Surly Karate Monkey Review || 30 Days Post New Bike

This is the second post of our two-part series. Navigate to our previous post at New Bike Day.

With all the rain we have been having in my area trail riding has been cut short. But I wanted to get out a post with my initial thoughts on my Karate Monkey. 

First up is the Jones H-bar.  I get stopped on the trail more about riding with the H-bar. The best answer I can give anyone is that I will never ride with a straight bar again.  Riding with your hands close to the back of the bar or closest to you gives you that quick handing that you would get from riding a 26" wheeled bike. Moving your hand a little closer to the front of the bar slows things down a bit and is a good place to be for a flowing single track. Bring your hands up right behind the shifter and the brake mount gives you a fantastic power transfer standing out of the saddle on a climb.

Instead of gripping the bar with a death grip like you do a straight bar, you grip the H-bar like you hold a shovel.  This puts your wrist at a more comfortable angle and I believe the hand has a more contact surface with the bar. So I guess that puts Jeff Jones as a genius in my book.

Handling- Not totally sure if this handlebar, wheel size, wheelbase, or some combination. But it took a little while to get used to the steering, and sometimes I overshot things. What is amazing, is what seems to be a big bike while on it can take languid turns or very prolonged movements in a rock garden.

Wheels and tires- I just remembered that I need to have the machine-built wheels checked for being true. They are not the truth but I wish I had paid for this because it would have been money saved in the long run. The 27.5 x 3 tire suck-up most roots and rocks for the east coast riding that I do. Because of all the rain that we have the trail has a surface of sand on the top. The Dirt Wizards and sand do not get along in a turn but never break traction.

Brakes - Disk brakes are new to me and stopping power is wonderful.  I do wish the Sram Level brakes could adjust more at the leaver. I wish I had more pressure at the leaver. This is just how it feels to me.

Drive train- The 1x11 drive train is different. While it seems to have all the low gears I would ever need. I do seem to run out of the higher gears. This does cause me to spin out. I think riding more will help me understand more how this gearing system works and I don’t think it will be much of an issue.

I ran into a fellow rider on the trail yesterday while I was removing the tree from the trail. He asked about the bike as he also had a Surly. The interesting thing he said was "Every bike has a story." This is something I had never thought about. That story is as interesting as the rider who rides them, and together they tell stories and tales that should be shared with each other.

We rode together and talked about bikes until our ride took us in different directions. Share your bike's story and tell the tales that both of you make.


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