When it comes to bicycle design and fabrication, Matthew Sowter of London’s Saffron Frameworks is definitely a free thinker. He produces some of the most elegant bikes to come out of the United Kingdom, yet he’s also not afraid of bending the rules. Or, for that matter, the top tube.
The latest release from his workshop is this tight Welsh-themed roadie, a mixture of traditional and modern — all in the one package.
The Saffron Frameworks workshop is tucked away in a Camberwell industrial estate. It’s small and tidy, and it’s easy to see the relationship between the space and the bikes that are produced there. The latest was built for a Welshman named Andrew, who wanted a clean, simple and fast road bike.
A light coat of pearl-white paint barely covers the lightweight Columbus XCR tubes, which Andrew chose for their resistance to the weather. There’s no bells and whistles, save for Matthew’s refined construction. The top tube is decorated with the colours of the Welsh flag.
The frame is a mix of fillet brazing and a bi-lam seat tube cluster that reaches down to a high-polished drive-side chain stay, which is also reflected in the Saffron logo on the head tube. The build kit is a full Dura-Ace groupset, including a C-24 wheel set.
Andrew has a dream one day of touring through Italy with his new Saffron which, due to the colours on the top tube, should be welcomed with open arms, until he tells them otherwise. In anticipation, Matthew included eyelets on the rear dropouts, so a rack and panniers can be installed.