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Matt Appleman’s story is a little different than many of those featured in the Road to NAHBS series. Rather than approach the trade in the traditional way of studying under an established frame builder or taking a class, a college-aged Matt bought a bunch of tooling and built his first cyclocross frame in his dorm room and went for it. Entering his sixth year of building full time, Matt has refined his product and process to cater to any rider (though his product is most locally recognized as a weapon of choice among the elite men’s field). See how Matt’s bikes have evolved to be the Appleman of so many riders’ eye after the jump…

BIKERUMOR: Why did you first decide to build your first bike? Who did you build it for?

MATT: I had a knee injury in college. I couldn’t ride without knee pain. Eventually, I found that an ill-fitting bike was the culprit. There were no stock frames that fit me so I hacked my stock bike to provide the custom fit I needed. I was finishing up my degree in Composite Materials Engineering when I made an important decision. Do I buy a custom frame? Or do I put that money towards tooling to build myself a frame? I invested in tooling and built myself a cross bike.

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BIKERUMOR: What is your origin story? How did your company get its start?

MATT: I started sticking tubes together with carbon fiber in my dorm room. While this certainly wasn’t frame building, I was able to do an immense amount of experimentation and development. I worked with all sorts of materials and all sorts of techniques and taught myself a lot about composites. After college, I worked as a composites materials engineer building wind turbine blades, airplane parts, and aerospace materials. I built frames and developed the process during my time off. Using my unique background, I developed my process sufficiently to the point that I couldn’t break what I was making! I moved back home to Minnesota and started Appleman Bicycles full time in 2010.

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BIKERUMOR: How has your style changed from your first year? Are you still building what you initially set out to build?

MATT: Good question! I am still building in the style that I built when I started Appleman Bicycles, but my frames have become much more refined.

I’ve always wanted to show my engineering and materials approach to design and frame building so the extensive use of carbon in my bikes has been there since the beginning.

Working day in and day out with carbon, I’ve highly refined my techniques since my dorm room days. Surprisingly, many of those initial lessons are still built into the frames I build today.

BIKERUMOR: What gets you really stoked about what you do today?

MATT: Aside from building great bikes, I really enjoy working with my customers. I have the best customers in the business.

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BIKERUMOR: What’s the cool thing you’re bringing to the show this year?

MATT: A fast finishing fat bike.

A great gravel grinding bike.

A ridiculously rad road bike.

BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give someone wanting to do what you do?

MATT: Don’t quit your day job!

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ApplemanBicycles.com

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Technician
Technician
5 years ago

85 mm BB drop?

Dr. Gizmorkleypoo
Dr. Gizmorkleypoo
5 years ago

His new stuff looks a lot cleaner now. Nice work!

mudrock
mudrock
5 years ago

I can see he likes super short chainstays, unless that’s at customer request. But on a gravel bike?

Antipodean_eleven
5 years ago

That’s a lot of BB drop right there….

keville
5 years ago

Also came here to posit that the bike chosen for this article’s hero image has some seriously awkward-looking geometry. Perhaps at the customer’s request, granted, but it’s a good frame builder’s job to not build a bike that handles like crap: even if I asked real nice, a good builder wouldn’t put me on 36″ wheels.

Wonder15
Wonder15
5 years ago
Reply to  keville

Wait, how do you know how the bike handles for the customer? This is a custom bike with custom geometry- not all of our bodies and needs allow for beautiful geometry. This is what makes his different that other “custom” bikes.

mtbrad89@gmail.com
mtbrad89@gmail.com
5 years ago

I’m here for the bb drop topic as well, lets here more!

Keris
Keris
5 years ago

@keville: I agree it looks odd, but can you really tell how it handles from a picture when you don’t know 1) the client’s proportions, and 2) the layup of the carbon

mudrock
mudrock
5 years ago

Doesn’t matter what the clients proportions are, pedal strike happens to everyone. But it would be very stable handling fer sure. And seeing how both the gravel and road bikes have that same low BB (and in different sizes), it’s got to be the builder’s preference.

APRO
APRO
5 years ago

Looks to be a XS frame with 165mm cranks. Doesnt look out of the ordinary to me. Stop armchair racing. Go ride your bike.

Matt S
Matt S
5 years ago

I’ve been follow Matt since NAHMBS in Austin (2011?). As a science teacher he pulled me in with his DNA bike, I’ve wanted one ever since.

John
John
5 years ago

Bike is pointed downhill. Not sure how you could ascertain bb drop.

QuickGeezer
QuickGeezer
5 years ago

Kvetch, snark, kvetch, snark — all bikes must be the same — it isnt my bike, so it sucks.