My previous rides on the Krampus haven't gone well, due to various mechanical issues. However, a new (used) chain from my bin seems to have solved the issues, and the drivetrain gave me no issues at all today:
My setup is an X7 rear derailer with a Shimano 11-36 nine speed cassette, driven by a 32t rings on some sort of old Sugino 94 BCD five bolt crank. Grip shift isn't so popular these days, but I still like it:
Overall, I had a good time on the Krampus. I didn't get the eye-opening revelation I had when I first demo'd it, but I think that's partly due to my spring "fitness." The biggest demerit I could find with the Krampus was that it was hard to get it going. Sure, the big, heavy tires are naturally slower to get up to speed, but I think I'll be able to manage it better in a few months. Then again, those big tires were great across the many small roots at Alum Creek--they just seemed to disappear beneath me. And there are a LOT of roots at Alum.
On the other hand, the tires aren't as competent at bigger hits. Several times today I bottomed at the front, the rear, or both ends of the bike, getting the wince-inducing feeling of my rims hitting the trail. Clearly, my tire pressure was too soft for my speed and my line choice (I was running 13~15 psi); this is something I'll have to experiment with.
Handling was a bit of a surprise for me. The Krampus is about two degrees slacker up front than my typical 29ers, and in the past I haven't been a fan of lazy front ends. However, for whatever reason, the Krampus was able to steer capably around the trail. Perhaps the big tires make pinpoint line selection less important. I also appreciated the shorter rear end of the Big K--I have the wheel slammed forward, for a chainstay length of around 445mm, and I was able to pop the front end up as needed.
Vik B has described the Krampus as a rigid bike with extra cushion, not a full suspension replacement, and I think that's a very accurate description. The 29+ wheels are great on small roots, but bigger hits--and by bigger, I mean larger than two inches or so--still require you to use your rigid bike skills to move smoothly along. When I got home from my ride today, I took my 26" FSR out for a quick spin up and down the street. I had a thought that the Krampus could replace the FSR, but now I don't see it: the FSR handles big bumps much more capably than the Big K. This is starting a rethink of my recent Need-Want-Have assessment.