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
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.
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: http://forums.mtbr.com/9985212-post627.html
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.
Duration Product Used: 10 years on a KM, brand new with this frame
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
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
Race Face 175mm cranks with 29T ring and 16T cog
Crank Brothers ISIS BB
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
Similar Products Used: Diamond back response, trek 6500
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Date Reviewed: June 4, 2012
Weaknesses: it broke
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.
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.
Get one if you like fun!
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.
it is an awesome bike and is fun to ride. get it you will not be disappointed!
a Cross Country Rider
from Occoquan, VA
Date Reviewed: February 21, 2012
Weaknesses: You gotta be kidding.
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.
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.
a Weekend Warrior
from Manchester, NH
Date Reviewed: December 8, 2011
Strengths: Just about everything.
Weaknesses: Grips are kinda cheap feeling and I might get me fired from my job
I never write reviews. Never. In fact I really don't care for other peoples opinions. I'd rather try things out for myself and decide from there. In this case, however, I feel compelled to weigh in on this bike. It's not too often a piece of equipment will enter your life and provide so much damn joy and happiness.
Over the years I've lost my passion for mountain biking. I never really look forward to riding my Kona Dawg Deluxe. Yeah, it has some nice suspension and fancy hydraulic brakes and pretty good components. I've tried out my friends bikes with similar technology and they just didn't rock my world. Enter in my first single speed experience. I was at my brother in laws one day and noticed a big wheeled bike with no suspension or gears. It was a Red Line Monocog. I didn't quite understand. I said "what's the purpose of mountain biking without suspension and gears to get you up hill?". What an idiot I was. I can admit that now. He suggested I take it for a spin...so I did and from then on, I was hooked. It was so uncomplicated and free. You just ride and watch those big old wheels role over everything. I immediately went home and started researching the world of single speed. I eventually discovered the Karate Monkey. A local bike shop had one that I could try out, an 18" frame. I bought it and I've had a smile on my face ever since. It's made mountain biking fun again. What a climber! Thank you Surly. Sadly though, I may now lose my job because I keep calling in sick to take the Karate Monkey out.
I can't get enough of this bike. I'm selling the Kona and my old beat up GT hardtail. The KM is all I need. If you're researching Karate Monkeys, just go get one, today. It might change your life for the better.
a Cross Country Rider
from Athens, GA
Date Reviewed: November 23, 2011
Strengths: Bomb proof, great handling, brakes
Weaknesses: Grips, seat, 17 tooth rear
This is my first SS bike. I have been riding a 2010 Marin Nail Trail 29er (stock) for the past 1.5 years. I barrowed my buddies Haro Mary SS for a couple of weeks and was hooked on the SS lifestyle. I was a bit nervous about getting a bike without front suspension, but my fears were all for not. I was looking to get a Vassago Jabberwocky, but I would have to build it up which would cost me big $$$. Buying a complete Karate Monkey was only $1,050. The bike handles great. Very responsive. I am 6-05 and about 235 lbs. I had to go with the 20" frame as oppossed to the 22" because I have short Hobbit like legs (a 32" inseam). The downside for me in this is that the cockpit is a bit small for me. I am going to have to replace the seatpost for one that is set back, and get a new longer stem. This will stretch me out, and I think make the bike more comfortable. This is no slight against the bike it's just what I usually have to do with any bike I get.
The bike comes set up pretty nicely. Avid BB7 brakes and Truvativ 32t cranks. The downside is the 17t rear. It makes for a fast bike on the straights or flats, but when I hit those short steep switchbacks it's a real pain the ass to climb. You really work to reach the top. I will be changing to a 19 or 20 tooth rear. Also, the the grips that came on it seemed fairly generic. I put some Ergon GP-1's on it. I love these grips. I have them on Marin too. They keep my hands from going numb in the ring and pinky fingers. Finally, the seat is a WTB. I like WTB, but this seat seems like just a basic cheap WTB. I put the WTB on my Marin on the KM, and I am much happier.
