Surly Karate Monkey 29er Hardtail

4.48/5 (75 Reviews)
MSRP : $1120.00

Product Description

Surly dealers are prohibited from shipping complete bikesToThefollowingcountries: Canada, Australia,The UK, Japan, Germany,The Netherlands,France,Finland, New Zealand,The Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland,Taiwan, and Italy. If you are in one ofThese countries, please provide analternativeshipping address at checkout. Surly bikes deliver bulletproof, reliable performance year after year.TheyveTakenTheir versatile 29er Karate Monkey frame and outfitted it with a careful selection of parts

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Reviews 1 - 15 (75 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Brent a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: July 13, 2016

Strengths:    Great hadling, durable, affordable and versatile.

Weaknesses:    Getting a bit more expensive these days, hard to find.

Bottom Line:   
Great bike. Updated for 2015 with a 44mm headtube if you run a tapered fork. Multiple dropouts available. I have mine set up singlespeed with the rigid fork. 23.8 Pounds. Its snappy and fun. If you dont require a custom frame size its as good as anything youll find. I bash mine, its very strong. One of the best frames out there. I am 6 feet tall on a large.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Daily

Price Paid:    $1400.00

Purchased At:   Jax Long Beach

Similar Products Used:   Too many

Bike Setup:   Singlespeed, ultra new hubs. Halo vapour rims, white eno fw.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by l'oiseau a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: July 21, 2015

Strengths:    Comfortable, responsive, climbing traction, versatility

Weaknesses:    Price, paint, weight

Bottom Line:   
It's not the lightest, but it sure rides nice. It's really the first 29in MTB I've owned. I've owned a couple 29in bikes, but they were not true MTBs. That said I like the way it rides and feels, but it's different offroad than a 26er. Mine is currently set up as a light duty MTB. It has gears, 100mm front suspension but narrow, fast rolling tires.

On the road it's great. It's comfortable and I can ride for a long time without getting too saddle sore. Medium frame fits me like a glove.

On the trail, it's wicked fun too, but the narrow tires I'm using hold it back a little bit. I need to some 2.4 or larger tires to get some more ground clearance and grip. Handling is awesome on smooth, rolling terrain... I can stay in or near the saddle and blast through corners. It does real well on slow, technical trails as well... but more tire would be nice.

The bike climbs great, better than a 26er but I have trouble in slow, tight turning sections, even with a medium frame. I feel like the it's more a fault of 29in wheels and not the geometry. Put it this way, I feel better in that stuff on a well designed 26er.

Going down is fine - rolls over stuff great, chassis feels solid and nimble. Never feel like I'm compromised and going to go OTB even with a relatively long, XC style stem.

The paint (or powdercoat) mars pretty easily, but whatever, it's a bike... it's gonna get beat. Price is a little high for what it is... I mean it's just a basic steel mountain bike - they've been around for years. This one just happens to use 29in wheels and have a pretty nice layout. Weight is what it is... I've ridden lighter steel bikes, and heavier ones. I didn't weigh mine, but I can feel that it's no feather. I don't notice it when I'm actually riding the bike.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Doug2456

Date Reviewed: May 24, 2014

Strengths:    Bomb proof, great handeling, good price.

Weaknesses:    None.

Bottom Line:   
Love the bike. Has no problem ripping up the trails. I have had some hard crashes and no problems. I have since made this bike a custom build but stock is great.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Garth Adkins a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: March 14, 2014

Strengths:    Great bike out the door. Simple SS, still getting used to that. Point and you go. No energy loss on take off.

Weaknesses:    No gears.

Bottom Line:   
Over all fun. Cool blue color. Product is as advertised.

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Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $1100.00

Purchased At:   Fuel Free Recreation

Similar Products Used:   Specialized rock hopper, front suspension

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Forest

Date Reviewed: February 11, 2014

Strengths:    A versatile, fun, strong, no-nonsense bike that is a pure joy to ride. It is truly a "Frankenstein" bike...configure it however you want.

Weaknesses:    The WTB rims and a few other components (stem, seat post) are cheap and heavy...but what do you expect for the price?

Bottom Line:   
This is my first single-speed MTB and I must say, I have seen the light. I feel like a kid again every time I throw my leg over it. Just get on and shred. This bike has made me a better, stronger, and more aggressive rider. As mentioned above, the WTB rims are junk and the stem and seatpost are cheap and heavy. The cable actuated BB7's are much better than I thought they were going to be.

