Racing and Riding the Fairdale Goodship – Andre Chelliah

Racing and Riding the Fairdale Goodship
Words by Andre Chelliah, photos by John Watson

When Taj from Fairdale reached out to us and asked if we were interested in testing their steel road bike, the Goodship, I had a hard time containing my excitement. Fairdale, who has an office in Austin is a staple of the cycling community here. You can’t go to a downtown restaurant, East Side bar, local swimming hole, or ride through campus without spotting a Fairdale between the legs of an excited Austin dweller. The company radiates positive vibes and makes quality bicycles.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

Taj and the crew sent the new blue Goodship our way. I was tasked with racing, riding, and reviewing it. Straight out of the box, the first thing that caught my eye was the tubing and smooth welds. It was coated in a beautiful, deep blue and hand designed by Fairdale from their new “Drawnright Tubeset”, a modified Japanese 4130 chromoly. This tubeset is custom butted to meet the needs for each size of bike.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

For example, the tubing is thicker near the welds where strength and stiffness is important while it becomes thinner near the middle of the tube, where some weight can be saved without comprising structural integrity. I’m particularly fond of steel road bikes. They’re tried, true, resilient, and reliable. A steel road frame will outlast 2 or 3 carbon frames and is something you can ride everyday. The Goodship is 19 pounds out of the box and outfitted with an Enve 2.0 road fork with a full Sram Force 22 drivetrain. It has a threaded bottom bracket and integrated headset bearings.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

Not 24 hours after I built the Goodship, I found myself lined up at The Driveway ready to race a crit. I hadn’t got to spend a whole lot of time on the bike, and needless to say I was a tad nervous as to how well and confidently I would be able to turn it at speed. Before I had a chance to psych myself out anymore, the race announcer said “GO!” I made my way up quickly, and prepared myself for a 45-minute race on a bike I hadn’t ridden more than 45 minutes.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

My nervousness quickly changed to confidence as I railed the first two corners near the front of the race. A couple of laps in, my jittery tendencies turned to wanton self-assurance as I launched an attack from way too far out in hopes of winning a prime. As I got out of the saddle and tried to sprint away from the field, the bike responded powerfully and convincingly. The 44mm head tube held stiff as I rocked the bike back and forth under me, using all the leverage and power I could muster in hopes of crossing the line first. Although I got punked at the line by a (self-admitted) sandbagger, I was extremely impressed by the responsiveness and feel of the bike and its geometry all throughout the race.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

What would I change on the bike? Not a lot. At $2999.99, The Goodship might be the best complete steel road race bike available right now. I definitely feel that for the price point, you are getting the most bang for your buck. The complete Force 22 Group and ENVE fork are my favorite parts spec’d on the build. While the FSA cockpit and seatpost left a little to be desired in the weight department, most folks end up switching the stem and bars to sizes that work for their fit, anyways. For everyday riding, the Fairdale branded wheels would be just fine. A 28 hole front and 32 hole rear ensure that those accidental pothole run -ins and occasional road bike dirt session won’t leave your wheels trashed. If this were my race bike, I would probably invest in a nice set of ENVE or Bontrager wheels to save some weight and add some speed potential.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

There is no doubt in my mind that The Goodship is a bike to be raced on and ridden for long hours on the roads. There are no gimmicks to this rad, steel machine. You won’t find hidden fender and rack mounts, or sliding dropouts here. The Goodship is a true road bike. A combination of modern technology and tried and true materials, Fairdale melded old and new masterfully and the finished product is spectacular! This could very well be your only road bike. In a day and age where carbon and aluminum dominate both the pro peloton and local group rides, Fairdale proves that steel is still real with The Goodship.

The Fairdale Goodship with SRAM Force 22

Try one out at your local Fairdale dealer. Now… do I have to send it back?

____

Follow Andre on Instagram and Fairdale on Instagram.

FOOTER_1600px

  • Sean Cook

    Can you send one to me up in Portland to test the Northwest Hills?? Gorgeous bike!

    • It sure is a looker. Andre’s really been diggin this one.

  • George

    what’s the tire clearance on that bad boy?

    • Aaron Savona

      Fairdale site says 28 (approx.).

    • We fit a Challenge Roubaix on a HED Belgium which measures around 30mm and it squeezed in there.

      • Western Rapid

        You can fit a 30c tyre on an Enve fork? Interesting…

        • I have two enve forks with a 28mm tire that measures 30mm wide on them.

  • Chris Bertels

    I built up a Weekender Disc in silver about 2 years ago. Amazing machine and a great company.

    • Alex Hillis

      I just finished a 300mi tour and my buddy David did the whole thing on a weekender disc. Testament to the quality of the frame that it supported 60lbs of gear and 200+ lbs of David along the way with no issues. Fairdales are built to last!

  • arlcyclist

    Nice looking bike and solid writeup. Having a head tube that holds stuff does sound pretty convenient ;)

  • Tommaso Gomez

    In 2015, a modern carbon road frame (from any reputable builder, not some counterfeit knockoff) will last at least as long as any steel frame. Carbon fiber doesn’t corrode, fatigue, or lose stiffness over time (unlike aluminum). Even if you crash it, it’s often repairable. I know a Clydesdale that still rides a late 90’s Trek OCLV carbon road frame and it’s still rock solid.

