Matthew Sowter’s former career as a chef is remembered on the head tube of the frames he builds and his workshop’s name: Saffron Frameworks. Crocus Sativus was an often-used ingredient but these days he serves up light and tight dishes of Columbus XCr.
Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices due to the high intensity of labor required for its cultivation, but its subtle flavor makes it worthwhile. Matt’s brother Josh designed the Frameworks logo and took the flower as inspiration.
Virtue is a befitting title for this particular model in the Saffron lineup: a pared-back made-to-measure roadie crafted from Columbus XCr, the brushed raw stainless steel reveals a pure heart and the lack of paint hides nothing.
XCr is the Italian tubing manufacturer’s premium product — ‘pure’ stainless steel hewn from solid billet using a cold-drawn process. The end result is a frame with a higher tensile strength than titanium.
Like the work of a proficient and passionate chef, Virtue looks both sumptuous and sublime. It’s also blissfully light: the total build weight of the TIG-welded frame is 6.45kg, sating any misconception that steel makes for a heavy bike.
A Saffron alone won’t make a meal but the addition of other ingredients brings it to the fore. This one is built up with Campagnolo’s mouth-watering Super Record gruppo, handmade AX Lightness wheels, seat post and bars, topped with a Berk Lupina saddle.
With a lightweight frame made from a traditional material with a classic silhouette, it won’t matter if you’re ascending European Cols or conquering countless kilometres in the Antipodes, this is one choice on the menu that’s guaranteed to satisfy.
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