Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Found parked outside the XtraCycle tent were two 36″ wheeled monsters from Keener Cycle Works.

UPDATE: At present, there’s no website, just their Facebook page, so we made contact to get the scoop. Just got in touch with Bryan Keener Smith and updated the post with comments and info about the bikes. He’s been making frames for a bit more than 30 years, since he was about 19 years old. The first 36er started about seven years ago but took a while to reach completion. His full time job is building telescope assemblies – he says he can’t build bikes fast enough (he’s too meticulous) to make it a livable venture.

The bike above featured a custom integrated Lefty fork, and the other, which you’ll see further down, had dual front disc brake rotors, Legos and more. Roll through…

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Once you get past the massive wheels, the next most obvious feature is the custom Lefty integration. The stem, crown and handlebar all form a single piece…likely as much to make it stiff enough as to just make it easier to get all the pieces where they need to be. Not much chance he’d find off the shelf stems and adapters for this thing!

The Lefty gets double the front suspension travel of the original (at bottom), which was all the reason he needed to upgrade the new model.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Stock controls are still in place, you’ll just need a really deep socket set to get to them. The shape of the bars is an homage to the hold bull moose bars from the early days of mountain biking.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

The front hub is hollow, and both front and rear are custom made. Keener says they’re essentially 185mm wide. That width was chosen after taking a cross section of a traditional 26″ wheel and extending the spokes along the same path and end up with the same bracing angle on a 36″ wheel.

The bottom bracket is 91mm wide, which was done by taking an 83mm DH crankset and remove the spacers. This let him add a bit more BB shell, which supports the wider chain line required to support the wider hubs. It’s offset slightly to the driveside to give it the appropriate chain line. All of these changes came about after spending time on the original hardtail shown below, which has been updated over time with various improvements to make it ride better.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Some very nicely embroidered butterfly fabric and velvety letters make for a sweet custom top tube cozy.

Because of the huge diameter wheels, the gear ratio needed to be easier. So, the driveside chainstay was beefed up to handle the additional torque. In the top photo, you’ll notice that much larger, rectangular stay.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

The other bike has been around for at least a year. It uses an ActionTec suspension fork system (ball bearings rather than needle bearings), and it gives it a lower overall stack height. Keener says it’s pretty supple and tunable, but admits he’s overloading it with the 36″ wheels. He says he can get a couple years out of it before it’s wrecked, but it’s still better than wishing you had suspension.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Singlespeed rear ends on both are accommodated by an eccentric bottom bracket.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Up front, dual discs help rein in the oversized wheels.

Keener 36 inch wheel mountain bikes with Lefty fork

Storage bag? Check. Cycling computer? Check. Lego mounts? Check.

The connection to XtraCycle is this: Keener’s been helping them develop their new Mega Rack, a variation of their bike-extending rack system, but that’s stiffer and will accommodate some fat bike tires. They showed it at Interbike, but it’s not available yet.

Why a 36er? Keener says that, as a guy who’s turning 50 soon, being able to ride farther and more without hands or “parts” going numb, that makes a difference. Want to see more? Search around on Photobucket using “Keener” and “36er” and you’ll find some other human powered vehicles he’s built.


  1. Ultraclyde – The thing zip tied to the rear wheel appears to be a custom stand for the bike. You can see the other end of it just under the BB.

  2. The welds at the headtube do look atrocious. The company also looks quite innovative, and if they are able to match better craftsmanship to their ideas, they could be on to something. As for applications, having never ridden a 36er (or even a 29er for any real amount of time), I can’t what they might be, but I’m sure people will find at least one. Sometimes the tool comes about before the job. We could find that application maybe a bit faster with a good review!
    PS How about mating a Righty to a Lefty to make a proper inverted needle-bearing upside down fork with dual rotors, 203mm of course?

  3. ..if 29s aren’t awkward enough for you, try navigating this behemoth around some uphill switchbacks. Those wheels would taco in the 1st day here in western NC. Really, what’s the point?

  4. CHALLENGE-make a 36er fat tire cyclocross gravel grinder w/ a lefty (1X11 of course)…so niche some one will buy it, not me but some one

  5. @Brantley – You’d have a hell of a time taco’ing one of those wheels. They are seriously overbuilt as they’re meant for unicyclists. I’m 245+ and have a 1k+ miles on mine without even truing with plenty of hard racing and crashes (in central NC). Keener puts 5k on his 36er each year, has more miles than any of us, and no issues aside from replacing tires.

