Fairlight Strael road bike

Fit, form and function from Fairlight

Started up by co-founders Dom Thomas and Jon Reid, Fairlight Cycles is a new British-based steel bike manufacturer with three key words at its heart: fit, form and function.

Before we get too much further, let’s start with fit, because that is central to the Fairlight experience. Fairlight’s bikes come in 51, 54, 56, 58 and 61cm sizes, with separate ‘regular’ and ‘tall’ geometry options for every size except that super-large 61 – ensuring you get the best fit and, therefore, best experience from your new steel machine.

It’s a concept Fairlight call ‘proportional geometry’ and the two geometries are intended to cater for difference in body proportions, be it a long torso and short legs (suitable for the ‘regular’ geometry) or a short torso and long legs (better suited to the ‘tall’ geometry). Essentially, it’s a semi-custom experience and should help more riders find a bike which fits them. Bravo, Fairlight.

On to the bikes and Fairlight launched with two frames: the Strael and the Faran. We’ve selected the Strael for the RCUK 100 – a stunning all-season steel road bike designed to meet all your needs, all year round. It carries with it the classic looks of a steel tubed frame, while living up to its name – an old English noun that means ‘missile’ – by delivering an up-to-date ride.  Now they’ve got our attention.

It uses Reynolds 853 tubes that are custom formed and shaped to arrive at the unique design of the frame – personally approved by frame build specialist Thomas – and have been specially selected to give a blend of stiffness and comfort that will feel at home on European cols, as well as on Flandrian cobbles and, most importantly, UK B-roads.

As you might expect from a premium road bike, the fork is a carbon number, but it’s no off-the-shelf model. Instead, Thomas and Reid have gone to the trouble of designing their own because they felt no brand could meet the exacting qualities they wanted in the frameset. So, the resulting Anraed fork weighs in at 365g, and is designed to have the stiffness of a top-level carbon prong with the compliance to match, with additional features including mudguard mounts, clearance for 32c tyres, or 28c with mudguards fitted, a dynamo-powered light mount and, of course, internal cable routing.

Look further back and you’ll spot an ovalised toptube, teamed with a slender 34.9mm diameter downtube that’s been ovalised in two planes. Up near the headtube it’s shaped longitudinally for maximum weld strength – ideal when Fairlight claims it’s one of the most stressed areas of the frame on any given ride – while down near the threaded bottom bracket it flares horizontally for improved stiffness when the power goes down.

RCUK 100 2017 - Fairlight Strael road bike

Not content with the ‘standard’ 853 tubing, Fairlight went to Reynolds and asked for a specific lightweight tube – now known as the 853 Pro Team tube – and is one of the key reasons as to how the frame meets its 1,946g total weight. At the rear, Fairlight have also critiqued the oval chainstay profiles of rivals in the market, choosing to buck the trend and opt for round 631 chainstay tubing, in a move that’s claimed to improve both comfort and stiffness simultaneously.

Of course, tapering work has gone into these in order to cater for the 32c tyre clearance, with the same thinking in terms of compliance and stiffness going into the seatstays. The rear triangle (and fork) is designed to accommodate disc brakes, with support for 140mm rotors and flat mount calipers.

RCUK 100 2017 - Fairlight Strael road bike

Fairlight Strael

Our RCUK 100 bike is dressed in Shimano Ultegra, complete with BR685 disc brakes, Hunt 4 Season wheels with double-sealed bearings that weigh a competitive 1,585g for the set, matched up to fast Vittoria Corsa G+ rubber (though the stock bike comes with Continental Gatorskin tyres). Fairlight have also added a Hope upgrade, which costs an extra £40 for the colour-coded headset and seatpost clamp. Very smart.

Ultimately, however, what the Fairlight Strael demonstrates to us is, no matter how classical steel can appear, it’s a material which when in the right hands can absolutely stand up to all the tests of the modern cycling world.

[monetizer101 search=’Fairlight Strael’ price=’2439′]


Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

View the full 100
Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.