The Krampus

I said in my last post that the Krampus is the bike I’ve been wishing for for a while.

It’s a fully rigid bike that’s slack, comfortable, and sturdy enough to ride hard.

When I moved down to Ohiopyle five years ago, I was racing and riding a Niner One9 with a steel fork. After a couple weeks of bombing down the chundery mountain outside of town, I started having some serious hand problems. I was 18, but I felt like an arthritic 70 year old. So I saved up some cash and bought my first suspension fork.

That was all fine and great, but I missed riding rigid, because a rigid fork forced me to ride well all the time. If I got lazy, the bike would kick my ass.

So for a few years, I just rode rigid in the off season, mostly to save my fork seals from sloppy trails. But as I got better at riding a bike, I started really having to hold myself back when I rode without suspension. Aggressive riding resulted in flats, dented rims, and beat hands.

Earlier this year, I set my Kona Honzo up with the fat front end from my Pugsley. I rode it like that for two weeks in Pisgah, and a few hundred miles around Ohiopyle. It was cool, and felt like riding a basketball. The front end of the bike would bounce all over the place, and when I had to corner, I would just hope that it would bounce into a spot on the dirt where the front tire could stick.

That was fun in it’s own way, but unsurprisingly, when I tried racing that setup, it was terrible. Too much rotating weight and drag. I built up a 29er front wheel for the Pugsley fork, and ended up with the same problem I’ve always had with rigids- too little tire, too much rim banging.

I have some plans for to do a few real long races next year, and realized that between the Honzo and the Pugsley, I didn’t have the right bike. One was too harsh and snappy, and the other was too fat and slow. So I thought about it for a while, then decided to give the Krampus a shot.

And it’s pretty damn near perfect. The geometry is on the slack and long side, so the bike will do a smooth, stable two-wheel drift through a loamy corner. With a short stem, the weight distribution is mostly over the back wheel, so the front end naturally stays up when I ride off a drop, and doesn’t get hung up in the rocks.

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The 29×3.0 Knards are awesome. I can’t believe it took so long for somebody to make a tire that’s big, smooth rolling, and sturdy enough to hold air when it’s ridden hard. Unlike the 26×3.8 Knards on my Pugsley, the 29er version doesn’t have any weird bounciness or self-steer. They just ride like an extra big mountain tire.

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So, at this point, I really dig the bike. I’m looking forward to putting a lot more miles on it. I’m going to keep the Pugsley for snow, and the Honzo for especially technical trail rides, but for everything in-between the Krampus seems pretty ideal.

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