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Old 04-28-09, 03:18 PM   #1
Banzai
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Karate Monkey?

I'm thinking about journeying some on the darkside and building an MTB. Why? I don't know. I'm a roadie and commuter, but once in a while I get the feeling that hitting some trails with friends would be fun.

I have a cyclocross bike that I commute on, which serves me for most applications to be honest, so I'm on the fence about this.

If I were to do a MTB build, I'd build a 29er, both for all the advantages offered, and because I could use my cross bike's wheels (which have LX hubs/135 rear), therefore saving money on the build itself.

The Karate Monkey stands out, but I have some concerns. For starters:

Why does almost every 29er frame have track ends instead of dropouts? This strikes me as being an amazing pain in the arse, as wheel removal will involve partially removing the rear disc caliper, plus fighting the cassette past the chain and derailer. Am I correct in these assumptions?

Surly's site has an entire essay about compatability issues with this frame and newer front derailers, disc brakes, etc. For anyone who rides one of these...is the frame really that "picky" about the build?

The seat tube is curved to shorten the chainstays. Are the chainstays so short that it causes funny/twitchy handling issues...and does that short length cause chainline issues, particularly if cross-chaining? (Short chainstays tend to exacerbate cross chaining problems.)

That's all I can think of. I'd appreciate comments from people who have built this as a geared bike, and are running disc brakes.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:56 PM   #2
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I have had a KM for about half a year now. Its a nice bike.

I cannot answer all of your questions, but here is some input:

-Yes, the track ends are a small pain when removing a wheel. If you run discs it means loosening their bolts and moving them in their slotted holes. On the other hand, I have done this numerous times and have not had them change alignment in the process. And yes, it takes a few times to cleanly get the chain past the cassette. A small pain, but not that big of a deal perhaps. I suppose so many 29ers come with track ends because so many of them are run SS. It is nice to have a frame that can be endlessly reconfigured.

-I think any normal discs will work. I run Avid BB7's and they were easy to set up.

-Since the rear tire is so close to the seat tube, there are evidently some issues with some front derailleurs hitting the tires. The KM frame does come with "monkey nuts" that evidently push the wheel just far enough to clear however. I run a single chainring up front, so I am not sure about all this.

-I very much like the short wheelbase of it. Its not twitchy at all. But it does handle considerably better than a lot of 29ers because of the shortness of it. In my opinion, this is the best feature of the frame. It is really a pretty nimble beast for what it is.

-Good question about crosschaining. Now that you mention it, I do have some lingering chainline issues with mine. Made worse by the fact that I run 1x9. Never thought about the role of short chainstays in that, but it must make it worse. I more or less solved mine with a Jump Stop.

Overall, I am very happy with the bike. Its a tank, but a fun tank to ride.

jim
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Old 04-28-09, 05:14 PM   #3
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If you want to run a 29'er, geared, as either a rigid or hard tail, check out the Vassago Bandersnatch. It has longer chainstays and a more traditional looking frame, horizontal drop outs, and you can run either v-brakes or disc. There was a delay with delivering the frames that may still be affecting ordering of them but dealers might have some left. I got mine through Addictive Cycles. VERY nice and helpful guys. Glad I worked with them.
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Old 04-28-09, 06:25 PM   #4
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Oooh...

That's a nice frame! I wonder how long the delay is, because that is definitely in competition with the KM!
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Old 04-28-09, 06:26 PM   #5
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jgedwa,

Thanks for the words. Don't the monkey nuts ruin the point of having the curving seat tube?

Either way, thanks for the input. I appreciate it.
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Old 04-28-09, 06:36 PM   #6
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jgedwa,

Thanks for the words. Don't the monkey nuts ruin the point of having the curving seat tube?

Either way, thanks for the input. I appreciate it.
I have my wheels pushed all the way up in the dropouts to shorten the wheelbase as much as possible, so I don't know from personal experience. But still, by eyeball, it still appears as though the seat tube would need to curve in order to clear. It is really a pretty tight frame.

I am very tall, and have the 22 inch frame, and so I need a pretty long top tube to stretch out on. As a consequence, I want that rear wheel as close in as possible to keep the bike reasonably tight. A shorter person might not put a premium on this. But the KM is unique in this regaurd, and therefore pretty great for me.

