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Road to NAHBS 2017: Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes

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Six years since building his first frame, Adam Sklar, the young gun behind Sklar Bikes, seems to be settling in on a theme. His steel frames seem to be gelling – with main triangle tubing featuring gentle bends and subtly changing cross-sections, waisted seat stays, accompanied by the occasional super-straight blade segmented-crowned fork to help accentuate those curves. It is always fun to witness a builder focusing in on their style, but what makes this case so interesting is that Adam’s frames will be on display next to those of builders who have been refining a style longer than he’s been alive.

How young is Adam?

So young that he had to – real talk, here – Google the reference in my first question before he could respond to it. As he found out, the series ended the week before he was born…

Photo by Morgan Taylor

BIKERUMOR: You’ve been called the “Doogie Howser” of the framebuilding world. Can you talk a little about achieving recognition as such a young builder?

ADAM: Ha! Well there’s no doubt that I hear a lot about my age (I’m 23, FYI). Watching the business grow to where it is now has been a slow and steady process. I have learned a crazy amount about building bikes and running a business – it’s been fun! I can’t say how lucky I feel though, to wake up and ride to the shop every morning. I love my job, I love working with customers, and I love hearing how stoked people are on the bikes I build for them. It is the dream.

BIKERUMOR: You seem to be settling in on a style with gentle curves and changing tube cross-sections. Who has influenced this direction? What has influenced this direction?

ADAM: I like that my frames have a recognizable style. With so many builders out there I think it’s nice to have a product you can look at without paint or decals and know it’s a Sklar. I know my style isn’t for everyone and I am cool with that. With the curves, I’m going more for “race car” and less for “beach cruiser”. I first started doing the ovalized top tubes after seeing old Mountain Goat frames, and the rest happened pretty organically. It seems to have settled out over the last fifty frames or so.

BIKERUMOR: What new hotness are you planning to bring with you to Salt Lake City?

ADAM: I am really psyched about the line up I will have in my booth! It is a really solid representation of what I build and how I ride. I will have four bikes total. Two mountain – a long travel 27.5 plus all around shredder/bike packing rig, as well as a rigid singlespeed plus bike. Then I will have two drop bar bikes – one on the “all road” side of the spectrum and one running 27.5″ x 2″ tires and a dropper post that I am extra excited about.

BIKERUMOR: If you could only listen to a playlist of five songs while you build, what would those five songs be?

ADAM: In the shop I mostly do podcasts. I’ve really been digging “How I Built This,” “Hidden Brain,” “On the Media,” “Crimetown” and “99% Invisible.” That doesn’t really answer your question but if I only listened to five songs, I would be even crazier than I already am.

BIKERUMOR: Before you started building bikes, what was your favorite bike? How did you ride?

ADAM: The last bike I owned that I didn’t build was a Vassago Jaberwocky. I think it was the geometry on that bike that really pushed me to build my first frame. It climbed great, but it was so slow and awkward to descend on. My friends and I liked to go on super long rides and find crazy random trails in the woods. Not being able to find a hardtail that was comfy all day, but really capable on singletrack was what pushed me to start designing and building my own.

BIKERUMOR: What framebuilder (that you do not know personally) do you admire, and why do you admire them?

ADAM: There are a lot of builders I have been really lucky to meet and even become friends with, but one I still haven’t met and whose work I have admired for a long time is Ian from Icarus. His work is crazy cool!

BIKERUMOR: Which builder would you most like to collaborate with on a project? What would that project be?

ADAM: I think if I could collaborate with anyone it would be Rick Hunter. Somehow everything he does is so straightforward yet creative and original. Plus, if we worked on it at his shop, I could ride his pump track.

BIKERUMOR: What is your main bike at the moment? Why is that your main ride?

ADAM: As roads melt out here in Montana, I’ve been putting some miles on my team edition SSCX bike with some 47c slicks from Compass. I’ve been digging it.

BIKERUMOR: How do you test or validate your product so that you know you are building the best product for your customer?

ADAM: I have a degree in mechanical engineering, which has been helpful to design successful products as well as modeling them and their behaviors. I have done destructive testing on frames and forks and, of course, I ride the hell out of them.

BIKERUMOR: What do you put on your hotdog?

ADAM: Pickle relish, mustard, pepper jack cheese, maybe some lettuce. And, of course, in a tortilla. Tacodawgs, ya know…


Getting stoked and want to learn more about the show? Check out HandmadeBicycleShow.com

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7 years ago

..i saw a handful of these at various CX races last year in MT.. WOW, beautiful lines! wonderful work.. definitely a purchase if you’re in the market for anything he offers!…

7 years ago

Wow at 23 years of age, this guy has some skills.

Ryan S.
Ryan S.
7 years ago

Love these interviews, really helps add that human element to these “simple” machines. I gotta try pepper jack on my hot dog! Now to go check this Ian guy out.

Chris Powers
Chris Powers
7 years ago

I got the chance to meet Adam and see some bikes up close at NAHBS 2016.

Then, in early October we met again at Cameron Falconer’s house over Grinduro weekend.

About twenty of us, including quite a few great frame builders shuttled to the top of Mt. Hough. I felt like an stowaway among this crew.

Most of us were on full sus MTB’s. Adam and his buddy were on Sklar CX bikes. They took off ahead of the pack, so I decided to chase behind. It’s a ridiculously fun trail and it was such a blast to see Adam and his buddy completely ripping it on CX bikes, going quite fast on rigid frame/fork.

Point being, the young Mr. Sklar is not just a great young builder, he’s a really fantastic bike rider and a really genuinely kind dude! All the best Adam, keep up the great work! Hope to see you again this October.

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