27.5+ Surly Karate Monkey or Salsa Timberjack for my SS duties...Pros/Cons Help!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    27.5+ Surly Karate Monkey or Salsa Timberjack for my SS duties...Pros/Cons Help!

    I thought I was completely sold on the new Surly Karate Monkey as my one and only SS speed set up and I was just patiently waiting for it to drop. My only decision was to get the complete 27.5+ and sale the parts I didn't need or buy the frame only and build the wheels and use parts I already have from a Kona Honzo I am rebuilding. After reading many articles regarding the rear Gnot set up on the Surly and a variety of mixed emotions it got me looking around. I want something that I can ride SS around my local trails and also load up for a weekend of camping and riding without worry and that lead me to the Salsa Timberjack. I will list the pros and cons I see and I need a little help deciding what is most important...

    Surly:

    Pros: Steel frame and Fork- $599. I prefer steel and actually hate the look of aluminum hartails. All the parts from my honzo are pretty much bolt on. The geo is almost identical to my 2014 Honzo minus a shorter stack and a slightly higher BB which I'm good with for this bike's purpose. I really want steel.

    Cons: Hate the orange but not an issue if I go frame only and go with black. $1399 price tag with rigid fork and NX drivetrain (again only issue if I go complete). The main issue is how solid will the Gnot spacing setup be? It has to be a dependable ride when I am out in the middle of no where.

    Timberjack:

    Pros: Frame only $399. Really like both color choices. Even though the Surly has the same geo as my Honzo I like that the Timberjack has a slightly longer ETT and reach (I'm 6'4"). The rear dropout system looks solid in true Salsa fashion. $1399 for a complete with better components and a 120mm suspension fork is nice and possibly easier to sell. If I do frame only, my Honzo parts will work.

    Cons: It is aluminum. The tubing is ugly. I'm sure it rides like aluminum. The though of an aluminum SS just sounds ridiculous. I like steel.

    I guess this is the short of it...will the rear Gnot boost of the Surly be solid for a long time or is it worth giving up steel to go to aluminum to get a solid setup with the Salsa.

    Before anyone offers up any other frames, it must be SS ready, ETT of at least 26" and a reach of 18.6-19".

    Thanks
    Last edited by CB2423; 09-09-2016 at 10:33 AM.

  2. #2
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    Timberwolf sounds so much cooler than Timberjack.

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    I can understand your dilemma. I am a steel fan as well. Both bikes would probably keep you happy for good long time and be solid. I think the ride of aluminum is somewhat muted with the bigger tires, but I agree I would want steel if I could get it. I have no idea how well the dropouts on the Surly will work, but I'm sure they will provide many years of service. As much as I like Surly, I do not like their horizontal dropouts. I think there are better ways to accomplish the same thing, like rocker dropouts.

    Maybe have a look at the Advocate Cycles Hayduke. It's steel with rocker dropouts and can be setup with either 135mm or Boost 148mm rear wheels. It's more expensive that the other 2, but may be worth it. Other thoughts are Jamis Dragonslayer, but I think it's only 148mm boost. I also really like the Marin Pine Mountain models, bit I don't think they are easily singlespeedable.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogsim View Post
    Timberwolf sounds so much cooler than Timberjack.
    Haha truth. Fixed.

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    Already looked at the Hayduke... More than I want to spend and not a fan of a press fit BB. The Dragonslayer is nice but too small for an XL. Both the Surly and the Salsa fall into my size range and price range. This will never be anything more than a second bike that will always be SS.

  6. #6
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    Go with the KM. If your plan is to ride mid-fat SS. Go with Steel and no suspension fork.

    Orange is nice. If you want black - Quality Wheels, which I think is owned by QBP, which owns Surly, makes a 27.5 WTB i39 F&R wheel. I think the pair is under $400 and I think the i39 is internal 39 width.

    If you want to use a front ring up to 32 tooth, you will need a boost crankset. On the KM the regular crankset can only have a 28 tooth ring.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cburgin View Post
    I thought I was completely sold on the new Surly Karate Monkey as my one and only SS speed set up and I was just patiently waiting for it to drop. My only decision was to get the complete 27.5+ and sale the parts I didn't need or buy the frame only and build the wheels and use parts I already have from a Kona Honzo I am rebuilding. After reading many articles regarding the rear Gnot set up on the Surly and a variety of mixed emotions it got me looking around. I want something that I can ride SS around my local trails and also load up for a weekend of camping and riding without worry and that lead me to the Salsa Timberjack. I will list the pros and cons I see and I need a little help deciding what is most important...

