According to Wikipedia, Krampus is a mythical creature who accompanies Saint Nick on Christmas Eve in order to punish bad children or to steal especially rotten kids in a sack in order to eat them for Christmas dinner. He looks as scary as you'd expect. Or perhaps scarier. What does this have to do with bicycles?
Most rides find me on a Surly Ogre, which I love. It does exactly what I want it to do, and I can't recall a bike on which I've had more fun. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to ride a Karate Monkey, because it should feel exactly the same, only lighter, but every time I wonder this I immediately stop wondering, because my Ogre is perfect. If I cared about frame weight I wouldn't be riding steel.
Salvagetti was the lucky and temporary recipient of a Surly Krampus demo, so I took it out twice this past week to see what the 29+ bike is all about. If you haven't heard about the Krampus already, it's a fatbike bred with a 29er, which basically means that each Knard 29 x 3.0 tire holds more stale air than Kanye West's ego. Feast your eyes upon:
The first ride wasn't a fair test. It was nasty out, and Rebecca and I took only a short ride, and, despite warnings to this effect, I ran too high a tire pressure--somewhere around 15psi.
On the second day of Christmas, I must've been naughtier. Climbing Evergreen mountain, I didn't notice any advantages that the Krampus provided over my Ogre. There are certainly benefits to climbing on tires with such incredible traction, but those benefits were zeroed out by the weight of the wheels. I cleaned the same stuff I always clean and walked the same stuff I always walk. I'm not complaining; if a bike climbs as well as my Ogre, I become insane with glee.
At the top, where the above picture was taken, I was ready to believe that the Krampus was the Ogre's weird little kid who was obviously related but had maybe been conceived one drunken night (under a full Moonlander) when its parents ran along the beach without their birth control.
While I don't know the exact number, let's estimate that I've ridden down this trail somewhere in the neighborhood of one million times. As much as I love the Ogre, and as well as it shreds this particular stretch of the Rocky Mountains, I have had opportunities to take this descent on lots of other bikes, be they rigid, hard in the tail, or fully suspended.
Krampus ripped open the side of this mountain like no bike before it.
If those wheels felt a tad heavy on the climb, they disappeared on the descent. I couldn't keep the bike on the ground, actually, as the float provided by those huge tires coupled with how incredibly fast I was able to go meant that I left the ground--in the best way--any time the trail supplied even a single degree of lift. Rocks--be they baby heads or larger--provided no obstacle. Krampus ate every last one of them. When the bike occasionally landed on the ground, the unrelenting flow of tire tread upon the dirt sounded like a demon's belch. I'm not even going to talk about cornering, because just look at that thing.
Krampus is here, and he taketh away. Your fears, your inhibitions, your restraint--all will disappear into his belly and you'll scream like all of hell down the mountainside. In a world where many riders find their virtue in full suspension, Krampus is completely wicked.