£Custom One of London-based Saffron's two new road bikes to be launched in October
Saffron Frameworks’ Matthew Souter swapped the heat of the kitchen for the flames of a brazing torch a decade ago. The Cape Town-born former finedining chef learnt his new trade at Enigma Cycles before going it alone setting up near the Thames in London, where all Saffron frames are manufactured and finished.
In October, Saffron is launching two new frames, the Best Bike here and a more classiclooking steel bike made from what Souter calls ‘naked’ Columbus XCR steel. Saffron’s unique one-off bikes will be limited to a dozen orders a year.
That said, the new models are themselves custom with, “every single order starting as a blank canvas” Souter says. “There are absolutely no stock sizes and one of the two frames will be a perfect fit for whatever type of cycling you do.”
This one is designed as a “fast steel road bike that you could race on” and at just over 7kg it is impressively light for a bike made predominantly of steel with a smattering of carbon.
The frame is made from a combination of Columbus Spirit HSS, Spirit Keirin and carbon steel with Columbus stainless steel chainstays and a stainless steel bottom bracket shell.
The Saffron frame’s most unusual feature is its ISP ‘integrated seatpost’, which is actually a 30mm diameter carbon seat tube that segues into the post in a single piece. This has a “specially made carbon layup designed to give the seatpost some flexibility, while having sufficient torsional strength so that it doesn't snap”. Souter feels that this combination of steel and carbon makes the most of both materials’ characteristics, with the big box-section steel down tube beefed up for extra stiffness.
The kit adorning the Saffron within its ultradistinctive paintwork, is of the highest quality. The complete Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset is accompanied by deep-section ENVE SES carbon wheels, the same company's handlebar and a PRO stem. Tyres are the new (and highly rated by us) Continental 5000 TLs.
Prices will be confirmed at the time of the October launch and Saffron also plans to reduce the present seven-month lead time for its unique custom models to a more manageable two-and-a-half months. Souter sees its new bikes as a “statement from us, building on our 10 years’ experience”. And while all the models are custom bikes. “You don't need a mountain of knowledge to order one.”
The frame is made from Columbus Spirit HSS and Keirin steels with a 30mm diameter carbon seatpost
The super-shiny stainless steel chainstays meet painted ends and some ultra-tidy dropouts
One of the bike's USPs is its ISP – 'Integrated seatpost', an allin-one carbon seat tube and post
A finish of this quality demands a headset that complements it, hence the Chris King