One of the highlights of trips like this is bumping into people whose work you’ve admired and being able to see the fruits of their labor in person. For me, finally meeting Matthew of Saffron Frameworks at the Karoobaix was one of these moments. Matthew’s work is clean, precise and artful, as embodied in this disc all road bike, built especially for the Karoobaix.
Using a mix of Columbus tubing – comprised of Life, Zona and HSS – Matthew tailored the engineering of the frame to fit how he sees a bike should handle a race of this proportion. 400km on mostly washboarded desert roads is no joke, yet having a large tire and compliant tubing will save your ass – literally – after almost 20 hours of riding.
The graphic layout of the frame is an abstraction of his logo – a saffron leaf – blown up, pixelated and color-halftoned over the frame, painted by Jack Kingston. The paint compliments the frame’s details and fork. With a fastback seatstay cluster, flat mount disc brakes and Ultegra Di2 with internal routing, it’s as high tech as it is beautiful.
In recent months, Matthew has been overcoming medical issues that forced him off the bike. He’s only been back at it for a few months, with the Karoobaix being the first big ride in years and the second time he’s ridden this piece of art. Not even 11 punctures from thorns could keep him down. I hope to visit Matthew’s shop this year, on a trip to the UK I’ve got planned, so stay tuned for more updates as events warrant.