After an endless search for a quality mountain bike left him unsatisfied with what he could buy off the shelf, Adam Sklar picked up the torch and started building his own in Bozeman, Montana.
DID YOU KNOW?
You’re used to seeing Mike Wolfe searching for history inside barns on American Pickers, but would you believe before the show, he used to be on a mountain bike racing team? It’s true! In the early 90s, Mike used to compete in races tearing up terrain across Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.
When it comes to two wheels, Mike has always believed that in our youth, a bike is our first taste of freedom.
“On a mountain bike, you can blaze your own trail, you can go anywhere you want to, unlike a road bike which limits you to a strip of asphalt,” explains Mike. “Mountain bikes have the ability to steer you off well-worn routes allowing you to call the shots for where you ride next.”
So what about a 28-year-old mountain bike builder named Adam Sklar caught Mike’s attention?
“When I discovered Adam’s business, Sklar Bikes, on Instagram, I was intrigued because I was around the same age when I opened my first bike shop, Eldridge Bike Shop, in Eldridge, Iowa. To see such a young, self-taught, guy enthusiastic about not only riding mountain bikes but also curious about the detailed process of building custom-engineered bikes himself, gave me hope for the next generation of cyclists.”
Just like Mike, Adam has logged a lot of miles behind a pair of handlebars. Let’s show you what separates a Sklar mountain bike from the one currently stored in your garage.
HOW IT STARTED
Adam learned how to ride as a young kid growing up in Colorado. His youth was spent hitting trails with friends and racing competitively. It wasn’t until he was a student at Montana State studying to be an engineer when his friends told him he should try to build a bike.
“I was always interested in learning the process, but it wasn’t until I attempted to build my first frame that I realized online interest forums and YouTube videos could only carry me so far — I needed a mentor. During my time at MSU, I met a guy on campus who ran a bike shop since the 80s. I started learning from him and soon after rented a corner of his shop while I figured out by business plan for Sklar Bikes.”
He found the quality of mountain bikes available on the market today to be very cookie cutter and the materials too cheap.
“Like a good pair of shoes, a mountain bike needs to match your particular riding level and frame,” explains Adam. “After some trial and error, and being a mountain biker myself for more than a decade, I believe that my designs not only extend the life of the bikes I build but also provide support for a better ride.”
Adam uses a healthy mix of traditional and modern methods when building — like embracing 3D printing to create custom parts such as chainstay yokes and dropouts, while also using TIG welding to cut and assemble steel/titanium frames.
“Not only are the materials I use miles away from what you’re buying at the store, but I also factor in rider weight and dimensions,” says Adam. “Using custom-fit geometry I am able to ensure that all gears and parts flex correctly with every gravel patch and ramp you encounter on your ride.”
In 2017, Adam won ” Best Mountain Bike” at the North American Hand-Made Bike Show
Adam was just 20-years-old when he first opened his business. Now at 28, his mountain bikes are enjoyed by enthusiasts and professionals alike.
“I didn’t know anything about business starting out, but I had a drive and passion. I will say that the bike building community is kind, creative, and supportive. After all, we’re all here to make sure everyone has the chance to enjoy a bike — which is just a big toy for adults to reconnect to their youth, right?”
To this day, problem-solving is still Adam’s favorite part of the bike-building process.
“What I enjoy the most is getting on the first initial call with a customer and hearing their story. Some of them are looking for a bike that can win them competitions and some are guys who just retired and are looking for a way to stay in shape. By working so closely with my customers, not only does the learning never stop, it has me constantly evolving my process.”
LET ADAM BUILD A BIKE FOR YOU
Like anything custom-made, the benefit is that the builder uses their specific design philosophy with only your needs in mind. You’ll also own the only version of that bike ever made! The other benefit is that you’re supporting a small business and a maker’s livelihood.
“I enjoy building long-term relationships with my customers creating the bike that leads them down new and exciting trails wherever they choose to ride,” says Adam.
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