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  1. #1
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    Lightweight Karate Monkey equivalent?

    I rode a Karate Monkey the other day and really liked how it felt and rode. But I have an irrational fondness for light weight. Any suggestions on a lightweight frame that rides like the KM?

    Ultimately, I'm looking to build a rigid (carbon fork) or front suspension singlespeed 29er.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooSteep View Post
    I rode a Karate Monkey the other day and really liked how it felt and rode. But I have an irrational fondness for light weight. Any suggestions on a lightweight frame that rides like the KM?

    Ultimately, I'm looking to build a rigid (carbon fork) or front suspension singlespeed 29er.
    I'm just happy to see someone finally recognizing their irrationality.

    Keep in mind that going with a lighter frame just might remove what you liked about the ride of the KM.

    Good luck--with both.

  3. #3
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    Nope. Some like the Kona Honza as well, but not light. Just be light on the pedals, problem solved. Or look at it like this, my karate monkey is 14% of my body weight.

  4. #4
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    I have a 2010 KM as well and being a bike whore it is the only bike that does not get sold, in order to get others. I just love the versatility of them. Single speed winter bike (live in the PNW) and a fun Dad bike with big apple tires and a mary bar in the summer.
    however like you I have always wanted a monkey light, with the exception of going custom I do not know of a production frame that is on the ready.
    I would want to keep it steal, use a reynolds 853 tube set or maybe a ti bike. Other then that I would want the same options my current monkey has.
    Good luck and let me know what you find.
    I would may be look into Chris Dekerf as a Canadian builder who understands the needs of the PNW rider.

  5. #5
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    Specialized Carve SL is the only new, rigid, SS I can think of that would be significantly lighter than a KM, within a few hundred bucks at least. Worth a look maybe?

  6. #6
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    On further reflection, I have another observation about the KM. Surly is the one bike company that I do not buy their complete bikes. Their OE Spec is terrible on all of their bikes. you can pick up a KM frame and fork for about 450 bones new which is a great deal. Then build up a nice/reasonable wheel set. I went with velocity blunts and dt com spokes and surly single speed hubs. The stock fork is pretty friggin harsh and heavy, I use mine when I want to go old school and remember how old old school is. get a second fork x fusion is good, light and cost effective. then build the rest ofthe bike with your left over budget

  7. #7
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    Their OEM bike spec is a terribly awesome value if you are going through your LBS. If you can buy leftover parts online and build it yourself, that's a different story. I tried building a Big Dummy from a frame, with 10% off MSRP parts, free labor for the whole build, including wheels, at my LBS, and I would have been about $800 if I paid for all the parts separately that came on the Big Dummy Complete. For my Ogre before that, same deal, I saved like $500.

    They spec the bikes with no nonsense, no-frills-but-reliable components, and there is much to be said about that.
    '15 Specialized Fatboy
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  8. #8
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    I am a ww, and love my KM.

  9. #9
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    Soma Juice? Voodoo

  10. #10
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    I don't think either one of those is any lighter.

    Short chainstays, steep head angle, and light... let me know when you find it. Maybe a KM where I stop drinking beer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drider85 View Post
    Soma Juice? Voodoo

  11. #11
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    The OS Blackbuck is similar, but at 5.5 pounds (weighed my 19" frame), it's within a half pound. Have Walt make one for you with identical dimensions for $1500.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fos'l View Post
    The OS Blackbuck is similar, but at 5.5 pounds (weighed my 19" frame), it's within a half pound. Have Walt make one for you with identical dimensions for $1500.
    The Blackbuck is one of the 2 other frames I have it in my head that I MUST try some day (the other being a Jeff Jones). Do you have experience with both a Blackbuck and a KM?

  13. #13
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    I think Carver Ti420 could be similar - short chainstay, light weight, looks badass with both suspension and carbon rigid.

    My New Carver 420 Ti
    Ghisallo Wheels

    I'm really good looking.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooSteep View Post
    The Blackbuck is one of the 2 other frames I have it in my head that I MUST try some day (the other being a Jeff Jones). Do you have experience with both a Blackbuck and a KM?
    No, so sorry if I spoke out of turn. The Blackbuck has a similarly short, but not like the Honzo and Carver, wheelbase. But, Mike had a very salient point, the feel of the KM may be related to its composition.

  15. #15
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    Redline monocog flight.

  16. #16
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    Gona have to agree with Mikesee on this, it's the whole package that makes the Monkey what it is, if it was lighter that means the tubeset would be thinner and ride would be quite different. I have a KM and the only thing I'm thinking of doing as a "replacement" of sorts is a Ti version of it, well roughly, thinking of the Titus Fireline EVO, hoping that the Ti might help drop a bit of weight (being that Ti is lighter than steel for a given strength) while helping keep the same compliance of the ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I'm just happy to see someone finally recognizing their irrationality.

    Keep in mind that going with a lighter frame just might remove what you liked about the ride of the KM.

