Kenneth and Marie’s Ari Cycles 29+ travel bikes

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In our latest Rider and Rig, we admire Danish couple Kenneth and Marie’s beautifully crafted 29+ steel hardtails, made by framebuilder Ari Rosenzweig in Israel, for their dirt road journey across the Americas.

Hailing from Denmark, Kenneth Bruun and Marie Stoubaek set out to ride the length of the Americas earlier this year, beginning in Ushuaia, Southern Patagonia, on January 15th 2017. Both gave up their jobs for the freedom of the open road; back in Copenhagen, Kenneth was a studio director and Marie a media consultant.

Their plan? To weave in as many dirt roads as they can within their 21-month time schedule, including some of the routes on this site, like Chile’s Monkey Puzzle Trail, Peru’s Ausangate, the Peru Divide, the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route, as well as various home-brewed routes they’ve been concocting along the way. Heading north, the likes of the Baja Divide and the Great Divide are on the agenda, as well as anything else they can slot into their time schedule and the changing seasons. Their ultimate goal is to arrive in Alaska by September 2018… but as with many long distance odysseys, this date is subject to change, depending on what twists and turns that lie ahead… and the money they have left in their pockets.

After catching up with them in Cotopaxi National Park, on the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route, Kenneth and Marie shared their thoughts on the allure of travelling by bike. “The reason why we like to ride on dirt roads is because they take you close to nature. I love the way traveling by bike allows me to both see things change, and feel those changes. And its simplicity; the way you crawl into your tent at 6pm as the sun goes down in Peru because it’s too cold and dark to do anything else, or in Patagonia, where you can reach your water bottle out into a stream and fill it. Compared to our home life in Copenhagen where we had a whole house worth’s of stuff, I like the simplicity of just carrying what we need… and always wondering what we can leave behind! Ultimately, we are drawn to working with nature’s behaviour rather than trying to change it, as we often do in cities. We both love to mountain bike, so the only real option for us was to choose mid-fat bikes, so we could get off the beaten track when we’re touring, and also drop our gear and ride singletrack along the way,” says Marie.

“It may be a cliche,” adds Kenneth, “but we hope this journey will be both life-changing and a reminder to live closer to our environment.” Any previous bike touring experience? “Prior to this, I rode a cargo bike from St Peterburg, Russia to Odesa, Ukraine – the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. And in 2015, we bikepacked in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan for five weeks. That was the journey that really made us aware what a wonderful way to travel cycling is, and what a great means it offers to meet people in a positive way. Specifically, during our self planned bikepacking route across the lesser Caucuasus in Armenia, we had the most beautiful and remote riding, as well as meeting some really interesting locals (and dogs!) along our route. It was the starting point for knowing we would eventually do something bigger, on a longer scale. ”

Given that bikepacking gear can be hard to procure in Denmark, the couple designed much of their own bags and had them made locally. Several months into their trip, Kenneth is still fine-tuning their setups; his current obsession is the modification of their micropanniers to make them more stable when riding technical singletrack.

Similarly, the rack was designed by Kenneth and custom made for the trip, shaped to offer an especially wide upper platform for the backpacks they carry with them, used on the various hikes they have planned along the way. As the couple head north towards the warmer climes of Central America, they plan to jettison cold weather gear, lighten up their rigs, and ride more singletrack. Both steeds were made by Ari Rosenzweig in Israel, and were sold through his brother Ben Rosenzweig’s bicycle business, Ben Ben, in Copenhagen. The couple’s been really happy with their bikes, saying they’re “playful, steady, and strong, inspiring us to ride, taking us to the places we wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.”

And why did they choose to go custom? “I love beautiful design. Especially bikes. Whenever someone has taken the time to design and build something by hand, that’s as beautiful as it is reliable – and in this case, fun to ride – it warms my heart. In the same way that people dress and want to be seen, I ride the bike that I love, and identify myself with,” says Kenneth. “We bought the bikes in Ben’s shop in Copenhagen, and the two brothers offer a very beautiful and artistic collaboration. Every bike that comes out of the shop is unique. And so are the smiles that go with them.”

