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Mountain Gear

Saddle Drive dirty roundup: Fatter tires from Surly and Salsa

The latest in fat (really FAT) tire fun from Surly and Salsa

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At Saddle Drive, Surly launched a new steel mountain bike called the Krampus. Named after the evil companion to Saint Nicholas in Alpine mythology, the new steed is rigid and uses what Surly is calling “29+” wheels. Launched in conjunction with the frame and built specifically for it are a new tire and rim. Surly mounts its new 3-inch wide tire, the Knard, to a new, 50mm wide rim named the Rabbit Hole. Together they create the closest thing to a Tonka truck on two wheels. The bike uses a standard 73mm wide bottom bracket shell with a welded yoke for incredible tire clearance.

For the latest in road offerings at Saddle Drive, check out Nick Legan’s post on

The frame uses standard 100/135mm fork and rear dropout spacing. So owners can also throw on a set of 29er wheels they may have lying around. The geometry on the Krampus is certainly more trail than XC, but the fun factor is through the roof. To help the front end cope with extra load, Surly used a 44mm head tube and a tapered steerer on the Krampus fork, a first for the company. While we aren’t likely to see a suspension fork to fit the larger tires anytime soon, for rigid devotees, the trail just got a little more comfortable.

The frameset will sell for $750 and Surly will offer a complete bike for $1,950. Frames are coming in around six pounds for a large size. Both the bike and frameset should be available in September or November of this year.

Pricing for the Rabbit Hole rim had not been determined as of the posting of this article. But the 50mm wide rim weighs in at 680 grams and uses the same bead lock as Surly’s other wide rims. Surly tinkerers have mounted standard 29er tires to the rim but don’t recommend consumers try anything narrower than two inches wide.

The Knard tire will be offered in two versions, an 850-gram, 120 tpi, folding tire and a 1,000-gram, 27 tpi, wire bead. The tread is based on motorcycle treads, with two tight knobs flanked by two wide knobs and staggered corner knobs. Together the tire rolls quickly and bites into corners well. When inflated, the overall diameter of Surly’s new 29+ platform is right around 30.5 inches.

Surly wasn’t alone in launching a new mountain bike at Saddle Drive. Salsa got in on the action too. Dealers waited in long lines to get a peak at and a ride aboard the Beargrease, Salsa’s new “lightweight” fat bike. Now weight when describing a bike with four-inch wide tires should be put into perspective. A complete Beargrease is now less than 28 pounds out of the box. That’s nothing to applaud if you’re accustomed to 20-pound cross-country bikes, but consider that Salsa dropped three pounds from the frame and fork alone, when compared to the Mukluk.

The new fat bike uses an aluminum Mamasita front triangle and lighter rear stays to save weight. Rack and fender mounts are a thing of the past. If you’re looking to mount accessories, look to the Mukluk.

The fork is where Salsa made up most of its weight savings. Salsa claims that its new aluminum fork is the lightest fat fork on the market, lighter even than carbon offerings. The new bike will be offered as a complete bike for $3,000 and a frameset for $1,000.

Salsa also had a very attractive, limited edition, rigid singlespeed El Mariachi 29er. The orange/gold bike will retail for $1,250 and comes without some of the cable stops included on other El Mariachis, showing its hardcore, singlespeed tendencies (of course with full cable housing and a handful of zip ties, one can run derailleurs on the bike).

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