    Good luck--with both.
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  17. #17
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    A simple solution might be a KM with a nice, light wheel/tire combo; if the OP rode a stock KM, I'm pretty sure the wheels are fairly heavy as are the wire bead tires...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob1035 View Post
    A simple solution might be a KM with a nice, light wheel/tire combo; if the OP rode a stock KM, I'm pretty sure the wheels are fairly heavy as are the wire bead tires...
    nope......

    i am running enve wheelset on my KM. total weight for a SS is 21lbs with carbon forks...etc. it feels better, but not light weight like my carbon SS


    the geometry is what we are looking for here in a carbon bike. a builder like waltworks can definitely make you a 1lbs lighter frame that feels the same, but i want a 3lbs version.

    short chainstays and 72 degree headtube angle. bring it!!!!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob1035 View Post
    A simple solution might be a KM with a nice, light wheel/tire combo; if the OP rode a stock KM, I'm pretty sure the wheels are fairly heavy as are the wire bead tires...
    Quote Originally Posted by ascarlarkinyar View Post
    nope......

    Yep.

    That's what I did and I think it rides lighter than the scale indicates. Like LyNx said, a bike is more than just the sum of it's components and angles. I've ridden much lighter bikes that didn't feel as good as the KM to me. It's a pretty subjective subject though....

  20. #20
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    You're missing the point, the feeling of the KM is largely due to the steel frameset, reproducing it in carbon will only give you the geo, not the same ride quality and feel and at least with the KM you know you've got a damn strong frameset.
    Quote Originally Posted by ascarlarkinyar View Post
    nope......

    i am running enve wheelset on my KM. total weight for a SS is 21lbs with carbon forks...etc. it feels better, but not light weight like my carbon SS

    the geometry is what we are looking for here in a carbon bike. a builder like waltworks can definitely make you a 1lbs lighter frame that feels the same, but i want a 3lbs version.

    short chainstays and 72 degree headtube angle. bring it!!!!
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  21. #21
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    Buy the KM. Then buy a Pugsley. The KM will seem light as a fart after a few short months on the Pug.
    Responds to gravity

  22. #22
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    I guess what is light to you?

    My rigid steel SS (Luddite) is at just under 24 but I wouldnt change a thing, stock I didn't like the weight (but may that was irrational excuse to get it how I really wanted it).

    I would sum up the good advice in this column to say get the frame and build how you want it, carbon fork, good wheelset, if WW is your goal could use XTR race brakes, plenty of other possibilities to have a solid light bike.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  23. #23
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    russian or chinese generic custom Ti? Eriksen/Engin/whoever makes custom Ti frames in the US?

    I guess the original poster should give us his/her thoughts....

  24. #24
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    BTW an aluminum Carve SL will ride nothing like a steel KM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    You're missing the point, the feeling of the KM is largely due to the steel frameset, reproducing it in carbon will only give you the geo, not the same ride quality and feel and at least with the KM you know you've got a damn strong frameset.


    sorry, you are wrong.


    while two frames, one carbon, one steel, will have different characteristics. you will notice a geometry difference a lot more than material. in fact if you rode blindfolded(don't actually try this) i doubt most people would be able to tell the difference between carbon and steel other than the weight.


    steel does not have a "suspension quality feel to it. it "flexes" a slight bit. very very slightly. you will feel more flex to the bike if you lowered your tire psi 5-8lbs than carbon to steel.


    the characteristic to the KM frame is a steep headtube and short chainstay combo. makes standup climbing very traction induced, nimble manual capable and fun active feel. "THAT" is the charm of a karate monkey. i would love a stiffer carbon version.

    a bandersnatch flexes even more than a KM and feels totally different. why? very long chainstays. i have an aluminum frame with semi short chainstays and 73degree headtube. it is stiff stiff stiff. that frame feels very very close to my karate monkey.


    and since when is carbon not strong. i am pretty sure weight per weight it is stronger than steel. even a lighter built carbon frame can be stronger than a heavier steel one(sharp point rock impacts aside)

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saddle Up View Post
    BTW an aluminum Carve SL will ride nothing like a steel KM.

    I've read the carves ride a lot better than other aluminum frames. I've also read that the KMs ride a lot stiffer than a lot of steel frames. What does that mean? Nothing really, its up to the individual rider to decide what he or she want and perceives from different bikes/frames. My last frame (Misfit Dissent) rode a lot better (IE more compliant) than my current frame (Canfield N9), even with the same builds, FWIW.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by edge View Post
    Redline monocog flight.
    Chainstay too long. Please look at the frame geometry.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerBergschreck View Post
    Chainstay too long. Please look at the frame geometry.
    With the sliders all the way forward, the large flight has a 17in chainstay.

  29. #29
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    Well my Salsa El Mar. is the best riding frame I've ever had, and the alternator drop outs allow you to adjust the chainstay length.

    Also as I'm sure you know, weight is by far the most overrated stat in all of cycling.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob1035 View Post
    ...