In an unrelated note, for a while this winter I had mine set up with a 29er front wheel and a 24 inch rear wheel. (And short crank arms.) I really only did it for kicks. But it rode surprisingly well. Although in that form it was too twitchy. But it was super-cool! Anyone else in the world ever run a 49er?

jim
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Old 04-29-09, 03:27 PM   #7
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The more reading I've done, the more I may be sold on that Vassago Bandersnatch. Holy cow that's cool! Now I just need to figure out handlebars...I hate flat handlebars! Why did the MTB world adopt flat handlebars as the default anyway?
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Old 04-29-09, 05:35 PM   #8
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Are you trying to avoid straight bars or the whole "flat bar" (risers ect) thing in general? There are lots with flat bars. If you are talking about some sort of drop bars check out the ON ONE Midge or WTB Dirt Drop or the Origin 8 Gary.
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Old 04-29-09, 05:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
The more reading I've done, the more I may be sold on that Vassago Bandersnatch. Holy cow that's cool! Now I just need to figure out handlebars...I hate flat handlebars! Why did the MTB world adopt flat handlebars as the default anyway?
I should clarify my post a bit - I have the Jabberwocky (I'm running SS) but the geometry and stuff is the same. The bike is AWESOME. A friend of mine recommended the bike to me by just sending a link. I looked around a bit and the choice was clear. I've had three rides on the bike and it's fantastic

If you go to that OTHER site (forums.mtbr.com) in the 29er forum you can find a bunch of pics of people's Bander's and stuff. Good luck
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Old 04-29-09, 06:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
The more reading I've done, the more I may be sold on that Vassago Bandersnatch. Holy cow that's cool! Now I just need to figure out handlebars...I hate flat handlebars! Why did the MTB world adopt flat handlebars as the default anyway?
I wonder this too. 2 of my bikes have Dirt Drops and one has Mary bars. I love the Dirt Drops, but It is very difficult to set them up, because of the long top tubes on most mountain bikes. I ended up getting a 15 inch frame instead of a 17 inch Monocog 29er and run a 65mm stem to get the right fit for me. You might want to look at the Rawland frames, they are designed for drop bars.
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Old 04-30-09, 01:14 PM   #11
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Had mine for over 3yrs & have been enjoying it more & more.
It took some time, but I have my rear caliper set so I can remove rear wheel w/out moving caliper.
Tried several drop bars too, but keep going back to risers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
..... I had mine set up with a 29er front wheel and a 24 inch rear wheel. (And short crank arms.) I really only did it for kicks. But it rode surprisingly well. Although in that form it was too twitchy. But it was super-cool! Anyone else in the world ever run a 49er?
jim
Why do I imagine this?


...about to try an old 26" rear in mine to see how it feels.
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Old 04-30-09, 01:22 PM   #12
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Just a possible lead for you: bikebling.com sells the bandersnatch, and they're showing all sizes in-stock. I don't work for/with them, so i can't say if they keep their online inventory updated, but it's worth giving them a call.

I absolutely would not try to run track ends with discs, and i especially wouldn't run track ends with discs and gears, and i wouldn't want to have to search high and low (cambria has 'em, though) for the 2 or 3 front derailers that'd work on a KM. Surly needs to update their KM, maybe make a geared and a SS version? You *can* run discs and gears and all on a KM, but i think i'd curse myself and Surly and primates in general if if i ever tried it...

hth
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Old 04-30-09, 07:04 PM   #13
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I absolutely would not try to run track ends with discs, and i especially wouldn't run track ends with discs and gears, and i wouldn't want to have to search high and low (cambria has 'em, though) for the 2 or 3 front derailers that'd work on a KM. Surly needs to update their KM, maybe make a geared and a SS version? You *can* run discs and gears and all on a KM, but i think i'd curse myself and Surly and primates in general if if i ever tried it...

hth
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Admittedly, gears, discs, and track ends are not a perfect marriage. In fact, the first time or two I took the wheel out, it was hard. But, its not such a big deal, and I have developed a routine to do it. It is a downside. But it buys you flexibility. If there is no way you would ever run it fixed or ss, then its a pointless complication. If its something you might mess around with then it might be worthwhile. It is to me.

j
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Old 05-01-09, 03:08 PM   #14
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I think I'm pretty much sold on that Bandersnatch frame. Now I need to work on persuading Mrs Banzai that I really do need a 4th bike. In the near future I'll probably be posting questions regarding that frame and some forks, since all of my experience is in road bikes.
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