    Surly:

    Pros: Steel frame and Fork- $599. I prefer steel and actually hate the look of aluminum hartails. All the parts from my honzo are pretty much bolt on. The geo is almost identical to my 2014 Honzo minus a shorter stack and a slightly higher BB which I'm good with for this bike's purpose. I really want steel.

    Cons: Hate the orange but not an issue if I go frame only and go with black. $1399 price tag with rigid fork and NX drivetrain (again only issue if I go complete). The main issue is how solid will the Gnot spacing setup be? It has to be a dependable ride when I am out in the middle of no where.

    Timberjack:

    Pros: Frame only $399. Really like both color choices. Even though the Surly has the same geo as my Honzo I like that the Timberjack has a slightly longer ETT and reach (I'm 6'4"). The rear dropout system looks solid in true Salsa fashion. $1399 for a complete with better components and a 120mm suspension fork is nice and possibly easier to sell. If I do frame only, my Honzo parts will work.

    Cons: It is aluminum. The tubing is ugly. I'm sure it rides like aluminum. The though of an aluminum SS just sounds ridiculous. I like steel.

    I guess this is the short of it...will the rear Gnot boost of the Surly be solid for a long time or is it worth giving up steel to go to aluminum to get a solid setup with the Salsa.

    Before anyone offers up any other frames, it must be SS ready, ETT of at least 26" and a reach of 18.6-19".

    Thanks
    I could've written this myself...

    I'm a big steel/SS/rigid guy. I've been riding Canfield Nimble 9's SS rigid for the last few years. Last year at the beginning of the Fall season I did a longer ride and felt sore and beat up. I put my Fox Terralogic on and that took the sting out of the trail. As B+ came out I thought I could go back to rigid and maybe B+ would be enough to take the sting out, as well as give me more traction and float in the sandier trails. The Terralogic is really amazing as a Susp fork for SS and I really came to like it. I run it fairly firm and it has almost zero movement on climbs but if I hit a drop it soaks things up.

    Then this season I had a few rides where the REAR of my N9 felt a little harsh. Got me thinking about B+ again or possibly a B+ with a fork.

    I love the Surly for being steel, relatively cheap, SSable, and well being a Surly. But like you, I saw the Woodsmoke and Timberjack. I'm not a fan of the styling or the AL or Carbon, and dislike the PF BB.

    At the moment I'm sold on the KM and think I'm going to give B+ rigid a try (40mm/3.0) and see how that feels. It should work on the majority of the trails I ride and I can always add a fork later on. I am curious how the geometry compares to the N9 as I love how the Canfield feels like a big BMX bike.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandman29 View Post
    .

    If you want to use a front ring up to 32 tooth, you will need a boost crankset. On the KM the regular crankset can only have a 28 tooth ring.
    Are sure about this? What if you run SS?


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandman29 View Post
    Go with the KM. If your plan is to ride mid-fat SS. Go with Steel and no suspension fork.

    Orange is nice. If you want black - Quality Wheels, which I think is owned by QBP, which owns Surly, makes a 27.5 WTB i39 F&R wheel. I think the pair is under $400 and I think the i39 is internal 39 width.

    If you want to use a front ring up to 32 tooth, you will need a boost crankset. On the KM the regular crankset can only have a 28 tooth ring.
    Explain to me about the crankset and SS. It makes since regarding chain line difference between geared 142 and geared 148 but couuld the difference be made up with spacers if SS? Also, the complete KM comes stock with a 30t front chain ring.
    Last edited by CB2423; 09-09-2016 at 02:14 PM.

  10. #10
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    "I saw the Woodsmoke and Timberjack. I'm not a fan of the styling or the AL or Carbon, and dislike the PF BB."

    Not sure about the Woodsmoke, but the Timberjack has a threaded BB, which is a positive for me, too. I'm digging the Timberjack, and the steel Marin Pine Mountain, but haven't had a chance to ride either one. Both look like great bikes that would fit the bill for the type of riding I do.
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by go-pirates View Post
    "I saw the Woodsmoke and Timberjack. I'm not a fan of the styling or the AL or Carbon, and dislike the PF BB."

