Fyxo’s “Trail Breaker” Surly Krampus For Melburn Roobaix

Seeds of inspiration come from many places, people, and times in your life. Fyxo’s latest project was a trinity of such influences fused into one. Combining inspiration from Speedvagen, an old Shogun MTB, and MAD MAX to create his custom rusty Surly Krampus for Melburn Roobaix.

The first was an ode to my first steel mountain bike – The Shogun ‘Trail Breaker.’ The bike was popular in Australia, being one of the few complete bikes in the emerging recreation space. Mine was an absolute klunker in hindsight–even if it did have “alloy” rims and bars, Shimano S.I.S. gears, cantilever brakes, and a Tioga elastomer fork. Only as an adult would I realize the logotype was a straight rip of the Specialized Stump Jumper–which only makes me love it more.

The second influence was Sacha White’s prototype Urban Racer, which he brought to Australia for the Speedvagen fit tour nearly a decade ago. It was a bare metal frame allowed to corrode slowly with each passing rain storm hastening the process. I’d attempted this previously on a steel frame with success, but I wanted a rusted-looking frame–without having to wait years.

The third influence was this year’s Melburn Roobaix theme: MAD MAX. Perhaps not at the Star Wars cult level, it holds a special place in my heart as much of the first movie was shot in familiar Melbourne locations, one scene shot on a road I passed every day as a kid on the way to school. George Miller’s universe of films, with crazed cars, costumes, and style, seemed the perfect landscape for creativity.

After selling my Surly ‘Drop Monkey’ 27.5er to get something with room for bigger tires, the obvious choice was the Surly Krampus 29+. The Krampus is a mythical beast that terrorizes children–so who better than Lord Humungus to adorn the seat tube? He will allow “safe passage through the wasteland” – if you give him all the fuel.

Make It Your Own!

The stock Krampus came in “First Loser Silver,” and the plan was to keep it stock-ish without going over the top. I took a piece from here and a piece from there for the components—forks I’d kept from the last bike, an SRAM EX1 8-speed groupset that was going to be for an e-bike conversion, a Thomson stem, and I always run a Brooks Cambium chair.

I searched the internet for ‘how to rust steel’ and found an article on producing a finish in minutes–not years.

The first step was to remove the powder coat. You can use various methods: stripping and sanding. I opted for media blasting. Blast Off in West Heidelberg (Thanks, Peter!), who turned the frame around in a week for just $100. This saved me a heap of time and mess, given how tough the powder coat is and many layers of my own skin.

Next was to polish the sections of the frame where artwork was going to be applied. I did the initial pass using a 3M adapter for my cordless drill with 250-grit sandpaper. Then individual sheets of 400/600/800/1200 grit for the shinier sections. Cut your paper into strips to get the most out of them.

After some playing around on the computer machine, I cut vinyl masks on my plotter and applied them to the frame. If you don’t have those tools, draw a design on vinyl and cut it with a scalpel!

I was confident about all the above as they were tasks I’d done many times before–this rust game was very new. The process calls for vinegar, hydrogen peroxide (3%), and salt. That’s it. I’d be surprised if you don’t already have all three at home–though maybe not enough to perform this operation. All are easily sourced and relatively cheap.

I used 200 ml Hydrogen peroxide, equal parts vinegar, and ¼ cups of salt in one separate spray bottle—mixing until fully dissolved. The recipe calls for a separate spray bottle of Hydrogen peroxide to use after the initial spray.

Safety First: Gloves and Glasses!

It is magical how fast the corrosion effect occurs in front of your eyes. I did an initial coat of the frame with the mixed solution, then gave most of the frame a proper salt crust. Like feeding the chooks, throw it on wildly for a natural-looking effect. While you marvel, spray sections with hydrogen peroxide to increase the reaction rate.

There’s a video on my Instagram of the process happening before your very eyes.

That Is It!

Wait for the frame to dry overnight, or use a heat gun if you have one. Dust off the residual salt, and you will have a very rusty-looking frame.

Once you’re happy with the amount of rust comes vinyl mask removal. More enjoyable than licking the spoon in a bowl of cake mix, revealing what’s underneath is always a mystery. I wasn’t sure if the solution would leech under the vinyl, but there was only one way to find out–and gave this critical and hugely satisfying task to my daughter. It looked awesome with sharp, defined edges, better than I’d hoped.

To stop further corrosion and make the bike practical to use, a clear coat finish is needed. I used two coats of Dulux Matt Clear from Hammerbarn. This gives the overall appearance a much deeper, richer color and won’t leave a residue of rust all over your trail pants.

See You On The Trails!

Build Spec:

FRAME – Surly ‘Trail Breaker’ (Krampus) – XL
FORK – Rock Shox YIKES (Recon)
HEADSET – Cane Creek headset
STEM – Thomson X4 stem 50mm
BAR – Stock
GRIPS – Stock
WHEELS – Stock (decals removed)
SADDLE – Brooks Cambium saddle
CASSETTE – ZTTO 8s cassette 11-50
CRANKS – SRAM GX crankset 32t
BRAKES – Shimano MT420 Brakes
TYRES – Stock
BIDON – Silca
PEDALS – Wolf Tooth Waveform Pedals