I’ve been biased to the Surly brand since 2003. This is about when I purchased my first Karate Monkey “29er” and then again in 2004 when I picked up a hidden stock of the pink 1×1. Since then I’ve had many bikes with the Surly logo stickered down the side. Multiple Karate Monkey’s, a Long Haul Trucker, a Big Dummy and Steamroller.
There hasn’t been much change to the 2013 Surly lineup, some colors, a 14″ Pugsley and of course, the Krampus.
Disclaimer: I am now the Southeast rep for Surly. If you buy a new Surly Bike in NC, SC, TN, AL or GA, from an independent bicycle dealer, I will make money from it. I encourage it, and look forward to being able to afford a Krispy Kreme donut in your honor.
It’s easy to say I have too many bikes but since leaving the industry full time and my amount of review bikes really rolling in I needed to slim down the stable. One of these targeted weight loss areas was my mountain bikes. Five months ago I had a 29er hardtail geared, singlespeed, 26″ full suspension (x2), 26″ single speed, 26″ hardtail geared and numerous frames not built. Back in the fall when I started riding again I knew I wanted to get back to riding a single speed mountain bike pretty exclusively, atleast for what personally I owned and abused.
Going with what I had in the garage I started with a Surly Karate Monkey frameset (MSRP: $465.) Next was wheels, I had found a good deal about two years ago on clearance Bontrager Rhythm wheels (my cost : $100.) The other details:
Frame : Surly Karate Monkey (heavy)
Bontrager Rhythm Wheelset
Bontrager XDX Tires (Take off customers bike who didn’t want them = $30)
The Surly Karate Monkey is a great frame to start your 29er life on, it can be single speed or geared, disc or v-brake. Plus, the price you can’t beat . Without breaking the bank I got this single speed 29er to 23.15 lbs. If I went tubeless and changed out some parts I’m sure I could get it closer to 21 lbs!
Thankfully last night after the close of the business week I found myself with the time to stop by the local trail on my way home from work. The weather has been getting colder in Charlotte, NC and it was rather surprising getting out of the car at 6pm at the trail head with the wind and leaves swirling around the parking log. For the first time in a few years I slid on my favorite Gore Jacket to wear when night riding.
The light was starting to fade as I entered the trail head. I had decided to start off riding the trail clockwise and to turn around to ride backwards on my second lap. My goal was to try and push myself and the gear I was running on the Karate Monkey. Tempting my luck, I left my light off as I pushed myself down the leaf strewn trail. Speed, low light, wet roots and leaves – yes, I was pushing my luck and hoping my guardian angel was along for the ride.
The trail that is on my way home, North Meck, is not a technical one or even a long one and it is the perfect trail to unwind after a long day at work, not a lot of thoughts are needed on this trail, the hardest thing is the sand, wet roots and leaves.
Roughly half way around the 4 mile loop I turned on the sole light I had strapped to my handlebars, my trusted Light & Motion Seca 700, A light that deserves a review on its own. My vision was blurring with the wind, speed and darkness. Coming up was a rooty and rocky area of the trail that I could easily cut a tire or slip out if I was blinded by the lack of light. After the rooty and rocky length of the trail, I came across a few beautiful Golden Receivers running through the creek with their owners straggling behind.
A mile longer on the trail and the lap was finished. As I slowed to take a drink of water, I felt rain drops on my cheeks and a changing of the wind direction. Smartly, after clicking a photo of the Karate Monkey I threw the bike in the back of the car and slid in the drivers seat just as the rain started pouring down.