Karate Monkey with non-Surly Rigid fork.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Karate Monkey with non-Surly Rigid fork questions.

    Who has experience running something other than the stock KM fork on a KM frame? I am curious how a Kelly or Vicious Cycles fork would perform on this frame. I like the Kelly I run on my 1x1 26" setup to lighten the bike a bit and perhaps change the ride quality some. My main concern is that the Kelly and Vicious claim a 435/438mm axle crown measurement respectively. I find it interesting that these are shorter than the instigator fork at 447mm. This seems quite different from the 478mm KM fork. Is this largely noticable? Are Kelly frames and forks built with that much of a different geometry? I'd be curious to hear a frame builder's take on this.

    Any comments on the ride quality improvement of any other forks beside the Surly would be welcome. I haven't absolutely decided to go for anything new but I'm always looking for potential improvements.
    Last edited by ATXSS; 01-10-2005 at 10:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    I rode the Kelly

    The first KM that I rode before mine was one with a Kelly fork on it. This was a off road about one hour. It felt pretty harsh and was a handful.. The owner had to put a 1" of spacers under the stem to attain his former ride height that he had with the stock KM fork.I got my bike and it has the stock set up and it rides so much better than his with the Kelly fork on it. In fact my buddy came out from Minn. rode my bike and I borrowed the Kelly forked KM and I could not wait to get back to mine. I think the Kelly fork is a awesome fork in the right application but in my few it does not work on the KM very well. Keep the stock fork or have Walt at WaltWorks build you one. I hope that helps because I had the chance to compare one on one.

  3. #3
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    Apples to oranges

    You are correct in assuming that the 30mm of difference in axle-crown length will have a detrimental effect on the handling of the Monkey. In this situation, you can't really compare the ride of the different forks - the fork and frame have to be considered as a package first, and a fork that's way too short is going to make for a super steep head angle, low trail, and poor stability and hyper-quick steering, no matter how nice, cushy, or beautiful it is.

    Kelly, Vicious, and others who use the True Temper unicrown blades will be building *actual* suspension corrected forks later this year when the new TT blades come out that are the right length. But you could always support one of the many folks who have been doing rigid forks right from the get-go. There are plenty of builders out there, including the cool sponsor of this forum (Brad at Wily) who didn't wait for someone to hold their hand to do the job right and can build you a suspension corrected fork for your Monkey.

    -Walt



    Quote Originally Posted by ATXSS
    Who has experience running something other than the stock KM fork on a KM frame? I am curious how a Kelly or Vicious Cycles fork would perform on this frame. I like the Kelly I run on my 1x1 26" setup to lighten the bike a bit and perhaps change the ride quality some. My main concern is that the Kelly and Vicious claim a 435/438mm axle crown measurement respectively. I find it interesting that these are shorter than the instigator fork at 447mm. This seems quite different from the 478mm KM fork. Is this largely noticable? Are Kelly frames and forks built with that much of a different geometry? I'd be curious to hear a frame builder's take on this.

    Any comments on the ride quality improvement of any other forks beside the Surly would be welcome. I haven't absolutely decided to go for anything new but I'm always looking for potential improvements.

  4. #4

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    It will make a huge difference to the way the bike handles; as Walt said it will steepen the head angle, reduce trail, and make for much faster steering - 40mm axle-crown length difference is huge.

    Walt was modest enough not to mention that he is able to make you a very nice fork of the appropriate length and able to give you the ride characteristics you're looking for. Having said that, what exactly are you looking for that's different from the Surly fork?

    Here's one of Walt's forks - nice!

  5. #5
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    I bought Donkey's used Sycip fork (450mm) and slapped it on my Monkey. The 18mm drop from 468 to 450, in my opinion, helped the bike. With all other factors the same (same wheels, tires, stem, bars, etc.), the bike feels much better.

    Yeah, it steepened the head tube angle and quickened up the steering. I'm sure the bb dropped just a bit. It also dropped the handlebars down to where I like them. Personally, and this is strictly my opinion, the steeper head tube angle made the bike handle better. I've always felt like Surlys meander more than they flick, if that analogy makes sense. This may not be the opinion of a lot of people. Donkey sold the fork because he thought it made the steering too quick. I feel like it brought it in check.

    It is a straight-blade, segmental crown fork, disc only. I think it handles supremely. In fact, if I had the fork on the Monkey before I ordered my Rock Lobster, I probably would not have felt the need to order the RL (not that I regret having them both now). It tracks well, and does not feel like a noodle in the turns, but takes the harshness out of the bumps. It just isn't as "jumpy" as the KM fork was.

    Now, whether I would have paid the brand-new sticker price of $385 for it, I can't be sure.....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by vcyclist
    The first KM that I rode before mine was one with a Kelly fork on it. This was a off road about one hour. It felt pretty harsh and was a handful.. The owner had to put a 1" of spacers under the stem to attain his former ride height that he had with the stock KM fork.I got my bike and it has the stock set up and it rides so much better than his with the Kelly fork on it. In fact my buddy came out from Minn. rode my bike and I borrowed the Kelly forked KM and I could not wait to get back to mine. I think the Kelly fork is a awesome fork in the right application but in my few it does not work on the KM very well. Keep the stock fork or have Walt at WaltWorks build you one. I hope that helps because I had the chance to compare one on one.
    This is exactly the kind of feeback I was looking for, thanks.

  7. #7
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    Kelly, Vicious, and others who use the True Temper unicrown blades will be building *actual* suspension corrected forks later this year when the new TT blades come out that are the right length. But you could always support one of the many folks who have been doing rigid forks right from the get-go. There are plenty of builders out there, including the cool sponsor of this forum (Brad at Wily) who didn't wait for someone to hold their hand to do the job right and can build you a suspension corrected fork for your Monkey.

    -Walt
    Also great info, thank you as well. It is good to know that the future will have more to offer for rigid 29" forks. I must put forth however that my employment status with IBD does mean that I was initially shopping manufacturers that offer shop employee discounts or at least cost pricing over those companies who deal direct. Now that being said, I have never attempted to order a frame for a customer from an indipendent frame builder such as yourself or Wily Cycles. Does a smaller frame builder such as the two of you typically offer shop pricing for dealers or are your sales exclusively direct?

    thanks for the input.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolo
    Having said that, what exactly are you looking for that's different from the Surly fork?
    I would like a fork that is considerably lighter and if it is possible to have it ride more compliant as well that would be a great bonus.

  9. #9
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    Ancient thread, I know...
    I have the 2011 Karate Monkey, and am thinking of replacing the stock fork with a Vicious Cycles fork.
    Looks like I'd gain 2mm in height, and lose 5mm in rake/offset.
    The 2mm in axle-to-crown height is insignificant, but I'm concerned about how the change in fork rake will affect "trail" and bike handling. Any insight is very welcome - Thanks!

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