Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fairdale Flyer Stepthrough

I recently had the TARDIS in for some work at the South Lamar location of Bicycle Sport Shop, one of the (in my humble opinion) better shops in the area.  While I was there I had the opportunity to test ride the Fairdale Flyer Stepthrough, locally designed in Austin by Fairdale Bikes.  This bike got a lot of reactions out of me, not least, "THAT LOOKS TOTALLY BADASS!  Can I ride it?!"

Priced at an extraordinarily humble $439.99, this bike is a steel mixte with 26" wheels, but oh so much more than that.  Fairdale is run by three guys in south Austin, Seth Holton, Taj Mihelich, and Sandy Carson.  Their background is decidedly heavy on BMX, and that comes through in this bike like gangbusters.  The entire bike rides like you could jump it off a ramp while wearing a frilly sundress.  It's a tank.

The frame is made of TIG welded Cromoly, designed in Austin and built in Taiwan.  As for the components, words like "Simple" and "Bombproof" come to mind, even though there are beautiful little details everywhere.

The drivetrain is singlespeed, and geared for cruising, not flying (despite the name).  It comes with 26x1.9 tires, and when I ran it over potholes, I barely felt a thing.  The riding position is decidedly upright, but aggressive enough to feel like the gearing could be a tad higher.  There are a lot of weird little touches to this bike beyond the obvious - for instance, the brakes are a fairly unique looking, but a very simple design that minimizes moving parts. Despite their simplicity, I brought the bike to a screeching, skidding halt when I gave them a solid pull.

The dropouts are BMX-style, and fairly offset from the actual connection to the hub.

The connection of the twin stays is hard to describe, but "blocky" is my best word for it.

One thing that is worth mentioning is the bike comes as pictured, and has absolutely zero in the way of actual commuter accessories - no fenders, rack, clothing protection, or integrated lighting system is included (though I do recognize the inclusion of these accessories would drive up the price point).  The distinctive looks of the bike make me despair to think of it with a Topeak aluminum rack crookedly bolted to the back end of it, but with a bike like this, it's made to move things.  Here in the ATX there's not always a huge call for fenders, but the inclusion of a rack would be really nice.

Given the details, including the fatty tires, the orange pedals, chunky-ish contruction and BMX inspired everything, "elegant" isn't the word I'd choose for this bike, which makes the bike unique in itself!  Mixtes usually go for the refined aesthetic, while this bike is pure Austin.  It's funky, groovy, and a little bit weird.  It rides like a total tank, and will totally get you where you're going.  There are several other Fairdale models which are a bit better equipped in terms of accessories - one of them comes with a skateboard!  But for a groovy ride that gets you there for an INCREDIBLY reasonable cost for a bike of this build quality, this is a totally kickass bike.  Check out their website for local dealers, or if you're in Austin, it's on display at Bicycle Sport Shop.

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