Among custom carbon bike builders, there’s no mistaking Appleman’s unique, three-dimensional logo and often creative outer layers of woven carbon and tinted fiberglass. Last year he was tucked along the back wall with the new builders and first time exhibitors and only showed off a single disc brake cyclocross bike. This year he’s got a few more things planned…
BIKERUMOR: What materials do you build with? Which is your favorite and why?
APPLEMAN: I build frames exclusively with carbon fiber. In fact, I ditch aluminum frame parts and make my own carbon fiber parts resulting in a frame that is 99.8% carbon! I’m obsessed with carbon fiber’s strength and inherent beauty. When done properly, the ride of a carbon fiber frame is amazing. Carbon fiber allows me to truly customize the entire frame for a particular rider. Every frame receives custom tubing and layups that allow for a fine-tuned ride.
BIKERUMOR: What have you been working in since NAHBS last year?
APPLEMAN: Since NAHBS last year I’ve made a lot of improvements to the shop and the process. I have purchased tooling to help me build more efficiently. One of my favorite new pieces of equipment is the new Anvil Journeyman frame fixture. Materials are also being refined. I’m working with a local tubing supplier to provide custom tubes for every bike. Like always, all of my frames come with carbon fiber logos. In the last year, I’ve introduced a few color options in which the color is infused into the carbon logo. Internal routing now comes standard with all CX bikes and is a free of charge option on road frames.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds?
APPLEMAN: I enjoy the creative aspect of framebuilding and love it when customers give me creative freedom. I had a wonderful customer from Thailand who had one requirement. He said, “make me the most unique bike possible.” He was sick of having the same ol’ bike that so many people already have. I came up with a subtle “Thai” themed design. I made blue and red stripes (made out of carbon fiber) and applied them to the top tube and seat stays to resemble the stripes in the Thai flag. I also made an integrated AppleStem handlebar combo to match the frame. The bike really shines. Pictures don’t do it justice.
While some of my customers want something completely unique, other customers want something familiar. I was flattered to have a customer ask for a replica (in his size) of my personal gravel/cyclocross bike. The bike featured Appleman style full internal cable routing, disc brakes, white fiberglass logos and top notch components.
BIKERUMOR: Did you see anything at NAHBS last year that’s inspired you?
APPLEMAN: Demon Frameworks’ road bike last year was very nice. Tom and I share a similar vision, but using different materials. If I built steel frames, the result would be in the same vein as a Demon.
I keep stumbling on Peacock Groove’s “Evil Dead” bike. While paint on any bike isn’t my personal preference, if you are going to paint it… really paint it! I liked how Peacock Groove integrated the theme into the frame with the drooping stainless logo’s and “chain saw” cut outs.
I keep eyeing tandems at NAHBS. They give me the itch to build a tandem…Appleman style.
BIKERUMOR: What are you bringing to the show this year that’ll have every other builder standing slack jawed in awe?
APPLEMAN: I’m pulling out all the stops with a 29er mountain bike! It will have a fun theme built into it and will be even more fun to ride. It will make Paul Bunyan proud! You’ll also find a classy road bike in the booth.
BIKERUMOR: Scenario: A customer commissions you and one other builder to create the ultimate bicycle using the same parameters, same base material and same budget in an Iron Chef style competition. Who would you want to build against that would push you and elevate your game?
APPLEMAN: I’d certainly love to do this in real life! Any takers out there? I would like to duel it out with Brad at Kirklee Bicycles. The customer would have two great bikes that are completely unique.