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.
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.
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.
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!