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  1. #1
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    Three bikes and one choice to make

    Have ridden demoes until blue in the face. Have it down to the new Krampus, Karate Monkey, or Timberjack SLX 29. Pluses and minuses to each frame for me and donít have a clear favorite. Would be mainly for bikepacking adventures, trail riding, and occasional pootling around town. Thought if I went KM route I could snag a Pike on sale. If going with the TJ, would want an alternate rigid fork to run. Will Krampus accept a sus fork with 130mm travel? I see Surly says 120, but some people running up to 140 I saw. Opinions on the merits of these rides?

  2. #2
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    I got the 2018 TJ NX because the orange KM's were sold out and it was only in black and didn't seem like a very good deal. This year the TJ NX model went way up with 1x12 and a better fork, the Deore model is 1x10 with a Suntour fork, I like the KM colors, and I'm not sure what I'd do. I think it's a shame, for me 1x11 NX was the cat's pajamas.

  3. #3
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    I'm in the process of building up a Krampus. I considered the Karate Monkey, but to me, if you are going plus in width, might as well go plus in diameter as well to get that full monster truck feel. Especially since I plan on keeping it rigid for the foreseeable future. I am a little bit concerned that 29+ is a doomed niche in the future since Maxxis dropped the size for 2019, but hopefully there won't be a cascade of companies following their lead.

    Timberjack is aluminum and only 27.5+, so I did not consider it. If you put a rigid fork on it, it's gotta be carbon (maybe one on this list of forks: List of Forks with Bottle Cage Mounts (Utility Forks) - BIKEPACKING.com)

    But the most important consideration... "bruised ego purple" is quite stunning in person. Krampus for the win.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I'm in the process of building up a Krampus. I considered the Karate Monkey, but to me, if you are going plus in width, might as well go plus in diameter as well to get that full monster truck feel. Especially since I plan on keeping it rigid for the foreseeable future. I am a little bit concerned that 29+ is a doomed niche in the future since Maxxis dropped the size for 2019, but hopefully there won't be a cascade of companies following their lead.

    Timberjack is aluminum and only 27.5+, so I did not consider it. If you put a rigid fork on it, it's gotta be carbon (maybe one on this list of forks: List of Forks with Bottle Cage Mounts (Utility Forks) - BIKEPACKING.com)

    But the most important consideration... "bruised ego purple" is quite stunning in person. Krampus for the win.
    Arghh I know, that purple color is so amazing!! Iím just afraid at my size it will be too much bike for me. Any thoughts about selling a kidney and getting a Ti Timberjack?? Is the hype worth it and are you totally turned off from their alu frame?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by feldy0084 View Post
    Have ridden demoes until blue in the face. Have it down to the new Krampus, Karate Monkey, or Timberjack SLX 29. Pluses and minuses to each frame for me and donít have a clear favorite. Would be mainly for bikepacking adventures, trail riding, and occasional pootling around town. Thought if I went KM route I could snag a Pike on sale. If going with the TJ, would want an alternate rigid fork to run. Will Krampus accept a sus fork with 130mm travel? I see Surly says 120, but some people running up to 140 I saw. Opinions on the merits of these rides?
    For reasons stated above I avoided the Krampus: concerned about the long term viability of 29+ tires which are ridiculously expensive as well. My LBS has Salsa and Surly options so we discussed the TJ for about 5 seconds before I decided that steel would return the best ride characteristics. So I went with the KM. Plus or "regular" options, singletrack or bikepacking, comes rigid but easy to swap in suspension fork, cheap enough. THREADED BB!!!!

    Yeah it's black, who cares.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by myette10 View Post
    For reasons stated above I avoided the Krampus: concerned about the long term viability of 29+ tires which are ridiculously expensive as well.
    Malarkey, especially where Trek is still fully supporting (and expanded range of) tires for the popular Stache. 29+ isn't going away just because maxxis isn't making 3" tires next year, but that doesn't mean they won't down the line.

    Edit- OP, any of those three bikes you'd want to ride all day, every day? That usually seals the deal for me.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nowhereyonder View Post
    Edit- OP, any of those three bikes you'd want to ride all day, every day? That usually seals the deal for me.
    That's the problem..I could ride both all day haha. Dammit my passion is killing my wallet! Tbh, the Monkey may be more practical as an everyday bike, running it rigid and adding on a sus fork when I want to get funky. Something about that darn Salsa just seems slightly more "fun" though. The biggest problem of them all though is that I feel if I went the Timberjack route, I would keep saving for the Ti version. mmmm space metal!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by feldy0084 View Post
    Have ridden demoes until blue in the face. Have it down to the new Krampus, Karate Monkey, or Timberjack SLX 29. Pluses and minuses to each frame for me and donít have a clear favorite. Would be mainly for bikepacking adventures, trail riding, and occasional pootling around town. Thought if I went KM route I could snag a Pike on sale. If going with the TJ, would want an alternate rigid fork to run. Will Krampus accept a sus fork with 130mm travel? I see Surly says 120, but some people running up to 140 I saw. Opinions on the merits of these rides?
    I agree your picking from 3 good options so from that perspective there is no bad answer here. You said usage would be for bike packing adventures and trail riding (around town can be done on anything).