The bike climbs very well, but is not the best of descenders due to its XC-oriented head tube angle (72 degrees). I never loose traction on the hills, even out of the seat (which happens a lot with a SS). For a 29er, I feel it is very agile in the twisties.

If you are thinking about trying a single-speed, this is your bike. If it ain't for you, just gear it up, put racks on it, fenders, whatever. I love this bike.

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Favorite Trail:   Fountainhead Regional Park (VA)

Duration Product Used:   1 year

Price Paid:    $1000.00

Bike Setup:   Full rigid with Niner Carbon Fork. SL-K carbon seat post. Other than that, all original.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by BruceBrown a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: December 28, 2012

Strengths:    This review is for the 2012 Stretchpants Black size XL Surly Karate Monkey frame. Cost effective frame price for everything from entry level to a full out, tricked out bike that will take how every many $$$$ you can throw at it. The geometry with the short wheel base (when the wheel is run forward) makes this a bench mark fun bike to own and ride. A simple, fun, classic frame to own and ride.

Weaknesses:    Surly took care of most of the weaknesses I had with the 1st generation bike. Rear disc brake mount has been updated to make rear wheel removal and installation simple. Head tube was too short on the size XL in prior generation, and it has been improved to 125mm with this version. So I can't really pick out a weakness with this new model since I am comparing it to prior generations. Visually, perhaps I'm not a huge fan of the housing routing being underneath the TT - but that's a cosmetic visual preference of mine. An opinion, not a weakness.

Bottom Line:   
I bought this frame after 9 1/2 years on the 1st generation Karate Monkey (which I obviously loved since I kept it and rode it for so long). This new model is for SS riding only and I didn't need all the configuration options anymore (cantilever brake bosses, etc...). You can see my build here:

I have not tried the new KM rigid fork as I wanted suspension, so am using a 100mm REBA Race fork with a bar mounted lockout lever, Industry Nine Enduro 29"er wheels with a Gusset SS conversion kit, BB7 160mm front/140mm rear rotors, an old set of Race Face cranks with a titanium SS ring, and nice cushion of Racing Ralph 2.4's front and rear being run tubeless. I love the cushion with the suspension fork and big meat tires coupled with the steel frame that makes this HT bike actually quite comfortable for me. I can't wait to get another 10 years out of this frame like I did my first one.

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Favorite Trail:   Lake Ahquabi/Banner Pits

Duration Product Used:   10 years on a KM, brand new with this frame

Price Paid:    $400.00

Purchased At:   Rasmussen's Bike Sho

Similar Products Used:   2002-03 Surly Karate Monkey frame (used it for 9 1/2 years)

Bike Setup:   Racing Ralph 2.4 front and rear
BB7 160mm front/140mm rear
Avid Levers
WTB Silverado saddle
Industry Nine Enduro wheels converted to SS with a Gusset kit
Thomson post and stem (120mm with 0 degree rise) and one 2mm spacer
RockShox REBA Race 100mm with bar mounted lockout
Shimano pedals
Race Face 175mm cranks with 29T ring and 16T cog
Crank Brothers ISIS BB

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by ariel dekel a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: September 30, 2012

Strengths:    So durable it just survived falling from a roof rack on 90 kph without a skratch!!!.
Geometry feels like it was tailor made just for me, puts a smile on my face evry ride.

Weaknesses:    After 4 years of rides i can't find a single 0ne but im not a wight whiny and less then 14k do it all bike is unbeatable deal.

Bottom Line:   
Ive riden the monkey ridgid the first 3 years including 3days desert ride . Last year i put a manitou tower 100mm on it & now i ride a bit faster :-)
The bike rides like a 26er just with much more fun factor taht words cant express , it jumps just the same, corners beter & rolls on everything much easyer without me wanting to go slower.
If you are an allarounder biker who's not a big drops fun & want to ride anywhere and any time, you should buy the monkey, smile is guaranteed.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   a few in the israeli desert

Duration Product Used:   4 year

Price Paid:    $1200.00

Purchased At:   shopharim as a frame

Similar Products Used:   Few xc 26er, ht & fs no more then 5 inch of travle.

