Dan Craven is a professional cyclist who has been racing in Europe since 2005. He has always struck me as somebody who seems to take the road which is a little less travelled, and has a wonderful ability to fight through the odds for a sense of personal achievement. Dan is somebody I have often looked up to for bucking the trend. As pro cyclists go, he has possibly the least ego about him, and has a great ability to treat everybody as equals.
We had Dan in the workshop a couple of years ago with this crazy idea of creating a monster cross bike. The talks evolved to him standing over a vice with some tubes and an angle grinder, where he put in the graft to turn his ideas into a tangible object.
We started to talk about a bike for the Commonwealth Games in mid February 2017. We only finalised the go-ahead to start it in March. The objective was to make Dan a race-ready stainless steel frame. Given that the course at the Commonwealth Games was reasonably flat, we opted to go with a stiff configuration of tubes with a slight penalty to weight. The bike ended up being just a little over 7kg.
We partnered with Columbus, who supplied us with a set of XCR tubes. We chose to TIG weld the frame, leaving it raw and to minimise the weight. We kept the bottom bracket reasonably high, and the head tube angle and rake of the fork quite steep to give it a lively and swift handling. Campagnolo partnered with us for this project, and was kind enough to offer us a full group set and wheels. Fabric Cycles supplied the bar tape and saddle, and Schwalbe supplied the tyres.
To have a steel bike raced amongst the best cyclists in the world is a major accomplishment. It seems a perfect fit to have a rider like Dan Craven on a stainless steel bike, and that it a Saffron is a such an honour.
Below is Dan’s description of how the bike rides:
Do you know that feeling, when something suddenly makes you feel like a little kid again?
In a nutshell – that’s my bike.
My first ride on the bike was upon arrival in Australia for the Commonwealth Games. Groggy and tired from 32 hours of flying time, I went out for an easy test ride, and just to stretch my legs along the Gold Coast beach front. 40km, multiple town-sign-sprints and red light standing starts later I rolled back to the Athletes Village with a huge grin on my face.
The geometry Matt and I decided to use makes this bike nippy – and oh so much fun. Unlike other bikes I have ridden which, might be a bit “easier” to handle – but are therefor a bit… well… boring. Of course, being my first stainless steel bike – I can not in all honesty say how much that has to do with the geometry and how much has to do with the material.
Or as I suspect – it’s a combination of both. After all, thats why we chose to build with this material in this way.
And that’s just talking about the ride.
I’ve always been a huge fan of chromed or stainless bikes. Shiny chain stays especially. So having a whole bike built just the way I want it makes me seriously happy. The dreezer dropouts are my favourite (seriously – if you prefer a different type of dropout I do not understand you). The straight, chunky head tube just makes for such a clean and solid look that I really think is timeless and classic – without being in an old-school way. In my eyes, all of the tube diameters are in perfect relation to each other (something that often ruins otherwise perfect steel bikes in my opinion). All topped off with the subtle sandblasted and shiny look. Once again, classy, subtle and just utterly beautiful!
I still can’t believe I own this bike.
Ha – and I’ve completely left out the rest of the bike.
Chris King Inset7
Campagnolo Super Record
Campagnolo Bora Ultra