With the North American Handmade Bike Show right around the corner, the Bikerumor.com International Handmade Bicycle News Team is hard at work to bring you a preview of the good stuff you can expect to see this year in Hartford. As it is the first time NAHBS has taken place in New England, this show is sure to have a unique flavor when compared to those of the past.

One of the big themes emerging for this show is the arms race that seems to be taking place among custom carbon framebuilders. Everyone is upping their game, eschewing off-the-shelf frame parts in favor of custom molds and bonding strategies. The result is lighter, deeper custom, and more versatile carbon frames this year than probably ever in NAHBS history.

One of the fresh faces in this movement, Matt Appleman, has been one of those builders leading the curve in deep customization. This year, Matt has made the leap to flat mount brakes on all non-mountain bikes– giving him the opportunity to revisit some strategies and refine his road, cross, and gravel design.

BIKERUMOR: What are you bringing to NAHBS this year that you’re excited about?

NAHBS 2018, Matt Appleman, Appleman Cycles

MATT: I’m unveiling a new model, the “FR-213”. It’s an adventure bike designed for rides like the Tour Divide, BC Epic 1000, and other such bikepacking excursions. Robustness is the name of the game and I developed a brand new extra tough tube set that increases damage tolerance. It’ll fit up to 27.5 x 4″ tires, utilize Rohloff and dynamo hubs, have a standard MTB Q-factor, and be world-travel ready with couplers.

BIKERUMOR: What are your current challenges in adopting and implementing new standards?

NAHBS 2018, Matt Appleman, Appleman Cycles

MATT: The hardest part for me is that the new standard isn’t always better than the old one. I recently implemented flat mount disc brake mounts on all non-mountain bikes. I wasn’t happy with the prescribed way to mount rear brakes and thought outside the sphere for something better. I designed a system using the front style mount on the seat stays. This has a number of advantages in strength, ease of installation, and long term adjustability. The stainless steel insert will not wear, warp or “bed in” like a carbon surface may.

BIKERUMOR: What new or upcoming standards are you excited about?

MATT: I’m really excited for the yet to be adapated standard of better fitting bikes and components that better suit the proportion of the rider. Bikes built with proper set back, crank length, wheel size providing a well balanced fit regardless of the size of the rider. Mass producers and component companies are welcome to contact me about reducing SKU’s and increasing customer satisfaction.

BIKERUMOR: What type of bike have your customers requested most in the past 12 months?

MATT: Disc road is getting more popular while the 42mm tire All-Road do it all bike is my most popular.

NAHBS 2018, Matt Appleman, Appleman Cycles

BIKERUMOR: What is the next bike you’re building for yourself?

MATT: A FR-213 adventure bike. It’s the perfect bike for just about anything, but especially the sand roads of northern Wisconsin where I ride a bit in the summer.

BIKERUMOR: …and if someone else were building your next bike for you, which builder (of all time) would you choose and why? What would it be?

MATT: Cio. Their frames have all the right lines.

BIKERUMOR: What is your “blank check” bike?

MATT: Demon Frameworks.

BIKERUMOR: If you could exist in another period of framebuilding, what would it be and why?

MATT: Probably the 2060’s. Freshly retired, I’d love to be in an advisory resource for young framebuilders. Forever forward.

BIKERUMOR: If you had to stop building in your current material, what new material would you choose and why?

MATT: I’d work with nature’s composite: wood and bamboo. There’s a ton of versatility and unlimited options. Metals seem a bit claustrophobic to me.

NAHBS 2018, Matt Appleman, Appleman Cycles

BIKERUMOR: If your shop was burning down, what one or two tools would you grab to save? Why would you save them?

MATT: I inherited my grandpa’s Huot tool chest right about the time I started framebuilding full time. He was an aircraft landing gear mechanic for Northwest Airlines his whole life and bought the tool chest in the 1950’s. It’s still got all of his vacation/time-off requests under the lid!

Appleman Bicycles

The North American Handmade Bike Show will take place from February 16th to 18th in Hartford, CT. For more information, visit the NAHBS website.

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18 Comments
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Nefty1
Nefty1
4 years ago

Flat mount on the seat stay? Is this the first for that method?
Grandpas tool chest for the win! So cool.

dewstir
dewstir
4 years ago

sweet tool box

Tim
Tim
4 years ago

The link to Appleman’s site is broken.

Kristi Benedict
Admin
Kristi Benedict(@kristibee)
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Thanks Tim, it’s fixed now.

mudrock
mudrock
4 years ago

Generally bikes are designed with stouter chainstays and thinner seatstays, so the CS would seem the natural place to mount the brakes. But he sees drawbacks to that judging by his comments. Would love to hear his reasons why.

“The hardest part for me is the new standard isn’t always better that the old one.” I would interpret that as a dig at flat-mount.

Carl
Carl
4 years ago
Reply to  mudrock

From a mechanic’s perspective, the chainstay location for flat-mount is incredibly hard to adjust, and in general the system is harder than post-mount to align properly as it isn’t as intuitive and the sight-lines are more difficult, which is important because not only do you not want rotor rub but you want even contact for good pad wear and to reduce vibration-induces squeals.

I can’t speak to the structural ideas behind it, but I could see the ability to strengthen that part of the seatstay while maintaining compliance where needed.

Sam
Sam
4 years ago
Reply to  Carl

I don’t find them that hard, they’re at least easier than a cs mounted non-flat mount. You just stick an l wrench under the chainstay, same concept as anything else.

B
B
4 years ago

I kind of like the rear brake mounted on the ST which allows the cable to run along the TT instead of the DT which I find unattractive. Geekhouse did the same thing on a Ti bike.

Jim
Jim
4 years ago

This is a well-written story, with nicely-chosen topics. Usually I just look at NAHBS and roll my eyes. It gets a ton of coverage here and in a couple of other places simple because it exists…and there’s quirky stuff. You never see any of these bikes in the road, but Im glad the artists who make them exist and that the handful of people who buy them do so.
But the coverage is usually out of proportion to the relevancy contains some sort of hype.
This was an interesting read, though. Will look forward to more done like this.

Drew Diller
4 years ago

Keep up the good work Matt.

Padrote
Padrote
4 years ago

metals are “claustrophobic”…hilarious.

Padrote
Padrote
4 years ago
Reply to  Padrote

I will take this to mean “I do not know how to weld”

myke2241
myke2241
4 years ago
Reply to  Padrote

I take it as he sees limits with metal. It is just contrast

Tomi
Tomi
4 years ago
Reply to  Padrote

I take it to mean : I can’t spec my own metal tubes easily and would have to rely on the offering from columbus/reynolds/dedacciai/whatever.

OldTimerCat1
OldTimerCat1
4 years ago

Cannondale had disc brakes on the seatstays before, it didn’t work out well for them. Hope he knows something they and most others don’t.

FFM
FFM
4 years ago

Thank you Matt, for making flat mount the way it should have been made.

John Caletti
4 years ago

Matt is super sharp and a class act! Great read.

Nick
Nick
4 years ago

I think Matt is doing great work. My question though, most every SS mounted disc we see has a brace to the CS. I don’t think there is anything special about flat mount that would negate this need over say an ISO mount on a SS which is always accompanied by a brace.