This might just be our dream winter road bike

Dynamo-ed and be-fendered steel Fairlight Secan first look

Ostensibly a gravel bike, the Fairlight Secan shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into just this category. Instead, see it as a versatile steel bike that can do it all; from tackling gravel pistes to riding fully-fendered on the road.

Last year Jack Luke tested the Strael, Fairlight's dedicated road bike, and got on incredibly well with it, so we’re excited to see what the more rugged Secan is capable of.

Fairlight Secan highlights

We'll be testing this bike in a variety of set ups, from all-purpose road machine to gravel monster
We'll be testing this bike in a variety of set ups, from all-purpose road machine to gravel monster

  • Reynolds 853 front triangle and custom 4130 rear end
  • Handmade in Europe
  • Fairlight’s own full-carbon Cempa fork
  • Bentley x Fairlight custom dropouts
  • Custom mud-clearing Fairlight-designed thru-axle
  • Modular cable guides for Di2, 1x, 2x and dynamo routing
  • Clearances up to 650x57mm or 700x45mm tyres
  • 68mm threaded bottom bracket shell
  • Full complement of mounts and fittings
  • Frame and fork: £1,099
  • Full builds: from £2,099

Our build

Alongside the frameset-only options, Fairlight also offers a number of complete builds, from 1x monster-tyred gravel wagons all the way through to the more road-biased build we’ve got here.

Our bike is built up with a full Ultegra R8000 groupset and we’re particularly pleased to see 38c Panaracer Pasela tyres fitted.

We've got on very well with Panaracer Pasela tyres in the past
We've got on very well with Panaracer Pasela tyres in the past

The wheelset comes courtesy of Hunt. The 4Season Superdura disc wheels are built up with a SONdelux 12 dynamo hub up front and Hunt’s own hub out back. That provides power to the SON Edelux II front light and SON rear light.

The SON dynamo hub will keep us powered wherever we are
The SON dynamo hub will keep us powered wherever we are

In the interest of not being miserable through the wet winter months, the bike is also fitted with full cover SKS P45 mudguards.

It should be noted that Fairlight doesn’t offer its bike equipped with mudguards or lights as a stock option.

We've not had a chance to test the SON Edelux lights before
We've not had a chance to test the SON Edelux lights before

However, with the dynamo wheel option you’ll simply have to add your own lights and wiring, then you’ll be ready to go.

The build is finished off with a beautifully colour-matched Hope headset and seatpost clamp, which complement the grey/purple paint job very nicely.

Excellent colour matching of paint and Hope kit
Excellent colour matching of paint and Hope kit

As pictured, our current build weighs in at around 10.7kg with mudguards and dynamo lights. Stripped of lights and mudguards the build weighs in at just under 10kg.

The dynamo wheels and mudguards do add some heft here (the mudguards alone add 650g) but that’s a price we’re willing to pay for all-season versatility and durability.

The 56R frame size weighs a claimed 1.98kg and Fairlight claims it’s easy enough to create Ultegra builds that weigh in under 10kg, with the weight of wheels and tyres playing the largest role.

Fairlight Secan frame

At the heart of the Secan is its steel frame.

The Secan was designed to be a bike that offers the efficiency of an all-season road bike with the ability to run high-volume treaded tyres for additional (gravel) versatility.

One unique part of Fairlight’s design approach is its proportional geometry concept. Each frame size is offered in a regular and tall configuration, suiting both a lower, racier position (or those with shorter legs) or a more upright position (or those with longer legs) respectively.

The main triangle is constructed from custom-drawn Reynolds 853 tubing, while the rear triangle uses custom-drawn 4130 Chromoly. 

Being more off-road biased than Fairlight’s dedicated Strael road model, the Secan uses tubing that is generally 0.1mm thicker for increased strength and durability.

The construction on the Secan is impeccable, using a mix of brazing…
The construction on the Secan is impeccable, using a mix of brazing…

The down- and top-tubes are double butted — the wall thickness of the tubes vary from 0.8mm at the ends to 0.5mm in the middle of the tube. The plain gauge 4130 rear end uses 19mm, 0.9mm thick chainstays with 14mm, 0.8mm seatstays.