    Not sure about the Woodsmoke, but the Timberjack has a threaded BB, which is a positive for me, too. I'm digging the Timberjack, and the steel Marin Pine Mountain, but haven't had a chance to ride either one. Both look like great bikes that would fit the bill for the type of riding I do.
    Marin Pine to my knowledge is not really easily SS.

  12. #12
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    at 6'4" have you considered 29+? the new Krampus will be out sometime soon. (after looking around at frames that are currently available, it's hard to find one big enough to meet your requirements. a couple come close.) RSD Sargent, Niner Ros 9 plus. if Vassago would get their sh*t together and make XL frames the Jabberwocky would be perfect, and i would already own a Verhauen, but the biggest frame they offer is a L 20". the Carver Gnarvester Ti is big enough but frame only is $1400. they also make an aluminum version but only up to 21", and it's aluminum.

    so given that i don't see a 29+ frame big enough, Surly KM gets my vote. I only ride steel frames and the only thing i would consider aluminum for is FS.

    edit: also the KM comes in purple frameset if you don't like the orange.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  13. #13
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    I've also looked at these 2 as possibly SS frames to build up. Would prefer to go 29+, but may demo some B+ rides before I count them completely out.

    I really like both, but the Timberjack dropouts take the win in my book. That frame price is hard to beat too IMHO.

    I'm waiting to see exactly what has changed on the Krampus as well, but expect similar Gnot Boost dropouts on it. If that's the case, Jabberwocky may be the top 29+ option in for me.
    "I ride to clear my head, my head is clearer when I'm riding SS. Therefore, I choose to ride SS."~ Fullrange Drew

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nitrousjunky View Post
    I'm waiting to see exactly what has changed on the Krampus as well, but expect similar Gnot Boost dropouts on it. If that's the case, Jabberwocky may be the top 29+ option in for me.
    I've read the description of the gnot boost thing and it's tough to imagine how well it will work in reality. what do you think the drawbacks are?
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I've read the description of the gnot boost thing and it's tough to imagine how well it will work in reality. what do you think the drawbacks are?
    I like they way they have made the vertical notch, so you can drop the wheel out the front of the drop out now. However with a SS setup, you may still have to adjust the brake each time you remove and reinstall the wheel. Plus as a 200lbs SS rider, I've had bolt on hubs slip in horizontal dropouts before. I spent some time on a Swamp Green Krampus with a DT RWS 10mm axle and never had any problems. So I won't say I'll never own another frame with horizontal dropouts, but I much prefer sliders or rocker type dropouts (with a bolt on hub or thru axle setup).
    "I ride to clear my head, my head is clearer when I'm riding SS. Therefore, I choose to ride SS."~ Fullrange Drew

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    29+ isn't my thing. Tried it but if it were the krampus would need to grow a lot in the XL department for me to buy it!

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    Another question....how good is Surly Karate Monkey steel? Does it have that classic steel ride that everyone talks about or in all reality is it just a steel frame bike that will ride about as good as the timberjack?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cburgin View Post
    Marin Pine to my knowledge is not really easily SS.
    You are correct, sir. I jumped the gun. SS on the PM is probably not a good option.
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  19. #19
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    having owned numerous surlys, surly steel rides great, but...steel is heavy. Personally I'll take the weight and the good ride over lighter bike and not as good of a ride. Although many of the aluminum plus bikes coming out in this price range qre 30lbs steel or otherwise. Aluminum is typically a cheaper material in regards to bike frames.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cburgin View Post
    Another question....how good is Surly Karate Monkey steel? Does it have that classic steel ride that everyone talks about or in all reality is it just a steel frame bike that will ride about as good as the timberjack?
    Since the new KM is new I can't tell you how it will ride nor likely can many people outside of Surly HQ. If there are any new KMs floating around they are going to be pre-production frames and may not ride the same as the one you actually buy.

    That said I have a medium Krampus and find the steel tubes used in that frame have a pleasant ride quality for my 190lbs. Probably not nearly as nice as a fancy custom steel frame, but for the price I think it's reasonable.