KENNETH’s BIKE BUILD

  • Frame: Ari chromoly hardtail
  • Fork: Ari segmented fork
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Handlebar: Funn
  • Stem: Ranger 40mm
  • Seatpost: Thomson
  • Saddle: Crappy cheap one from Ecuador
  • Grips: Longneck
  • Crank Arm Set: Sram
  • Bottom Bracket: Sram GXP 100
  • Pedals: DMR
  • Chainring: One Up Oval 26T
  • Chain: Sram PCX1
  • Cassette: Sram 11 speed 10-42T
  • Shifter: Sram GX
  • Rear Derailleur: Sram GX
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Brake Levers: Shimano XT
  • Rear Wheel: Surly Rabbit hole, Hope 170mm QR Fatsno
  • Front Wheel: Surly Rabbit hole, Hope 135mm QR Fatsno
  • Tires: Maxxis Chronicle

MARIE’S BIKE BUILD

  • Frame: Ari hardtail
  • Fork: Segmented steel fork
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Handlebar: Funn
  • Stem: Ranger 40mm
  • Seatpost: Zipp
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium with cutaway
  • Grips: Longneck
  • Crank Arm Set: Sram
  • Bottom Bracket: Sram GXP 100mm
  • Pedals: DMR
  • Chainring: Sram 26T
  • Chain: Sram
  • Cassette: Sram GX 10-42T
  • Shifter: Sram GX
  • Rear Derailleur: Sram GX
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Brake Levers: Shimano Zee
  • Rear Wheel: Surly Rabbit hole, Hope 170mm QR Fatsno
  • Front Wheel: Surly Rabbit hole, Hope 170mm QR Fatsno
  • Tires: Bontranger Chucacabra and Surly Knard

ARI CYCLES

Ari Cycles is a three-man framebuilding team working with both titanium and chromoly. Based in Israel, it’s headed by Ari Rosenzweig. We asked Ari to talk us through the thinking process behind the creation of these two beautiful bikes.

“Marie’s bike was actually built for me. It was my first fatbike build back in 2013. I’d wanted to make myself a fatbike for a long time, but since we don’t see a lot of snow in Israel, it was not too urgent – though I was curious to test it in dry conditions. Then I saw the news of Surly’s Krampus 29+, which seemed like a bike that would be very well suited for the hot and dry climate. I decided that I would make a bike that could do it it all. We all have this dream about the one bike that can do it all… So here was the shortlist: 26” x 4 or 29” x 3, short chainstays for a lively ride, and bonus option for single speed. The perfect solution was to use our in-house-made eccentric bottom bracket. This way I could adjust the bb height when swopping between the large diameter 29+ tires and the smaller and fatter 26” tires. The bike was also the first bike that I painted myself. I actually went for a week to New York to Carl Schlemowitz, aka Vicious Cycles, with the freshly welded frame in my suitcase to paint under his guidance. Carl deserves much more recognition as one of the pioneers and innovators of custom-made mountain bikes – I think that he was one of the first builders to make a fatbike… Anyway, the bike came out beautiful.

Kenneth’s frameset was made about two years after Marie’s. I met Kenneth and Marie in Copenhagen and I heard about some of their future biking plans. At that time I didn’t know a lot of details about the new developments with touring off-road. Actually, my entrance to mountain biking was touring off road in south of Sweden (way before I build bicycles) back in 91-92 and later in New Zealand. Then it was all about skinny 26” tires and steel panniers and backpacks. So when I started to hear the word “bikepacking” and seeing pictures of bags inside the frame and bags tied on to the handlebar and seat I was a bit like, huh? But slowly it came back to me and made so much sense. With Kenneth’s bike I had gained some more skills and tooling and was able to curve the seat tube so that it would follow the huge tire with sufficient clearance. I’m a huge fan of shortish chainstays for the fun handling of the bike. ‘Shortish’ is relative – back in the days of 26” x 2.0”, 425mm was the norm. When 29ers started to become the new black, they all had 450mm chainstays and steeeeep head angles. That means that the rider was pushed quite far forward relative to the two wheels. It took a lot of effort to get the rider back in between because there was not a lot of room to fit in the big tires, and slackening the head angle would change all the rules we had learned regarding trail figures for an ‘xc’ bike. It was the same thing was with early fatbikes. Now, one can discuss whether short stays have any advantage on a fully loaded bike. I personally like a bike that can handle well in technical single tracks, and at the same time benefit from the big tires, whether they are fat or plus, which compensates for the tight rear end and give a lot of comfort on those long day rides loaded with gear. Both Marie and Kenneth’s bikes are a fine balance of an agile fun all-round/xc ride and trucklike, big-tired adventure ride.

One thing that I have discussed with Kenneth is the lack of bottle mounts. Even though they found a lot of great solutions and work-arounds I would definitely add them to any new touring bike. I recently went on a bike trip to Kyrgyzstan (heavily inspired by the article on this site) and here I had the opportunity to build myself a dedicated bike and drill a lot of holes in the frame and fork to fit as many bottle mounts and anything cages – so I have learned my lesson regarding packing!”

