New UK brand Iris Bicycles has launched a titanium road bike called the Zero that’s aimed at racers and other performance-focused riders.
Iris Bicycles was founded by Ben Pym, and sisters Sarah and Anna Hickman.
“The beauty of starting Iris Bicycles from scratch was the opportunity to draw up exactly what we wanted, no compromises,” says Ben, who has worked as a mechanical design engineer in the marine industry for nearly 10 years.
“Having been heavily involved in titanium through my day job, the intention was to design a handful of bikes for our own use, but we soon realised that we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves.
“Iris was an opportunity to bring a premium product to a market at a price point which was more achievable than some other manufacturers. This was hugely important. Titanium frames are often eye wateringly expensive and as a result are never considered as an option. We don’t have the overheads of our competitors or responsibility to shareholders and so we’re able to put the product first and price second.
“Titanium is robust and outlasts all other materials, as well as being a beautiful material for making bikes.”
The Iris Zero uses double butted 3AL-2.5V titanium tubes. The machined parts – the bottom bracket, head tube and dropouts – are 6AL-4V titanium.
That head tube is tapered, housing a 1 1/8in upper bearing and a 1 1/2in lower bearing. The bottom bracket is threaded (BSA).
The Zero is built to a performance geometry. The medium sized model, for example, comes with a 520mm seat tube, a 556mm effective top tube, a 140mm head tube and 73.5° frame angles.
The stack height on this one is 560mm and the reach is 390mm.
The Zero frame takes standard rim brakes and comes with internal rear brake cable routing. You can choose between internal electronic and external mechanical gear cable routing. The frame has a bead blasted matt finish with polished stays and detailing, and a claimed weight of 1.35kg (2.98lb). The completely built up Zero that Sarah Hickman has been racing this season is said to weigh 7.8kg.
The frame is priced £1,599. Built up with a carbon tapered fork and an external Chris King NoThreadSet headset, the frameset is £1,999.
The ‘Frameset +’ option, priced £2,599, has the addition of a Thompson seat clamp and Iris’s own titanium seatpost, stem and bottle cages.
Iris says that it explored manufacture in the UK and Europe but going down that route would not have allowed it to supply frames at the price it wanted.
“The result was a manufacturer of titanium products in China who are based in what can be pretty accurately described as a world hub of titanium manufacturer,” says Anna Hickman.
“They manufacture alloys, mill it, turn it, weld it and assemble their components in-house and we’ve been delighted with the quality and their commitment to our testing requests.
“All the design work is done by us in the UK, as well as the finishing processes, polishing, bead blasting, and head badge manufacture, which we intend to maintain. We’ve also built a partnership with a specialist frame painter so we’re able to offer that extra service to customers from the beginning. All this together allows us to get as close as possible to our aim of supplying a premium product but at a more manageable price point for the majority.”
Iris says that frames are currently made to order so you’re looking at 10-12 weeks for delivery, although it hopes to hold stock for faster turn arounds in the future.
For more info head over to irisbicycles.com.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.