Viewing: Fairdale

29 Oct BMX Halloween In Austin from Fairdale

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Check out Sandy Carson‘s great photo gallery over on ESPN’s X-Games page. You might notice Leif and a Weekender too! Check it out here.

23 Oct Seth Holton building trails in the Great Northwest from Fairdale

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We haven’t had an update on our team rider Seth in quite a while. He was the leader of our epic Seattle to SF Field Trip (which is worth a read!). After 7 hard working years as a bike messenger in Seattle he took a job working in the Mt Baker National Forest and more or less fell off the grid. No cell service or internet, just trees, mountains and nature. That area of the country is amazingly beautiful and about as perfect an escape as you could dream up. He sent a few photos and a little update for us….

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I recently looked at the Fairdale website and noticed my last update was quite some time ago.  I was in Seattle, ‘living the dream’ making a living riding bikes and drinking lots of coffee.  Bike messengering is one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ kinda jobs.  My first couple years I could ride all day, BMX after work or go for a mountain bike ride, then do a multi-day stage race over the weekend, and fucking love it.  Going into my seventh season (seventh winter in messenger terms) putting on the wet shoes and pedaling from dark till dark had gotten old.  I turned my recreation into my job and my personal goals with my bike riding got put to the side.DSC_6485 DSC_6489

At this point I was spending less of my free time riding bikes as my mind was fully enveloped in the mountains.  It was my escape from the bustle of the city, a place with no rules.  I would load up my truck with every toy imaginable and join the caravans of other Seattleites in their escape.  Snowboarding, climbing and mountain biking became the purpose for my travels, however I didn’t need these objects to be content in the hills.DSC_6425

It took me two years to finally leave Seattle after I’d decided.  I got a job in the Mt Baker National Forest.  I packed up my room after 10 years and moved to Glacier, WA, a town of 211. Similar to the town I grew up in.DSC_6408

My first season in the Forest Service I was on a front country crew, building structures, maintaining campgrounds and … toilets. It was awesome.  I was learning skills, something I hadn’t done in…. seven years. At the end of the summer I collected unemployment, traveled a bit and snowboarded every day. DSC_6490DSC_6517 This previous season I joined the trail crew, my dream job once again.  I learned more skills and worked harder than I ever have before.  I loved it.  My body however was breaking down, ankles, knees arms and hands. My hands are pins and needles as I’m typing this now.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so eager to grab the axe all the time.DSC_6522 DSC_6526

This being the beginning of my second winter off, I was hoping to go on a bike tour as I’ve falling in love with my bicycles all over again.  My Weekender is all tuned up for the first time since messengering.  New Bar tape and a fresh groupo.  However since I’ve been off it hasn’t stopped raining.  Not the honeymoon I’ve been waiting for.
Although, since moving to Glacier, this is where I would go if I were to go on adventure anyway.
Thanks for the ride.
Seth

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8 Oct 2015 GOODSHIP: EXPLAINED from Fairdale

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I’ve been excited to build this bike since the first talks of creating the Fairdale brand. It’s a bike where we get to show off some of what we can do with steel and technology. It’s also a bike that most companies would not be able to do. Thanks to Fairdale being part of Odyssey BMX we are able to tap into 30 years of manufacturing know-how and create something unique. Continuing our daily posts of the 2015 line (full catalog here) we’re reached our last new model, THE GOODSHIP. Let’s dive into the details….

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To start with the Goodship is a road bike. It’s not a bike meant to be adaptable to 100 different uses. It won’t fit knobby tires nor does it have fender mounts. It is a purpose built bike for riding the road, and we might add, doing that quite quickly. We married some classic racing bike sensibilities to some of the most modern manufacturing technologies to create this model. drawnrightgoodshipstick

One of the stand out features is our Drawnright Tubeset. The tubing is seamless Japanese 4130 chromoly. We custom formed and precisely butted each tube on the bike specific to each size. That means that the internal thickness of the tubing changes depending on where it is on the bike. For example tubing is thicker near the TIG welded joints to increase strength and rigidity, while it can be thinner in the middle of the tubing to save weight. Furthermore we are able to control this precisely enough so that each size of the Goodship uses tubing with butting designed specifically for it’s size. The tubing is also heat-treated to exacting specifications to further increase its strength. The result is a frame that has all the benefits of good ‘ol reliable steel, is very strong, and only weighs 3.8 lbs (for 56 size). Of course you can find carbon frames that weigh much less than that, but the Goodship is set to follow a different course than that. Instead of chasing grams we concentrated on ride quality and the practicality of a well made modern steel frame. Steel is resilient, proven and strong. It makes a great platform on which to build a bike you will ride and use daily.

