Kelly Noltensmeier’s Klein Adept features a custom rear triangle, modern components, and yes, 29-inch wheels.
By Adam Newman
When Kelly Noltensmeier decided to take on longer, more endurance-oriented rides and races, his all-mountain bike just wouldn’t do. After borrowing a friend’s 29er he knew the big wheels were the ticket, but rather than purchase a new bike, he eyed his Klein Adept and thought… “why not?”
Noltensmeier had a head start on the project: after all, he was a welder at the Klein factory in Chehalis, Washington, and is still committed to their quality. A friend supplied several broken Adept rear triangles to salvage parts from and after heat-treating some of the first batches of parts in his wife’s oven he was told to get his own oven in the shop, so he did. The latest version has modern pivot bearings and an extra pivot near the rear axle. It smoothes out the ride a little but the jury is still out on pedaling efficiency, he says.
What is likely the only 29er Adept in the world is getting a lot of attention on the trails of western Washington, which is still Klein country, Noltensmeier says.
Working at Klein was a great experience, Noltensmeier says, and the employees were like a large family that he still keeps in touch with today. He recounts his first day on the job when lunch rolled around and the foreman announced that since they made their production goals, Gary Klein had hired caterers for lunch. “Sure enough, there was a sit-down dinner being served on the production floor,” Noltensmeier said.
Fridays were the best days, because that’s when the work pivoted to product testing. “We could take the new bikes out and try to break them. We would grab a demo take them to Capitol Forest and ride the hell out of them,” he recalls. One bike didn’t survive. A guy nicknamed Junior—all 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds of him—grabbed one 22-inch XL Attitude and taco’d the wheels, bent the top tube and generally messed it up. They all had a good laugh until they got back to the office and Gary Klein was asking where his new XL bike was.
Noltensmeier says his modified Adept rides great. It gets some strange looks on the trails of western Washington, which is still Klein country, and word is getting around, too. He took it on a 50-mile endurance ride and knocked an hour off his time from the previous year.
“This is the bike they will bury me with,” he said.