Sometimes you just want a little bit of soul. Ian wanted the performance of his previous bike, but in a package customised to his needs. He is an experienced rider who has owned top of the line bikes from many of the large companies, and works in the bike industry so could really easily converse what he wanted from his Saffron. I think we can confidently say we nailed it!
A mirror-polished Columbus XCr stainless steel tubeset is the heart of this bike. Fillet brazed with silver alloy, the steel shines through the layers of paint in the form of birds in flight. The inspiration for the design came from an album cover that Ian loves. The 44mm head tube supports a subtly tapered ENVE fork, making for a stiff and direct steering feel.
Campagnolo Record, Zipp wheels, and Fizik finishing kit complete the bike. A perfectly formed marriage of carbon and steel. They’re both real.
Ian sent us a little write up on the experience of working on his dream bike with us:
My Saffron Stainless started with a visit to see Matthew and Andy at the workshop in Woolwich. After a load of research into the various excellent UK frame builders I was pretty sure I wanted to go with a Saffron but the first visit certainly confirmed it. We went through loads of options for the brazes, dropouts routing options etc that not only meant the bike would be exactly as I wanted it but was also great fun.
Fit followed the first meeting, and although we based the geometry around another of my bikes it was a pleasure to be fitted by one of the top fitters in the country. The bike fits me perfectly, in particular it descends like Alberto Tomba.
In the initial meeting we species fork, headset and the parts that required confirmation on tubing, but after that there was a period of anticipation and sourcing group set, wheels and finish kit. That was all part of the fun and a world away from a production offering where you simply get what you’re given for a certain price point.
We’d spend a bit of time discussing paint but it was when Matt Townswnd got involved that we started to develop the paint job the bike ended up with. Based on a record sleeve by the band Elder he came up with a stunning seascape/landscape that truly shows off Tom the painter’s skills and also the innate beauty of polished XCR stainless tubing (on that note I really owe Matthew a beer for all the polishing I made him do!)
So, most importantly: the ride. On the flat it is firm, pushing to go fast, certainly not a cruiser and certainly nothing sportive-y about the response to power. Uphill it climbs well, although slightly heavier than a modern hi mod carbon frame it holds its own against all but the very top end carbon frames. It descends better than my Cervelo R5 (in part thanks to the Enve fork and Zipp front wheel but also due to the frame build and the fit being dialed in exactly to how I want it). For a bigger rider XCR is perfect, a lighter rider may want a less firm ride and be better served with Spirit or 753 I guess but for me the bike rides exactly how I want it.
All in all I could not recommend a trip to Saffron enough. The process is enjoyable and means that when you first ride the bike you are on a bike that could not be better for you. Next stop, Saffron Frameworks custom tandem!
And an update from Ian
“Just wanted to let you know that I’m out in the dolomites for the Maratona with your lovely XCR frame and it continues to be absolutely fantastic. Climbs at the absolute limit of my abilities and descends like a bird of prey. I haven’t seen a single steel bike all week, a few passonis and a few other Ti frames but 99% carbon. They don’t know what they’re missing.
Once again, thank you for your exceptional craftsmanship and giving me a frame that I can cherish.”