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The Goodship also comes with a ENVE carbon fork. Again, marrying some of the best of old and new technologies we are very pleased with the ride feel of this combination. ENVE’s quality is something we believe in too and it’s essential to have a trustworthy name on your bike’s forks. The Goodship comes with our own sealed Fairdale wheelset that is classic and tough without being overly heavy. We didn’t mess around with any funky 13 spoke radial laced wheels or anything like that. This is a classic laced wheelset that you will be able to put some “real” mileage on. Continental Ultra Sport tires in 25mm width handle the road work (28mm is max tire clearance on the Goodship).

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The graphics are all hand drawn by Taj. Not meaning that he drew on each individual bike or anything, they are water transfer stickers. Because we really expect this bike to get ridden we used a water transfer sticker in place of our usual head tube badge (that was hand drawn with a mouse on the computer)… cleaning sweat from underneath those things can be a real pain. ENVE even let us hand draw their logo to match the bike’s graphics (thanks dudes! That was pretty cool of you).

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SRAM Force 22 covers the braking, shifting, and cranking. We didn’t mess around with using some off brand crank that might interfere with Force’s excellent shifting, we stuck with SRAM’s suggestions and used the whole group. FSA stem, sealed headset and seat post round out the components. The Goodship’s initial introductory pricing will be about $2999.99 for the complete bike or $999.99 for the frame and fork (and I think we are including the headset too). A few small notes on our sample bike used for the photos: Production bike will use a compact drivetrain crankset, it’s shown with a traditional. The front derailleur will be a clamp-on to improve shifting options, the photos show a braze-on mount. The Fairdale Road Saddle will use a different material for it’s cover (we discovered the micro-fiber cover shown wore a bit faster than we expected).

First round of bikes will be available in mid-November in 54, 56, 58, and 60 sizes. Sizing options will increase as time goes on, since this is a pretty big project for us we are taking our time to get things right.

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7 Oct 2015 Drop Weekender: Explained from Fairdale

weekenderIf you’ve been reading our daily posts about each of our 2015 bikes you may have noticed me saying this one’s a “favorite”, or that one’s “our favorite”. Well, this bike is my REAL favorite model of the 2015 line. The Weekender with drop bars is so nice to ride and I’m very excited for you all to see it (and ride one). I feel like we absolutely nailed the spec on this bike and it has created a bike that is very special. The Drop Weekender is a tough, all-purpose road bike. It is reliable transportation that can keep you out of cars and keep you smiling. derailOne of the key features of this bike is the 1×10 drive-train. By using a large range cassette (11-36t) we are able to create a bike that has a similar gear range as a normal 2×10 road bike. However, by removing the front derailleur the shifting on this bike is greatly simplified. Using just one shift lever to handle all your shifting is really a treat.  The full range of gears are readily usable at the tip of your fingers, it truly makes this bike great to ride. We used a long-cage SRAM X7 Type 2 rear derailleur to handle moving the chain around the cassette. This is another special part of the bike. The Type-2 designation is for SRAM’s clutch system built into the derailleur. This was developed for mountain biking (and indeed this tough part is typically a mountain derailleur). The internal clutch system keeps the derailleur from bouncing around on rough roads. The result is that riding this bike feels and sounds like a single-speed. Your drive train will feel remarkably solid and stable. Ride off a curb and you won’t get the usual chain slap you would get from a bike with a normal derailleur. It’s really a cool feature that is something you need to ride yourself to understand, but we do think you will like it as much as we do. Also, we chose to use a long-cage incase you did want to upgrade your bike to a 2×10 (say you’re going to do a big bike tour with a lot of weight strapped on to your bike). The long-cage can accommodate this. cranks  This bike comes with Fairdale’s oversized-spindle 2pc cranks that have a nicely sealed outboard bottom bracket. Again this adds to the incredibly solid feel of the Drop Weekender. The Weekender uses our trusty Weekender frame design that has easy to use (front and rear) rack and fender mounts. This will allow you to adapt it to your riding as you need. Pop some fenders on there for wet weather, or racks to carry your bags and stuff. drop The brakes on the Drop Weekender are Avid’s very nice BB7 Road brakes. Very easy to adjust, very powerful and they feel awesome through SRAM’s brake levers.shifterSince the bike is a 1×10 one brake lever is also your shift lever. A SRAM Apex shift lever handles this job beautifully. The other lever is just a brake lever, but matches the shift lever in feel and appearance. electro The Electro-Silver finish is a very special finish that is both eye-catchingly beautiful with out being obnoxiously loud. weekendermainThe bike is rounded out with 37mm Continental Contact tires, sealed integrated headset and Fairdale saddle. The Drop Weekender will be in USA bike shops for around $1250. geo  spec

