Today’s article is sort of a two for one dealio. In the first part of the article, I share a little builder profile action on Matter Cycles and in the second segment, Colin Ford, gives you his first impressions of the Matter Cycles, Benefat. ~Enjoy the Ride…or…Read!~
Matter Cycles is a one man custom frame fabricator in Boulder Colorado run by Collin Schaafsma. Every bike Collin brings to life is hand made in a small shop in the Rocky Mountains. Every tube is carefully chosen and then mitered and filled for a precision fit. Collin crafts beautifully strong bicycles one at a time. Collin and I contacted each other, just about the time that my close amigo and BBR Test Pilot; former bantamweight Pugsley World Champion and the captain of Wisconsin’s first State Fat-Bike Team Champion(s); Señior Colin Ford, was moving from MKE to the Mile High City of Denver. In preparation for picking up stakes and moving to Colorado, Colin had sold his Gravedigger Pugsley so I asked Collin if Colin could do a little testing on a Benefat, when he got to town. Collin was all about giving Colin some saddle time and the calendar worked out perfectly because a brand new, Benefat was scheduled back from powdercoating in our favorite color (black) just in time for both Colin and Collin to get together and play bikes!
We asked Collin a couple of questions about Matter Cycles :
Collin – I grew up on a farm racing motocross, building dirt jumps, and tinkering in the shop with a welder. This somehow led to art school, software engineering and a ton of bike riding/racing along the way. A few years ago I really needed to step away from the screen and do something with my hands again. I felt like those skills I grew up with were slowly rotting away. I’ve always been a bike geek and I had several designs in my head that I really wanted to make. Built my first bike with some files and a homemade jig and went from there. When I built my first mountain bike (a design I’ve been thinking about for years) and started riding it some of my friends wanted one too. Before I knew it I had six different models and a modest build que. Matter Cycles keeps me busy full time now and I love it.
FBC – Please share with our readers your design philosophy of the Matter Cycles Benefat (Fat Mountain Bike)
Collin – The Benefat was a really challenging design for me. I really wanted to create a fat bike that was really a trail bike with big tires. A trail bike with the benefits that fat tires give you, hence the name “Benefat.” I like all my mtn bikes to be really agile and playful. The best compliment I can receive is, “damn, that bike is fun.” I wanted a fat bike that I could still do really stupid things on, not just tool around on in the snow. It needed to feel just as awesome on the local trails whether it was summer or winter with snow. I knew what sort of geometry I needed to make that happen, but the damn tires are big. So I went through a lot of iterations and a lot of fabrication process to get it where it is today. Curved seat tube, custom yoke, curved down tube for suspension fork clearance, internal dropper post routing, the whole thing was challenging and it takes a bit longer for me to build but it’s totally worth it. You can also get the Benefat with rocker dropouts to go SS with a belt or a chain and you can go with a rigid fork that has the same 15mm x 150mm axle spacing as a Bluto fork, so you can easily swap it out and not have to build up a new front wheel. I’m also working on a custom rack system that will turn the Benefat into the ultimate approach bike for backcountry skiing, it’s gonna be awesome!
Next up: Colin talks about riding the Benefat!
The Matter Cycles – Benefat ♦ First Impressions by Colin Ford
Greetings fellow Fat compatriots.
About a month or so ago I moved to Denver, CO to pursue my brewing dreams and do more rad mountain biking. Gomez lined up the opportunity for me to test out a custom built Fat Bike from Matter Cycles in Boulder. The Builder and Owner of Matter is a dude named Collin. Cool huh? Two dudes with the same name shreddin’ steel bikes together!