    @PK – Don’t need (or want) fat tires with 36er 😉 Otherwise mine fits your bill except it is currently in SS mode (going to 1×14 soon). Talk about niche…

    As for switchbacks, it’ll turn about as well any DH rig or long wheelbase bike. I can turn mine with 48″ wheelbase almost as well as my 29er. It’s pretty surprising but works well. Lots of twisty east coast singletrack in my area and it’s not the fastest, but one of the funnest bikes to ride despite the weight and geometry.

  6. The only problem with this bike is that it is not parked in my garage. I LOVE it!
    We do a lot more rolling over gnarly rocks and corrugated dirt roads than doing tight switchbacks. So it needs to be tidied up a bit etc. , but I love the innovation and creativity.

  7. Funny and awkward looking. According to the article he doesn’t seem to be a commercial builder so stop hating on the man. Looks like he had a lot of fun building those bikes.
    Seems to me like he is more interested in trying to find creative solutions to problems than making the best looking bikes. Nice to see people think outside of the box.

  8. Why not run a bigger rotor and more powerful caliper, than the complexity of dual mechanical brakes?

    Apart from that, I love anything that’s different, and anyone who thinks “what if?” and acts on it.

  9. @JohnnyChops , correct it is a actiontec suspension cartridge that was added later as the true gen 1 was fully ridged.

    @K11 don’t bash it till you tried it but we’re all secretly wishing it rode with no hands, needs a counter weight or just booking along fast.

    @Brantly, you really need to ride one of these. It’ll be like Kermit and Ms. Piggie running across the field of daisies for you.

    @PK look up the sandbox race in Tucson, AZ. Fat, yet again isn’t as good as tall.

    @MB you’re awesome keep it up!

    @PaulM the butterfly bike is fitted with a custom 210 rotor but the two 203’s make the actiontec cry

    Thanks everyone for the good juju and to everyone who’s looking at perfection over innovation I give a big 😛

    I’m just the son of the builder, Bryan Keener has built a number of vehicles that can withstand much abuse without flinching, don’t worry about this 36″ER breaking just worry if you’re going to beable to contain your smile while you’re on one.

  10. Yeah, the welds aren’t perfect. I’ll tell you a story about those welds. A month ago, my Loud Bike (XtraCycle with 300w sound system) had a failure in the FreeRadical frame. Bryan heard about this, and offered for me to come over that weekend so he could fix it. He spent two hours building a pair of trusses to improve the frame so that it would carry the extra weight without breaking ever again. Yes, he cut the truss pieces by eyeball with a hacksaw and the welds weren’t as consistent as production building, but I could tell that they were excellent welds and the end result works perfectly. And he did this work out of the goodness of his heart.

    Focus on the good, and everyone’s life will be better.

  11. I wish we could automatically reply to non-constructive comments with that link that I sent to Bryan Keener (who helped us tremendously while designing the DirtySixer):
    …let’s put it that way: very few people here would say 1/10th of what they write in real life or in front of me (6’6″) or my riding partners who average 6’9″, when on my 36er.
    David DirtySixer

  12. I would like to add that all of you negative commenters out there, build your own bike from scratch. Ride the shit out of it in all conditions and see how it holds up. Because no one really care for your Debby Downer attitude. And I would wager that Keener spends way more time pedaling then you do. Bike are all toys, I like all kinds of toys. Maybe you should play more?

  13. Hey guys. Cut out the negative stuff.
    It’s good to see people thinking outside the square and trying things.
    Well done Keener. I like innovation.
    Ha we’d never have gone to the moon without it, or have electrical power

  14. Keener is a thinker and a doer. He has designed so many things, plus he’s an artist. I’ve ridden many miles with him and I can tell you that 36’r is well designed, well thought out and well constructed and is tougher than a $2 steak. He’s a good person who will do anything for anyone. Some of the comments remind me of my wife who watches football like a hawk, she critiques every play and every decision. She is an admitted expert. However… She’s never played the game, never wore a helmet or shoulder pads, never been hit at full speed by a 300 pound tackle. But… She knows well what should have been done.

What do you think?