6 Oct Weekender with Archer bars: Explained from Fairdale

weekenderstreetWe’re spending a day on each of our new 2015 models. Full catalog here and today’s bike is the Archer bar Weekender. Our Weekender has been our most favorite bike since the beginning. It’s practical design has found it a home with many different types of riders. You can sum it up as a 9-speed bike built on a quality frame with quality components and a comfortable all-around riding position. Folks who have Weekenders use them for anything from neighborhood cruisers to daily commuters or like myself, as a touring bike ( Taj’s Japan trip on a Weekender). What I really like about it is that I’ve seen our Weekender turn a lot of people who were interested in bikes into actual “cyclists”. This is really the basic intent of Fairdale in a nutshell. We want to make bikes that allow you to fall in love with cycling… to experience a bit of the magic that we’ve gotten to enjoy. The Weekender really opens that door for a lot of people. A bike easy enough for the most novice of rider to use, but also a bike with enough range to put some serious miles on it. headtube The Weekender is based on our doubled-butted 4130 Chromoly frame design. The fork is full Chromoly and uses our 1-piece machined steer tube for superior trustworthy strength. For 2015 the Weekenders see the top tube (TT) becoming more level as the bike gets bigger. So, our small’s TT is fairly sloped to better fit smaller riders, but by the time the bike gets to an Extra Large size the TT is almost level (medium shown in these photos). We feel we found a good balance between aesthetics and practicality.  seatpost  There is a reason why Chromoly is the choice material for so many bicycles through the years. Reliable and durable at a good price is one of the reasons. The Weekender with good quality parts will run you about $850 in a USA bike shop. For a bike that could replace you car or take you on vacation that’s not bad. We use 37mm wide Continental Contact tires for this bike. The tires are wide enough for some bike-trail or gravel-road riding, yet still fast on smooth concrete and come with a Kevlar flat belt protection built into the tire. There is room for full coverage fenders with these tires and all appropriate mounts for racks and fenders come on the bike as well. brakesEasy to use Avid mechanical disc brakes are a great feature on this bike. Disc brakes work well in all weather conditions and allow for quick and easy wheel removal. The bike comes with allen key skewers (instead of quick-release ones). This offers a small amount of theft prevention (at least you need a tool to take a wheel) and can easily be updated to either locking skewers or Q/R ones if you prefer. weekenderstudioSRAM X5 trigger shifting easily shifts through your 9 gear range. One easy to use shifter advances your gears either up or down with precision and confidence. There’s no front derailleur to make things confusing and you get a nice full range of 9 different “speeds”. Everything about this bike is made to make the riding experience easier and simpler. Save all the complicated stuff for when you start racing, for now here’s a bike that is just plain fun to ride. arcehr arcehrspec

