In 2011, NAHBS was here in Sacramento, California, and that's where we met Matt Appleman who displayed a single bike—a cyclocross bike—that caught our eye. His bike had internal cable routing and was disc only at a time when use of disc brakes in cyclocross was just emerging. I recall his pride at showing that the seatstay bridge was shaped to match the chevron of a Grifo tire.
Two years later Appleman Bicycles appeared in our ‘Going Custom’ series of Issues 21-23 and later that year won a Cyclocross Magazine Editor’s Choice award for Best Dream Bike.
Appleman, of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, has continued to refine his design and aesthetic over the years. Utilizing his composites engineering degree to develop a top tube and down tube with an ovalized shape for better ride qualities, he works with a local carbon tube supplier to create made-to-order tubes resulting in the perfect ride for each customer. Similarly, he also changes the layup to achieve certain ride qualities when he orders custom tubes for each customer.
Part of the "Appleman Style" is to showcase the carbon joints of his tube-to-tube construction method and his joint wrapping has become more refined and smoother, but still has the naked, handmade look that we find attractive in its way. After a year hiatus from the show, Appleman was back at NAHBS 2016 with a simple display of two bikes this time, both displaying other elements of the Appleman Style.
One of the bikes Appleman displayed was one he made for his fiancé as a gravel bike. It was built with TRP Hylex hydraulic brakes with a Di2 adapter kit for shifting an XTR clutch derailleur over an 11-40 M9000 cassette. Up front the chain spins on a Rotor 3D crank with a 40 tooth wide/narrow Wolf Tooth Ring. Continental Speedride 700 X 42 tires were mounted tubeless to HED Ardennes + rims with room to spare in the frame (though the Speedride is known to be narrower than a true 42) and the entire build yielded a hot gravel racer.
Appleman likes to add the final custom touch with the applied logos of watercut metal or wood, or whatever material comes to his mind or that of his customer, and overlays it on a carbon, wood or cloth panel. His fiancé's bike had a catching titanium logo over a wood panel. Add to that his tapered oval tubes and Appleman’s joint workmanship and the bike was a sight to behold.
Appleman cyclocross, gravel and road frames start at $5,500.00 USD. Mountain bike frames start at $5,900.00 USD. Lead times vary based on time of year and current orders.
More info: applemanbicycles.com
Appleman Bicycles Custom Carbon Gravel Racer Specifications
Frame: Appleman fully-custom carbon
Fork: Enve carbon
Headset: Cane Creek
Crank: Rotor 3D, 40 tooth narrow/wide Wolf Tooth chainring
Rear derailleur: Shimano M9050 XTR Di2
Front derailleur: n/a
Cassette: Shimano 11-40 M9000
Brakes: TRP Hylex
Brake levers: TPR Hylex with Di2 shifter adapter kit
Shifters: Shimano Di2 remote shifters
Seat post: Enve carbon
Saddle: Selle Italia SLS
Wheels: HED Ardennes+
Tires: Continental Speedride 700 x 42