NAHBS 2014: Appleman’s Rock Solid 29er Mountain Bike & More

Appleman 29er mountain bike custom carbon fiber bicycle nabs 2014

Appleman gave us a teaser in our Road to NAHBS preview, but his custom 29er still had a few surprises. For starters, it was sitting atop the prototype ENVE carbon rigid fork.

The frame itself was made for a 250lb, 6’4″ guy, so it comes in around three pounds and is the strongest tube set builder Matt Appleman offers. He uses a custom tube maker in Minnesota, which lets him get a specific diameter, wall thicknesse, layer count and layup for each bike and it’s rider.

But the tube set wasn’t the only thing making this bike tough…

Appleman 29er mountain bike custom carbon fiber bicycle nabs 2014

Black Kevlar was added on the surface of the chainstays and bottom of downtube to protect against impacts.

Appleman 29er mountain bike custom carbon fiber bicycle nabs 2014

Certainly a much more elegant solution than wrapping an innertube around it.

Appleman 29er mountain bike custom carbon fiber bicycle nabs 2014

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The non-drive side thru axle section used a full carbon dropout with the reinforcement shaped like an apple.

Appleman 29er mountain bike custom carbon fiber bicycle nabs 2014

The logos on this one were titanium.

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This frame was around $4,500, which is about average for his frames and includes your choice of carbon, ti, stainless steel or wood logos.

He also had his usual assortment of road and cyclocross bikes on hand, the latter being his most popular build. This one was for a state champion rider that had been punishing it for a full season and it still looked good as new.

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The customer designed the graphics for his CX bike. Yet another of the many benefits of a full custom build.

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The road bike had stainless steel logos with the face slotted cut to resemble the grill of a classic car the customer liked.

ApplemanBicycles.com

Comments

WL - 03/16/14 - 11:19pm

The coolest thing about the road bike is that the customer saw it, by his own request, for the first time at the show.

Russell Barnier - 03/17/14 - 1:41am

WOW… Black kevlar on the chainstays and bottom of the downtube – this will be the next industry standard. What a great idea. And the handlebar looks great. Oh, and the ENVE rigid carbon fork look pretty good too! I’ve suddenly turned green – yep, you guessed it… green with envy! (SO original!)

Bob - 03/17/14 - 4:43am

The coolest thing about all the above bikes is the time and effort Mr. Appleman invests in determining what his customers want from their bike. Industry leading customer service.

Bob - 03/17/14 - 6:09am

The coolest thing about all the above bikes stems from the attention to detail (the builder listens to what the customer wants from their bike) and industry leading customer service.

Eat Ride Grow - 03/17/14 - 9:22am

“wall thicknesse”

That French for wall thickness?

aaron - 03/17/14 - 11:42am

“customer designed the graphics for his CX bike.” – this is where builders need to take control. that huge “custom CX” graphic on the top tube is hideous. why even have it there, main stream companies have things like this. it’s like trucks that have a huge 4×4 sticker on the side.

Applemans improving level of refinement is getting my attention. (not the blk kevlar execution)

GrouchyPants - 03/17/14 - 12:13pm

“Certainly a much more elegant solution than wrapping an innertube around it.”
Barely..

Kark - 03/17/14 - 12:30pm

The kevlar on the downtube in the first pic looks poorly done. It appears that the edges aren’t even straight and looks like a bandage or a drunken afterthought. (to a lesser degree also the chainstay)

as the creator of many drunken afterthoughts I can offer that critique as an expert opinion.
I use the term ‘critique’ because ‘hater’ is so last week.
..also, I used the term expert because it lends a (false) sense of authority.

