If you’re a frame builder, you’re dedicated to building dream bikes for your customers. But what dream bike would you build for yourself? The inspiration for Matthew Sowter, of London’s Saffron Frameworks, stemmed from his racing days.
Matt began his career working with Enigma Titanium in East Sussex back in 2010, and in the years since he has established himself as a leading frame builder in his own right, winning awards at the Spin London and Bespoked Bristol shows.
Before he began building bikes, however, he used to race them back in his home country of South Africa — at a National League level, with cross country and marathon racing in the winter months.
Although Matt no longer competes, he still reminisces about the bikes he used to ride back then, so when he decided to build himself a bike as a ‘no-compromises’ present to himself, it took the form of a high-class steel racer with tight geometry.
Matt chose Columbus’ Spirit HSS tubing with stiff, box section stays and oversized front triangle, in order to transfer maximum power from each pedal stroke to the rear wheel. The tapered, integrated head tube, with a 1.5″ bottom headset bearing, leads the way.
To maintain a clean silhouette, the rear brake cable is routed from the Campagnolo Super Record lever through the top tube and down to the caliper. The gear cables are more traditionally located on the underside of the down tube.
Campagnolo and Deda Superleggero components fill the spec sheet, from the beautifully designed Super Record group to Deda’s light EDG fork. A pair of Campagnolo Bora Ultra wheels will keep the racer rolling smoothly for many thousands of miles.
The incredible paintwork was applied by Tom at Custom Frame Painting, and is a nod to the spellbinding and permanent artwork of Berlin-based tattoo artist, Chaim Machlev and his Dots To Lines studio.
Machlev’s work is both geometric and organic, and perfectly complements the bodies of his customers. It’s an aesthetic not dissimilar to Matthew’s own, whose bikes are formed to their riders, and are built to last just as long — if not longer — as a tattoo.