Surly Krampus Upgrades: Jones H-Bar, Kona Wah Wah Pedals, Brooks Swallow Saddle, Ergon GP1 Grips, Cane Creek Thudbuster LT Suspension Seatpost, and Wolf Tooth 42 Tooth GC Cog
With so many upgrades accruing on my all-terrain mountain bike, the Surly Krampus, I think it’s time for me to catalog the changes I’ve made and the reasons behind them. The myriad upgrades, of which many are somewhat recent, are thanks in large part to my trusty REI dividends built up over the last number of months. The downside of free money is that it has stopped me from buying at Salem’s local outdoor gear and apparel store, Salem Summit Company, since I can basically make large purchases from REI without paying anything through the rewards card. I guess you can’t always fight the man [sigh].
Anyway, each upgrade is listed below, along with my general opinion of the product thus far.
*** Some more updated modifications can be found on my ‘1,000 Km Review of the Krampus’ entry.
Jones 710 Loop H-Bar (Aluminum)
The Jones H bar was definitely a worthwhile investment for my bike. I like the slightly wider bars; the sense of control is greater and the angle of the bars allows for a more upright position, which is handy on descents. The middle of the bars provides a plethora of hand positions, which is awesome when ascending an endless pass or mountain. The multiple hand positions can also be sacrificed for those who like to make their handlebars into a high-tech GPS/light/speedometer/snackpack/solar panel/whatever-else-you-can-think-of command center. I have no regrets with this purchase and would encourage anyone interested in bikepacking to also invest in this handlebar.
Kona Wah Wah Platform Pedals
The Kona Wah Wah pedals have proven to be an excellent investment for my bike. Since the Krampus doesn’t actually come with pedals, the choices are initially limitless. I chose platform pedals versus clipless because I knew I’d be using the Krampus for multi-day excursions and didn’t want to bring multiple pairs of shoes along for the ride. My pedals have been through a lot of rain, scrapes, and falls, and through it all, continue to be dependable and grippy, and they are significantly cheaper than many of the platform pedal competitors. The M3 pins that help the Wah Wah grip the shoe are a bit rusty at this point, but those are easily replaced. Overall, I’ve been really happy with these pedals and plan on using them indefinitely.
Brooks Swallow Classic Saddle
A Brooks saddle is an investment meant to be enjoyed in the future, as I eventually found with my B17 I put on my touring bike last year. It took about 300 miles before it began to soften and mold itself to my sit-bones, but once it did, it became the most comfortable saddle I own. The present appreciation I have for my B17 is the appreciation I plan to have for my Brooks Swallow, but currently it’s as hard as a rock. Still, it’s just as comfortable as any other saddle I use, minus the B17, and I know that with time, it will be just as soft and supple as my beloved B17.
UPDATE: Having ridden just over 600 miles on the Swallow, I can say with full confidence that this is a seat that does not disappoint. It has gotten considerably softer and combined with the Cane Creek Thudbuster, cushions the sit-bones nicely. A great option if you like Brooks saddles but want to drop some weight for your mountain bike.
Ergon GP1 Handlebar Grips
This is a somewhat new purchase for me, and I haven’t had a chance to try them out on a long-distance ride, so a more thorough description of the Ergon GP1s will come soon.
UPDATE: My 600+mile prognosis is that these grips are golden. If I could do it all over again, I may have actually gone with the GP2 or GP3 because bar end handle grips would be nice when really railing up a hill. Still, I can’t complain. The material is nice and grippy and the grip wings provide nice palm support when needing to stretch the fingers out after a white-knuckle descent.
Cane Creek Thudbuster LT Suspension Seatpost
This is another new purchase that will receive a thorough review in about a month when I ride the Upper and Lower Umpqua Trail.
600 MILE UPDATE: I like almost everything about this seatpost. On long flat sections of trail, it provides the perfect amount of suspension to keep my rear comfortably planted on the seat, a statement I couldn’t make after a day of riding on a conventional aluminum post.
What I haven’t been as fond of are uphills, where I wish the travel would be nonexistent and allow me to surge up a hill seated without losing power due to seat bounce. I have the hardest elastomers provided in the kit set up on my bike, which doesn’t make sense for a 140 pound feather weight, but even so, the bounce is undeniable on aggressive seated uphills.
Another problem is that for bikepackers with a relatively large seat bag, major bumps cause the bag to actually drop down far enough to rub against the tire, since the seat’s travel drops so far. I have to cinch my seatbag up about as snug as it can get to my seat in order to minimize the bag to tire rub.
Still, all complaints aside, the benefits definitely outweigh the problems. I have not even considered taking the Thudbuster off my bike, because the comfort it provides on long rides is worth the occasional gripe.
Wolf Tooth 42 Tooth GC Cog
The Wolf Tooth 42 Tooth cog provides the Krampus’s 1X10 system with what could conservatively be called a legitimate granny gear. This is a VERY necessary investment if you’re running the 1X10 drivetrain on the Krampus and have even the slightest inkling of doing weighted bikepacking. Its stock drivetrain simply is insufficient for those times when a 4,000 foot pass catches you by surprise and attempts to turn your legs into gelatinous pistons.
Categories: Bikes and Gear
Thanks for the post Ben. You’ve added several of the things that I’m either interested in fitting to my bike or have already added. I came to your blog when looking for info on the interaction between a Thudbuster LT and seat-bags. (I have the Thudbuster, but wanted to see how seat bags go with it before buying a seat bag.)
My reason for replying is to suggest that the reason you’re bouncing on the LT as a lightweight is probably because you are using the stiffest elastomers, not in spite of them. They are rebounding too quickly because you are too light for them. I suggest getting the ones Cane Creek recommends for your weight. That’ll stop you being catapulted out of the seat on each bump. I love my LT and don’t plan on getting rid of it any time soon.
Cheers Graeme, thanks for the insight. You’re probably right. I thought that using stiffer elastomers was necessary for for my bikepacking setup because the thudbuster had the additional weight of my seatbag. The seatbag’s weight distribution did weird things to the thudbuster, but I think that had I used the correct elastomers, it may have made a difference.
For me, the thudbuster was returned mostly for weight reasons and because on large bumps with my medium sized frame, the bag would rub against my tire. If I weren’t a bikepacker though, I would definitely have kept it for my rig.
Interesting to see the Ergon grips with the jones bar. Have had ergons for years on my bike and contemplating the jones bar for my mukluk, just wasn’t sure if I’d go with recommended esi chunky grips (which seem quite long and therefore more hand position options vs the ergons?) or stay with ergons. Thought about gp 3 or 4 but can’t figure out if they’d protrude excessively with the sweep of the jones bar. Nice looking ride anyway!
Yeah, I found the Ergon grips worked great with the Jones bar. I think that his recommended grips would make for some weird braking situations on technical trails – especially with Shimano shorty brake levers – if riding on any sort of technical terrain, since you’d be forced to choke up on the handlebar to be able to reach the levers. Having never tried them, however, I can’t say for sure.
But I’m sure that either of those Ergon grips will be a great choice.