3 Oct 2015 Taj: Explained from Fairdale

tajmain The TAJ is a bit of a special project bike for us…. well, maybe it would be better to say it’s a special project bike for me! Because it’s got my name on it. Here’s a trick I learned about being a bike designer, put your name on the bike and claim it as a “Signature Model” and you can do whatever you want! That’s basically what I did with this bike. I had a “Taj” signature model back in the Hoffman Bikes BMX days (1995) so I justified doing this model as kind of a throw back to that. All justifications aside I got to design this bike exactly how I wanted. I wanted a BMX styled cruiser that was tough enough to do some real ramping on, but relaxed enough that you could actually sit on the seat and do some actual cruising. BMX bikes are so simple and durable having one that you can actually cruise on makes a lot of sense. This easy to keep rolling bike would make a great bike for anyone who just wants something easy to ride that is reliable. Tough proven parts and BMX sensibilities means this bike will work when you want it to. And, it’s a lot of fun knowing you can jump some curbs along the way.  Taj-Bike-copyOutside of the name (and 100% chromoly frame and fork) there really is no similarity to the old Hoffman Bikes Taj. The intent wasn’t to go retro so much as just to build a BMX bike that I could enjoy. I think a lot of other people can enjoy it as well. When I first moved to Austin back in 1993 there was tons of college kids riding BMX cruisers. That’s sort of died away now and I think it’s a shame. Put one of your friends who doesn’t really ride a lot on a TAJ and I bet they’ll love it. The toughness of a BMX along with the smaller frame size make it a bike that really lends itself to a lot of different sized and level of riders. reartireThe Fairdale Bikes version of the Taj has 26inch wheels with big beefy Maxxis Holy Roller tires. 26inch BMX bikes never really caught on but emerged back in the late 70′s and early 80′s. I was totally referencing my memory of Mr Hands cruiser from the movie rad. If you know what that is you’re old. Despite it’s old-school influence the Taj uses a lot of very modern BMX innovations. Check the Odyssey Quik-Slic cable on the back brake. The cable has the U-brake’s straddle-cable built right into it (and is all one-piece). No messing around with finicky brake parts, just pop in the brake lugs to the brake arms and you’re done. headtube Sealed integrated headset (like on all modern BMX bikes) and a machined one-piece steer tube on the fork mean this bike can take some real BMX riding abuse. levers  Odyssey Monolevers in medium are the most comfortable levers I know of. The front brake cable (yes there is a front U-brake too) routes through the steer tube Pott’s mod style. Chromoly bars help this bike gain its Track Certification. seatOdyssey Pivotal seat comes standard. bbSealed Mid BB and chromoly 3pc cranks round out the BMX spec of the bike. stem Sunday Freeze stem up front gives this bike a very nice parts package for the $599 retail price.  geo spec

2 Oct 2015 Coasters: Explained from Fairdale

mainIn our catalog one of the tag-lines for the Coaster reads, “Bike riding is beautiful because it’s simple… Here’s our most simple bike.” That sincere statement sums up the Coaster models pretty well. Bike riding can be lots of things other than “simple” of course, but one thread that runs through all forms of cycling is that at its very core we still feel that little buzz of enjoyment from simply balancing on two wheels.orangecoastWhen we started designing the Coaster some years ago it was in the heat of the “Fixie” craze. We never felt in tune with that world for the simple fact that we like to coast down hills. Still, the sparse aesthetic of a fixed gear bike with out brakes and cables hanging off one that we appreciate. Also, there is a lot to be said for a bike so “simple” in design that it needs minimal maintenance. For our Coaster we chose to use an old-school Coaster brake. If you’re not sure what that is you probably had one on your first bike as a kid. It’s a brake inside the rear hub that you activate by back pedaling. It doesn’t require any cables or a brake lever, and you can lay down some mean skids. Of course now we also have added the Coaster in a UK Spec version that has a freewheel rear hub and two hand brakes. In both incarnations of the Coaster “Keepin’ it simple keeps it fun”.simpleI sometimes find that people who don’t ride a lot of bikes think that they need a bike with gears. Having gears to shift through does indeed make climbing hills easier, but it can also complicate the act of riding a bike. Having more moving parts means there is more things to keep in adjustment and more things that can go wrong with your bike. I wouldn’t want to discourage someone from getting a geared bike because really keeping a bike like that in order isn’t that difficult, but I do encourage people to consider a single speed. If you can keep air in the tires a simple bike like the Coaster is pretty much going to keep working for you (and keep you riding). rusbustThe 2015 Coaster includes the small upgrade to a KMC Rust Buster chain. The chain is coated with a rust inhibiting coating that will simplify bike upkeep that much more (you should still drop a bit of chain lube on there now and then). As always the Coaster uses a sealed bearing, press-fit Mid bottom bracket. The Chromoly 3 piece cranks are strong and durable. shimanoOn the Coaster with the coaster-brake we use a Shimano coaster-brake hub. This is pretty old school technology here, but it’s easy and it has worked on bikes for eons. Often times folks who are really into bikes are turned off by the idea of a coaster brake but we have seen many a jaded bike mechanic fall in love with the throw-back appeal of riding a bike this easy to use. It does make you feel like a kid again, and it strips away a certain amount of high performance expectations you might have for a bike. Instead, you just enjoy the ride itself. For those who don’t know bikes as well having an easy to understand braking system is nice too.UKCOASTERPSThe UK Spec version of the Coaster has a freewheel (clicky thing in the back wheel) and two dual pivot caliper brakes. Very straight forward bike here. barsVersion 2 Archer bars are comfortable on this bike and somehow give it a character all its own… something about this bikes feel makes us smile when we ride it. We hope you will enjoy one as much as we have.

