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In this edition of Bikes of the Bunch, we travel to the UK to take a close look at a bespoke stainless steel bike that was built for Lee Atreed by Saffron Frameworks.
There are many reasons for buying a new bike, and for Lee Atreed, the reason was quite simple. “There’s no mysterious back story. I just love all things bike, cycling, and quality design.”
“I’d been looking around for a new build for a while,” said Lee, “but couldn’t really decide on one frame over another or carbon versus titanium or steel. Then I came across Matthew’s book Made In England and that crystallised the decision to go for steel.”
That book was an earlier project for Matthew Sowter, the man behind Saffron Frameworks. Together with Ricky Feather, another framebuilder, and photographer Kayti Peschke, he travelled around the UK to chronicle the work of some of the country’s framebuilders.
“I was torn between a few framebuilders from the book,” said Lee. “I liked the idea of having the bike built a couple of miles down the road and after meeting Matthew and seeing some previous builds, I plumped for Saffron.”
According to Lee, he had a wait of around six months for the new bike, but it gave him time to contemplate all of the details.
“The lead time was a blessing as the vision I had for the bike changed over time. It allowed me to really refine what I wanted and the end result is better for it.
“Part of the pleasure of a project like this is immersing yourself in the details and the research. If I had been able to walk away with a bike after week, the result would have been different, and dare I say, less satisfying.”
Lee’s frame is constructed from Columbus XCR, lightweight stainless tubing that can be left unpainted without fear of corrosion.
“Lee was interested in having some of the material exposed on the frame to show off its construction,” said Matthew Sowter. “The bi-laminate head tube was a joint decision after Lee had seen a similar idea on another one of our frames.”
Sowter’s favoured method of construction is fillet-brazing, which is as practical as it is beautiful.
“We generally make fillet-brazed frames,” said Sowter, “as it allows for ultimate flexibility in design and geometry so we can tune the bike perfectly to fit each rider.”
Lee’s choice of components for the build honours the mix of a contemporary road bike with classic touches that he feels has come to define Saffron’s bikes.
“The groupset was always going to be Campag,” said Lee, “and I was fortunate that EPS V3.0 was released just in time for the build.
“I think the 3T finishing kit compliments the mix of classic and contemporary styling of the frame. Chris King hubs and headsets seem to be ubiquitous on builds of this kind so I chose Tune kit instead, which has the added bonus of a small weight saving. The wheels were built up by DCR wheels in South England.”
Frame: Saffron XCR
Forks: Enve Road 2.0
Groupset: Campagnolo Record EPS V3.0
Saddle: Fabric ALM
Wheels: DCR low profile carbon rims with Tune hubs
Tyres: Continental GP4000 S II
Saffron leaves all of its painting in the hands of Tom Armstrong and Lee took a punt with a bold colour.
“The paint is custom Mercedes AMG Solarbeam Yellow,” said Lee. “There were a few raised eyebrows when I said the primary colour was yellow but I’m glad I trusted my instincts and I’m super happy with the results.”
Lee is also just as happy with the bike on the road.
“It rides brilliantly. It feels like it wants to be ridden hard at speed and always feels perfectly balanced, so I wouldn’t change a thing.”