It’s Electric! Fairwheel Bikes’ Custom Di2/XTR 1×11 Gravel Grinder

Fairwheel custom gravel bike, full side shot

Many riders are probably familiar with Fairwheel Bikes as an online store, and if you live near Tucson, Arizona you’ve likely stopped by their shop. However, most average joes might not be aware that the shop’s mechanics have been building one-off custom bikes for more than ten years, including everything from road bikes to MTBs. Recently, Fairwheel put together this insane custom gravel grinder that features an electronic 1×11 drivetrain, made from a mix of Shimano Di2 and XTR components.

While many of their custom bikes have gone unadvertised, the occasional build gets a little media coverage. With its unique electronic 1×11 drivetrain, it’s hardly shocking that this one was deemed worthy of some extra attention. Bikerumor got all the details, which you can read through after the break…

Fairwheel custom gravel bike, handlebars

Fairwheel custom gravel bike, XTR di2 rear derailleur Fairwheel custom gravel bike, XTR di2 display unit

Without a doubt, the most interesting part of this build is the custom cobbled drivetrain. The wide-range 1×11 system is a hybrid setup comprised of Shimano Ultegra R785 Di2/hydraulic levers mated to an XTR Di2 rear derailleur and an XTR cassette. The bike also uses the XTR digital display unit.

The rear derailleur can be shifted by using either the left or right shift levers. This presents several options for how exactly you’d want to use the system, but the ability to swap gears like you would in a paddle-shift equipped car (one side can be your up, the other can be your down) immediately comes to mind. This could also come in handy for lefties, who could easily use their dominant hand for rear shifting duties.

Fairwheel custom gravel bike, carbon/ti brake rotor Fairwheel custom gravel bike, THM carbon crank

Fairwheel custom gravel bike, rear hub Fairwheel custom gravel bike, bottle cage closeup

There are plenty of other highlights adorning the hand-built Parlee Altum frame on this top-tier build. The bike features XTR hydraulic disc brakes with carbon/titanium rotors, ENVE carbon rims laced to Tune hubs, THM carbon cranks, Control Tech’s titanium seat post, handlebar and stem, plus a Tune carbon rail saddle and carbon bottle cages. Full build specs are listed below:

Frame / Fork: Parlee Altum
DiscHubs: Tune King Frt Tune Kong Rear
Rims: Enve 3.4 Disc
Spokes: Pillar Megalite
Skewers: DT Swiss
Tyres: Kenda Karv 28c
Tubes: Vredestein Race Lite
Crankset: Thm Clavicula SE
Chainrings: Praxis Narrow Wide
Handlebar: Control Tech Ti / Carbon
Handlebar Tape: Lizard Skins DSP Race
Levers: Shimano Di2 Hydraulic
Headset: Cane Creek
Stem: Control Tech Ti
Saddle: Tune Speedneedle
Seatpost: Control Tech Ti
Seatpost Clamp: Parlee Altum integrated
Front Derailleur: None
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR Di2
Chain: Kmc X11SL DLC
Cassette: Shimano XTR 11-40
Brakes: Shimano XTR 9000
Brake Rotors: Carbon-Ti
Bottle Cages: Tune

Fairwheel custom gravel bike, Tune saddle Fairwheel custom gravel bike, Control tech ti bars and stem

While it could have been built a tad lighter, Fairwheel had practical durability in mind for this bike as well. Said and done, it hits the scales at a very reasonable 14.5lbs. There was no initial word on whether or not this beauty of a bike is available or already spoken for, but if you’re drooling uncontrollably keep an eye on this post for a possible update on that…

fairwheelbikes.com

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THE Rooster
THE Rooster
6 years ago

What a silly, silly bike. A carbon frame with aluminum bits for “durability”? Aero wheels and knobby tires? And a garish sticker on the fork to remind us who is responsibility for this rolling profanity. If I could roll my eyes any harder, trust me, I would.

erik
erik
4 years ago
Reply to  THE Rooster

Nice. The Rooster needs to chill.

Evan
Evan
6 years ago

Dude, that’s a road bike. 28c tires are road tires. Let’s calm down with this grave talk okay?

anthony
anthony
6 years ago

it makes me cringe when i hear “gravel grinder”

Jeb
Jeb
6 years ago

“it makes me cringe when i hear “gravel grinder””
This^

That seat/seatpost has long walk home written all over it.

KDog
KDog
6 years ago

XTR brakes? Looks like RS785 brakes to me.

anonymous
anonymous
6 years ago

“(one side can be your up, the other can be your down)”

Why would you want to turn your Shimano bike into a SRAM bike?

SPG
SPG
6 years ago

Come on, that thing is sick! I didn’t even know I had a dream bike till I saw this. I want.

Chris L
Chris L
6 years ago

All that money and they went cheap on the tires?? Given how much tires impact ride quality I would have expected something nicer.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

I was planning on building up a similar drivetrain build for CX, because Force CX1 groupsets cost a lot more than a Di2 1×11 setup and Rival1 just isn’t available. Plus, Shimano hydraulic maintenance is a lot easier than SRAM. I am not sure what a gravel grinder is, but that Parlee frame can only fit 28s and doesn’t have enough clearance to deal with stones getting caught between the tire and frame. The Ti seatpost looks pretty swank though.

jason
jason
6 years ago

Okay I get this a specific bike for a specific need. Like the idea of the 11-40 cassette. With road triples disappearing why not a 50-34 with a 11-40 cassette? Back to this bike. Honestly it may be to beautiful to ride in the rain let alone on gravel. Nice work Fairwheel, your site is like Fantasy Land for all of us. Thanks for doing this, LOVING IT!