    • How will you know if a 2015 carbon road frame will outlast a modern steel frame if we’re still in 2015?
      Yes, carbon as a material doesn’t change a whole lot, but the bonding agent does.

      • Tommaso Gomez

        Right, but some bicycle companies have been working with carbon fibre for two decades, tweaking weave patterns, fabrication processes, and bonding agents. They’ve worked through the kinks and there’s really no evidence to suggest that good carbon frames won’t last a long time. I can’t say 50+ years, but I probably won’t need a race bike in 2065 either;)

    • Keris

      Which metals “lose stiffness over time”? I’m pretty sure that is not how metal works…

      • Tommaso Gomez

        Aluminum has a relatively low yield strength is prone to fatigue with repeated stress. Keep flexing a paper clip repeatedly and watch what happens…

        • Keris

          You are correct on both counts, but your bike frame won’t go floppy on you – it cracks and then fails.

          • Tommaso Gomez

            You’re right. There is a common misconception that fatigue “softens” frames, but they don’t actually flex more. They just crack after too many load cycles.

    • Óðinn

      Provided that steel and carbon frames are properly maintained and ridden often, I think a steel frame is likely to last longer. Old monocoque carbon frames tend to ride like a wet noodle in my experience, whereas my steel frames from the 1970s and 1980s ride as well as they ever have. We still see 50+ year old steel bikes on the road. An oft ridden carbon frame is likely to degrade (or fail in a crash) over time.

      • Agreed. I had a 1950’s Higgins Path Racer that rode like a dream…

        • Óðinn

          Sweet.

    • Frank

      Last week I contacted Elephant bikes to see if I could buy John’s returned/used National Forest Explorer (alas it was already sold). I also still have an 80’s road bike that I’ve ridden for 30 years and it’s still awesome. But I would never buy a used/second hand carbon frame/fork … just wouldn’t trust it.

      • Tommaso Gomez

        Why not? Engineering and testing standards for frames and forks have only gotten more rigorous. If a carbon frames can withstand the abuse of Cavendish sprinting, they should be safe enough for you, even in the long run.

        • Frank

          Hi Tommaso. Nah … I wouldn’t buy one second-hand because even if it hadn’t been crashed it surely would have fallen over in the garage, been roughed about in the back of the ute, dinged against a parking rail, left out in the rain overnight … just normal wear and tear but enough to make me look sideways at it. Steel/aluminium would at least crack, creak and give some warning before failing …

    • George

      Nice writeup in CyclingTips about the lifespan of carbon frames:

      http://cyclingtips.com.au/2015/08/what-is-the-lifespan-of-a-carbon-frame/

      TLDR version is that impact resistance can still be an issue (i.e. if you crash), but barring anything catastrophic the engineers say a carbon frame will last indefinitely.

      Bottom line is that there’s a bike out there for everybody to have fun on. Just depends on what you like!

  • Tyler Shannon

    The more I read about this bike, the more I want one.

  • kasual

    nice looking machine and nice write-up/pics. probably still get a mr. pink for the money, but glad to see fairdale branching out like this.

  • Scooterbug Likes Bikes

    A bit off topic but Ive been wondering lately why someone would pay $4000+ for a Speedvagen Urban Racer, when a Fairdale Coaster can be had for one tenth the price? But then again, I’ve met Taj and am quite partial to Faildale.

    • PwetStar
    • Robert0321

    • Tommaso Gomez

      Speedvagens are made in the Portland and offer completely custom geometry and some really exotic tubesets from True Temper and Columbus. Moreover, you can choose from different dropouts, integrated seat posts, bosses, paint schemes. That level of customization and detail requires much more labor and hence, a higher price tag. The Goodship is a really nice, 4130 frame in stock sizes, and as far as I know, stock colors. It’s really up to you if you’re content with a nice stock frame or if you need to spend more money on a very unique, customized ride.

  • Robert0321

    Why would they put a compact crankset on their race bike? seems like an odd choice..

    Outside of that the bike look really nice and i think it’s great to see companies get back into steel racing bikes.

    • Probably because this isn’t solely a race bike. It’s a road bike first and foremost. Yes, it’s race-worthy, just like it’s ride-worthy. It’ll handle either, yet a majority of Fairdale’s customers will probably ride it and never race it.

      • D0rk

        And 52/36 is good enough for most AM level racers, especially those that would find themselves on a steel bike like this.

      • Robert0321

        My bad. I thought they marketed it as their race bike, in which case they should at least put a 52/36 on it.

  • Dustin Barrientes

    I’ve been needing a new background on my phone. Thanks, Andre, for being so photogenic.

  • Óðinn

    I may buy the Goodship. I’d swap out the carbon fork for a quality steel road fork though.

  • Joseph Riley

    I wanted to upgrade from my 80’s steel road bike, italvega superlight. My friend in a bike shop suggested the goodship. I put it together with the new 105 5800. Wow i am having a lot of fun and taking on tougher routes with ease. It weighs in at just 20#, and i am ok with the carbon fork. Great ride for sure!