Independent Fabrication are still some of the finest craftsmen around, building bikes in the heart of New England. (Click on all pictures to enlarge, btw)
After a recent move by the company from their more urban digs, I.F. is now back up to speed in their new facility, producing world class bikes in pretty much all materials, sizes, colors and types. One model you may not have heard of, and which is not yet advertised on the I.F. website, is their brand new Ti Factory Lightweight, usually found in lime-green or neon-orange livery, as below: Blacksmith Cycle's new 57 cm bike, however, is somewhat more subtle, with a simple bead-blasted finish... The TiFLw is meant to be I.F.'s balls-to-the-wall, no-weight-limit, ti-carbon racer. And on the one hand, the ENVE fork, Press-fit BB30, and massive ti tubing, all aim at this target. But the gorgeous build quality, beautiful lines, carbon seat-tube and exciting ride quality were the aspects of this bike that really surprised me. To find out why, read on...The Build: We went for a nice combo of fairly stock items, with a few custom touches. Campagnolo Chorus-11 drivetrain is one of our favourites for functionality, looks and value, plus Campy's Press-fit BB30 cups work great. Deda Zero 100 stem matches the silver look and the gorgeous Deda Campione is just about the stiffest carbon bar in existence, not to mention so perfectly pro with the old-school round shape. Apologies in advance if the Cinelli chrome bar-tape destroys your retinas. Wheels take this build to another level, with 2012 Reynolds 32 mm tubular rims laced with Sapim CX Rays to C4 anodized hubs - sub-1000 gram weight, stiffness with comfort...just about the perfect wheelset. FMB Paris Roubaix Pro tires are about the finest around, and so damn supple for winter conditions in Kanada. Notice the Jaguire brake blocks with Swisstop Yellow pads. Prologo Cancellara special WCS edition Scratch saddle rounds things off with tubular titanium rails mated to a full carbon base atop an easily-adjustable ENVE cappy. The Ratings… Ride-quality/Comfort: 9/10 – no doubt a stiff platform, yet still takes the edge off Front-end Stiffness: 8/10 – very stout for a standard 1,1/8" front end BB Stiffness: 9/10 – first time I have felt that PressFit on a metal bike has really paid off Style/Aesthetics: 9/10 – a real stunner, can be built as a classic tourer or modern racer Technology/Weight/Value: 8/10 – full custom, low weight, and sub-$5000 price tag Total = 43/50 – a close-to-ideal combination of stiffness, smoothness, and sharp handling for the stronger amateur rider. Add in the legendary I.F. build quality, and this is a modern classic that can challenge any full-carbon rig. The Good: A seriously compelling combination of traits... - super-smooth welds, perfect bead-blasted finish and sexy head-badge - smile-inducing handling, stiff-yet-comfortable balance, and darn light at 15.1 lbs - two of the finest materials, mated in perfect matrimony from a premium namesake The Bad: A little too pretty to be truly thrashed, which is what I said about our Passoni Nero XL , another stiff ti/carbon racer. But this one is indeed more durable, more affordable, and nearly as special. Wait, those are not bad things, sorry. The Skinny: I.F. has won more awards than I can count, including Best Welds at last year's NAHBS. They don't need my accolades, but their newest TiFLw is truly special as a do-it-all machine. Looking for a custom bike to provide day-in comfort and durability, yet also step up to race-day stiffness and weight, while doing so at a price lower than an XS or Corvid? You have found your steed. Thanks to Jesse and Jeff for the lovely build. I'm diggin the small touches, like the WCS stripes on the bars to match the saddle. Come check out our fleet of I.F.'s along with the very unique full-carbon lugged Corvid. Both are available for test-rides!