Bike Setup:   Manitou tower 100mm, avid bb7, bontrager rhythm comp 29ers, fsa carbon seatpost ( aluminum got bent to many times), bonti race lite square bb, 32t surly chainring x deore 11-34 cassette 1x9 if you like that needs to be upgraed to 12-36 as soon as it breaks.
I ride a 20" frame & 1.86 meter tall + 94k (go metric system:-D)

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Brennan a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: September 8, 2012

Strengths:    Steel yet light, Affordable

Weaknesses:    Haven't found any yet besides a worn chain but I bought it used so what do you expect.

Bottom Line:   
This is my first 29er and my first single speed. I read soo many comments and reviews and was still torn on if I would like it or not. I love it! most fun I've had on a mountain bike. its nimble, it holds momentum and its definantly making me a better rider. Although mine is upgraded with Carbon Black ops front fork, Chris King head set, some kind of light handle bars, etc I still think if it was stock it would be just as good. Do yourself a favor and BUY ONE

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Favorite Trail:   anything

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   Used

Similar Products Used:   Diamond back response, trek 6500

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Justin Twelftree

Date Reviewed: July 25, 2012

Strengths:    Price. I was looking for steel commuting frame and this looked ideal. Feels lovely and solid. Novelty rarety (in UK at least) - only ever see one other. This frame has given me 3 years (15,000miles) of trouble free all weather commuting on widish road tyres and handbuilt 700c/29er wheels. Handy for any impromptu light off road bits i come across. Nice touch of having canti & disc brake mountings. Rigid forks are super solid.

Weaknesses:    Weight perhaps but it is a cheap steel mtn bike frame so cannot complain. Does not entirely give the famed steel springy ride. Paint fades & look scabby pretty quickly, plus skate park graffiti graphics are pointless unless target market is 14 year olds. Bottom bracket cable routing on a mtn bike? Please please please!!! Do you have proper mud in your neck of the woods? Frame has cracked at bottom bracket shell/chain stay/seat tube interface, which quiet frankly after 3 years road commuting for a frame that is allegedly designed to be used off road is appalling and smacks of poor manufacturing processes. I had 2 Surly crosschecks in 9 months that had identical issues, both replaced under warranty. Will not go near such badly made frames again.

Bottom Line:   
A great cheap frame for those on a budget and looking for a (currently) non main stream brand. Steel is easily repairable anywhere in the world which given my Surly experiences is a good thing. Ideal to put skinny road tyres on and commute like the wind.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mtbinflorida a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: July 1, 2012

Strengths:    This bike handles great. This size 18" 29er is a shorter wheelbase than my 26er and the KM goes through singletrack like butter. Running rigid, the bike moves well. Converted the 160 front disc to 180, swapped out grips, converted to tubeless and dropped the air pressure and the ride is smooth. No front shock for now. Heading to New River Gorge, WV to try the new Arrowhead trails (thank you Boy Scouts for helping with the trail construction). Singletrack heaven they say. Adding a Dos Eno 17/19 in back and 32/34 front. Leaving the cranks because they are pretty stiff. Laser disc wheelset is nice.

Weaknesses:    The frame alone was on back order for two months so I bought the package bike. Rode good out of the box, but the above changes really brought her to life. The 17 degree sweep in the handle bars bring them back just a little too far for me (I am 6.0) so I have some H-bars on the way. Disc only this year.

Bottom Line:   
Really having fun riding this bike. The weight is just under 26. Great handling. Will report after West Virginia. Should have everything fine tuned after that. Maybe not a race bike, but so much fun, who cares. Steel rides great.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Bear Creek

Purchased At:   Sprockets

Similar Products Used:   Canondale f1000, Trek Fuel ex8,

Bike Setup:   as above

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Guerdonian

Date Reviewed: June 28, 2012

Strengths:    Rock Solid quality frame. The Geometry is perfect. Looks good, rides better, take it anywhere and have a smile on your face.

Weaknesses:    A bit heavy, but it is a budget steel frame so not much room to complain about that. Best to convert or purchase a rear wheel with a thru axle that you can crank down if going Single Speed. A regular Skewer does not provide enough compression to prevent the rear wheel from clocking out of line in the horizontal dropouts. Should be given rust protectant on the inside of the frame ASAP, to prevent compromising of the material.

