Surly Karate Monkey

We’re not here to tell you that you need this bike. That’s not really our style. And anyway, you probably don’t need it. You probably have several bikes already. And yet, we hear from people all the time who tell us their other bikes sit gathering dust ever since they started riding a Karate Monkey. You’d be hard pressed to find a better riding, more durable, and more versatile 29er. Although even now in many places 29ers are still considered oddball, suspect, or downright alien, many people believe 29ers to be the best tool in the kit for riding singletrack, gravel, and a lot of other offroad conditions. Big wheels deliver greater traction than their 26″ counterparts, they offer a better ground approach angle, which helps make uneven terrain more easily rideable, they hold inertia well, and they generally fit taller riders better than 26″ bikes. The Karate Monkey’s been around for a while. It didn’t create the 29er category, but it helped bring it to the masses and set the standard for what a 29er could be.

Surly custom 4130 CroMoly tubing throughout sets the stage for a lively and fast, yet forgiving, ride. They’ve curved the seat tube forward to allow the wheel to tuck under, meaning the thing rips in twisty stuff. The frame and fork have lots of clearance for big fat tires, and the frame is suspension corrected for an 80mm suspension fork. In true Surly fashion, it’s got a lot of built-in versatility. The rear dropouts are horizontal with a derailleur hanger, so you can run it as a singlespeed, a fixed-gear, or with full gears and derailleurs. It’s got removeable rim brake pivots as well as disc caliper mounting plates. This year they’ve redesigned the rear disc caliper mount to make removing and installing the rear wheel easier — no more loosening the caliper adapter mounting bolts to install or remove the rear wheel. Also new, they replaced housing stops with line guides in order that you can run full housing for brakes and derailleurs. Like many of our models, we offer it as a frameset and also as a complete bike. The complete bike option, like all our bikes, is composed of durable stuff that’s right for the task at hand and not too spendy. The Karate Monkey walks tall, speaks softly and kicks ass.

One more thing: Surly does not recommend the use of racks and disc brakes at the same time on the Karate Monkey. A rack will not clear the disc caliper without jury-rigging the leg outboard, and this will put stress on the mount, potentially breaking it. If you take nothing else from reading this, remember: No rack and disc brakes simultaneously on this frame. Get it? Got it? Good.

Year    2011

Build Specs

Headset Cane Creek 40, 1-1/8˝ threadless. Black
Brakes Avid BB7, Cable actuated. 160mm rotors front & rear
Brake Levers Avid FR-5, Black
Stem Kalloy AS-008, 25.4mm bar clamp. Aluminum. 4-bolt face. Black
Handlebar Salsa Moto Ace, 660mm width. 17° bend. Black
Saddle Velo VL-2155, Steel rails. Black vinyl. Feels pretty o.k.
Seatpost Kalloy SP-342, 27.2mm. 350mm. Black
Extras Surly stainless steel post clamp, 14g DT Swiss spokes
Hubs Surly Ultra New model, 32h. Bolt on, Black
Rims WTB Speed Disc 29, 32h. Black. Machined sidewalls
Tires WTB Exiwolf DNA, 29 x 2.3˝. Steel bead. Black

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