Thilo Schwedmann is a photographer, graphic designer, videographer and freelancing motion designer, he works mainly for television. Hailing from the crowded Ruhrgebiet area in Germany he doesn’t have any real mountains or hills to ride, but he does have a few wooded zones, a lot of great street spots and even a few “mountains” as results of the mining industry (which the area is known for).

I rode MTB and BMX as a child/teenager quite a lot then stopped when I got my first car. A few years ago I got back into BMX but recognized rather quickly that I’d grown out of that. So I sold my BMX and went for an MTB. But I couldn’t sever myself from the simplicity of a BMX completely back then, so I went the most BMX like MTB I could find; the Kona Unit.

I got more and more into MTB and decided my Unit should become more versatile, It should be able to ride streets, trail, and downhill because of those slag “mountains” I talked about before. They get extremely steep (I’ve been to Bike Park Winterberg a few times, it was nothing compared to this. Look for “Halde Haniel” on YouTube as an example for one of those hills), so I needed a higher front end.

The first thing I changed was gearing. Climbing up those steep slopes in a single gear just wasn’t gonna happen, so I went for a Shimano Deore XT 1×11 setup, with Racefece Chester Cranks, BB and Race-Face narrow-wide chainring, and Crank Brothers Stamp pedals (no clipless for me!). That helped me get up, but I still needed to get down.

I changed the fork to a RockShox Reba in 120mm (had to change the lower part of the headset to Cane Creek), also had to change the front hub and wheel to fit the fork, so I went for a DT Swiss combo there. I changed the Stem to an Azonic Beratta with 40mm length and 15mm rise, and put on RaceFace Atlas bars with 31mm rise with Ergon GD1 Grips.

The WTB Tires just didn’t work out for me, so I swapped them for Onza Canis Skinwall ones in 2.85. They are amazing. I changed the back wheel for a Hope 35w with a Hope Pro 4 Evo hub for better engagement. I got an Ergon seat with RaceFace seat post, and a Chromag quick release, to change position quickly.

So now, just like me, my bike is a Jack of all Trades, I can ride street and do a few tricks, cover some miles simply riding it with the girlfriend, hit trails in the woods and also blast downhill without going OTB.

I love the Unit for its steel frame. It’s got enough flex and looks super clean. The big tires do compensate a little bit for lack of rear suspension, without losing pedal strength for riding longer tours. Also, I’ve learned so much by customizing it since I did everything myself. I have never really worked on a bike before but I found a passion for it. It’s just like playing with legos as a child!