... and welding
... and welding

The steel frame is paired with Fairlight’s new Cempa fork, which is also sold separately.

Custom Reynolds 853 main triangle

The bi-oval butted down-tube starts life as 34.9mm round stock, but is formed from a 40x30mm wide section at the bottom bracket to a 40x30mm tall section at the head tube.

Dom Thomas, Fairlight’s bike designer and co-owner, professed to us his love for this size, claiming that it rides in all the ways you would expect from steel, with stiffness and compliance in the right places.

The tall ovalised section provides increased stiffness in the vertical plane of the frame. According to Fairlight, torsional stiffness isn’t crucial here because cornering forces do not translate into significant lateral forces.

Instead, it's the vertical load and braking forces that are the highest, and as such the vertical ovalisation is designed to provide maximum resistance to this. The shape also helps to improve the weld strength.

In contrast, at the bottom bracket the widened tubing is intended to deliver increased lateral stiffness so that the frame is more torsionally resistant to pedalling input in this area.

A flattened top tube and skinny 27.2mm seat tube should offer additional comfort
A flattened top tube and skinny 27.2mm seat tube should offer additional comfort

The flat top tube of the bike uses a heavily ovalised shape (20x30mm), which is designed to offer lateral stiffness while improving vertical compliance, and according to Thomas the top tube is a key area that can help improve comfort.

During stress testing, it’s visibly possible to observe the deflection of the top tube, with greater deflection essentially equivalent to improved comfort.

We're also pleased to see a standard 68mm-wide threaded bottom bracket shell.

Internal gusset strength

The off-road focus of the Secan means that it has been designed around increased tyre clearances. This requires a fork with a longer axle-to-crown to exert more leverage on the frame.

In our discussion with Thomas he told us that the most common point of failure for steel frames when undergoing testing is the down tube, which can crack close to the head tube.

That’s why you’ll see many steel mountain bikes (and indeed alloy ones too) with a gusseted down tube/head tube joint to provide increased strength in this area.

No gussets here! The DZB tubing effectively hides the gusset inside
No gussets here! The DZB tubing effectively hides the gusset inside

Rather than add an ugly looking gusset though, Fairlight has specced custom drawn ‘gravel’ Reynolds 853 DZB (double-zonal butted) tubing for the down tube.

Effectively, the gusset is moved internally, with 1mm tubing thickness near the head tube providing the necessary reinforcement.

We’re hoping to take full advantage of the bike’s generous clearances by testing it in a few different set ups.

Custom shaped 4130 rear

Fairlight has chosen to use ‘standard’ 4130 chromoly for the rear triangle. This is primarily due to the complex shaping of both the seat and chainstays, and is done to improve tyre clearances and mechanical properties.

Fairlight uses non heat-treated tubing as it provides the necessary flexibility needed to create the shaping Dom was looking for. In his experience it’s the shape and profile of the tube that influences the ride more than the thickness of the tube.

4130 tubing was used to form the complex shapes of the rear end
4130 tubing was used to form the complex shapes of the rear end

Although 853 offers impressive strength figures, that same increase in strength makes it more difficult to work with and form. The steel effectively becomes more brittle as a result of its microstructure changes.

Not only does using 4130 allow Fairlight to perform complex shaping just how it wants it, it also allows it to use custom tube profiles that aren’t usually available.

It’s typical to encounter vertically ovalised chainstays, which are shaped to provide improved tyre clearance, but these offer stiffness in the wrong direction because the ovalised section reduces resistance to lateral loads.

Fairlight uses chainstays with a round profile at the bottom bracket to improve lateral stiffness. They are then scalloped around the tyre (which reduces stiffness a touch but is necessary in order to provide ample tyre clearances) and taper down to a 14mm diameter at the end.

Small dimples provide clearances for tyres and chainrings
Small dimples provide clearances for tyres and chainrings

Similarly, the seat stays use skinny 14mm tubing which is heavily shaped to provide the requisite tyre clearances.

A brand new carbon fork

The Secan features a completely new carbon fork, the Cempa. Designed by Fairlight it has a raw carbon finish with internal routing for the front brake line.

Fairlight has designed the all-new Cempa fork for the Secan
Fairlight has designed the all-new Cempa fork for the Secan

The fork features proper mudguard mounts (rather than hidden ones), making guard fitting considerably easier.