For more info on Kenneth and Marie’s journey, check out their blog (if you speak Danish!) or follow along on their Instagram feed, which is in English. The images below are drawn from their trip so far. Thanks to Kenneth and Marie for sharing them.

Kenneth Marie Rider Rig

  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
  • Kenneth Marie Rider Rig
16 Comments
  • kamaz

    Very interesting bikes! I love to see some unique designs and solutions.
    Strange to see such a wide bb (tumbleweed fits same size tires with 73mm), bottle mounts missing and rear brake caliper placed not between chain and seat stays (now it should conflict with stock rack) but well, that was 2013-2015 so I guess that was norm for that time. No criticism, just a bit of retrospective thinking.

  • For both bikes it would be hard to make such short stays with fat or + tires without having to use a yoke or heavy manipulation of the stays, that is why I chose a 100mm bb for both (the green bike also takes 26X4.0). But at the same time I think that the added q-factor actually benefits the stability or balance of the bike, specially when it is loaded. I know that there are many q-factor warriors out there but from my own experience It has never really bothered me or I have never felt that it was less efficient riding with the wider pedals. In a UCI race-shaved-legs setup it is maybe less ideal with the wider cranks….:-)
    Regarding the racks: the bikes were not made for racks, so the placement of the calibers didn’t matter. It was a later choice of Kenneth and Marie to add the racks. I actually really like their setup – it makes a lot of sense for their trip, sharing the weight between the front and the rear, and having a normal backpack that they can take for hikes without the bike.

  • Nice post Cass.
    Good luck Kenneth and Marie on your journey north. Give those bikes some nice back roads to munch on!
    It was nice to meet you…

  • Grant

    Amazing post! – where is the road with all the hairpin bends (under the B-Rad advert)?

  • Tim Jessop

    I like the rear panniers.. Are they custom made??

  • Yes, they designed and made them…

  • I believe that’s on the Peru Divide route…

  • Yeah, I’ve thought about that… not enough hours in the day. I’ll look into it though.

  • Ben C

    Is the rear rack custom made? Not seen one like it before. It looks light but long and fat, nice! Is that a Salsa connector to the seatpost for it?

  • Kenneth and Marie

    Hi Michael
    Thank you so much for the time we spent together. You are forever in our hearts. And hope to see you again some time.
    The bikes are munching away already :)

  • Kenneth

    I totally agree with Ari here.
    The short chainstays are very important to me. And beautifully solution, compared to what the bigger companies does.
    A bait the wider platform, I agree as well. I feel much more contact with the bike this way. Like in skiing or any other sport, you want your feet a little apart, for better balance.
    I heard some people theorizing about sore knees, but I haven’t felt it so far ( 10.000km through South America and a whole lot of mountainbiking before that ).
    Best
    Kenneth

  • Kenneth

    Hi Ben
    Yup. The racks are custom. I couldn’t find the racks I wanted. Even tried to contact some of the makers…
    Anyways. It is fairly light. Steel. Fit to 29+. And as we don’t have any eyelets on the bikes, we made it sit on the QR axle. Works perfect.
    And yes – it’s a salsa connector.
    And as you say, it is really wide, because we wanted to be able throw the daypack on there. Having a daypack, we can bring loads on the rack, if we take the pack on the back. We can ride techy steep descents. And we can go trekking for 4-5 days.
    Kenneth

  • Kenneth

    Actually it’s the Cordillera Blancas. But close to Peru divide :)
    We did a small loop from Huaraz, crossing the Cordilleras twice.
    This is taken from the pass, before going down the most rocky 4×4 descent in the world. Even with 29+ I was scared to tear the whole bike apart :)
    Kenneth

  • tony

    Great stuff! Interested to know the brand name of the aero bar you use, I am looking for something similar.
    Cheers and happy travels.
    Tony

  • Kenneth

    Hi Tony
    It’s a standard Profile Designs, with a 40mm raiser for a little more comfort.
    I put my old grips on there for comfort. Despite the weight penalty :)

  • Tom

    I made these stainless racks with Kenneth over 2 days, a little in a hurry, no jig, hand bent, tacked with a TIG welder directly on the frame and then silver brazed. I’m happy to see that they are taking the abuse :-) Good trip and see you when you come home (if you don’t decide to stay). Ciao. Tom @ http://www.otmbikes.com