Ridden & Reviewed: the Fairdale Goodship/Badship
“It’s not your bike.”
The Fairdale Bikes Goodship, or in this particular case, the Badship, is such a great bike that I wish it was mine. It had been years since I’d ridden a steel road bike and from the very first short spin on Fairdale’s flagship, I was sold on the old adage of “steel is real.”
Not only is steel “real,” but it’s also a great material to build a high-quality frame like the Goodship out of. After all, with modern steel tubing companies like Fairdale can have enormous control over the tubes’ butting profiles and diameters to give a bike a particular feel.
In the case of the Goodship, Fairdale works with a leader in titanium and steel tubeset production to get custom butted and sized seamless tubes, called the Drawnright Tubeset. In short, the properties of each tube of the Goodship are set not only to Fairdale’s specifications, but are also specific to each size the Goodship comes in. The result is not only a strong frame capable of taking years of good use, but also one that rides exceptionally well.
I had the pleasure of riding a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Fairdale Goodship, dubbed the Badship, for a week and it’s one of the best bikes I’ve ridden this year. (You can get your hands on the Badship on August 1, but more on that later.)
The Goodship is a purpose built machine—a road bike from a company you might not expect to see a dedicated roadie come from. After all, with a deep BMX history and bikes like the ever-popular Weekender, a road racer isn’t exactly what most expect Fairdale to be leading the charge with. But they are. And road cycling enthusiasts everywhere are better off for it.
The Goodship has excellent road manners. Helped capably by the steel frame and Enve fork, the bike soaks up road imperfections unlike any other bike I’ve recently ridden. Yes, I’ve been on a number of carbon wonder-bikes, including the excellent Trek Domane. But the “total sensory experience” as a colleague mentioned gives a very slight edge to the Goodship.
The Goodship, being a steel bike, not only softens rough patches of tarmac thanks to its inherent characteristics, but also offers a nearly silent ride. Gone is the hollow din often associated with internal cables rattling in an aluminum or carbon frame. Gone is the occasional creak of a press fit or other modern bottom bracket standard. The Goodship, being primarily a classic bike, rides much like a classic car when pointed in a straight line over nearly any surface. Like butter.
But the bike is also point and shoot. Aim the Goodship at a turn and counter steer a bit and the bike holds a line like it’s nobody’s business. At speed or cruising town, the Goodship capably does what’s asked of it when it comes to handling. And that holds true out at the Driveway Series as well. Hanson at the Lamar store has a Goodship that stepped on the podium a few weeks back. Not for nothing but he rolled away from a bevy of guys on the latest aero everything and just missed the win taking second. All aboard a Goodship.
The calm but responsive handling is aided by the frame’s feel for sure, but also the bike’s geometry. Admittedly I wish the Goodship was a bit racier feeling in terms of position on the bike. But the Goodship is a balance, and I can respect that. The slightly taller front end lends itself to the long solo or small group rides I did on it, while the short wheelbase lends to the snappy feel one expects from their bike in a crit. At one point during my time on the Goodship there was a nasty crash in a group I was with. While I was in full panic-stop mode, the bike never once flinched or overreacted to my overreactions and I was able to pilot it to safety with seemingly little trouble despite my racing heart.
And although it’s steel, the Goodship holds its own when talking about weight. After all, there are plenty of roadies out there that care desperately what their bikes weigh in at, regardless of ride quality. I fully expected the Badship to weigh in at roughly 19 pounds—and I was ok with that. (I’m not too particular about my road bike’s weight. My cyclocross bike is another story since I have to pick that thing up midrace.) The modern steel Goodship frame and carbon fork outfitted with a SRAM Force 22 kit, Zipp Service Course SL finishing bits, and Zipp 30 wheels came in at just over 17 pounds. (This Badship build is slightly different than the stock Goodship parts selection.) Right in line with my long-term loaner Domane and my personal road bike. Nice!
I really didn’t want to give the Badship back. But I had to. So you can have it.
Yes. You can have it.
On August 1 as part of El Diablo’s Poker Dash & Bash we’re going to be auctioning the Badship off with our friends TexasBikeRacing.com to one lucky person. All you have to do is come to the party at the ABGB that night, after the morning’s poker ride at the Lamar store, and place the winning bid on the Badship. Not only is it that easy, but the proceeds from the auction benefit the Texas High School Mountain Bike League. Win-win.
So come out and ride with us and the guys from Fairdale the morning of August 1. See the Badship at the party that evening with TBR.com at the ABGB, bid on it and other great items, and support youth MTB racing in Central Texas.
And take good care of my bike.