Day 2 of the Interbike Outdoor Demo was my opportunity to test out several bikes that caught my eye the day before. First stop was Minnesota's own Surly Bikes. I have been wanting to test ride the Pugsley and Krampus in the dirt and the trails at Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park would provide some riding conditions unlike those back in Minnesota.
First up was the Surly Pugsley. For all of the rocky terrain out on the trails, those low pressure tires really absorbed the the bumps providing a smooth ride especially when picking up speed on the downhill runs. It was equipped with Nate 3.8" tires that were inflated to about 8 lbs. psi and they provided the traction needed for the loose rocks and sand that make up the trails in the canyon. The 2X9 drivetrain and those Nates made it easy climbing those challenging hills.
Next was the Surly Krampus with its 50 mm rims and 3" Knard tires. While it's not technically a fatbike, those are some wide 29'er tires. With a 1X10 drivetrain, I could easily handle any elevation changes along the trail. The Knard tires had excellent traction in the loose dirt with a lot less rolling resistance than the Nates on the Pugsley, but with plenty of cushion on the rocky stuff.
While returning the Krampus back at the Surly booth another cyclist was also returning from a demo ride on one of the new bikes for 2014, the Surly Straggler. He stated he only takes each demo bike out for one loop to get in as many bikes as possible each day of the demo. He had to make an exception for the Straggler and go around a second time. He raved about its performance and handling. When I asked him how it handled gravel he said "Great!". The one he was returning was my size and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see for myself. I took it for a long ride that included paved roads and a variety of gravel conditions. The Knard inspired tread pattern on the tires rolled fast and quiet on the pavement while giving me the traction I needed on the gravel. It definitely made the top of the list for my next bike.
The last ride of the day was on the Santa Cruz Bantam. A 27.5'er with full suspension and 5" of travel. I loved it! It was a smooth ride in some very rocky conditions and handled better in
switchbacks and sharp turns than my 29'er. It seemed to be a perfect fit between 26"
& 29". Now I see what all the buzz about the 27.5" size is all
Riding in Bootleg Canyon was quite a different mountain biking experience than what I am used to back in Minnesota. The 2600' altitude, rocky trails, a temperature hovering around 100º and rapid elevation changes made each ride challenging, but what a better way to test a bike. It was a good day, I just wish I had more time and energy to demo a bunch more bikes.