 

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1 Oct 2015 Daybirds: Explained from Fairdale

 

redMAINContinuing this weeks 2015 bike introductions brings us to a brand new model for Fairdale, the Daybird. The Daybird comes as both a standard version or a step-through version. This neighborhood cruiser is designed to be user friendly from the start. We wanted to make a bike that was inviting for anyone to hop on and ride. It’s a bike with simple spec that will be there when you are ready to ride. Throw a basket or a rack on it and it will do your grocery shopping for you, maybe even ride it to school or work. This is a bike we hope you will enjoy enough to hook you on riding a lot more!sturmeyarcherhubThe Daybird comes with a Sturmey-Archer 3 speed rear hub. This provides 3 very easy to use gears that basically cover flat ground cruising and a gear for both down and uphill riding. Sturmey-Archer has been making 3 speed hubs since 1902! There are more technologically advanced hubs out there of course, but we like the classic feel of the Sturmey-Archer. Fenders are included with all Daybirds. shifterThe shifter is also a classic. Solid feeling aluminum thumb shifter is durable and very easy to use. With only 3 gears you will find this shifter very intuitive. Both models use our comfortable Archer V.2 Handlebars (no relation). Fairdale_Full_Bike_BLUE_DBirdThe Daybird Step-through comes in one size that fits a wide range of rider sizes. Stable and easy to ride this bike encourages just about anyone to get out pedaling.aThe standard version of the Daybird is sized a bit bigger then the step-through. Again it fits a wide range of riders. Not intended to have a “race” fit this bike is much more about sitting upright and enjoying a cruise. cruisersaddleSpeaking of sitting you’ll be doing that on our comfy Cruiser Saddle. It’s not super big and dorky looking like some cruiser seats, but is still comfortable enough for the more focused weight of a upright riding position. csttireTires come in the form of 700c x 38mm CST tires. We’ve used this tire for years on our Coaster model and really like its performance. A relatively thick tread on this tire fends off thorns and glass pretty well. Also, the 38mm wide width is a good overall size for bike trails, rough roads or smooth concrete. daybirdchainguardA classic chain guard is also included with the Daybird. Fairdale_Full_Bike_DBird_setThe Daybirds have a sealed press fit Mid bottom bracket and chromoly 3 piece cranks. This little touch is something we also do on our Coaster models with great results. Durable and smooth cranks that can stand up to anything you might throw at them. The Daybird isn’t meant to be the kind of bike you jump off rooftops, but it’s still nice to know you’ll never have to worry about your cranks. daybirdhedtubesThe Daybird standard models are available in Red or Blue. The step-through version has an additional sea green like above. MSRP in USA shops will be around $589.  dbstand dbspecstand  dbstep dbstepspec

30 Sep 2015 Parser explained from Fairdale

parserheadlineOur 2015 bike line will be in bike stores any day now (full catalog here). We’re also in the process of updating our website with all the new bike info. While those two things are coming together I thought I would take a little time and introduce you to each bike in our new lineup. Each day this week I will focus on a different model from our new line.  

Original Parser Black and Parser Express released in 2011.

Original Parser Black and Parser Express released in 2011.

It seems appropriate to start off with our Parser model. It was the first bike we built and started things off for us back in 2010 (went finally went on sale in 2011). Also, I’m really excited about this new incarnation of the Parser and want to tell you about it. First a little history on the model. The original Parser came in two versions, the Parser Black and the Parser Express. Since they were the first bikes we made we decided to pick parts for them that we would put on our own personal bikes. The component spec was a little over the top to be honest but for this model we really didn’t care. We just wanted our first offering to be badass! For example the Express version used SRAM’s S500 brake levers and SRAM’s S300 crank set which pumped up the retail price of the bike to over $850! That’s quite a lot for a single speed considering there are cheapo fixies out there costing under $300. Don’t get me wrong, the original Parsers were worth the money because they were so good, but it took a rather specific customer to be able to appreciate and understand them.

