Already owning a custom Ti frame Alex knew the benefits of a bike made unique to him but was drawn to us specifically for our understated and elegant designs. We met him at Bespoked UK and soon after got chatting about a dual purpose build for gravel and winter riding across the North and South Downs. This gravel / all-road frame is made mainly from stainless steel. We used Columbus XCR for most of the tubes, the chainstays are made from KVA.
The interchangeable gravel and road positions was all achieved by using 2 Enve aero stems both of which have adjustable angles and can be easily switched out depending on what kind of riding. Even though the N + S Downs are better suited to fast gravel riding the 700 x 40mm is the perfect tyre choice for this. When more technical rougher riding the 650 x 47mm come in to it’s own and offers quicker steering and due the larger volume of tyres a comfier ride.
One of the unique features is the carbon integrated seat post (ISP) which makes travelling a little tricky but reduced the weight of the overall frame considerably. We also made a custom topper that sits on top of the ISP, clamping the saddle in place, and can be adjusted by 30mm in height if necessary. You’ll be surprised in what the differences are in pedal, cleat, shoe, saddle and rail height are! Our fit can also change due to injury, age and exercise so this ensures appropriate flexibility to a custom build.
There is an additional bottle cage on the down tube for longer rides and extra bosses were added to the top tube for easy access to fuel.
Elegance and gravel aren’t usually used in the same sentence but we think we achieved it here with two different layers of Porsche metallic black and white paint. The strong black angled shapes that wrap around the top tube, seat, chain and fork stays echo the shape of the exposed ISP which was also given a spray of metallic black.
The white basecoat has a silver pearlescent used as the main colour and the rest of the
The other colour that seeps through is the stainless steel on the downtube and seatstays.
“I have now ridden it twice, once with the 47/650b wheels and once with the 28/700 wheels.
I have never ridden disc brake wheels on the road before and I have never ridden steel before, my main whip is a custom titanium rim brake bike weighing in at 8kg with pedals and cages with 50mm wheels. It is incredibly fast and comfortable and it’s climbing ability belies it’s weight. However it is limited to 25mm tyres on modern (21 internal) wheels. I love ridding on the road, but put this bike to bed over winter and make do on an old aluminium hack with similar restrictions.
I wanted to join the gravel revolution, especially living in the north Wessex downs with the ridgeway and Savernake forest on my doorstep. Initially I was drawn to the Moots Rout RSL as I love racey bikes! However I already had a Ti bike and wanted something different. I approached Saffron to see if they could make me a stainless steel equivalent of the Moots with a Carbon seat mast. I wanted 650/47 clearance to play off road in the summer and then fit 28 or 30mm tyres to use for club runs in the winter, as well as taking to Europe to ride the spring classic sportives.
The first thing to strike me throwing my leg over the saffron in gravel guise was how comfortable and capable it is! On the flats or slight rolling it felt faster than it should of been but didn’t mind smashing it down some rough roads and a canal path. The next day I switched to 700/28 wheels and did the fast club run where others were on their Venges and Dogmas.. again it was incredibly comfortable, the handling is great and I can steer by flicking the hips and it stops like nothing else! It’s Achilles Jeep is the climbs. At 9.3kg in gravel guise and 9kg in road (even with super light Roval CLXs) (but with XC pedals and cages) it is not a hill climb bike and I did find myself dropping back a bit on the climbs (and I usually race hill climbs). However this is against 7kg Tour de France winning bikes with rim brakes! As soon as the terrain flattened it caught up and went by, and never have I felt so comfortable while descending! It is a supremely versatile bike that will let me travel further off the beaten path in more comfort than I ever have before. It is also the perfect compliment to my Burls Road bike and what is nice is as each does something better than the other I can keep both.
As an aside it is by far the best looking bike I have ever owned and actually ever seen!”
Columbus XCR, Enve ISP