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Appleman Bicycles

Paul Skilbeck & Matthew Butterman

Friday 10 March 2017

Matt Appleman's Donut Bike

Minnesota framebuilder Matt Appleman designed and built a serious carbon fiber bike with a fun and whimsical theme.

Matt Appleman's Donut Bike
Photo: Appleman Bicycles

Original reporting: Paul Skilbeck

As the eminent 21st century American philosopher Homer Simpson once queried, “Donuts...is there anything they can’t do???”

Add inspiring a custom bicycle to the list of accomplishments of this ubiquitous round, frosted pastry.

Minnesota builder Matt Appleman has a degree in composite materials engineering, and a background in manufacturing wind turbine and aerospace materials. His carbon fiber bicycles are examples of a clean, functional design aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place in an IKEA catalog.

But Appleman also loves donuts (and who doesn’t?). He devoted a page on his website to this Donuts bike where he says: 

“I like donuts...as most people do. For some reason, society picked up on my like for the delicious treats and pegged me as the "donut guy". There's no going back through that toroid, but I'm ok with that. Donuts are fun, whimsical, and totally mouthwatering. I've always had straightforward, no-nonsense, authentic frame design...so why not dress up a highly engineered frame a little?”

“I usually produce simple designs, but this time I got the creative itch. I wanted to go above and beyond what I usually do,” says Appleman.

Matt Appleman's Donut Bike at the 2017 NAHBS in Salt Lake City.    Photo: Paul Skilbeck

The bike that was inspired by whimsy is a serious machine, designed as a gravel grinder for the many rolling, gravel back roads around Appleman’s Winona County, Minn. home. The carbon frame has full custom geometry, to the point where Appleman makes specific tubes to suit the requirements of individual clients.

The wheels are shod with thick 42mm tires with thru axles and disk brakes, using White Industries hubs and Hed Jet 4 rims. The drivetrain is a single chainset, 44-tooth, chained to a 10-42 block. Shifting is Shimano XTR with the Di2 electronic shifting system.

Bar and stem are ENVE, integrated and “frosted” by Appleman. The pink frosting extends (drips?) onto the top tube. Appleman says that a special epoxy resin with a frosting-like consistency was used, with the plastic “jimmies”, or sprinkles, added before the epoxy set.

Looks delicious, but don't try to eat it! Appleman's epoxy "frosting".    Photo: Paul Skilbeck

“There's a lot of serious bikes out there, and I've built plenty of them. I wanted to do something different, something lighthearted, something...fun! It's a winning combo, bikes and donuts, donuts and bikes,” says Appleman.

No indications at this time that Appleman plans to offer these bikes in batches of a dozen.