Drew's Titanium trail bike - A Do-it-all Hardtail

It’s a mountain bike, the one you ride day in and day out. Drew get’s the importance of having a mountain bike that is capable and predictable and always there for you from the quick after work cruise to that big 3 week bike packing trip you have planned next summer. When you have a bike that you enjoy all of that riding on you know you have a winner. After retiring his previous mountain bike, which he spent six whole seasons on, this should be Drew’s new ride for a long time to come.

The titanium frame is going to be resilient and comfortable for the riding it will see between Bozeman, Tuscon and even some time in Los Angeles this winter. Drew is a tall guy and the fit on his last bike was less than perfect. Getting him on to something designed for his dimensions feels really good and from his first test ride it sounds like we did really well on that custom fit and sizing. The important numbers here for the curious geometry geeks are 815mm front center, 94mm trail (68* HT), 433mm Rear center and 318mm BB height (sagged).

For the build we went with my go-to “Smart money” build kit which features wheels from Industry Nine, Fox moving-bits with the Step Cast 34 fork and transfer post. Maxxis rubber is the best, Paul Components Boxcar stem, Enve M6 bar, White industries M30 crank and Sram GX Eagle with an X01 Cassette to save some rotational weight. In my opinion this build is right at the intersection of maximum performance and budget-minded builds. As we said with this bike - Predictable, reliable and just what you need.

This bike is going to spend its’ life in Bozeman and I am excited to get out on the trail with it and its owner come spring when the snow is all gone.

Learn more about Sklar custom Titanium Mountain Bikes here.

Bill's Custom Titanium All-Road with Couplers for Travel

Bill is a tall guy, and I like that with the suspension-corrected ENVE MTB fork, the frame looks proportional. But the size of this bike is one of its’ least notable aspects. Bill was looking for a new everyday bike, something that he could take out a few times a week on tarmac and get lost onto some trails and rougher roads on the weekends. Though pictured with the ENVE M525 wheels and 2.0” Maxxis tires, Bill will run the bike half the time with the ENVE G30’s and a 40c slick. Two setups to really tackle it all.

On top of the custom geometry and large tire accommodation, this bike splits in two for travel. An S&S Coupler splits the down tube. Undo the two seat tube binders, pull out the seat post and the frame is ready to fold up and put into a standard sized box to take advantage of that free checked bag when Bill is flying around the globe for work.

This build is all out. Chris King bearings all around with cranks from White Industries as well as Enve’s new gravel bar, post and fork and stem. Sram Force makes the gears shift. This bike should be great for Bill at home or on the road!

Learn more about Sklar Titanium All road and monstercross bikes here

Mal's Multi-surface drop bar bike

My friend Mal hit me up this winter looking for a frame that she could do a lot of different kinds of riding on. Something that she could race cross on in the Fall but also put in big gravel miles the rest of the year, working her way up to the Dirty Kanza 200 next year. Cool!

Luckily this fits in with a lot of the style bikes I not only build, but ride myself. Albeit I don’t think I will be seeing 200 miles of gravel in a day any time soon. Anyhow, we put together this nice build with some of my favorite components. Some nice light tubing from Columbus is going to keep this ride buttery smooth but real responsive for when it hits the cross course or some of those Seattle ups and downs. The geometry is pretty middle of the road between all-day comfort and aggressive race. We set up the handlebars so that they can get lowered for cross season with room to go up for those really big days if Mal finds herself needing that. Kitted up with 35c tires now, there is good clearance for a 45 or a lot of mud. A nice sweet spot for gravel bike tires.

The build uses a full Shimano Di2 Kit which is super clean and crisp. Mal is working with Shimano on a “multi-surface” bike project over the next couple of years.

All in all this is a sweet bike that can do a lot of different things! I know the one I ride like it has become my go-to this summer and I hope this does the same for Mal!

Read more about Sklar Custom All-road and gravel bikes here

Alex's Titanium 29 x 2.6" MTB

Alex is one of my best riding pals, so building bikes for him is always fun. We do really similar riding here in Bozema - a mix of long logging road climbs, super rough rocky descents, smooth flowy singletrack and everything in between really. Often we ride from town too, so some efficiency is nice. That is why we went with a Ti frame, for that ride livelieness and to save a little weight. The bike is built around 29x2.6” wheels. I love that wheel size. It has a lot of the advantages of a plus bike without the crazy rolling weight and excessive rolling resistance. If there is a happy medium, this is it.