Bottom Line:   
I have kicked this bikes ass for 8 years. Now it has been lent to 2 friends who have also kicked its butt. It has been in 24hour races, SS short track races, Several day bike trips, Rain, Mud, Rivers, Sludge, Ice, Snow, Dust, (no fire... yet). I have ridden this bike in California, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. It has seen well past 6000+ miles and never missed a beat. I have taken newbies out on this bike, and lent it to a Cat 2 road racer, both types of riders had a blast on it. It is composed primarily of unicorn tears, sasquatch hair, chupacabra venom, and pixie dust, it is pure MAGICAL CREATURE!

One word to descibe it: FUN.

So much fun in fact that I tried to match my 8K titanium custom dream bikes geometry after this bikes geometry. You will not regret this purchase. It is the best $$ per smiles ratio of bike out there. Seriosly just buy one!

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Similar Products Used:   I have ridden many other 29ers, many....

Bike Setup:   I bought this as a frame only. Its set up with the stock rigid fork, and a SS drivetrain using a surly chainring and cog. "budget" 29er wheels ("explorer" which i dont think exist anymore) hydraulic juicy 7 brakes, Kenda nanoraptor tires. Carbon seatpost.

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by gf99

Date Reviewed: June 4, 2012

Strengths:    handling

Weaknesses:    it broke

Bottom Line:   
When I first saw the bike I thought it looked like it would handle like a school bus. Not the case at all. I have had no issues with it in narrow twisty trail and tight switchbacks. It also feels very stable on steep descents so I am more confident with it than my 26in bike. This past weekend I was out of the saddle cranking up a steep pitch and SNAP! The bottom V of the down tube and seat tube completely tore away from the bottom bracket shell. At 165 pounds I am no clydesdale. I might like to claim it was my superhuman strength, but in reality it looks like a weakness in the frame. That is why I can only give it two chiles, which is a shame because I really like the bike.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by DaveS29er

Date Reviewed: May 28, 2012

Strengths:    This was my second single-speed mountain bike, and my first 29er. I love this bike and love to ride it. I'm reviewing the frame and fork, since my build is not the stock Surley KM, and everyone seems to build theirs differently, for different purposes. I have done dirt, gravel, paved bike paths, pavement, and fording shallow creeks, but no technical riding in the nine months I have had the bike. The 20" frame is right for my 6' 2" and 32" inseam. It is a well-made, beautiful, practical, versatile bike.

Weaknesses:    I wouln't put gears on this bike, because of the horizontal dropouts, but many people do this and aren't complaining. It is not a weakness, really, it's a feature.

Bottom Line:   
Get one if you like fun!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by isaac a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: May 18, 2012

Strengths:    super sturdy, fast, awesome handling, light for a steel frame, climes well, and just fun to ride!

Weaknesses:    the only one I can think of is that it has trouble on long semi steep to steep climbs with the stock gear ratio.

Bottom Line:   
it is an awesome bike and is fun to ride. get it you will not be disappointed!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   devils backbone

Price Paid:    $1050.00

Purchased At:   full cycle

Similar Products Used:   kona unit

Bike Setup:   stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by rufio a Cross Country Rider from Occoquan, VA

Date Reviewed: February 21, 2012

Strengths:    Exactly.

Weaknesses:    You gotta be kidding.

Bottom Line:   
I purchased this frameset second hand because the original owner wanted a taller frame. This is still a little small for me, but I love it. I had it with a few different configurations but the way I have it set up is probably how it is going to stay unless I find a good deal on some BB7s in the future. I love everything about this bike. Now that I have it built up solid I thoroughly enjoy riding this thing in any condition on any trail my legs can put that single gear. There is something so serene about riding this thing. With the Shimano hubs I'm running the bike is completely silent. It is so nice to be able to just hop on the bike and go; without a second thought on whether or not my bike will be shifting properly. They updated fork on the KM is sweet too. I think I'm going to be using this fork for quite sometime, at least for as long as my arms can handle the impact. All in all, buy it as a complete or get the frameset and throw on the leftover parts from your main 29er you upgraded and be happy.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Similar Products Used:   Redline Monocog Flight 29er.

Bike Setup:   Surly frame and Karate Monkey fork. Hayes Nines, Bontrager Ranger wheelset, XT cranks, Forte Carve Pedals, singlespeed.

Reviews 1 - 15 (75 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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