The work produced by students of Koichi Yamaguchi is easily recognised, seemingly, by his one instruction: think outside the triangle. Steel is a malleable material, perfect for building bicycle frames, but it takes a critical mind to create a functional variation on the vernacular. Mathew Amonson has done just that and it’s no surprise that he is a student of Yamaguchi.
Mathew, who lives in Brooklyn NY, is a rising star on the New York custom scene and has named his workshop Airtight Cycles: “I’m from the Rockies of Idaho which necessitates doing everything yourself. I grew up fixing cars, tools, building houses, driving massive equipment and so on.
“After living in California and New York, I’ve been very surprised at how few people know little more than how to tie their own shoes (when it comes to physical problem solving, that is). I grew up with the frame of mind that anything you want to do, you should be able to.
“Over the past decade in NY, cycling reawakened in me in a big way. I started commuting to the train, then commuting past the train, then repairing and reassembling, before a light went off in my head that I should make my own frames.
“I built a frame with a very unique design that I am very proud of. It rode well, but had many flaws. I knew I needed to take my skills to another level.
“After researching all the major possibilities, I ended up choosing to study under Yamaguchi since he is a master of champion track frames, crazy experimental frames, and is a top mechanic. There really wasn’t another choice.
“He teaches precision building with minimal tooling and effective ways to gain heat control and lay down a proper fillet as well as smooth cleanup work. (He also has a photographic memory and a ton of stories to tell).
“I asked Yamaguchi what he thought of my design and he validated my theory. Lowering the seat stay on the drive side means you lose less energy to the frame flexing and the energy is transferred to pushing you forward.
“He went on to explain that his first world champion track frame had asymmetric stays (and a really crazy design). I returned to Brooklyn and built out my own frame fixture on a machinist table I had shipped from Cleveland and all my fixtures on magnetic blocks so I can build infinite geometries.
“I’m currently focused on building single speed bikes with a criterium geometry. I love the power of a track frame that is actually made to handle on mucked up streets of NYC.” With such an independent perspective, we’re bound to see much more of Mathew’s work in the future.
See more on the Airtight Cycles website.