    What is your main priority? The Surly's have more rack/fender mounts than the TJ. They all have adjustable dropouts, good geo and tire clearance. Does steel vs. aluminum influence your choice?

    For me wheel/tire size is probably my biggest priority. I prefer 29ers or 29+, just not a fan of B+. The three bikes you're asking about are all good, just depends what you want out of it. I built myself a custom Krampus this summer and Just can't get enough of that bike. I absolutely love 29+ and the value of Surly's offerings.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

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

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I agree your picking from 3 good options so from that perspective there is no bad answer here. You said usage would be for bike packing adventures and trail riding (around town can be done on anything).

    What is your main priority? The Surly's have more rack/fender mounts than the TJ. They all have adjustable dropouts, good geo and tire clearance. Does steel vs. aluminum influence your choice?

    For me wheel/tire size is probably my biggest priority. I prefer 29ers or 29+, just not a fan of B+. The three bikes you're asking about are all good, just depends what you want out of it. I built myself a custom Krampus this summer and Just can't get enough of that bike. I absolutely love 29+ and the value of Surly's offerings.
    I think the Krampus is actually out and it's down to TJ or KM. I am a smaller/lighter guy and it just seemed like too much bike and heft for me with the 29+ when I had some time on the Krampus last week.

    Main priority is a bit of a long story, but the condensed version is I've had a total crap last 2yr with my health and have always had the dream to bikepack the Colorado Trail. A lighter bike would def aid my cause on the comeback trail. I am also moving to Carolina in June and will be 3hrs from Pisgah, so a sweet trail bike would be a huge plus.

    I have a steel Vaya and love it, never owned an expensive Alu bike, and have definitely never thrown a leg over a Ti bike. LBS has a Ti TJ decked to the nines sitting in the corner collecting dust. I guess when the stock market tanked, people didnt want a 4500$ bike lol. It's the most damn beautiful bike I've ever seen. But, also the most wildly outside of my budget. Can grab a secondhand Monkey right now for about 800-1000 depending on condition.

  10. #10
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    Fair enough. The other two are excellent values and very similar geometry wise. (but to be honest the Karate Monkey frame isn't going to be any lighter than the Krampus. It may feel less cumbersome than the Krampus because of the wheel/tire size/weight and maybe the length of the wheelbase, but not because of the frame weight its self.)

    I lust after Ti sometimes too. I've owned quite a few high end steel frames, and still do, and read a lot about the difference between the steel and ti version of the same bike. The bottom line is that steel rides just as nice all things being equal, it just weighs about 1 lb more and isn't as sexy.

    I'm not bagging on ti, it's awesome, but the bang for your buck just isn't there. If your on a budget steel returns 90% of the value at half the cost.

    I have owned many Reynolds 853 frames, True temper OX platinum frames, and a few other frames of varying mid-level quality. I currently own two Surly's and have at least as much fun on them as my custom frame 29er. It's not just all about fame material for me between steel and ti. Geometry is more important. My Surly Krampus frame is only a few ounces heavier than my custom fillet brazed OX Platinum SS 29er frame.

    The bang for your buck value of Surly frames is excellent. The geo is spot on and I love the ride quality and versatility. That's my $.02.

    Three bikes and one choice to make-img_5820.jpg

    Three bikes and one choice to make-img_5864.jpg
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

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

  11. #11
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    I love building my own bikes. So my suggestion is to get a Porta Potty Blue Karate Monkey frame and build some nice light 27.5 plus wheels for it. Build it rigid and save for a suspension fork. When it's "trail bike" time, put the suspension fork on it. When it's time for bikepacking, put the rigid fork on it. An 8 pack rack or a 24 pack rack would come in handy for beer runs or other errands and make the bike even more useful.

    You mentioned buying a used Monkey. Not really the same thing - older versions won't have the barnacle encrusted fork, "updated" geometry, and gnot boost spacing. For bikepacking, plus tires, and dropper post compatibility, the new version is better.

    A titanium frame would be cool, but it would be a travesty to buy one and not spend a small fortune on building it up as a weight weenie bike. That would be very expensive indeed.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by myette10 View Post
    For reasons stated above I avoided the Krampus: concerned about the long term viability of 29+ tires which are ridiculously expensive as well.
    I figure Bontrager (Trek) and Surly will continue to make 29+ tires to support their bikes for quite awhile even if other companies drop out. Worst case, the Krampus would probably work fine on a 2.6 if that's all that were available.

