For fun: Dirt Rag's Monkey review- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    The Duuude, man...
    Reputation: ncj01's Avatar
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    For fun: Dirt Rag's Monkey review

    Not sure if this will post right, trying to get format and everything from DR's KM review...I know most of you have read this, but thought I'd toss it in for an unbiased review of THE frame:

    <TBODY>
    Surly Karate
    Monkey<BR>Rider: Maurice Tierney<BR>Height: 6'4"<BR>Weight:
    225lbs.<BR>Inseam: 34"<BR><BR><B>What It Is</B><BR>With 29" wheels, disc
    tabs, horizontal dropouts and a derailleur hanger, the Karate Monkey just
    might be the most versatile mountain bike ever devised. Not just a 29"
    mountain bike, but potentially a road bike, city bike or singlespeed as
    well. Only the sick minds at Surly could have created such a practical
    monster. <BR><BR>When it came to strong, light or cheap, Surly chose two.
    Strong and cheap. Not to say the frame is heavy. I gave up weighing stuff
    a long time ago, and in this case heavy means long-lasting and strong—the
    formidable qualities of 4130 tubing (the three main tubes are butted).
    Rather than simply discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of 29" wheels,
    I think it might be better to look at this bike in terms of creativity and
    versatility. Twenty nine inch wheels allow the use of a wide range of
    tires from the skinniest 700x23 to the fattest mountain bike tires
    available in this size. Horizontal dropouts enable singlespeed riding
    without a chain tension device, while there's still a derailleur hanger if
    you choose to go with gears. The frame comes with a rigid unicrown fork,
    suspension corrected for an 85mm travel fork. Eyelets for racks and
    fenders make the Monkey a potential commuting or touring bike. The
    possibilities are endless.<BR><BR><B>For Starters</B><BR>My plan is
    simple: using as few parts as possible, I want to configure the Monkey so
    that I can turn it into a mountain, road or singlespeed bike depending on
    my whim. First stop: Dirty Harry's bike shop. While the camp stove green
    is a simple and pleasing color, it's piled on pretty good, and the bottom
    bracket and head tube will have to be chased and faced. While we're there,
    let's throw on an XT drivetrain to get started. I've got some Titec
    handlebars to try out along with a set of XT disc hubs laced to Salsa
    Delgado X rims.<BR><BR>An average mix of mountain parts it is, but the
    killer spec is the Avid road disc brakes, which let me run the same brake
    with both mountain and road levers. Right now I have mountain bars with
    Tektro brake levers (that work with the Avid road stuff, as well as
    cantilevers and V-brakes) and Deore Rapidfire shifters (until I find some
    9-speed thumbies). I've also collected enough freehub spacers to make a
    quick singlespeed using the same wheel. <BR><BR><B>First Ride</B><BR>So to
    get the party started, the Monkey is first set up as a pretty standard,
    but rigidly forked mountain bike. And what better way to see and feel
    what's going on than a ride down a standard trail, Heebie Jeebie. It's
    actually my first real ride on my own 29er on my own trails, and I'm
    really digging the way it rolls over stuff. Although fully rigid, it
    handles the rocks pretty well. But wait…I'm sweeping left and getting
    ready to duck under that overhanging tree when I clip my rear derailleur
    on a protruding stump. Bent the hanger—damn! I've ridden past that stump a
    million times, so I guess this big dog doesn't handle exactly like a 26"
    wheeled bike, now does it? <BR><BR>I'm also noting a clearance problem
    with my tire of choice, the 2.1" WTB Nanoraptor. When the rear axle is all
    the way forward in the drops like it's supposed to be (when running a
    front derailleur), the tire just barely touches the front derailleur cable
    clamp.<BR><BR>The Monkey, you see, is first and foremost a mountain bike.
    And to design a 29er to ride like a mountain bike and not like a tank, the
    Monkey has a bent seat tube to accommodate its 16.8" chainstays. But you
    can only bend a tube so much, so there are clearance issues with larger
    tires when running front derailleurs. The folks at Surly have solved this
    problem with their introduction of Monkey Nuts, which are spacers that
    keep the axle back far enough so the tire doesn't rub. A small compromise,
    but worth it, for this Monkey climbs like a scalded cat. Those who run it
    without a front derailleur will simply enjoy the full benefit of the super
    short chainstays.<BR><BR><B>The Road Bike</B><BR>While in Salt Lake City,
    UT, I switch out the mountain handlebars for a set of mustache bars and
    some skinny road tires. It took a while to get the Avid disc brakes to
    spring back well with the unsprung Dura Ace levers, but I eventually got
    it dialed. Did a series of road rides around SLC and the East Bay of San
    Francisco. With 44c tires I'm still able to hop up or down the occasional
    curb, but I'm shying away from any stair riding or other such nonsense.
    Disc brakes rock even (or should I say, especially?) for road bikes. As
    for the Monkey, it rides great.<BR><BR><B>Mustache Bars, Mountain
    Tires</B><BR>Palo Duro Canyon, TX. Driving across the Texas panhandle with
    nothing but flatness as far as the eye can see: but just south of
    Amarillo, you drop into a miniature Grand Canyon, teeming with life. Nice
    trails, some even mountain bike specific. The Monkey is back with fat
    tires again, and it's fun as all get-go. Shifting the friction bar-end
    shifters doesn't allow the brainless speed that I'm used to, but I am used
    to riding mustache bars off-road, and it's not a problem. Sure, it might
    be nice to have a suspension fork for some of the rougher sections, but I
    figure I'm roughing it, toughing it. Flat! I've got to loosen the disc
    brake to remove the rear wheel. This is the problem when you combine
    horizontal dropouts and disc brakes. <BR><BR><B>The Mountain Bike</B><BR>I
    installed mountain bars and a 100mm White Brothers BW 1.0 fork the other
    day, and the Monkey's transformed into an even finer mountain bike. With
    the combination of the big wheels and the suspension fork, I'm happy on
    some pretty rough terrain. The big wheels roll oh so nice; I'm thinking
    this is almost like full suspension without the moving parts. My only wish
    would be for an even fatter tire, say 2.5". Anyone listening?
    <BR><BR><B>Dirtier Dozen</B><BR>Twelve bars and fifty miles of riding can
    be a pretty good test of a bike (or rider, for that matter). On a
    singletrack section of the ride, I turned the steering wheel a little too
    far to the left and what was a perfectly good Salsa Delgado X rim is now
    close to a useless potato chip. Fortunately, I have disc brakes and the
    rim's not so bent that it hits the fork, so the ride continues. Moral of
    the story? I think it might be that 700c wheels are not quite as strong as
    26" wheels. Next time I'll try 36 spokes.<BR><BR><B>The
    Singlespeed</B><BR>As a fully geared front suspension mountain bike, my
    20" Monkey weighed in at just about 30lbs. To experience the
    singlespeedness of this bike as quickly and cheaply as possible, I
    gathered a bunch of freehub spacers and cogs from the recycling bin and
    threw a 20 tooth cog on the same wheel I've been riding all along. I also
    removed the big ring and granny from the crankset, leaving the 32. Weight
    is now down to 27lbs, 10oz. This should work for the purposes of this
    test, but for dedicated one speed use, you might want to get yourself a
    bolt-on axle to eliminate any slippage.<BR><BR>Does it work? First, let me
    say that singlespeeding is all about rolling, and roll you will with big
    wheels. It's a match made in heaven. I did get some axle slippage, and I
    would like an easier gear, but the ride was
    sweet.<BR><BR><B>Spec</B><BR>Numerology for the 20" (center to top) Monkey
    includes a 24.3" effective top tube, 72? head angle, 73? seat angle and a
    42.2" wheelbase. Although bottom bracket drop is listed as 2.7", bottom
    bracket height will change depending on fork and tire choices. I measured
    it at 12.25" while running 2.1" Nanoraptors and the White Brothers
    fork.<BR><BR>The 2003 Karate Monkey comes in any color you like as long as
    it's camp stove green. Good thing I like green. At $450 and all its
    possibilities, the Karate Monkey frame is sure to be high on many lists,
    especially for people who want to do it all with just one
    bike.<BR><BR></TD></TR><!---END ARTICLE--><!---BEGIN ARTICLE FOOTER-->
    <TR>
    FS: Everything