As soon as I looked at this bike on their website I knew it would be rad. The overall look, screamed trail bike. Its made of True Temper steel. The bent seat tube allows for a super short rear end (420mm), in combination with a 69 degree head tube angle had me excited from the get go. Now this is a Fully Custom build. It is a Handmade piece of art. So expect high standards. It comes with really nice parts on it. XX1, a 100mm Bluto fork, 100mm Surly Clownshoe rims, Bud & Lou 4.8″ 120TPI tires, a 150mm KS Lev dropper post with stealth cable routing, Shimano XT hydraulic brakes, Raceface Turbine Cranks, and Thomson parts to fill in the gaps. Pretty amazing build if you ask me.
I met up with Collin a few weeks after I moved and we tested the new murdered-out Benefat at Buffalo Creek. I wrote a short piece about the Surly/Salvagetti weekend that was held there last weekend. For those not familiar with Buffalo Creek, it has a lot of more mellow singletrack that is prime for hardtails. Very flowy and not very steep (except for Rasberry Ridge and Blackjack) this offers a great first ride for a bike. A great place to work out the kinks and get your bearings. Collin and his buddy Gabe were both riding a different Matter bike called a Slayride. Its a super fun 650b trail hardtail. After afew seat adjustments, shock pumping, and pedal swapping – we were off.
The Benefat rode like it was custom made for me. Designed well from the ground up. Made with quality steel, and made to shred. Its Agile, very flickable and climbs great. After pushing it into some corners, I became familiar with the steering at higher speeds. Turning the fatness of 100mm rims was a bit different than the 29er I have been riding as my trail bike. After a decent climb we got to point this bad boy downhill for a bit. A huge grin crept over my face as I let Collin and Gabe ride ahead so they could grab some photos of me riding. I dropped the post and began cruising, flowing over kitty litter and sandy trail that wound down the countryside. Taking every opprotunity to jump the bike off of rocks, roots and other trail features that would allow airtime. This bike jumps very naturally, and is easy to whip. Coming across some technical features, the geometry allowed for predictable handling down steeper, rockier sections. Bringing my weight behind the rear tire and pushing my hands forward it felt just as natural any great trail bike. Surly’s Bud and Lou are just the Gnarliest tire combo on earth gripping anything beneath them with overwhelming authority. The Bluto preformed great, with enough travel for this application and gave very predictable squish up front. I may be beginning to like this fork. (I cant believe i just said that). We finished out the ride (after i hauled out this cool ass deer spine from the trail) and had some beers in the parking lot as per usual.
I put the Benefat on the public light rail here in Denver and took it out to Apex trail. It is a lot more rocky than Buffalo Creek and has one of my favorite sections of trail in it called Enchanted Forest. On this section of trail I definitely went the fastest downhill I’ve gone yet on a fat-bike. Handled well at high speeds though the monster tires aren’t as fast as traditional trail bikes.
I rode the bike at Buffalo creek again, at the Surly/Salvagetti weekend. Took it on a new trail called Lil’ Scrappy. It was a 12 mile out and back with some great features and really nice flowy singletrack. Me and my buddies even found a sweet rock jump and sessioned it and took some ok pictures. Sweet.
I took the bike out on a great Fat-Exploring ride around the Platte River trail near where I live in Denver. It was a great time with 35deg temps and a good dusting of snow on the ground. I managed to find some sand, cool man made drops, big rocks, railroad tracks, gravel, a sledding jump, and did some wheelies. The bike felt very capable and sure, Bluto sucked up unexpected rocks and changes in the ground when I was bushwacking through fields. Fat-Bikes are my favorite thing to just bomb around on since they can handle everything you throw at them as the Benefat did with much ease.
So Far, so good, mindblowingly good. The Benefat is loads of fun, and a high quality do-all ripper of a bike. I can say this bike has all the right things going for it. More riding will be done, and more challenges tackled in the future. This weekend me and Collin are gonna take this whip out to the mountains and shred mountain singletrack in the snow with some buddies. I cant freakin’ wait! Stoke level is high on this bike. Check it out.
For more information about the Matter Cycles, Benefat visit – http://mattercycles.com/collections/bikes/products/benefat