    As far as price goes, you can get a Surly Knard wire bead for $43, Innova Transformers for $42, or a WTB Ranger for $65. Not that bad, really.

  13. #13
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    So, OP, here's the thing,if you're building this up from a frame and not buying complete, here's the thing to ask yourself - are you a fan of the new stupid low BB trend? If not, I would suggest getting a Monkey and then building 2 wheelsets for it, one B+ and one 29+, it will fit the 29+ and the BB will be a decent height.

    As to 29+ going away, nah, like others said, Trek has a real winner in the Stache, so support will be there for it and there's other companies willing to cash in on Maxis' ignorance. Maybe when people who ride several wheel sizes don't buy Maxxis tyres for their others bies and instead support those who support them (29+), then it might turn on the light switch for Maxxis.

    Personally I was considering all you looked at and went with a 2018 Kona Unit frameset and built it up myself, comes with geared and SS drop outs. I can, like the Monkey run either B+, 29+ or a mix of B+/29+ on it, but I choose 29+, really is so much fun and better to me than B+. FYI, I owned and rode a Monkey from '08-'18.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  14. #14
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    Beautiful bike and good advice on all points!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I love building my own bikes. So my suggestion is to get a Porta Potty Blue Karate Monkey frame and build some nice light 27.5 plus wheels for it. Build it rigid and save for a suspension fork. When it's "trail bike" time, put the suspension fork on it. When it's time for bikepacking, put the rigid fork on it. An 8 pack rack or a 24 pack rack would come in handy for beer runs or other errands and make the bike even more useful.

    You mentioned buying a used Monkey. Not really the same thing - older versions won't have the barnacle encrusted fork, "updated" geometry, and gnot boost spacing. For bikepacking, plus tires, and dropper post compatibility, the new version is better.

    A titanium frame would be cool, but it would be a travesty to buy one and not spend a small fortune on building it up as a weight weenie bike. That would be very expensive indeed.
    The Ti bike is a complete build from LBS and is a paperclip. They wanted 6k and now down to 4 since itís been sitting. Industry9 wheelset on it alone is prob 1300. But, thatís still some serious quiche to drop.

    The two used Monkeyís are both Ď18 demo bikes in hi-viz black. One for 700 and other for 1000..some cosmetic scuffing, but look in decent shape. 700 complete has been ripped around a bit more, but nothing funky.

    Thought about doing a KM build in the porta blue. Figured I could do a real nice one for 2500+.

    Just donít know where the best value lies and where value intersects w my objectives. A) buy demo KM and swap in new wheelset and few goodies, b) buy Ď19 complete KM or TJ Slx c) Buy new KM frameset and build it, d) buy Ti complete and eat ramen noodles for 2 months

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I love building my own bikes. So my suggestion is to get a Porta Potty Blue Karate Monkey frame and build some nice light 27.5 plus wheels for it. Build it rigid and save for a suspension fork. When it's "trail bike" time, put the suspension fork on it. When it's time for bikepacking, put the rigid fork on it. An 8 pack rack or a 24 pack rack would come in handy for beer runs or other errands and make the bike even more useful.

    You mentioned buying a used Monkey. Not really the same thing - older versions won't have the barnacle encrusted fork, "updated" geometry, and gnot boost spacing. For bikepacking, plus tires, and dropper post compatibility, the new version is better.

    A titanium frame would be cool, but it would be a travesty to buy one and not spend a small fortune on building it up as a weight weenie bike. That would be very expensive indeed.
    This would be my advice too. If the Krampus is out then it's steel vs. aluminum essentially as the TJ and KM are similar geo-wise. The $700 demo complete bike sounds like your best value: when you're zipping through the woods on it you won't be worried about the ti TJ you let go. You can do a lot with the money you won't be spending on that thing. Setting the ti bike aside it's steel>aluminum 10 times out of 10 IMHO. The versatility of the KM fork is undeniable. I've fit all three wheel sizes in mine so don't sweat that part.

    Edit: I'm not a Surly fanboi per se, this KM is my first ever. I'm a value shopper to the core (Swamp Yankee) and also a huge fan of steel bicycle frames. That's my perspective.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nowhereyonder View Post
    Malarkey, especially where Trek is still fully supporting (and expanded range of) tires for the popular Stache. 29+ isn't going away just because maxxis isn't making 3" tires next year, but that doesn't mean they won't down the line.
    This may be true but I'd still stay away in case it isn't. Personally I would not want limit myself to 29+ as only option but I see why some would. I hope the industry doesn't leave those folks high and dry.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for this thread!

    I'm about to pull the trigger on a stock Krampus. Well, actually not stock SLX build by a shop, but keeping the rigid fork for now. That purple frame is killer.