  2. #2
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    Reputation: MichiganClydesdale's Avatar
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    Love My Monkey

    Hey Nathan, I bought your Orange Monkey because of that very article.

  3. #3
    The Duuude, man...
    Reputation: ncj01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichiganClydesdale
    Hey Nathan, I bought your Orange Monkey because of that very article.
    Hey brother, how's that thing treatin' you? Rhino won't let me post anymore photo's of it up here, but if you have any of it built up with your parts, I'm sure he'd let it slide.......show that thing off, lets see it!!
    FS: Everything

  4. #4
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    ... and if we just ... Orange is Beautiful

    The ride is good, and it's a looker too - and to think I came so close to not bidding on it - I don't know what I'd have done without it the last 3 months. Winter has been slow to let go up here, so we're still on the roads mostly until the snow is gone. I've been using the monkey as a rigid SS road bike, geared 40x18 (major hilly country) w/ mutano raptors on it. When I get my Supercaliber built up (just got my XL '04 frame), I'll shoot you pic's of the triple threat...my 293, Monkey, and Supercal.

  5. #5
    Recovering couch patato
    Reputation: Cloxxki's Avatar
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    You can't come bargin' in here with talks about orange KM's and 04 Supercals without posting any pics!! Please do make a pre-build frame pic, I'm not sure anyone on here has ever seen one.
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    You can't come bargin' in here with talks about orange KM's and 04 Supercals without posting any pics!! Please do make a pre-build frame pic, I'm not sure anyone on here has ever seen one.
    Yeah, that was kind of a stormy entry with no foreplay - sorry for that. I've been reading the forum for months, and have learned a ton from you folks. I wanted to reply to a thread on the clydesdale forum, so I finally had to register. I'll get you some pic's of the bikes - My garage is a 29er billboard, because at 6'6" 215, it is the ultimate XC bike. The 04 XL Supercal was not easy to get ahold of - my contact was in Colorado, and told me that fisher expected to make on 4 or 5 XL's this year! Anyhoo, it's got some parts on it already (I'm waiting for the brake bosses for the Marathon SL to arrive), but I'll get some pic's out. That bike just looks fast - can't wait to race it!!

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