It’s that time of year again, when custom bike builders are wrapping up their bestest bikes for the big show. This year, they’re all headed down to Charlotte, NC, practically Bikerumor’s backyard, for NAHBS 2014. That means it’s also time for our annual pre-show interviews to see what everyone’s been up to and give you a teaser of what’s to come.
This year, we’re starting off with Minneapolis based Appleman Bicycles. Founder and one man builder/owner/operator Matt Appleman always finds some artsy way of laying in the top layers of carbon. Check out last year’s interview and the 2013 show coverage for a little background, then dive in to see what’s coming…
BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?
MATT: Carbon fiber. All carbon, all the time!
BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?
MATT: From a framebuilding perspective, I keep refining the build process. I’ve tweaked the layups for each joint and tube to improve the amazing ride and durability that my customers enjoy.
I’ve always liked structural materials for logos rather than paint. I now offer four options for logos: carbon, titanium, decals, and wood.
Cyclocross and gravel racing bikes are my specialty and I’ve been building a lot of them. I’ve sponsored Eric Thompson whose been ripping up the Pro/Elite CX races around the country. It’s been great to get feedback from such a beast of a rider, his feedback has undoubtedly helped build faster, better handling CX bikes.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?
MATT: Oh yeah! A mountain bike with titanium logos and kevlar down tube rock protection was one of my favorite frames I’ve ever built.
I built a stealthy road bike that the customer requested I incorporate a small American flag… made out of carbon fiber of course! The bike came together really well with blacked out component logos, carbon fiber Appleman logos, and full internal cable routing.
Another beauty is a gravel bike built for riding the Dirty Kanza 200 and Trans Iowa gravel races + the occasional CX race. This gravel crusher features wooden logos, full internal cable/wire routing, integrated handlebar/stem, and integrated Garmin computer mount.
BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?
MATT: I always get inspiration from the customer! While discussing their bikes, customers usually get excited about certain aspects of cycling or their life. I combine customer requests, my knowledge of the customer, and my materials-heavy background to create something special.
BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?
MATT: This year I’m bringing all customer bikes (no “show” bikes) for a true representation of my work. The bikes I’ve built this year are a true reflection of myself, my brand, and my customers. I’ll be showing a pro CX race machine, a mountain bike, and a fun road 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?
MATT: Tom Warmerdam of Demon Frameworks! We’re brothers from different material-mothers. Self-taught framebuilders building bikes the we want to, not the easy way. I think we have a similar approach to how we customize our frames and share design aesthetic. We let our materials and craftsmanship shine through instead of covering up our work with paint and primer.