    Eventually, I want to add a fork, is 120 the most suspension on the Krampus. I know the KM can take up to 140.

    Good luck with your choice OP.
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  19. #19
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    It would be hard to pass up a $700 new gen Monkey. And +1 to what LyNx said above about low bottom brackets, I think the KM will come in a bit higher.
    http://www.bikingtoplay.blogspot.com/
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    It would be hard to pass up a $700 new gen Monkey. And +1 to what LyNx said above about low bottom brackets, I think the KM will come in a bit higher.
    Definitely easier on the wallet lol. I think if I went this route, I would def want new wheelset and gearing swap to maybe an 11-50 eagle for loaded bikepacking. Would like to run 29x2.4 in something both nice and reliable. Not sure if anybody has any recommendations? Lots of decent wheelsets on discount now online from what I am seeing.

    It sounds like people are not in love with the Alu TJ. I thought it represented a pretty good value and wouldn't require a lot of fiddling with. But, I guess, the vast majority of people i've encountered on mtbr are steel fans.

    I'll have to decide soon, otherwise I'm going to be losing more sleep and riding less haha!

  21. #21
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    The purple frame is absolutely gorgeous. Hope you enjoy that beast!

  22. #22
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    Three bikes and one choice to make

    Quote Originally Posted by feldy0084 View Post

    It sounds like people are not in love with the Alu TJ. I thought it represented a pretty good value and wouldn't require a lot of fiddling with. But, I guess, the vast majority of people i've encountered on mtbr are steel fans.
    I thought that aluminum would be better since it is lighter and perhaps more durable than steel...is it? I have always wondered how good of a choice steel would be for places with high humidity and in the snow.
    I have been looking at the Timberjack as a SS choice. Great bike.
    Steel has a lot of followers on the forum, almost on par with carbon bikes. So many people love steel, so it must be a great choice.

  23. #23
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    When you're talking rigid or HT, then a lot prefer steel over alu for the ride characteristics, in general much more forgiving/compliant than the avg alu frame, although a lot of people do say the Chameleon does have a nice ride and when I swung a leg over a 2005 Trek 8500, I was super surprised by it's ride quality.

    As to in high humidity places, well, I live on an island in the Caribbean, regularly ride by the sea, because of our humidity, temps in the hottest times often feel 10-15 degrees hotter, i.e. we regularly have 70%> humidity and I've owned and ridden a steel Karate Monkey since 2008. So I guess if it's made from quality tubing and you use frame protector, a steel frame, even in adverse climates, can last a very long time.

    Quote Originally Posted by j102 View Post
    I thought that aluminum would be better since it is lighter and perhaps more durable than steel...is it? I have always wondered how good of a choice steel would be for places with high humidity and in the snow.
    I have been looking at the Timberjack as a SS choice. Great bike.
    Steel has a lot of followers on the forum, almost on par with carbon bikes. So many people love steel, so it must be a great choice.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    When you're talking rigid or HT, then a lot prefer steel over alu for the ride characteristics, in general much more forgiving/compliant than the avg alu frame, although a lot of people do say the Chameleon does have a nice ride and when I swung a leg over a 2005 Trek 8500, I was super surprised by it's ride quality.

    As to in high humidity places, well, I live on an island in the Caribbean, regularly ride by the sea, because of our humidity, temps in the hottest times often feel 10-15 degrees hotter, i.e. we regularly have 70%> humidity and I've owned and ridden a steel Karate Monkey since 2008. So I guess if it's made from quality tubing and you use frame protector, a steel frame, even in adverse climates, can last a very long time.
    Thanks. The Chameleon, the Specialized Chisel, there are a few out there.
    When you say frame protector, is it some kind of wax, oil?

  25. #25
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    Yes There are various forms of frame protectors out there, some are oils, some are kind of like a wax/foamy grease, can also use melted wax as far as I recall. I used the foaming grease type on my Monkey and besides a bit of rust on/around the cable stops I drilled out, frame is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by j102 View Post
    Thanks. The Chameleon, the Specialized Chisel, there are a few out there.
    When you say frame protector, is it some kind of wax, oil?
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Yes There are various forms of frame protectors out there, some are oils, some are kind of like a wax/foamy grease, can also use melted wax as far as I recall. I used the foaming grease type on my Monkey and besides a bit of rust on/around the cable stops I drilled out, frame is good.
    Thanks.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by myette10 View Post
    This may be true but I'd still stay away in case it isn't. Personally I would not want limit myself to 29+ as only option but I see why some would. I hope the industry doesn't leave those folks high and dry.
    26+ will go away before 29+, and it seems to have staying power with WTB, Surly, Jamis and others.

    I love my 29+ bike, especially because it fits 27.5 x 3.8. For my purposes, the best bikepacking tire sizes developed. This is a great time to be riding- so many choices for a variety of users.

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