Photo by Collin Schaafsma
Photo by Collin Schaafsma

Collin Schaafsma of Matter Cycles got into frame building by walking into his garage and giving it a shot one day. Having grown up riding BMX bikes and screwing around with fabrication tools on a farm, it seems like the leap to bike building would be inevitable. In the past year, his product has gotten a lot of positive media attention for his geometries, tube blends, and as his attention to detail. Sales, similarly, have started to take off. But what’s probably most refreshing about Collin is his positivity and enthusiasm – catch some of it after the jump…

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

COLLIN: The first bike I made was for myself. It’s a very simple commuter that I still use. I had thought about making bikes for years before I actually made my first one. I had a lot of “what if” designs in my head for mountain bikes that I really wanted to build but I knew I needed to start with something really simple. I just sorta walked into my garage one day and thought I should set up a shop in here and finally build a bike. Luckily for me I was very naive and had no idea what I was getting into. Had I been more rational and thought about it too much I would have probably never built that first bike. Ignorance is bliss!

Photo by Costa Raptis
Photo by Costa Raptis

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

COLLIN: Basically an awesome upbringing, tons of support from amazing people, a passion for bikes, and a mess of hard work.

Photo by Collin Schaafsma
Photo by Collin Schaafsma

If I think way back to growing up on a farm; welding stuff in the shop, riding dirt bikes and dorking around on BMX bikes. That’s where things really started. I had designs that I couldn’t get off the shelf and I wanted them for myself. Finally, I caved/worked up the guts to start making them. After I made my first mountain bike (the original SlayRide) I had some friends that wanted bikes. Then I had some friends of friends, and so on. Before I knew it I was filling orders from all over the place. Last year is when things really took off for me. Matter got started with insane levels of support from my wife and all my friends along with a lot of long days in the shop. I also owe a lot to the folks that have written about my bikes and helped get the name out there. None of this would be possible without them and my awesome customers for trusting me with their hard earned money to make them a rad bike. I’m a lucky guy with so much more work ahead of me.

Photo by Collin Schaafsma
First Bike, Photo by Collin Schaafsma

BIKERUMOR: What got you excited about building bikes when you first started out?

COLLIN: Initially, I think just the challenge of making something that I really wanted and could have fun on really drove me. Challenging myself with designs or the craft itself and then coming out the other end of it feeling like you did what you wanted to do can really add fuel to the fire. It got me hooked pretty fast. Oh and riding them, that’s pretty great!

Photo by Grant Blakeman
Photo by Grant Blakeman

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

COLLIN: Coming up with new things and happy customers. When I get a nice email or a phone call from someone totally stoked on their bike that makes me really happy. I’m pretty sure I have the coolest customers ever and I feel very connected to them all. That’s the best thing about this business, your product is something that truly makes people happy. That will never get old. Ever.

Photo by James Herklotz
Photo by James Herklotz

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

COLLIN: This year I’m debuting a new model called the TwoStroke! Steel, full squish, big travel, 27.5+, single pivot trail saw. It’s my first full suspension bike and I’m really, really excited about it. I’ve dumped a stupid amount of time into it over the last couple years and now it’s finally here. It’s a total blast to ride. Couldn’t be happier with it! Hope I sell more than one of them 🙂 Can’t wait to hit the trails in Cali after the show on it!!

Photo by Grant Blakeman
Photo by Grant Blakeman

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

COLLIN: Start small and let the business grow organically. Keep it simple. I’d also say build the bikes that YOU would want. It’s always easier to sell something you like not what you think others will like. Lastly, focus just as much, or even more, attention to customer service as you do on the actual fabrication of the bikes. Customers are buying an experience, not just a frame. Send those emails, make those phone calls. Don’t just go straight to the bench every morning.

Photo by Joey Schusler
Photo by Joey Schusler

MatterCycles.com

4 COMMENTS

  1. “…a lot of positive media attention for his geometries…”

    I’m curious about this (and other) statement. Are there still geometries out there that have been undiscovered? I know the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is still discovering new elements, but is there an unknown trove of geometries that bike builders are still “discovering”? Seems as worthy of a kudos as celebrating the use of a 751.2mm bar width. OMG!

    • 16.5″ chainstays on a fatbike certainly has my attention. There aren’t many custom framebuilders pushing the envelope on modern AM/trail geometry like Matter.

  2. @Flatbiller .Lets say we work in 5mm increments with top tube length, head tube length, seat tube length, chain stay length, head tube angle, bb height. Now add in .1mm increments of frame tube wall thickness. Slap on some variables with wheel sizes, 29, 27.5, 700c, 26″. Don’t forgot tyre widths and the effects that has on trail (steering geometry). We also have rider weight, height, body proportions. So yeah, as a frame builder myself I’d say there are a few geometry possibilities remaining. If we are just talking about standard numbers that work for production bikes then yes it’s all pretty much dialled in from years of refinement (but still variables to suit rider preferences). But building a custom bike for an individual opens up a massive combination of geometry variables to get it spot on for the rider. Make sense? The article didn’t say he has “discovered” any geometry as you put it.

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