The ninth edition of the Brooklyn Red Hook Crit race is about to kick off, spitting dozens of male and female racers into the looping waterfront course. London’s 5th Floor team is rearing to go, aboard three bikes built by Saffron Frameworks.
The first Red Hook Crit was held as a celebration of David Trimble‘s 26th birthday back in 2008. It was a completely unsanctioned event, and continues to be so, eight years later. It’s no longer the clandestine, unsponsored event it started out as, however.
Today, it has major corporate sponsorship by brands such as Specialized, Giro and Strava, and is broadcast widely on social media. Both the racers and bikes are a flurry of colour and graphics, a spectacle closer to a NASCAR race than any UCI event.
The bikes are designed specifically for criterium racing: brakeless track bikes with a slightly higher bottom bracket for better cornering. The angles are steep and construction is stiff.
The 5th Floor is a collective of riders stationed in London and New York, inspired and bound together by a passion for riding and racing. Three London members have travelled to NYC to commune with their brethren and race their new Saffron team bikes.
Saffron Frameworks’ Matthew Sowter built three identical frames for Reece Wood, George Garnier and Alex Blomeley — the 5th Floor riders determined to stand on the top of the podium at the end of the race.
Matthew constructed the frames from Columbus tubes. After the Crit, they’ll be used for track racing, so they come with a pair of Columbus forks for both disciplines. The big tubes and tapered head tube will make for an unforgiving, but responsive, ride.
The wheels are tubular carbon Boyd rims laced to Goldtec hubs, built up by Noble Wheels. The striking paint work was designed by Matthew Townsend, applied by Cole Coatings Workshop in South East London.
The 2016 Red Hook Crit is looking like it’s going to be the biggest yet, but if there’s one team to watch, it’ll be The 5th Floor. With their Saffron Frameworks bikes, they’ll be formidable foes.