Fairlight Strael Learnings

A short summary of what I´ve learned from my Fairlight Strael Build.

  • Weight: My setup weighs 9.1 kg including pedals.
  • Ride quality: The ride quality of the Strael frame is beautiful. The handling is stable, calm, comfortable, and direct. It is not squishy. Once on the bike everything feels natural. I wouldn´t want to change anything.
  • Acceleration: The acceleration and climbing capabilities of the bike are good but not on the same level as a good carbon bike (read: lighter bike, stiffer bottom bracket). It is not an issue for my style of riding but you should be aware.
  • Frame build quality: The quality of the Strael frame is very high. It comes securely packaged, has a high quality finish and the tolerances are accurate. It´s a high quality product.
  • Geometry: The tall frame geometry works well for me and was a one of the big reasons to buy the Strael. A comfortable ride starts with a correct fit and Fairlight helps you achieving it with their regular and tall geometries. It´s a sign to me that Fairlight is taking care of rider needs in a way many big brands don´t!
  • Shimano manuals: The Shimano technical manuals are well made and have been of exceptional help while building up the bike.
  • Shimano shifter reach: The reach of the new Dura-Ace 9200 Shimano Dual Control Shifters is much longer than my old Sram Red Mechanical Shifters (for non-hydraulic rim brake). Even with the 7 mm shorter frame reach of the Strael (the Strael has 380 mm of reach while my old bike has 387 mm) I had to use a 10 mm shorter stem to compensate the reach of the Shimano shifters.
  • Semi-synchronized shifting: Shimano semi-synchronized shifting with a compensation of three gears up and down works perfect for me. I´m riding 32-48 on the front and a 30-11 cassette. The cassette gears are so tight that after switching a chainring a compensation jump of three sprockets provides in almost all cases the correct gear ratio. I was experimenting with a two-gear compensation which was not to my taste. I wouldn´t have expected that it makes such a big difference how many sprockets you let the system compensate for you. I also tried synchronized shift where you only shift up and down and the system will change the chainring automatically. I found that interesting but in the end the usage of the cassette was too limited in my view and letting the system decide when to switch chainrings was also not always what I liked.
  • Di2 wires: Multiple times I ordered a little too short Di2 wires. E.g., to connect the two shifters with a wire through the handlebar I assumed a 650 mm wire for a 42 cm handlebar should be fine but I learned that is not ideal and changed to a 700 mm wire. Especially as the Shimano manual recommends to have a slack loop near the shifter. You get the final wire lengths I used for my 56T frame at my wiring build notes.
    A Shimano Dual Control Shifter with removed rubber hood so that the ingoing Di2 wire is visible. The wire doesn´t go straight into the shifter but with a 2 cm loop.
    The slack loop Shimano recommends when connecting Di2 wires to shifters
    For the Di2 wire connection of the two Dual Control Shifters it´s crucial to use the lower satellite ports of the shifters! The connection from one shifter to the junction in the down tube (in my case it´s the right shifter) must go through the upper port of the shifter. If you do not follow this wiring model your shifter firmware updates and the triggering of the derailleurs through the shifters will not function properly. Also make sure to use blind plugs for the ports you don´t use.
  • Bottom bracket: I planned to install a Shimano Dura-Ace bottom bracket but the plastic cover that would shield the axle is a millimeter too wide in diameter, which made it impossible for me to get it past the Di2 wires into its place. My workaround was a Rotor BB1 bottom bracket which has an ever so slightly smaller plastic shield for the axle and works just fine.
  • Crankset: The Rotor ALDHU crankset works fine in conjuction with the new Dura-Ace, even with Shimano altering the chain line from 43.5 mm to 44.5 mm.
  • Brake rotors: The Dura-Ace brake rotors have a black inner painting as opposed to the Ultegra´s which have a white inner painting. At least for my bike I prefer the black much more. Have an eye on that. It´s only a visual thing because the function of Ultegra an Dura-Ace rotors is the same.
  • Ergon SR Pro S/M: The Ergon saddle works surprisingly well for me. It´s important to align the seating area with a water level horizontally. It´s the short area in the middle of the saddle where you end up seating. It´s not the entire saddle length. I used that same saddle in the past on a different bike but was not satisfied. Because during the Strael build the saddle was laying around I gave it another try and I think this time it works so well because I applied the leveling to the shorter seating area instead to the entire saddle length.
  • Dura-Ace C36s wheels: The wheels roll very well and I´m surprised by their high cross-wind stability.
  • Getting connected: Because I´m writing about the build process kind people who have an interest in the Strael wrote back to me. I found those connections very satisfying.