    I guess the original poster should give us his/her thoughts....
    The comments in this thread have me thinking that I need to acquire a KM and give it some extended miles.

    Right now, I am riding a rigid SS 26" wheeled Kelly Deluxe. I have never found myself looking for excuses to ride like I have for the past 4 months. It's been perfect for the mixed terrain trail/pavement rides that I do. It's fairly light at 21 lbs - but I haven't done anything to it except change the tires. I attributed its nimble, fast, comfortable ride quality at least in part to it's reasonably low eight.

    Now I'm wondering if I might like a 29er even more than my 26" Kelly. I really did enjoy my test ride on the KM (some other 29er's I've tried have felt like anchors to me - I understand that has at least something to do with the tires and the suspension fork).

    I need to get a KM and ride it for a few months.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I'm just happy to see someone finally recognizing their irrationality.

    Keep in mind that going with a lighter frame just might remove what you liked about the ride of the KM.

    Good luck--with both.
    ^^this
    100%

    however, at 5-3/4 lbs. the Monkey ain't hard to beat. Another steel HT with similar geo and a fantastic ride is the Soma Juice which, size-to-size will get the Monkey by about 1/2 lb.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerBergschreck View Post
    Chainstay too long. Please look at the frame geometry.
    pay attention... they are similar in spec and believe it or not, CS is not the only geometry metric that matters.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  33. #33
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    Niner SIR 9- light for a steel from with one of those fancy Niner carbon forks. I assume it costs quite a bit more than a KM, but that's what it takes to get it light.

    are you concerned about the weight of the KM complete bike with the parts Surly puts on it, or are you willing to build up a KM with light parts. Mine was under 24 pounds with a carbon fork and it would have gotten a lot lighter if I wanted to put the money into weight weenie parts.

  34. #34
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    Not for the newer (sliding dropout) Juices. IIRC, my XL Juice was pushing 6 pounds for a bare frame weight. Also, the chainstays bottom out at ~445mm min. The KM is almost 15mm shorter.

    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    ^^this
    100%

    however, at 5-3/4 lbs. the Monkey ain't hard to beat. Another steel HT with similar geo and a fantastic ride is the Soma Juice which, size-to-size will get the Monkey by about 1/2 lb.

  35. #35
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    I now ride a Vassago Jabberwocky. the advertised weight is not accurate, but it's still quite a bit lighter than a Monkey.

  36. #36
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    Lightweight Karate Monkey equivalent?

    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    Not for the newer (sliding dropout) Juices. IIRC, my XL Juice was pushing 6 pounds for a bare frame weight.
    Size is a factor.
    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    Also, the chainstays bottom out at ~445mm min. The KM is almost 15mm shorter.
    The chainstay length on a SS is set by gear selection. There's a chance that his gear choice would allow him to run 430 mm on the monkey, but its very slim.
    In any case, duplicating particular metrics isn't what my suggestion was about.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    Size is a factor.

    The chainstay length on a SS is set by gear selection. There's a chance that his gear choice would allow him to run 430 mm on the monkey, but its very slim.
    Never. Min chainstay lenght is 431 mm and you need a few millimeters to remove the rear wheel. About 434-435 mm is the shortest chainstay you can get riding singlespeed.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerBergschreck View Post
    Never. Min chainstay lenght is 431 mm and you need a few millimeters to remove the rear wheel. About 434-435 mm is the shortest chainstay you can get riding singlespeed.
    You're right... I was giving too much benefit of the doubt.
    On a track end frame you have to have at least enough room to loosen the chain so you can get it off the cog.
    good catch... so if you think that 434-435 mm is the minimum, that would be a "slim chance" minimum depending on what gear you want to run.
    Last edited by meltingfeather; 05-20-2013 at 01:19 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by ser jameson View Post
    Well my Salsa El Mar. is the best riding frame I've ever had, and the alternator drop outs allow you to adjust the chainstay length.
    But not shorter than 445 mm - Karate Monkey goes down to 431 mm. Thats a big advantage.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    You're right... I was giving too much benefit of the doubt.
    On a track end frame you have to have at least enough room to loosen the chain so you can get it off the cog.
    good catch... so if you think that 434-435 mm is the minimum, that would be a "slim chance" minimum depending on what gear you want to run.
    33/18 and 35/20 have an effective chainstay length of 434 mm and work good with a Karate Monkey

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerBergschreck View Post
    But not shorter than 445 mm - Karate Monkey goes down to 431 mm. Thats a big advantage.
    Except that it's not that big... as you pointed out earlier.

    You flip flop more than Washington politician during election season.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
    29er Tire Weight Database

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by ascarlarkinyar View Post
    the characteristic to the KM frame is a steep headtube and short chainstay combo. makes standup climbing very traction induced, nimble manual capable and fun active feel. "THAT" is the charm of a karate monkey. i would love a stiffer carbon version.
    I would like this too. Any companies making this? It would be cool to have a dedicated geared version and a SS version. And I don't care about having a front derailleur...

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