Posts in the category Interviews

Factory Tour: Aerospace Composite Engineer Matt Appleman’s Carbon Fiber Workshop

Appleman-Logo

Custom frame builder Matt Appleman has a degree in composites engineering. Although the bike industry uses a lot of composite materials, an actual composite engineer is usually a resource only the largest of companies has available. We have seen Matt’s final products at NAHBS 2014, and his attention to detail is obvious.

Matt spent years after college working in California on larger scale wind turbine blades, and on composite raw materials for large corporations. Growing tired of that, he moved back home to Minnesota to start his own bike company.

Building bikes full time for more than four years now, Appleman takes a much more scientific approach than most custom frame builders. We visited and got to take a look at his South Minneapolis shop, find out what makes his frames different after the jump…

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Peacock Groove’s Erik Noren is The Cycling Industry’s Misunderstood Artist

Peacock-Groove-HeadtubeErik Noren is a creative genius.  Spend 15 minutes with him, and you will see and hear the ideas of what bicycle artistry can be. Making just 30 bicycles per year, he pours his heart and soul into each one, toiling away in his shop, metal as his canvas, investing so much time and care into each one that he rarely makes a profit.

True to his craft, Erik doesn’t concern much for money with his bikes, as long as he is allowed to express his vision in the end. Stories from almost 20 years as a framebuilder, he talks about the only people who have really recognized him directly for what he was trying to say with each frame are other framebuilders.  An artist who can only be understood by another artist, he then goes into his ideas for this year’s NAHBS show…

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Interview: Fatback Cycles’ Greg Matyas and Jason Hill Talk About The New Alaskan Adventure

Fatback Shop Wall

Fatback Cycles lays claim to making the first production, symmetrical fat bike.  While this may be a small niche within a niche, it launched what would become the modern fat bike, and the 170mm width is the generally accepted standard, followed closely by 190mm, also pioneered by Fatback.

When a niche explodes, inventors and early pioneers can struggle or thrive, depending on how they react or continue to forge further ahead.  We recently went to Anchorage to hear right from the guys at Fatback how they plan to keep true to their roots in the rapidly expanding fat bike market. Hear what they have to say…

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Neugent Cycling Spins Away From Neuvation, Launches High-End & Hand-Built Eponymous Brand

Neugent 50mm Carbon Clinchers

John Neugent has been in the bike industry forever. Maybe not literally, but longer than the vast majority of people currently working, and he has developed a really unique way of creating product and looking at what is happening. John started Neuvation wheels in 2002, and was the owner of the value-based wheelset company that had a loyal, yet small following. John shut the doors to Neuvation in early 2014, but is already back with a new approach to bringing high-value wheels to the cycling industry.

There are no minced words when John speaks about his company, or how the industry works.  It is refreshing and honest, something he says is what creates his loyal followings.  There are a lot of people out there who just want to ride a bike, and not sift through the clutter, and John speaks directly to them, both literally with his popular newsletter, and through the products he is bringing with his new company, Neugent Cycling.

We recently caught up to John to hear his thoughts on starting something new, and where he thinks the industry is doing things right or wrong…

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Suspension Setup Series #6: How Often Should I Bottom Out?

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This is the final installment in our Suspension Setup Series, and it’s a fairly simple recap to the in depth process of properly setting up your mountain bike’s fork and shock. Assuming you’ve followed the series, your suspension should be pretty well dialed, leaving one big question: How often should you be bottoming out?

“Every ride. If your bike is set up properly for the course you’re riding, you should use full travel on the biggest hit/drop/jump of your ride. Otherwise, you’re not fully utilizing your shock and the fun-o-meter isn’t maxing out.”

That’s from Duncan Riffle, 2x U.S. National Downhill Champ, former World Cup DH competitor and SRAM MTB marketing manager. We also spoke with Manitou’s Eric Porter, who’s raced professionally in XC/DH/DS/DJ over the past 11 years; Mark Fitzsimmons, Fox Racing Shox’s race program manager and pro athlete suspension tuner; and Josh Coaplen, Cane Creek’s VP of Engineering.

Here’s what they had to say…

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Exclusive: Sneak Peek at the Pan American Continental CX Championship Course + Interview with Race Director Mitch Graham

Pan AM Jersey

If you need proof of the growing popularity of cyclocross on this side of the Atlantic, look no further than the upcoming Pan American Continental Cyclocross Championships. For the first time ever, cyclocross will will be included in the Pan Am Continental races and it’s all going down just two hours north of the 2013 Cyclocross World Championship venue.

Already established for road, track, and cross country racing, the Pan Am series is a competition between the 43 nations in the Pan American Cycling Confederation or COPACI. The confederation includes any country with a recognized cycling program from North or South America as well as any island nations.

The stage is set and the first ever Pan American Continental Cyclocross Championship looks like it will take place on one of the most challenging ‘cross courses we’ve seen. We got a sneak preview of the course and interviewed Race Director Mitch Graham next…

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IB14: Breezer #2, We Interview Joe Breeze About the Second Mountain Bike Ever Built

Breezer #2  (1)

At Interbike this year, the unholy trinity of Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, and Joe Breeze gathered at the Breezer Booth to sign copies of Charlie’s upcoming book - The Fat Tire Flyer. The event brought a ton of fan fare and publicity for obvious reasons. So after the party had died down, I swung by to shoot some pictures of the vintage Breezer on display. While I was there, none other than Joe Breeze happened to walk over.

As we discussed topics ranging from helmets to klunking (Joe says the secret is to keep your feet on the pedals), I asked him to tell me something about these first Breezers that most people didn’t know. He thought about my question for a few seconds before pointing to the top tube.

On modern bikes, it’s common for the top tubes to slope downwards towards the seat for increased standover, but this early Breezer is the reverse. This was due to the limitations of the components from that era. At the time, there were few replacement parts available, so Joe made all of his headtubes the same size. That way if the custom Cook Brothers fork broke, it could still be replaced with the more easily sourced Ashtabula.

The other limitation was the length of the seatposts. The longest ones available at the time were only 180mm, so to get the appropriate saddle height for tall riders, the frames had to have long seat tubes and sloping down tubes.

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SRM’s All New PC8 – Production Announced @ USA Pro Challenge

SRM PC8_close up

Last week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge may be over, but the product news continues. SRM chose the Colorado stage race as the venue for their public release of the all new PowerControl PC8. After years of listening to the pros and weekend-warriors alike, after nearly two years of development and research, the production model is finally being released. Power past the break for details, pics, and some rumors on future SRM developments…

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Bike Check: Aaron Gwin, Troy Brosnan, & the Specialized Downhill Factory Team – Plus Actual Weights!

Aaron-Gwin-Specialized-Demo-650b-Carbon

Last week during the grand unveiling of the new Specialized Demo, we had the opportunity to discuss the development of the bike with the engineers, product managers, and industrial designers who designed it.

Also on hand where several of the professional athletes who helped dictate the new geometry, tested the suspension kinematics, and who will ultimately prove just how fast & hard these rigs are capable of being pushed.

Drop past the break to see how their race bikes are kitted out, and how much they weigh!

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