Fairlight Secan Bike Review

Blue Fairlight Secan Bike

What is it?

A steel adventure bike with dual frame geometry options and the ability to roll on multiple wheel sizes. Happy to swallow tires up to either 650x57c or 700x45c, the Secan can be built in a myriad of ways and is happy being taken just about anywhere.

Wide-tired off-roader? Gravel-racer? Backcountry bikepacker? Or built more traditional with mudguards for touring or commuting? With plenty of mountings subtly dotted about the frame, it’s happy to be gussied up however you fancy.

Made from Reynolds 853 tubing and using the brand’s own Campa carbon fork, it’s no clomping beast of burden though. Its fitting is equally refined, with each frame size also coming in regular and tall options to help riders tailor the bike to their own proportions or riding style.

Isn’t steel heavy?

Yeah, sort of. Although the quality Reynolds 853 tubing the Secan is made from is among the lighter options. Still, it has plenty else going for it. It’s strong and very comfortable.

It looks great, and it’s happy to be treated roughly. Say you want to load up with bike packing bags. On a carbon bike, the straps on these will wear straight into the frame.

Add in a splash of mud and a few miles of rattling roads, and the process can soon cause irreparable structural damage. Let loose on the Secan, and the worst they’ll do is scuff the paint. Same goes for fitting racks and mudguards. Ten years and many thousands of miles later, the Secan’s frame will still probably only be a respray away from new.

Multiple-time Transcontinental winner James Hayden uses one of the brand’s Strael models made of the same stuff to race on, and if it’s good enough for him… well, it’s probably good enough for you.

So what else makes the Secan ready for adventure?

A lack of silly standards. While the Secan uses modern through-axels for security, flat-mount brake fittings of neatness, and an oversized headtube for stiffness, it sticks with more traditional alternatives where they’ll boost durability. This sees it graced with a threaded bottom bracket, easily serviceable headset, external cabling, and a 27.2 seatpost with a conventional clamp. Leaving it simple to maintain and unlikely to creak, these sort of touches have the fingerprints of its designer Dom Thomas all over them.

So who is this Fairlight lot?

Dom Thomas and Jon Reid. Dom might be familiar as the designer formerly behind the Genesis bikes brand. Working with the company during its early years, many of his steel bikes developed a cult-like following. His partner Jon was formerly a city slicker, before jacking in his former lifestyle to set up a bike shop on the edge of London’s East End. Swift Cycles now offer a load of lovely road bikes, along with an expert fitting studio.

Fairlight Secan frame and fork.

What’s did you mean earlier by this having ‘dual geometry options’?

Available across all three of the brand’s bikes, Fairlight calls it ‘Fit Form Function’. Basically, every frame comes in a tall and a regular configuration. This sees the length of the headtube change, yet the rest of the geometry remains the same.

It’s not just a case of choosing between a relaxed or a race model, but rather it allows the rider to take into account both height and body proportions. How high the front is, then also dictates how well suited the bike is for a range of applications, from racing through to touring. With a bike-fitting studio in its partner shop, riders can get a tailored fit, or use a combination of height and inseam measurements to find themselves the correct combo.

So what wheels should I be getting with it?

Good question. We tend to think that the fastest option in most situations is a set of 700c wheels fitted with tires suited to the prevailing conditions. Slick and of medium width for well-graded gravel road or touring, or ballooning up to a huge 45c for rougher stuff.

Smaller 650b wheels can be loads of fun too. With massively wide tires, they’ll let the bike float over almost anything, opening up a world of trails previously restricted to mountain bikes. If you’re prevaricating between the two, it’s not an outrageous expense to get two sets of wheels made up either. Just saying…

What about the rest of the bits?

Choose them for yourself. Custom built, you can select from wheels made by Mavic, Hunt, and Hope, along with tires from WTB, Continental, and Panaracer. Then there are groupset options from SRAM and Shimano, including the option to fit an easy to spin sub­compact chainset. With flared adventure- style handlebars, the width of these can be specified, along with the length of the stem. Topped off with a carbon seatpost, and an always-popular Fabric Scoop saddle, it’s custom, but without the cost.

What does Secan stand for?

In Old English, it means to ‘track down, seek out, or pursue’.

And what should I be seeking out aboard my new Secan?

The Secan can fit itself to almost any task short of fast road riding. Pop panniers and slick tires on it and go touring down the Avenue Verte from London to Paris. Load it with bikepacking bags and head off-road and into the hills for a jaunt around the Pennine Bridleway. Or strip it back and take on a gravel-grinder like the Dirty Reiver in Scotland.


Weight: 9,98 kg

Frame: Reynolds 853 Steel

Groupset: SRAM Rival 11-speed

Brakes: SRAM Rival disc

Chainset: SRAM Rival 42t

Cassette: SRAM Rival 11-36t

Bars: FSA Adventure

Stem: FSA 31.8

Saddle: Fabric Scoop

Seatpost: FSA Gossamer 27.2

Wheels: Hope 20 FIVE-Pro 4

Tires: WTB Resolute 700×42

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