2nd version of the Parser.

2nd version of the Parser.

The next model version of the Parser saw us streamlining the models to just one dropbar version. We added canti brakes and made some minor refinements to the geometry. Again, we stayed true to the Parser being a bike built how we wanted. Rather than cornering ourself with a pre-determined price point for the bike we just built a bike how we wanted and it would cost whatever it cost.

2015 Parser

2015 Parser

The 2015 Parser expands on the changes made to the last version and becomes more Cyclocross-ish. It is tough enough to be used a single-speed CX bike but I see it more as a urban bike that utilizes many of the practical features that CX bikes have brought to cycling. Wider tires handle some trail riding as well as rough roads, canti brakes are easy to maintain and work well. Clearance for fenders and rack mounts also add to its practical adaptability. It also is our most dialed version of the bike yet. We stayed true to our Parser concept which is to make a bike with no compromises. Landing in bike shops with a suggested retail price of $769 the Parser again finds itself on the higher end of the single-speed pricing. However, like in the past there is good reason for that in the way of great quality components. The Parser is one of those bikes where you won’t need to change or upgrade anything, and it is tough enough to last a lifetime.

headsetAs with all versions of the Parser the frame and fork are both built from high grade 4130 Chromoly. The frame features double butted tubing to keep weight down and strength high. The fork uses a one-piece machined steer tube (rather than two pieces welded together) for superior strength. The geometry and ride of the bike is nimble and comfortable. rearhub A cool feature on the Parser is a sealed rear cassette hub that has two cogs. This is handy if you want to quickly change the gear ratio on your Parser. For example if you know you are going on a hilly ride you might want to put the bike into the easier gear. Or maybe when you bought the bike you had it set up in the easy gear, but after some riding you get strong enough to want the higher gear. Perhaps for winter riding vs. summer riding? It’s a simple little addition to the bike that provides a lot of options. The cogs are Shimano compatible and only cost a few dollars if you want to change you gearing even more. And of course you can also easily delete the extra cog by simply replacing it with a spacer. The Parser also comes with chain tensioners to make wheel alignment easy. The hubs also have inbound axles that we have always loved; very clean looking and they fit most BMX style inbound axles (if you wanted to upgrade to some cool Titanium ones for example).tires We love using Continental tires because the quality is always spot on. The 2015 Parser has Cylcocross Race tires which are a great all around tire. You can ride them on dirt roads with no problems and not feel sluggish on concrete. lever The brake levers on the 2015 are very comfortable to ride on the brake-hoods. Lots of stopping power thanks to the ergonomic lever shape and a handy little quick release button on the side to make removing the wheels from the brakes easy. Since the brakes are canti brakes they would be compatible with BMX levers (short pull) if you wanted to switch your Parser to riser bars or flat bars (rather then the stock drop bars). It’s a very easy switch to make if you’re into that style.  headset2 The Parser has always used a sealed integrated headset. Years of BMX riding have proven the incredible durability of these headsets to us. Pretty much nothing ever goes wrong with these things. Simple and bulletproof. cranks Our own 2-piece cranks are very stiff and strong. Using a sealed outboard bearing system and a oversized spindle means these cranks deliver all your pedaling power to the drivetrain. cable Complete with our own Fairdale cables. We’re proud of the little details that make a real difference. brakes A nice set of wide-stance canti brakes make for some powerful stopping, plenty of tire (and fender) clearance, AND are very easy to adjust and maintain. badassThe Parser is for sure one of our favorite models. There’s really nothing like the simplicity of a nice single-speed bike. Sure, we appreciate gears and all that they can do for your riding, but never discount the awesome reliability of a single-speed. You’ll have to get out of the saddle on occasion to do some climbing, but you’ll get to the top faster that way anyway! If you want a bike that is tough and built to last check out the Parser.

