The legendary Supermarine Spitfire formed the backbone of the RAF and other Allied airforces during World War II, and was a contributing factor in their eventual victory. It was often decorated with nose art in the form of a shark’s mouth, which has inspired the paint on the latest machine to come out of London’s Saffron Frameworks.
While the Spitfire was the scourge of the skies, this new Saffron looks like it’s destined to become the scourge of the road — or trail, as the case may be. It’s designed as an all-weather, all-road commuter weapon that can conquer the mixed terrains of asphalt, B-roads and green lanes.
Saffron Frameworks’ Matthew Sowter met Dave when the two shared a workshop in Camberwell, in London’s south. Dave had helped Matthew out in many ways over the years, including the building of his stands for the Bespoked Bristol shows. Matthew held up his side of the deal by building Dave a new bike.
The fillet brazed frame is constructed from a mix of Columbus Life and Zona tubes, with a stocky 44mm head tube that provided, along with a Whisky fork, the real estate for the shark’s mouth livery. The geometry combines a steep head tube angle with a road-going bottom bracket height, resulting in a nimble ride.
Matthew incorporated an integrated seat post into the frame, the height of which is specific to Dave’s body, but just allows a modicum of adjustment to accommodate a new saddle or pedals in the future. 32c wheels fit fine, along with fenders, and Dave decided to build it up with SRAM’s Force 1X groupset and an 11-42t cassette.
In addition to the King and carbon wheelset seen here, a second set of wheels consisting of Hope hubs and a higher spoke count accompanies the bike for touring. A Silca pump is painted in matte grey to match the Spitfire’s fuselage, skilfully executed by York’s Tom Armstrong. I know which bike I’d like to take to war.