    The Krampus and KM fall into the same category of bike for Surly so I don't think it's unreasonable to assume it will see a similar tubeset.

    As to the dropouts...I've used a number of Surly's horizontal dropouts with geared, IGH, FG and SS drivetrains. I have had no issues with any of them. I prefer to use bolt on hubs if I can get them. I have not used the new style dropouts on the KM, but I don't see anything that I expect will cause an issue.

    Having used other adjustable dropouts the Surly style dropouts are foolproof with nothing too loosen or break. If you want simple and bombproof that's what they are.
    Safe riding,

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Since the new KM is new I can't tell you how it will ride nor likely can many people outside of Surly HQ. If there are any new KMs floating around they are going to be pre-production frames and may not ride the same as the one you actually buy.

    That said I have a medium Krampus and find the steel tubes used in that frame have a pleasant ride quality for my 190lbs. Probably not nearly as nice as a fancy custom steel frame, but for the price I think it's reasonable.

    The Krampus and KM fall into the same category of bike for Surly so I don't think it's unreasonable to assume it will see a similar tubeset.

    As to the dropouts...I've used a number of Surly's horizontal dropouts with geared, IGH, FG and SS drivetrains. I have had no issues with any of them. I prefer to use bolt on hubs if I can get them. I have not used the new style dropouts on the KM, but I don't see anything that I expect will cause an issue.

    Having used other adjustable dropouts the Surly style dropouts are foolproof with nothing too loosen or break. If you want simple and bombproof that's what they are.
    Thanks for the input vikb. I truly appreciate it. I agree with your statement and should have been more clear on questioning the ride of the Karate Monkey. In my mind I was more so questioning the frames of years past. I did fail to get that thought across though. I am hoping at 6'5" and 210 pounds on a light day I can make the XL frame work and feel good. I am very aware that the frame fork combo is in the $600 range of steel frames but since I have never owned a Surly I thought I should ask.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cburgin View Post
    Thanks for the input vikb. I truly appreciate it. I agree with your statement and should have been more clear on questioning the ride of the Karate Monkey. In my mind I was more so questioning the frames of years past. I did fail to get that thought across though. I am hoping at 6'5" and 210 pounds on a light day I can make the XL frame work and feel good. I am very aware that the frame fork combo is in the $600 range of steel frames but since I have never owned a Surly I thought I should ask.
    I think at your size and weight you are more likely to enjoy the ride of a Surly steel frame than a lighter person on a small frame.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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  23. #23
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    Not sure exactly what hamsterpsam weighs but he is 6'6", I'm about the same but only about 190 and we've been making the following Surly frames work: ECR, Wednesday, ICT, Moonlander, KM (old, with new coming), Krampus, Ogre, and Strggler. Most are his but I wouldn't expect you'd have any issues with a Surly XL, or XXL, frameset.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    I think at your size and weight you are more likely to enjoy the ride of a Surly steel frame than a lighter person on a small frame.
    I don't remember where I saw this, but a Surly employee commented at one point that the Krampus tubing was picked out to fit around a 200lb rider. I would assume the KM probably uses the same tubing.
    "I ride to clear my head, my head is clearer when I'm riding SS. Therefore, I choose to ride SS."~ Fullrange Drew

  25. #25
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    Kind of apples and oranges, but I find my 2012 XL KM has a very nice, springy feel, while my first gen XL Krampus felt too stiff to me. I don't know what Surly has done to the KM tubing since then.

    Quote Originally Posted by nitrousjunky View Post
    I don't remember where I saw this, but a Surly employee commented at one point that the Krampus tubing was picked out to fit around a 200lb rider. I would assume the KM probably uses the same tubing.
    http://www.bikingtoplay.blogspot.com/
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  26. #26
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    old thread- anyone ridden both a new KM and a Timberjack? I was planning to build one of those up as a SS 29er (not plus tire). other than my affinity for steel, I am having a hard time justifying the KM over a Timberjack because the TJ is:
    lighter
    cheaper (kind of)
    comes with headset
    doesn't have a million braze-ons that I won't use
    swinging dropouts instead of track ends with tensioners

    what else might I consider in this regard? there are threads in the Surly and Salsa sub-forums that are huge but very little of those discussions compare the two.

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