The build on this bike is just what I would run on a bike like this too - great wheels from Industry Nine, the trail 270 is a nice width for this tire. I’ve found the stiffness and durability of these wheels to be really awesome and their pricepoint is sort of unbelieveable for the quality and the fact that they are made in the USA. This is my go-to for an alloy MTB wheelset.
We went with other good MUSA parts from White Industries on the cranks and headset, a Paul stem of course, Fox suspension and the Eagle GX Group from SRAM. Killer build.

Anyhow, it has been fun seeing this thing shredding around this summer! I think my next MTB will look a lot like this.

Learn more about Sklar Custom Mountain Bikes here

Homegrown Builder's Camp: The Framebuilders do Bozeman

Photos by John Watson


Bikes - What do they mean to you?

Feelings of freedom come to mind, a place to reflect, a way to blow off steam from the daily grind, maybe just a way to pick up groceries or get around town. Take a step back though, and the thing that really stands out to me is community. Like many pastimes, bicycles can be the basis for all sorts or relationships between people and places, and for me I don't think anything has fostered those relationships like the bike.

When I began building frames I was introduced to a whole new network of talented and driven people who I honestly didn't expect. While riding was one of the main things that kept us motivated and excited, our shared enthusiasm for doing our own thing and building our own tribes really sealed the deal. Many of our interactions though, have been limited to conversations under the fluorescent lights of various convention centers across the US. Every year at NAHBS we have the same conversation with these friends - "we should be riding bikes, why are we doing this?". Those shows help our businesses no doubt, and talking tech can be fun sometimes, but do we really need to explain how we welded some part of a frame again? Do we really need to go over some silly new standards and minute differences in frame geometry in a hotel bar after we just talked about it all day? Maybe we can't help ourselves, but I sure don't want to.

Sklar camp bozeman

Anyhow, I decided to do something about it this year. I sent out an open invitation to some bike industry pals to come check out Bozeman and ride, and much to my surprise many agreed. Thomas from Horse Cycles, whose work I have admired since I first began building, made the big trek out from Brooklyn, NY. A handful of Californians made their way out as well - Cam Falconer the master of Utility, my pal Nicholas who's art you can find on a number of my products as well as the legendary Curtis Inglis of Retrotec bikes. The Squid Squad also joined us, it was so nice to have some folks who come at bikes from a different angle. I love what they are doing and those two can ride. Finally, we had Tony from Breadwinner, I was psyched to ride with him again after last years Grinduro, and Bryan from ENVE, who I order all of my parts from and it was so nice to put a face to a name. Bozeman local Carl Strong joined in as did Erik from Alliance Cycles down in Idaho. Last but not leas, John from The Radavist was there to document it all. Of course I couldn't have pulled this off without some help from my dear friends and neighbors at Alter Cycles.

Folks started rolling in on Friday, and we got to check out Happiest Hour at the shop, a nice warm welcome into the big bike community in our little town. We chatted and caught up and prepared ourselves forfour days of riding the best trails that Bozeman has to offer. We swam in creeks, ate baked goods from the Wild Crumb Bakery across the street and some genuine good times. For me the highlight was the final night of the camp. We got to take everyone out to the weekly Tuesday night shop ride. Bozeman locals came out in record numbers with nearly 50 people at the trailhead. We rode one of my favorite trails - Emerald Lake. The vibes were all-time and the scenery can't be beat. You could feel the energy in the air as we grilled and chilled at the trailhead enjoying the views and friends new and old.

When in Bozeman- Alter Cycles Supper Club Shred-63.jpg

I like being a newcomer to the bike industry, though that badge is fading quickly with Sklar's 5th anniversary close on the horizon. Ignoring the norms that I never learned has allowed me to get to where I am so much quicker and having the tools and skills available in this day in age, that my peers did not have access to when they started, has been invaluable. With those tools, small companies like myself and the folks I invited to this camp are able to make a real difference in the bike world and hopefully the world at large. It really is the small people like us who steer the ship that is the bike industry. Whether it be adapting new technologies in the products we build, the way we talk about what we do, or trying to make the cycling world a more inclusive place. Those are things that start here with us.

So will we all see eachother in a convention center somewhere this year? The answer is yes, almost definitely. Will we comisserate together on how we should be riding? 100%. But at least we can look back on riding and remember what is really important.