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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
MEET NATE ZUKAS
There’s a section in the right corner of the North American Handmade Bicycle show, a small section away from the bigger names, where bike builders have one bike on display. They stand there humbly, behind a table and wait to be asked about their craft. This section exemplifies why NAHBS is so inspiring. It reminded us why we love to ride bikes and why people leave secure jobs and begin the dream of making bicycles. We spent all day in this section and will introduce you to these builders. First up is Nate Zukas of Zukas Cycles.
History: I started building three years ago. It’s a part time gig for me. I am a full time shop mechanic at Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse in Augusta, Georgia and that’s where I’m based out of. I’ve been there for 23-years.
Start: I got into frame building because I wanted to build my own frame. I have long arms and legs and a short torso so finding a stock frame size was difficult. So, the lure of building my own frame started it. A friend saw it and asked me to build him one, I got insurance and a business license and Zukas Cycles began!
Scope: I’ve sent bikes to Australia, Canada and many to the East Coast and Southeast area. I build road, cyclocross and mountain bikes.
Bike: This is actually my personal bike. I love internal cables, and not really big on internal cables with full-length housing. You don’t see any exposed cables even at the bottom bracket shell. I’m also really big on cables not rubbing against the frame. There’s an integrated seat post because I love the look. It gives it more of a custom feature. I like to do the S-bend on the seat stays. It’s elegant looking. This is a lugged-frame, but I do fillet-brazing as well.
Education: I am self-taught. I’m just one of those guys, put a book in front of me and ask me later I’m scratching my head. But, if I see it done and actually do it with my hands on it, I’ll know it forever.
Where: I build at home in a 250 square-foot workshop. I do my own paint. Make my own stencils. There are no decals on this frame.
Amount: I can produce about 8-10 frames a year, so I can maintain attention to detail. From start to finish, they own me for a month and then I start on the next one!
Name: My great, great-grandfather was Lithuanian and “Zukas” means “White Rabbit” in Lithuanian.