Dynamo enthusiasts may wonder why there is no dynamo routing, but Fairlight wanted to keep the look of the fork as clean as possible. There is, however, a mount on the crown to fit a light.

This is very neat! Di2 tape to secure the dynamo wire on the inside of the fork leg
This is very neat! Di2 tape to secure the dynamo wire on the inside of the fork leg

We like the wiring solution on our build, which is something we will be adopting on any future dynamo builds. The wire is run up the inside of the fork leg and held in place with Di2 tape — a very neat solution!

Generous clearances

Like the frame, the fork offers generous clearances and you’ll be able to run up to 650bx57c or 700x45c without mudguards and 650bx48c or 700x42c with mudguards fitted.

In a 2x configuration you’ll be able to fit up to a 50-34t chainset, while for a 1x drivetrain you’ll be able to fit a 44t max chainring.

While this gearing might not be quite as tall as you would expect on the road, it perfectly suits the burlier, bigger-tyred, off-road nature of this bike.

Fairlight Secan components

The dropouts are a design from 2015, which Fairlight has finally been able to use here
The dropouts are a design from 2015, which Fairlight has finally been able to use here

The dropouts are a beautiful exercise in engineering simplicity and are made in collaboration with Bentley Components. Based on a prototype made all the way back in 2015, they have finally made it to production in a delightfully simple yet functional design.

The main structure is made from plate steel. Stainless steel inserts are brazed in place and provide the threads and mounts for the thru-axle in the frame.

A beautifully modular design...
A beautifully modular design...

The flat-mount brake bosses are machined separately and bolted onto the dropouts.

You may notice that the dropouts don’t use a replaceable derailleur hanger. We discussed this with Thomas who said that in his experience the durability and hardiness of steel means that, unlike brittle aluminium, it can be bent back into shape.

The attention to detail extends to all the fittings on the frame too. Fairlight’s thru-axles have a spiral groove machined into them which helps clear out any debris when the wheels are turning and reduce stiction.

... that assembles into a lovely piece of engineering
... that assembles into a lovely piece of engineering

External cable routing keeps things easy to maintain, and another easily overlooked detail is the cable guide underneath the bottom bracket.

Apparently the mounting hole has to be drilled within 1mm to ensure that the cable run for the rear-derailleur runs exactly within the constraints of the chainstay.

The cable routing is carefully considered so it won't foul on anything
The cable routing is carefully considered so it won't foul on anything

The bottle mounts in the main triangle have also been placed with careful consideration. They are positioned as low as possible to provide the maximum possible space for a frame bag if you are carrying luggage, and a third is slung under the down tube.

As you would expect, the frame has all the fitting you need to fit racks and mudguards.

3D printed flexibility

We are particularly fond of the modular 3D-printed cable guides that can be swapped depending on whether you’re running your bike as 1x, 2x, Di2 or any other configuration that you can think of.

Our Secan has actually shipped with a new cable guide which is dynamo compatible, allowing the cabling to be routed through the existing Di2 port on the bike.

This new 3D printed cable guide allows you to route dynamo wiring through the Di2 port
This new 3D printed cable guide allows you to route dynamo wiring through the Di2 port

Deciding to produce the cable guides using 3D printing is notable. At smaller scales of production, it provides a flexible and effective means of producing parts, as well as allowing Fairlight to easily experiment with different ideas and concepts.

Likewise, the rear light is mounted with a new 3D printed mount, placing it by the chainstays. Again the versatility of 3D printing is advantageous here, allowing Fairlight to produce different versions for the left and right driving parts of the world.

The 3D printed mount rear lamp mount is not available yet, but will cost £10 and will be on sale in the new year.

Fairlight has also printed a custom rear dynamo light mount
Fairlight has also printed a custom rear dynamo light mount

Fairlight Secan builds

Fairlight Secanframe and fork

The Secan is available as a frameset only option or as a complete build
The Secan is available as a frameset only option or as a complete build

The Secan is available as a frame and fork option for £1,099.

Fairlight also offers a number of complete builds with various upgrade options. 