29 Sep Field trip to Japan from Fairdale

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I have believed for many years that the world would be a better place if everyone traveled more. Seeing new places and new cultures unlocks new ways to see the world. It expands your mind, opens your view of your place in the grand scheme of things, and it simultaneously makes you appreciate what you have at home. From the subtle differences of one American town to another, to the outright culture shock I felt when dropped jet-lagged and confused into the middle of downtown Tokyo I find I always learn new things while traveling. On this trip I started with a solo ride across part of Japan. I found myself pedaling along trying to wrap my head around many of the differences that I saw everywhere. Little things would take up hours of my thoughts as I tried to rationalize why this culture had developed the way it had. For instance I found myself asking why is there not one piece of broken glass on the ground in all of Japan? Unlike the USA where I’m trained to constantly watch for tire-popping glass-shards, I never saw even a hint of glass on my entire ride. Surely people in Japan must occasionally drop things? Is there just some social obligation to clean up after yourself that American’s often don’t have? Or are the street cleaners there just better then ours? The things that are different then home (good and bad) are the things that really stand out. Even with many hours of solo pedaling I’m not sure if I really worked out or made sense of a lot of things I saw in Japan, but that’s not really the point. All that time spent reasoning and trying to understand the new things you see is like a mental exercise in opening your mind. Unlike learning about cultures from a book or the internet actually immersing yourself in them effortlessly engages your mind and puts it to work. I really believe traveling is the ultimate educator. It shows you different ways of life and increases your compassion for other people.

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DAY 0

It had been a busy month leading up to this trip. Fairdale displayed it’s 2015 bikes at the Interbike Tradeshow just days before I left on my Japan trip. I had been so busy getting ready for and working at the tradeshow that I had done almost no riding to prepare myself. I hadn’t even planned out what bike I would ride or gotten gear together for myself. This all kind of hit me as I flew back from Las Vegas realizing I was heading to Japan in only 2 days. Typically I also had managed to get very sick at the tradeshow and was feeling like hustling to get myself ready for a big trip was going to be a huge pain. I borrowed some Blackburn bags and a front rack from Fairdale team rider (and neighbor) Leif. He also helped me set up a Weekender Archer bar bike for the trip. It was a sample bike we made in the Electro-Silver color and happened to be a large (which was my size). With only a short around-the-block test ride I packed up the bike into a cardboard bike box along with all my bags and gear. The $200 bike fee United charges each way was painful but at least I had a direct flight from Denver straight to Tokyo.

I will tell you that all my years of traveling have made me pretty jaded about flying. I realize it’s amazing that I can go anywhere in the world in a matter of hours but man, I hate it. The whole process of herding through the airport and getting stuffed into an uncomfortable little seat on a plane is something I could happily do without. Once I actually get to my destination the flying time seems to be erased from my memory and I enjoy myself, but I’m never a happy flyer. I was still pretty sick on the plane ride over. My antibiotics were in full force and I was fighting my typical spleen-less bacterial infection that I seem to pick up easily. I was coughing and feverish the whole trip. I was positive I was annoying other folks on the flight, but I don’t think I was actually spreading anything around. My neighbor in the middle seat next to me was a big dude who wrote “martial arts” on his customs form as his occupation. He never said a word the whole flight and hardly moved. He simply sat down, put his hands on his thighs and seemed to meditate. With his shoulders being wider than the seat and myself not being particularly narrow I had an uncomfortable time trying to keep the unwanted body contact to a minimum, contorting my shoulders to make room for him. Anyway, enough reliving the miserable part of the trip! 14 hours later we were on the ground and I was breezing through customs.

I had planned to ride my bike straight out of the airport but considering how sick I was feeling and a slightly late arrival at about 4pm I hopped on a train that would take me into downtown Tokyo. The Narita Express (NEX) train out of the basement of the airport is a treat. Almost empty, super fast and spacious seats make it feel so nice after a long plane ride. Once at the downtown Tokyo station I hoped to grab a cab to some hotel and get a good nights sleep. Much to my dismay none of the cabs could fit my bike box and I was turned away. Feeling sick and delirious from the long flight I had no choice but to build my bike there outside the train station.  I was so out of it this was a bigger ordeal then it should have been, but after dropping pretty much everything I touched a few times I eventually got the bike rolling. I wandered around Tokyo a bit until I found a hotel. It was $120 for a comfortable room at the KKR hotel and with how run down I was feeling I probably would have paid twice that. I was asleep by 7pm and so grateful to finally be comfortable.