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