Urban Velo

Fairdale Weekender Review

Fairdale is a young company headquartered in Austin, TX. The driving force behind Fairdale is Taj Mihelich, a former world-champion BMX rider, artist and musician. In 1998 Taj co-founded the BMX company Terrible One, which helped him gain considerable insight into the business side of the bike industry. Fairdale is also in cahoots with Odyssey BMX, which lends manufacturing and engineering expertise to Mihelich’s vision.

To many people who ride fixed or singlespeed bikes, the Weekender’s name makes perfect sense. After commuting all week on just one gear, it’s nice to have a few gears for long weekend rides. The upright riding position says, “I’m not in a huge hurry,” and the rack and fender mounts signal a green light for light touring and bike camping.

Of course that’s not to say the Weekender is a one trick pony. It goes pretty much as fast as you want to, it’s got disc brakes that will lock the wheels up in any situation, and you can pop wheelies on it until the cows come home. (Video evidence here.)

When I first threw a leg over the Weekender my initial reaction was that I wasn’t going to like the highly swept back Archer Bars, but I was wrong. Combined with the super-sized Odyssey grips, the cockpit just feels unique in a fun and comfortable kind of way.

One of the main features of the bike is the 1 x 9 drivetrain. The idea here is to keep things simple. The SRAM X-5 derailleur and trigger shifter have a crisp, positive feel and worked like an absolute charm throughout the test period. The chain does rub against the front chain guide ever so slightly in the highest and lowest gear, but it’s not so bad that I’m complaining.

The 44 tooth crankset is matched with an 11-34 cassette, which has been pretty much perfect for going up and down the hills of Pittsburgh. The small frame (tested) comes equipped with 170 mm crankarms, while the medium and large come with 175′s.

The frame and fork are 100% 4130 double-butted chromoly. The frame features a chainstay mounted disc brake, and specially bent seatstays that make it easy to mount racks and fenders. The seatstay shape is also a nod to classic Robinson BMX frames.

The fork features a one-piece machined steer tube with a built in integrated headset race. This makes for an impressively strong fork, and a side benefit is that you don’t need to press fit the lower headset race. It also features forward-facing dropouts, which is something mountain bike fork manufacturers started doing shortly after disc brakes became standard equipment. This design provides an additional measure of safety, as disc brakes can technically pull a wheel out of the fork end if the QR skewer is not properly secured.

As with the frame and fork, the components are all well thought out. Everything is high-quality, yet reasonably affordable. Case and point would be the Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes. The more expensive BB7′s are a nice upgrade as they’re more adjustable, but there’s not much difference in their performance. The OEM wheelset features 28 mm deep rims and hubs with sealed cartridge bearings. The 27.2 mm Kalloy setback seatpost gets the job done—no muss, no fuss. And the 32 mm Continental Contact tires will let you ride pretty much anywhere the weekend takes you.

So, yes, I’m a fan of this bike. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely a lot of fun to ride. Looking through their current catalog, I predict that Fairdale is going to gain a lot of fans in the coming year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mihelich comes up with next.

Available in black with Kelly green, Kelly green or black with orange (tested), the Weekender retails for $850. Check out www.fairdalebikes.com

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4 Comments

  1. drinkslingerOctober 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    There’s one at my LBS in Orlando. I test rode it and jeez it’s a comfy bike. The bars feel good and the riding position is spot on for commuting. 1×9 with the 11-34 is again spot on. This bike tops my list for a commuter ride in the spring.

  2. Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for October 1st « Texbiker.netOctober 2, 2012 at 12:15 am

    [...] Fairdale Weekender Review urbanvelo.org Fairdale is a young company headquartered in Austin, TX. The driving force behind Fairdale is Taj Mihelich, a former world-champion BMX rider, artist and musician. In 1998 Taj co-founded the BMX company Terrible One, which helped him gain considerable insight into the business side of the bike industry. Fairdale is also in cahoots with Odyssey BMX, which lends manufacturing and engineering expertise to Mihelich’s vision. [...]

  3. AlexNovember 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    What if you want to upgrade your headset? The integrated crown race seems like a really bad idea, imo…

  4. AJ NicholsJuly 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Alex,

    The Weekender uses standard 45 45 spec bearings. Most modern road bikes have adopted this standard. You can upgrade till your hearts content.

    -AJ

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