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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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.