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.

Appleman NAHBS 2014 preview mountain bike

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.

Appleman NAHBS 2014 preview road bike

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.

Appleman NAHBS 2014 preview 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.


  1. Shawn,

    Matt does indeed build great carbon bikes. I am the very, very, very proud owner of that MTB frame.

    I’ve had a few high end MTBs including a couple Baum’s and Moots Mooto X RSLs and I can honestly say that the Appleman is without equal.

    If you are in the market, give Matt a try. I wish I had earlier as I could have saved a heap of $$ in trying to find the best custom builder out there. That mission is now accomplished IMO.

    I say the above of my own accord, without the request of the builder!

  2. If sloppy and unfinished is your idea of ‘handmade’… I tend to appreciate more precise craftsmanship and attention to detail. And especially with carbon, lay it up neatly the first time and you won’t have to sand away half the fibers once you’re done.

  3. fair enough Psi but that 29r rear appears to be chopped, butt joined and wrapped over in at least 8 spots total. while the over wraps at the butt points may hold it together, that is not a desirable way to make a “bent” chainstay or seatstay.

    as for the rest of the joints, luckily the repeating truss design of the double diamond frame makes for a fairly easy time of keeping the tubes together under normal use.

    to my eye Matt seems to be improving on the cleanliness of these bikes.

  4. Is there any benefit to making carbon frames by hand? Seems insanely hard, but if the builder can do things by hand a factory/machine can’t, then all the power to Matt.

  5. @Psi Squared, hah, right?

    @Jesse Edwards: sure thing, custom fitting, as with any other bike material, sometimes people have funny body dimensions and if you can afford a frame that truly fits *you*, it rides great.

    Further, all carbon frames are made by hand to at least some degree. They look they’re made by machines because many carbon frames these days get pressed into molds with air pressure to achieve a totally uniform look. Sometimes the sections of carbon fiber are even cut by a robot. But the carbon is applied to un-pressurized forms by people’s hands.

    @1Pro – Yeah, true, but man it is seriously hard to make a 3″ wide Knard tire fit with a 73mm BB shell, which is I think the case with this one. With the chainrings, crank, and tire all in the same place, it’s a less friendly situation than even a fat bike frame with respect to the chainstay yoke.

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.