Matt Appleman’s venture is a perfect glimpse into the blend of passion and necessity that drives small bike manufacturing. Having raced bikes for half his life and developed a debilitating knee problem in recent years, Appleman decided that rather than let the injury knock him out of the sport for good he would build a bike to try and solve the issue. “I figured I could either spend $5,000 in buying a custom bike from someone else,” he remembers, “or I could invest $5,000 in the tooling to make my own.” He put his degree in composite materials engineering to use to build a road bike that allowed him to keep riding, and shortly thereafter he left the aerospace industry and launched his bike company. Three years later, he has built 50 bicycles for both the domestic and international market.
The Lumberjack is an all-carbon hardtail race 29er for which Appleman constructed every carbon bit, including the dropouts, cable-stops, and the integrated handlebar and stem. It’s a study in innovation, including cutting-edge brakes from German design house Brakeforce one and carbon rotors from upstart Kettle Cycles. Even with the three-inch Surly tires, the bike tips the scale at a scant 22 pounds; with a lightweight set of hoops, Appleman says it weighs under 18 pounds. More than anything else, however, it’s the detailing that sets this bike apart, including the swatch of plaid shirt that’s laminated into the frame for color and the head badge and trim in real oak veneer. As built, the Lumberjack would retail for around $10,000.