This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Christian in Göttingen, Germany, a teacher who uses his 2016 Kona Rove AL to get away on head-clearing overnighters and weekend trips around the beautiful Harz Mountains. Learn more about Christian and his bike here…

Words and photos by Christian Jelinek

Hello, my name is Christian, and bikes are an important part of my life. I commute every day with a flat-bar ATB with racks, a dynamo, lights, fenders, and everything you need for daily riding. That way, my family doesn’t need a car. It’s our contribution to the fight against climate catastrophe.

Kona Rove AL

But today, I would like to introduce the gravel bike that I use for tours. My tours usually start in my backyard in Göttingen, Germany. In the surrounding area are forests, mountains, castles, and small villages and towns. This is ideal terrain for a gravel bike.

I like to ride short tours with one or two overnight stays. In Germany, wild camping is prohibited. That’s why I usually don’t take a tent with me. But there are many shelters in the woods where overnight stays are tolerated. Many of these simple shelters are at beautiful vantage points. They are usual open on at least one side and usually have only two benches and a table inside. Mostly, I spend the night in these huts or just put my sleeping mat in a meadow. The search for nice places to spend the night is a highlight of my tours.

  • Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL

I mostly go alone or with a friend. As a teacher and father, I’m surrounded by many people all day, so I like to be on the road alone and make decisions alone. Often, I am on the road in the Harz Mountains. This is a steep, wild, low mountain range around 40 kilometers from my home town.

Photography plays a vital role in my touring. I usually have my mirrorless camera—a Nikon Z6—and a tripod with me. I transport both in a hip bag. For this, I use the Evoc Hip Pack Capture 7, which sits very securely even with heavy loads and is well ventilated.

Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL

In the next few years, I want to do a big bikepacking tour in the north of Scotland. I have been there many times and have trekked for several weeks. I know the wild side of the Highlands in all seasons. Now, it’s time to explore them by bike.

  • Frame/Fork 2016 Kona Rove AL
  • Rims Mavic Allroad
  • Hubs Mavic Allroad
  • Tires Schwalbe G-One Allround 40mm
  • Handlebars Ritchey Venturemax
  • Crankset FSA Tempo Supercompact 46/30 (granny gears!)
  • Pedals Shimano PD-M530
  • Cassette Shimano CS-HG200, 11-36, 9-speed
  • Derailleur Shimano Sora 2×9
  • Brakes Hayes CX Comp
  • Shifter(s) Shimano Sora
  • Saddle Kona Road
  • Seatpost Kona
  • Stem Kona 80mm
  • Front bags MYOG holster, Ortlieb drybag, MYOG front bag
  • Frame bags MYOG half frame bag
  • Rear bags Acepac Saddle Bag (a small Czech company)
  • Accessory bags Ortlieb Fork Pack, Blackburn TopTube Bag
  • Other accessories Garmin eTrex 20, a bell

My 2016 Kona Rove AL is called Isegrimm, the name of a wolf from medieval European fables. Isegrimm is clumsy in the fable, and so is my riding style. At the beginning of 2017, I bought it because it was one of the cheapest gravel bikes I could find. I also think aluminum is the ideal material for bicycle frames as it’s stronger than carbon and lighter than steel. Plus, I like the look of thick tubes more than slim steel tubes.

  • Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL

It was love at first sight when I first saw the Rove AL, and I wasn’t prepared to spend any more money at the time. In the years that followed, I optimized the bike for my tours: I converted it to 2×9 gearing, as here in the middle of Germany, there are sometimes steep climbs on bad trails. I also bought a much wider handlebar and new wheels.

At the moment, I have the Schwalbe G-One Allround tires mounted. I think they’re quite underrated, and they’re good for everything from asphalt to light trails. Soon, however, I’ll switch to the G-One Bite or Ultrabite. So far, I’m not running tubeless. When I mounted tubeless tires on a friend’s bike a few years ago, the tire exploded as we stood next to it. This destroyed the rim and derailleur and left a noise in my ears for a few days. But still, I want to mount my next tires tubeless.

Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL
  • Kona Rove AL

Lastly, it’s worth noting that when I started bikepacking in 2010, there were only a few bags available to buy. So, I ended up sewing most of my bags myself. I still have fun finding my own solutions and making bags to fit my exact needs.

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