Road to NAHBS 2014: Nate Zukas’ First Show

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We first spotted Nate Zukas’ steel bikes at the first SE Bike Expo. Hailing from Augusta, GA, Zukas’ bikes are best explored with a careful eye. They’re good looking from afar, but details abound that reward a closer look. Fortunately, he’ll be setting up for his first ever NAHBS this March. Here’s a little taste of what to expect…

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

ZUKAS: Cro-Moly steel

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

ZUKAS: This is my first year at NAHBS! But what’s new for me is full fillet brazed frames and custom steel forks.

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BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?

ZUKAS: Oh yeah! They are all killer! But some of the stand-outs are a disc cyclocross bike, Gulf racing inspired paint job on a road frame build, flat bar road frame, and a disc/fender super commuter cross frame.

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BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?

ZUKAS: I start with my 20+ years as a bicycle mechanic. This continuing experience shows me what works and what’s not a good idea. From this I can incorporate the latest trends into my design. I always take the customer’s riding style and body proportions into account as well. I won’t build a frame with 3/8″ seatstays for a guy who is 6 ft and weighs 210lbs who’s considering a cyclocross frame! Like many other builders I’m inspired by others designs and will use this to influence my ideas. I never want to totally copy someone’s idea but I will draw inspiration from it. I have come up with some of my own ideas that I hope may inspire other builders to use which I would not mind, kind of like giving back to the frame-building community. I will say fortunately no one has asked me to build an exact replica of another builder’s design, but most ask me to build a frame they have seen from my previous work. This makes me happy to know that I have my own style and look, and I feel good about it seeing my name on it.

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BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?

ZUKAS: Having a new builder table you are allowed one bike. What I have decided to bring is a my personal fixed gear road bike. I think it shows what I have become known for and my uniqueness, such as the integrated seat mast, 3/8″ diameter s-bend seat stays with single bend chain stays, and Z bottom bracket cut out with a mesh guard. It will have fillet brazing, lug work, custom made fork with a disc brake and internal brake cable routing that runs through the fork, stem and handle bar. Also it will showcase my paint work and aluminum polishing. Hopefully I can say it all with one bike!

BIKERUMOR: Scenario: NAHBS introduces a new category called Mashups, pairing two completely different builders to make one bike. Who’s the yin to your yang, and what kind of bike do you think you’d build?

ZUKAS: I would like to be paired with Retrotec. The classic swooping lines of the top tube and seat stays would flow nicely with my s-bend stays. I think my style seat mast would add a modern touch combined with his classic twin top tubes. Of course internal cable routing would be included. With his paint I think it would be a fantastic looking road bike!

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ZukasCycles.com

Comments

Batson - 01/28/14 - 11:55am

We asked Nate to build my wife a road bike a little while back. We were very happy with the build process, discussions with Nate, and most of all the finished product. Looking forward to the opportunity to work with Nate again.

Kyle - 01/28/14 - 12:00pm

I’ve been seeing Nate’s bikes at the Georgia Cross Series races for years. Every one is amazing. What isn’t really mentioned above is that all of the paint is done in-house too. The only problem with Nate going to Interbike is that I’m going to have to wait behind all the other people wanting frames when I finally save up the money for one of my own.

kyle - 01/28/14 - 12:03pm

that mesh in the bottom bracket seems like a bad idea.

taylor - 01/28/14 - 12:44pm

that mesh in the bottom bracket seems like just the thing for a bike heading to NAHBS

Natedog - 01/28/14 - 12:56pm

that mesh in the bottom bracket seems like a perfectly good kitchen tool was sacrificed

Slow Joe Crow - 01/28/14 - 1:21pm

The Z cutout in the BB shell is just a really a elaborate version of the factory drain hole found on many CX frames. The idea is that stuff that leaks in through the seatpost clamp area or down the chain stays runs out the hole in the bottom of the BB shell. At the same time, very little stuff splashes up into the BB shell through the drain, an dif it does it runs out the way it came. Anecdotally, after a season of CX with a few muddy races, I pulled a tablespoon of mud out my bike’s BB shell without a drain and saw no mud in my kid’s bike which had a large drain hole.

Yoseph bobosif - 01/28/14 - 3:53pm

Nice looking frames! He’s got the right attitude, loving what he’s doing. Cannot fail…

1Pro - 01/28/14 - 4:52pm

keep up the good work Nate! don’t let the no-talants cause pause.

fwiw, the fact that Nate cuts that Z prior to brazing yet manages to not have that shell curl up like a chip under the torch is a testament to his heat control/skill. the mesh is a nice touch.

Ol' Shel' - 01/28/14 - 5:17pm

I was all excited and optimistic when I first became a professional framebuilder.

It passes.

Just kidding, sorta. Good luck, Nate!

mdog - 01/28/14 - 6:39pm

Hate to be a hater, but those fillets on the stays are pretty heinous (uneven). And unless its the light in the photo, the finishing on those same fillets isn’t great either (undercut). And if the shell “curl[ed] up like a chip under the torch” you’d have some pretty extraordinarily bad brazing skills.

dimples - 01/28/14 - 8:15pm

Yo’ mdog, post up your site with pics of unpainted fillets you’ve done please. You sound so smart that I just have to see your work.

Wiffle - 01/28/14 - 8:45pm

For some quality fillet work (and beautiful hand-cut lugs too) check out one of our Australian builders- Tarn from Primate Frames https://www.facebook.com/PrimateFrames/photos_stream
As good as you’re ever likely to see! :-)

What? - 01/29/14 - 7:01am

mdog – jealous much?

Ol' Shel' - 01/29/14 - 4:54pm

Mdog is correct. A proper fillet should have a regular shoreline. And deviation shows too much or too little filler.

It’s sad that people attack legit criticism because they like the person being criticized.

The builder needs legit criticism so that he/she can improve and maintain the quality of their work.

Jake Wagner - 01/29/14 - 10:45pm

i personally know nate and have been working on my framevwith him and seen most of his frames. i find that he is the most meticulous and precise builder ive seen. good enough is not in his vocabulary but perfect is. his paint work speaks for its self. proud to own one.

1Pro - 02/03/14 - 10:53am

still loving it

Bobby Hartridge - 02/03/14 - 12:24pm

Down here in the dirty south we like to mind our manners and keep our mouths shut when we dont have something nice to say. What part about “New Builder” did you not pick up on. I think you picked the wrong place to criticize someones great efforts. Im sure he’s well aware of the bikes imperfections but just has the strong character to know his bikes are constantly improving because of hard work… not surfing the internet and picking fights. I got your back Nate!

Nate Zukas - 02/08/14 - 1:19am

They say you should not respond to negative criticism with more negativity. So here ya go MDOG, hopefully you won’t find them so “uneven”. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nate-zukas/12378290304/ This is the same work(note ser.#) on my personal bike. I will admit it wasn’t perfect but I was itchin to ride the frame so a quick clean up and some clearcoat and off I went. Now that this will be shown at NAHBS this is after a proper cleanup. Nice and even and no undercutting. To bad its going to be painted! Hope to see you at the show and thanks to everyone else for your support.
NATE

Stewie - 02/08/14 - 6:13am

Phenomenal bikes from an awesome guy – keep up the work Nate.

bearcreekbikes - 03/20/14 - 11:53am

Still riding and LOVING “Fastback” that Nate built for me 2 years ago…the bike has thousands of miles on it and still performs flawlessly….I am as in love with the bike now or more so than the day I got it….. Awesome guy and great bikes and attention to detail… Keep up the good work Nate!!

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