Fairlight Secan 105 R7000

  • Headset: FSA Orbit Ita
  • Drivetrain: Shimano 105 R7000,11-34t cassette
  • Crankset: Shimano 105 R7000 50:34t
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 R7000 flat mount, 160mm front and rear
  • Bars: FSA Adventure Compact
  • Stem: FSA Omega
  • Seatpost: FSA Gossamer 27.2
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
  • Wheelset and tyres: 700c Mavik Aksium All Road with WTB Resolute 700x 2c / Mavic Aksium All Road 650b with WTB Byway 650bx47c
  • £2,099

Fairlight Secan Ultegra R8000

  • Headset: FSA Orbit Ita
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra R8000,11-34t cassette
  • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra R8000 50:34t
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra R8070 flat mount, 160mm front and rear
  • Bars: FSA Adventure Compact
  • Stem: FSA Sl-K Alloy
  • Seatpost: FSA Sl-K Carbon 27.2
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
  • Wheelset and tyres: 700c Hope 20Five RS4 32/32 with WTB Resolute 700x42c / Hope XC Pro4 27.5in with WTB Byway 650 x47c
  • £2,599

Fairlight Secan Ultegra Di2 R8050

  • Headset: FSA Orbit Ita
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra R8050,11-34t cassette
  • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra R8000 50:34t
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra R8070 flat mount, 160mm front and rear
  • Bars: FSA Adventure Compact
  • Stem: FSA Sl-K Alloy
  • Seatpost: FSA Sl-K Carbon 27.2
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
  • Wheelset and tyres: 700c Hope 20Five RS4 32/32with WTB Resolute 700x42c / Hope XC Pro4 27.5in with WTB Byway 650bx47c
  • £3,399

Fairlight Secan Rival 1x

  • Headset: FSA Orbit Ita
  • Drivetrain: SRAM Rival 1x, 10-42t cassette
  • Crankset: SRAM Rival 1x 42t
  • Brakes: SRAM Rival 1x, 160mm front and rear
  • Bars: FSA Adventure Compact
  • Stem: FSA Omega
  • Seatpost: FSA Gossamer 27.2
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
  • Wheelset and tyres: 700c Mavik Aksium All Road 700c with WTB Resolute 700x42c / Mavic Aksium All Road 650bwithWTB Byway 650bx47c
  • £2,299

Fairlight Secan Force 1x

  • Headset: FSA Orbit Ita
  • Drivetrain: SRAM Force 1x, 10-42t cassette
  • Crankset: SRAM Force 1x 42t
  • Brakes: SRAM Force 1x, 160mm front and rear
  • Bars: FSA Adventure Compact
  • Stem: FSA Sl-K Alloy
  • Seatpost: FSA Sl-K Carbon 27.2
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite
  • Wheelset and tyres: 700c Hope 20Five RS4 32/32 with WTB Resolute 700x42c / Hope XC Pro4 27.5in with WTB Byway 650bx47c
  • £2,799

Fairlight Secan upgrade options

  • Hope headset and seat clamp: £40
  • Hope 20Five RS4 32/32 700c: £175 (105 and Rival) — standard spec on Ultegra and Force
  • Hunt Super Dura Dynamo 700c: £300 (105 and Rival), £150 (Ultegra and Force)
  • Hunt Carbon 30 Gravel disc 700c: £650 (105 and Rival), £500 (Ultegra and Force)
  • Hope XC Pro4 27.5: £175 (105 and Rival) — standard spec on Ultegra and Force
  • Hunt Super Dura Dynamo 650b: £300 (105 and Rival), £150 (Ultegra and Force)
  • Hunt Carbon Adventure Gravel 650b: £650 (105 and Rival), £500 (Ultegra and Force)
  • Panaracer Pasela Tanwall 700x38c: £10
  • Continental Race King Protection 27.5 x 2.2in: £10
  • Paxis Zyante 48:32 sub-compact crankset (2x builds): £100 (105), included on Ultegra and Force

Fairlight Secan availability

The Secan is in very high demand. Availability for particular sizes and colours can sometimes be a few months, despite Fairlight having batches arriving every seven weeks.

Fairlight has more details on precise availability, and for more information on the options available visit Fairlight Cycles.

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