Bikes of the Bunch: Independent Fabrication Ti Crown Jewel

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It’s Friday afternoon which means it’s time for another edition of Bikes of the Bunch. In this week’s instalment Tony Rush tells us about his Independent Fabrication Ti Crown Jewel, the custom build process and why he chose this particular bike.

After entering my twilight years in bicycle riding (I am still a current member of a racing club, but do not race anymore) I decided to purchase my dream bike. My plan was to compromise on nothing and get exactly what I wanted. This led me to Steve at Crankstar.

I was chasing a machine that I could ride longer distances, comfortably — not at race pace, but not dawdling either — leading me to settle on a titanium, custom frame to suit the style of riding I was expecting to do.

I initially read about Independent Fabrication’s history and ethos in Rouleur magazine. I instantly liked the “no bullshit” style of their marketing, preferring to let their products do the talking. They do not specify the types of tubeset they use in their manufacture only that they use the highest-grade US aerospace titanium suppliers and would choose a tubeset appropriate to my weight and the ride characteristics I was chasing.

The ordering process began on a September afternoon at Crankstar in Brisbane. I talked about what I was chasing in a bicycle and brought my current ride along as a starting point for the process. Steve ran the tape measure over my current ride and dialled the measurements into his jig.

After hopping on to the jig and riding for a while as Steve ran his eye over the form of my body on the setup, “Hmmmm” were his first murmurings. “Do you get sore shoulders?” An emphatic “yes” was my reply, “but only after 150km of riding”. After a few more discussions and revisions on the jig we determined an optimal fit.

The appropriate measurements along with some ideas of a paint scheme were then sent to Independent Fabrication (IF). The price and mock colour scheme came back for my approval before proceeding with the order. After that, the waiting game began …

IF made the frame and fork combination and delivered it roughly three months after I ordered it. Through no fault of IF, I had specified SRAM’s new Hydro 22 group set for this build — the idea of long descents with hydraulic disc braking appealed to me immensely. And since this machine was not meant for racing it seemed like a great fit for my needs.

At about this time, though, SRAM recalled this product and as there was no real alternative I chose to wait until SRAM had sorted their groupo out before proceeding with the build. Weeks turned into months and my bicycle was finally finished in July the following year.

Weight was not the burning issue for me – I am a tall guy and bikes under 7kg aren’t really my thing. Longevity and comfort are now my driving forces. It is nice to ride something that not everyone else has as well – I didn’t want a “me too” product, I love the fine engineering and craftsmanship that are associated with the custom build.

The build is as follows:

2013 Independent Fabrication Ti Crown Jewel including:

-Enve 2.0 Fork
– Chris King Headset
– Sterling Silver Badge
– Three-phase colour paint
– 2013 SRAM RED22 Hydraulic Disc Brakes (11 speed + Rotors and mounts including Hydraulic Disc Shift/Brake
– RED Quarq22 GXP Crank
– Chris King R45 Disc hubs 32/28
– Sapim Race Spokes & nipples
– H+Son Archetype Rims
– 3T Ergonova Team Carbon bars 44
– 3T ARX Team Stem
– 3T Dorico Team Carbon seat pillar
– Fizik Arione Kium Rail
– Fizik Performance 3mm tape
– Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals
– King Ti cages x2

This is by far the most comfortable, well-balanced ride I have ridden. It corners beautifully and stops on a dime. I look forward to many more kilometres on it.

Thanks to Crankstar for their assistance in teeing up this post.

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