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Fairlight Faran review

13 Jan 2017
Verdict:

An understated tourer with excellent geometry

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,599

Founded by ex-Genesis – no, not the prog rock group – designer Dom Thomas, Fairlight bikes recently launched with a pair of models created from Reynolds tubing.

One, the Strael, is a firmly road-orientated machine, and the other is this, the Faran, which is pitched at touring.

Both come with ‘proportional fit geometry’, essentially a standard or tall version of each frame size, to better match the owner’s proportions or riding style.

Buy the Fairlight Faran from Fairlight Cycles now

The Faran is undoubtedly beautiful-looking, but will the small-batch production run come at a premium?

Frameset

Fairlight has invested heavily in working with Birmingham tubing manufacturer Reynolds.

Made of mid-level 631 tubing, the slim, squished top tube and bi-ovalised down tube aren’t just pretty but also aim to keep the bike stiff when pulling on the bars or mashing the pedals, yet flexible enough to absorb vibrations from the road.

All of Fairlight’s bikes come with proportional geometry to account for the fact that riders of the same height will have drastically different proportions when it comes to the split between legs and torso.

Being able to opt for a shorter and higher version will suit more leggy riders, while the standard model is better for riders with more up top. 

Groupset

Riding downhill in the rain loaded with panniers is absolutely no fun with rim brakes.

Shimano’s 105-level RS505 hydraulic discs are mechanically, if not aesthetically faultless. The rest of the groupset is all 105, so no complaints there.

Our compact double chainset and 32t largest sprocket provided the perfect gearing range, but fiddling with the ratios shouldn’t be too much of an ask, as Fairlight assembles each bike to order. 

Finishing kit

Being assembled to order there’s a degree of flexibility as to the Faran’s build kit.

Unlike the other bikes, which employ adventure-style bars for maximum stability, the hangers on the Fairlight are fairly standard FSA Vero Compact models.

On the advice of the company’s fitter we went a size narrower than usual. It turned out to be a revelation, highlighting the importance of getting an expert opinion on all matters ergonomic.

The saddle is an office favourite, the moderately padded Fabric Scoop.

Wheels

Shimano hubs hand-laced to lightweight DT Swiss rims with 32 top-quality butted spokes per wheel constitute an excellent choice for the Faran.

Their low weight adds a pep to proceedings, as do the 35c Continental Cyclocross Speed tyres.

They’re great on the road due to their fast-rolling diamond centre tread and the ability to run at up to 85psi, but aren’t so good in the mud.

The ride

Being relatively trim for a full-blown touring bike at 11.12kg, the Faran doesn’t hesitate in getting underway, and once licking along its manners will be familiar to riders of more relaxed road bikes.

No doubt partly due to having been fitted to our tester, positioning on the bike felt instantly comfortable.

While the Faran feels much more akin to a traditional tourer, its demeanour is a world away from the socks-and-sandals-style touring rigs many riders will be used to.

Low bulk and an extremely stiff frame allow it to get up to speed with little hesitation, while a fairly short wheelbase means keeps the steering reasonably nippy.

Up front, the immovable nature of the frame, fork and bars means riding out of the saddle doesn’t seem like a waste of energy.

Comparatively narrow tyres clipped onto lightweight rims continue the theme.

The downside of its slender weight is that the Faran lacks some of the off-road brawn of sturdier rivals, but can still withstand a fair bit of rough treatment.

In fact its lack of give and narrow tyres means it’ll be the rider calling it quits long before the bike does.

This unforgiving nature off-road is partly the price you pay for its above-average performance on it.

Buy the Fairlight Faran from Fairlight Cycles now

RATINGS

Frame: Proportional geometry options allow a perfect fit. 8/10 
Components: Hydraulic disc brakes and plenty of gearing options. 10/10 
Wheels: Lightweight construction allied to speedy tyres. 9/10 
The ride: Nippy and fun on the tarmac, not so fun off it. 8/10 

Verdict: An understated tourer with excellent geometry.  

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 543mm 543mm
Seat Tube (ST) 547mm 558mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 644mm
Fork Length (FL) 398mm 405mm
Head Tube (HT) 152mm 152mm
Head Angle (HA) 71.5 degrees 71.5 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 74 degrees 74 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 1018mm 1019mm
BB drop (BB) 70mm 70mm

Spec

Fairlight Faran
Frame Reynolds 631
Groupset Shimano 105 hydraulic, 11-speed
Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic
Chainset Shimano 105 50/34t
Cassette Shimano 105 11-32t
Bars FSA Vero Compact
Stem FSA Omega
Seatpost FSA Gossamer, 27.2mm
Wheels DT Swiss R460 tubeless compatible, Shimano 32h
Saddle Fabric Scoop Elite, shallow
Weight 11.12kg (54cm)
Contact fairlightcycles.com

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