Finding himself preoccupied with bikes from working long days as a mountain bike coach, Adam Sklar took the leap, learned how to braze, and built his first bike on a hacked together fixture in his parents’ garage (one that he still rides). Almost five years on, Sklar Bikes has evolved to be a brand that builds bikes designed around “having fun in the woods with your friends,” and Adam has enjoyed upping his game in terms of customer service and the business side of things to create a consumer experience that matches his bikes…
BIKERUMOR: Why did you first decide to build your first bike? Who did you build it for?
ADAM: The first real bike I built was a mountain bike I built for myself in the fall of 2011. I was working as a mountain bike coach in the summers and pedaling 8 hours a day, 6 days a week gave me lot of time to think about what I was riding. At the time, I didn’t really know there were such a thing as custom framebuilders. I just knew that no one was making the bikes that I wanted to ride. I spent months searching for the perfect hardtail that would climb and pedal well, but I wanted something aggressive and super fun to descend on because that was what fit the riding I did. I found a local guy who taught me to braze (Thanks Walt!), I hacked together a really simple fixture, and surprised myself by making something rideable in my parents’ garage. I was so excited to ride it that it hadn’t even cooled down from the last braze before I was hanging parts on it. I rode the hell out of that thing as my main trail bike for a couple years. It’s been through lots of different configurations, but I still ride it every day as my commuter.
BIKERUMOR: Why did you decide to make a living out of it?
ADAM: I was building lots of bikes for my friends and before long other folks were asking for them too. I’ve learned to really enjoy the business side of things. I like to look at it as a design problem and not just something I have to do to build bikes.
BIKERUMOR: How has your style changed from your first year? Are you still building what you initially set out to build?
ADAM: A lot has changed since then. The biggest change has been getting more into cross racing and gravel road riding. There was a point when I was proud to just be a mountain biker, but I have had such a blast exploring the endless dirt roads around Bozeman on cyclocross bikes and getting really into racing in the fall. This has allowed me to put a lot more of myself into the CX bikes I build, and I love that I get to build a lot more of them!
I am no longer doing brazed frames (unless someone asks realllllly nicely) in favor of TIG welding.
My designs have changed some with new innovations like the introduction of plus sized tires, but I’m still making bikes that are built around having fun in the woods with your friends.
BIKERUMOR: What got you excited about building bikes when you first started out? What gets you really stoked about what you do today?
ADAM: When I first started, it was all about watching my craftsmanship improve. Today, I like getting to work with customers and giving someone exactly what they want. My customers seem to come to me because they like what I do and they relate to my style, so most of the time the interview and design process feels a lot like talking bikes with a friend. This makes every build super fun and I get to build bikes that I am really proud of.
I don’t think I will ever get tired of pulling a freshly tacked frame out of the fixture, though. It’s the first moment you get to see what a pile of tubes has turned into, and it is so satisfying every time.
BIKERUMOR: What’s the cool thing you’re bringing to the show this year?
ADAM: I am pretty excited about this 27.5+ adventure bike that I was lucky enough to get to build. It’s got a lot of features including integrated ski carrying and really sweet custom racks. Plus it’s going to an awesome home after the show. I also have a new MTB for myself that I’m excited to get dirty in Santa Cruz after the show!
This will be the first NAHBS for Sklar Bikes, and a big step in continuing the growth we have seen this past year. In that spirit we have been working on a new, refined brand image that I am very excited to start rolling out at the show!
BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give someone wanting to do what you do?
ADAM: Just start doing something, seek out great mentors, find inspiration outside of the bike world, and ride your bike a lot!