If you somehow managed to get all of David Gwyther’s — A.K.A Death Spray Custom — artwork in one room at the same time, the atmosphere could be described as highly combustible. And it wouldn’t just be from the vapours.
Death Spray Custom has decorated motorbikes, helmets, jerry cans, car bonnets, axes, tool boxes and hammers, and more than a few bike frames and forks. His latest canvas is a snow and gravel bike by London’s Saffron Frameworks that’s heading for the harsh climes of Sweden.
This isn’t the first time Matthew Sowter of Saffron Frameworks has had a bike painted by Death Spray Custom, there was another road bike that won the Best in Show ribbon at the 2014 Bespoked Bristol show. The colour palette on that one was St Elmo’s Fire, this one is more God of Hellfire.
Saffron’s customer, Nick, wanted a bike that he could take to Sweden with him when he moved there, something that could tackle icy roads, wet shale and the odd snowdrift. Sweden’s climate is extreme, so Nick’s bike needed to be compatible with both road tyres and studded 33mm tyres.
Designing such a bike wasn’t just a matter of slipping a pair of Kenda’s studded Klondike tyres onto a standard road frame. The terrain potentially involved sliding around over dirt, rocks and all sorts of ice —black or otherwise — so the angles were slacked off to take this into account.
Oversized tubing was used for the frame: Columbus Mega Oval for the top tube, a Super Steel HSS Bi-Oval for the downtube — run in reverse — an externally butted Zona seat tube, and Life short-taper chain stays. Hydraulic disc brakes will ensure reliable stopping power through rain and sludge.
The electronic version of Shimano’s Ultegra groupset was an interesting choice, but it means shifting will stay crisp and clean, as opposed to dealing with stretched and rusty cables. An ENVE CX fork is up front, with custom mounted eyelets for mudguards.
Once the frame was completed, it was despatched to Death Spray Custom for the final touch: a metallic volcanic paint scheme that will stand out against Sweden’s stark environment, where the sun never sets for part of each summer, and it never rises for part of each winter.