I think the KM is a great choice for anyone looking to get into the SS life. I feel like I'm on an old BMX cruiser when I'm out in the woods. It's a real blast, and makes me feel like I'm a kid again. You won't be disappointed
Bike Setup: Factory. Changed out grips to Ergon GP-1 (large).
a Weekend Warrior
from Colorado Springs, CO
Date Reviewed: November 2, 2011
Strengths: Strong, balanced, great geometry
Weaknesses: Possibly weight, but I don't notice it.
Excellent ride. This thing climbs better than any bike I've ridden. I first rode it with a friend on his geared 26er and he struggled to keep up with me on climbs. He starting asking me where I got it and how much it cost after the second hill. I've heard it described as heavy and stiff, but I'm 200lbs, and to me it feels comfortable, much more than my old Stumpjumper. Surly's published weight for the frame & fork puts it the same as the El Mariachi, and with a lightweight build, I don't think the frame weight really comes into play at all. Highly recommended.
Similar Products Used: None, this is my first 29er
Bike Setup: KM frame and fork, Race Face Turbine Crank, Salsa Delgado Rims, Paul Hubs, White ENO freewheel, Avid SD7 brakes, Tektro levers, Salsa Woodchipper bars, WTB SST saddle, MKS Mtn Lux pedals
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: September 10, 2011
Strengths: A very strong frame. I have ridden other hardtail 29er frames and didn't like the flex and twist in other frames compared to this Surly. I'm 6'2 185lbs and torque on this thing set up as single speed. I've learned to really trust this frame trough all the hell I put it through.
Weaknesses: First off if you buy this as a complete bike your not getting ripped off. Just don't plan on not having to upgrade or replace things with-in the first year of hard riding. I ride it ridged with the Surly fork and it's hell on the wheels. The Salsa rims suck they don't stay true and paired up with the worthless Surly hubs which would be fine on a beach cruiser but on a ss-mtb give them three months.
The bb-7s mechanical disc brakes are there but I'll tell you the best up grade was going to a 180 on the front and changing to hydraulics. On a ridged frame bombing down rockyness very nice not having to squeeze the life out of the mechanicals. So lets see that pretty much leaves you a frame set to start with and putting on new upgraded components would not be a bad way to go.
But it was also fun to get the bike in a box ready to go and slowly have no option but to replace things and upgrade when needed.
Get it complete,ride it and have fun, replace stuff when need-be, never regret buying the frame.
a Cross Country Rider
from Hudson Valley NY
Date Reviewed: June 29, 2011
Strengths: Strong, great geometry for me.
Weaknesses: It's a steel frame so you have to understand there is some weight here. Do yourself a favor, lose five pounds and ride a steel frame.
Great frame for slow techy terrain as well as speed.
I love this frame and it fits well.
If your over 6' tall you should ride a 29er, it's way more natural feeling.
My friend doesn't like 29er's...he's short, he thinks they make riding easier.
He rides a 5" travel dually....
...but my hardtail with a 80mm fork is "easy."
Currently ride a hardtail 2x10.
Recently saw a Karate Monkey and am intrigued by the steel and ss concept.
The Monkey has 33/17 gearing. Just wondering for those of us not quite the physical gods we once were how tough is it to climb hills with that gear ratio?
On my hardtail when I come u ... Read More »
im looking at doing some bike packing and i wanted to see if anyone else has a small frame bike and what your using to pack your gear. i wanted to use a set of Revelate Designs bags but not sure they will hold all i need or want to take because i dont have alot of clearance in the rear for the bigge ... Read More »
I realize that there are plenty of threads comparing other years' models of these bikes, but my LBS is offering me a 2011 karate monkey for $1000 flat and from what I've read that would be a great deal. Besides the fact that the 2013 Kona Unit (also offered for $1000) looks nicer and ... Read More »
I'm sure these have been compared before, and I know both bikes are well reviewed by those who own them. I'm sure I'd enjoy either one of these bikes. My dilemma is actually that my preferred LBS isn't a Kona dealer, but can order me a Karate Monkey. The MSRP on the Monkey is a couple hundred higher ... Read More »