We had so much fun as a group last year that we just couldn’t say “no”to the chance to participate. If you want to join our team there is already an option to do so. You just need to search for Spoke Haven in the team box during sign up.
We’ll most likely have some ladies participating in Bike for Boys & Girls Club as well as the Madison Honor Ride, so keep an eye out for Spoke Haven team opportunities for those events.
I’m making it a personal goal to update the blog and website more frequently. It has been difficult to find time to do it all. Much of my winter was spent re-discovering my love of snowboarding. I’ve also been doing quite a few home projects, so it can be tough to muster up extra energy to write an in depth review on cycling gear after all of that.
Spring is just around the corner though and I will see to it that we keep things lively on here. I have some write ups on fatbikes, water bottles, and some other gear that are in the early stages. Along those lines we have been toying with the idea of doing some video content as it can be a lot easier to spout off thoughts on items to a camera than it is to have to type, edit, type, re-edit, post, etc. We will see. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
Anyway…thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you on the road!