This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Matt in Norfolk, UK, who shares the Fairlight Secan 2.5 (and Secan 2.0) that he’s ridden to all four corners of Great Britain, around 34 of the UK’s islands, and through Italy. Learn more about Matt and his rig(s) here…

Words and photos by Matt Bark (@matt_brk)

Hi, I’m Matt from Norfolk in the UK. I’m often described as one of those “always doing something” people, whether that be cycling, snowboarding, climbing, paddle boarding, or camping. I loved being out on a bike as a kid, racing around the forest and building treehouses with friends in my younger years, or cycling the 10 miles to the nearest town to meet mates as a young teenager.

Matt Bark

As an adult, I enjoyed being outside and keeping active, but cycling didn’t become a part of my life again until my late 20s. I rediscovered it as an easily accessible way to get into the outdoors, be that road cycling, mountain biking, or just commuting. In recent years, I’ve developed more and more interest in gravel riding as a way of getting away from overly busy roads and discovering new places.

Bikepacking just seemed a great way of combining my love of camping and cycling, and I’ve been hooked ever since my first trip. That was a short overnighter in the Peak District on my hardtail MTB (custom built around an old Whyte 801 frame), but I soon found a preference for riding a mix of tarmac and trail that sits perfectly with gravel bikes. My first “big” trip was a 10-day tour through the Outer Hebrides aboard my first gravel bike, a Thompson R9300. Following that, I always had a hunger for something bigger.

  • Fairlight Secan
  • Fairlight Secan
  • Fairlight Secan 2.0
  • Fairlight Secan
  • Fairlight Secan 2.0

After a number of shorter trips, and when pandemic restrictions began to ease, I took a sabbatical from my job as a programmer and spent 2 1/2 months pedalling my Fairlight Secan around Scotland and its islands. I covered 2,800 miles, crossed 43 ferries, and visited 34 islands without really having much of a forward plan. During the same year, I bikepacked to all four compass points of the UK mainland, and this year my main trip is a 13-day tour of Italy, including the recent Tuscany Trail event.

  • Fairlight Secan 2.0
  • Fairlight Secan 2.0

Having ridden my previous gravel bike for a few years with all the labels of “commuter,” “winter,” “gravel,” and “tourer,” I had a hit list of requirements for my next true “Gravel Bike.” Steel frame, wide tyre clearance, fork cage mounts, and a wide gear range, to name just a few. After much searching online for the perfect bike, I stumbled across the Fairlight Secan 1.0. Following a chat with Dom at Fairlight, I found out that the soon-to-be-released updated model would come with fork cage mounts, and I was sold.

Fairlight Secan

As an engineer, I really enjoyed poring over the design notes that Dom and the team at Fairlight produced. They provide a really in-depth insight into the design process and filled me with a sense that every choice had been made with a purpose in mind. I also liked the “proportional geometry,” meaning I could find my perfect fit, which turned out to be a 54T, with a slightly taller head tube than a “standard” 54. My Secan 2.0 was used for the Scotland tour, as well as three or four other trips and many shorter rides on evenings and weekends. That frame covered over 5,000 miles in less than a year, and I’m now riding a Secan 2.5 frame with all of the components from that initial build.

  • Frame Fairlight Secan 2.0/2.5
  • Fork Fairlight Cempa 2.0
  • Rims Hope 20Five 700c
  • Hubs Hope RS4 32h
  • Tires Teravail Rutland 700 x 47
  • Handlebars Pro Discover Alloy 20°
  • Headset Hope
  • Crankset Shimano GRX600 46/30
  • Pedals DMR V-Twin Clipless
  • Cassette Shimano R7000 11-34
  • Derailleur Shimano FD-RX810, RD-RX810
  • Brakes Shimano GRX400 flat-mount hydraulic
  • Shifter(s) Shimano GRX600 2x
  • Saddle Selle Italia Flite Flow Ti
  • Seatpost FSA Carbon Post
  • Stem FSA 90mm
  • Front bags Alpkit Kuoka or Arch Bar Bag
  • Frame bags Alpkit Possum
  • Rear bags Alpkit Big Papa
  • Accessory bags Alpkit Stem Cell, Alpkit Betonga, Alpkit Fuel Pod
  • Other accessories O’Burrian the Puffin

I’ve not had much need to swap things around on the bike from the initial spec as I got to choose the components I wanted during the ordering process. I have tried a few different tyres, though, including the WTB Byway 40mm used for the Scotland tour (mostly road), the WTB Raddler 44mm (for “50/50 rides”), and my current favourite, the Teravail Rutland 47mm. These will probably stay on for a long time now, even including more tarmac-based trips, as the supple casing gives such a comfortable ride, and they provide great grip when it gets a bit loose. The bags are all from British brand Alpkit, choosing the “British-made” versions where possible, except for my bar bag that I use on shorter trips/day rides, which came from Arch (@arch_ind) in Italy.

  • Fairlight Secan
  • Fairlight Secan
  • Fairlight Secan

During the Orkney and Shetland Islands section of my Scotland tour, I fell in love with spotting puffins on the towering sea cliffs. After posting lots of photos of them on my Instagram (and being told I was obsessed with them by numerous people), it seemed fitting that I got a puffin mascot when I spotted him in the gift shop of an overnight ferry. He’s called O’Burrian, after Castle O’Burrian, the first spot where I really got up close with the real birds back on the Orkney Islands. He happily sits on the front of the bike at all times, whether I’m on a quick ride on some local trails or a multi-day adventure.

Keep up with Matt on Instagram @matt_brk.

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