It’s a shame about the kevlar detail because the rest of the bike looks pretty fantastic with the murdered out stealth thing.

kurti_sc - 03/17/14 - 1:08pm

The kevlar applications, I think, provide great functionality. That’s more important than just looking perfect. But, I also understand that perfection, whether it’s cutting edge new stuff or not, is what these builds are judged by.
Thinking about the materials – black matte, black gloss surfaces – it’s going to be tough to impossible to get the kevlar app down to a perfected appearance – on a round tube, no less.
In other words, I’d say it’s a far cry from a drunken afterthought. The customer should be pretty pleased and well served by that littel bit of innovation.

ploor - 03/17/14 - 3:19pm

1st time i saw these frames at nahbs the fit and finish was crude – seems WAY better now – to teh point where its pretty sexy
but he needs to abandon weird detailing – liek apple shape drop outs reinforcement – and needs to higher a graphic designer – that apple logo on headtube is terrible, poprly scaled

and that kevlar CS protector – great idea – but there is no way high customers will accept
this kind of crude finish

Unravelled - 03/17/14 - 4:14pm

Wow.. That Kevlar is disappointing… What’s the blue filler as well? For a $4,500 I would not be a pleased customer…

Juan Mandigo - 03/17/14 - 9:05pm

Perhaps, kevlar is extremely difficult to handle, cut, and place…
Perhaps, kevlar can not be sanded or modified after the cure w/o ruining the finish…
Perhaps the blue filler is a plug for the front derailleur cable routing (no FD)…
But then again… what do I know… I’m just an armchair engineer.

Bob - 03/18/14 - 3:08am

This is my bike and I could not be happier with the finish. It mirrors my first MTB built by Matt.

I suspect the blue filler is just some glue used as a moisture guard. I used a dab of clear silicon on the first MTB Matt built for me in the same place- easy to remove if and when I use a front mech. Certainly not something I’d worry about.

The Kevlar is a functional addition. It happens to work very well. I’ve written off a couple of Carbon frames in the past when the stays have grazed rocks etc so this is an attempt to limit the likelihood of this happening again. I have a somewhat utilitarian attitude towards my MTB frames because my bikes get used off road so they seldom look like they have just left a showroom. More often than not the finish cannot be seen either because it is caked in mud (winter) or covered in dust (summer) so what I need is a hard wearing finish that I’m not too precious about as it is likely to be tarnished over time. Hence, Ti logos on a nude carbon finish with kevlar chainstay/downtube protection that just requires a rinse. The Australian summer is hard on frame finishes too given we have consistent stretches of 40+ degree C days and the nude finish just requires a wipe with some 303 protectant – simple, easy and hassle free.

The bikes ride like nothing I’ve owned before – they are simply excellent. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Matt builds bikes as per his customers requests- this is the essence of a custom bike. To censor a bikes look or to take a Henry Ford approach because someone else might not like the look of the bike or because it is not consistent with a builders ‘image’ would be counter intuitive.

Chris - 03/18/14 - 1:38pm

Hm. Sounds like Bob is a happy customer. I would be too. This thing is beautiful.

To an even lesser surprise, there were plenty of armchair engineers, frame builders and designers bashing this that and the next thing. I love the subtle “imperfections” of this frame. To me, it makes it perfect. I’m not an OCD A type who needs my reinforced Kevlar to perfectly blend with the cosmetic carbon that’s hiding the beautiful raw lay ups underneath, and to have perfectly proportioned head badges. Remember folks, these are handmade bikes, and should be viewed as such. No one is perfect. If you think you are, go get your pinerello and prance around on your perfection all day. I’ll gladly drop you on an Appleman.

Mr. Appleman, beautiful work. I’d love to have one of your machines to call my own.

K11 - 03/19/14 - 10:24am

@chris. i have a bit of ocd, but why have extra graphics (like the “custom cx”) or poorly sized and placed graphics? on a custom bike? less is more. like i said in my comment, his level of refinement looks well done. the frame design and craftsmanship.

Here is my point- why have poorly done graphic design elements detract from the nicely made frame? its would be like taking a nice automobile, whatever brand, and putting a huge die cut sticker of the brands logo on the rear window. nice car just ruined.

Brandon - 03/20/14 - 2:59pm

I love Appleman’s work after having met him at the Austin NAHBS show. Something about how his work is natural looking and does lack the production look is what makes it stand out. I enjoy seeing the handmade look that most custom builders lack. I am looking to have him build a bike for my foundation in the near future. Keep up the progression Matt and good work!

Brandon Ewers
6040foundation.org

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