John
John
6 years ago

“Why would you want to turn your Shimano bike into a SRAM bike?”

That’s fine with a 1x. My problem with the SRAM electronic shifting is that it can’t change front/rear derailleurs at the same time (the way you would, for example, shift up two or three smaller cogs while shifting down to the small chainring). But for winter riding on a 1x with heavy gloves, yeah, maybe.

“Okay I get this a specific bike for a specific need. Like the idea of the 11-40 cassette. With road triples disappearing why not a 50-34 with a 11-40 cassette?”

I don’t think you can shift a 50-34 front derailleur with a wide-range cassette like the 11-40. Shimano specs the 11-32, max. You could possibly get away with an 11-36, but not an 11-40.

Turd
Turd
6 years ago

Well done.

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago

@Evan, @anthony

142mm wide rear, Thru Axles, MTB Gearing, Full MTB Brakes, MTB Hubs etc. This is clearly not a bloody road bike.

Whatever it is, it is beautiful.

shafty
shafty
6 years ago

@Andrew

What does “Full MTB brakes” mean? The XTRs are lighter than any current Shimano road disc caliper offering, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at. It certainly isn’t a MTB, and those tires mean it’s mostly limited to the road. As far as the other stuff goes, it seems you haven’t been watching the evolution of road bikes in the last few years.

This bike is awesome, but that cheesy Control Tech junk needs to go. 3 months of catheters just doesn’t scare people like it used to.

Antipodean_eleven
6 years ago

I love it. Call it evolution of road bikes or whatever but I see this as a ‘road’ bike many people would actually love riding, if they can get over their hang ups that they *need* to ride the latest peloton bike the last magazine told them they should.

OK, the ‘murdered out black think bores the *word that will delete this comment* out of me but the rest of it is a hell yes.

So close to what I plan on building soon it’s not funny.

TypeVertigo
6 years ago

@John
“My problem with the SRAM electronic shifting is that it can’t change front/rear derailleurs at the same time (the way you would, for example, shift up two or three smaller cogs while shifting down to the small chainring).”

The guys at BikeRadar did just that on their Red eTap review published a couple weeks ago. They did all the rear changes first, then at the final cog tapped the other paddle to effect a front shift.

bikeradar.com/road/gear/category/components/groupsets/groupset-road/product/review-sram-red-etap-49810/

“Holding down either lever slides the chain methodically across the cassette. As we settled in with the system, we became comfortable with shifting the front and rear simultaneously. You can be holding one lever down to move the rear, then tap the other lever to engage the front.”

CommonSense
CommonSense
6 years ago

@Antipodean_eleven Uhm I think you’re confused. Most people probably wouldn’t enjoy riding an all carbon saddle, questionably functional performing titanium rotors, and the limited gear options a 1×11 offers on the road.

What’s that you say? This is a gravel bike? Oh, I was confused because that only fitting a 28c tire makes the gravel you’d enjoy riding pretty damn limited.

This is a dumb bike. This is a bike that is really light, really expensive and not well suited for anything. Aesthetically it’s not even well done. That FairWheel Bikes sticker sticker pops out like a pimple on a pasty forehead. The titanium stem, bars, and seatpost just don’t work with the matte scheme.

TreyH
TreyH
6 years ago

Light and pretty. Too bad it couldn’t even complete a single gravel training ride here in the Flint Hills of KS.

PTymn Wolfe
PTymn Wolfe
6 years ago

Title of article should read; Dentist orders custom bike that will never be ridden.

Not seeing how this is newsworthy. However, “practical durability” made me laugh so I guess this article wasn’t a complete waste if time.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
6 years ago

The peanut gallery is in fine form today. If it’s not part of your reasoning it must be a joke, right? Kudos to Fairwheel Bikes for putting this together. Fantastic machine!

pamountainbiker
pamountainbiker
6 years ago

To sum up the comments regarding why not run a double – could be wrong on this but you can’t run a double Di2 dura ace / ultegra front der with an XTR rear using 785 levers. And conversely you can’t run an XTR 2X front der using 785 levers. The systems won’t allow it, so to run the XTR di2 rear der – if you want the super big cassette range – you’re stuck with a 1X drive train. Until Shimano introduces an update, I think these are the options.

sillyboi
sillyboi
6 years ago

if aluminum bikes are made of aluminum, bamboo made of bamboo so on, why isn’t a gravel bike made from gravel?

i am totally confused.

G
G
6 years ago

@pamountainbiker: It IS possible to run 2x with XTR Di2. However, given E-Tube limitations, you have to run the same series front der. as your rear der. So that means you can set up a 2x road XTR system as long as you use an XTR front der.

Furthermore, the system is smart enough to (more realistically, not designed for) prevent chain issues that usually come with pairing an MTB cassette with road chainrings by preventing gross cross-chaining — it literally stops shifting 3 gears on either end when you combine small-small or large-large.

You essentially end up with a high end 2×11 system that only has like 16 gear combinations. But you can technically have a 34×40!

nunyab
nunyab
6 years ago

@commonsense, it seems a bit more likely that you might be the one that is a little confused. Those saddles are full carbon shells, but they are padded on top, just like most other saddles. Also the questionable titanium rotor you mention isn’t titanium at all, it’s stainless steel just like most other rotors.

@G, the problem I see with using an XTR frt derailleur is that it won’t shift a road crank properly so you’d end up having to run an mtb crank.

I think this bike is pretty awesome, seems like a great mix of road and light dirt use. I could certainly use that since we have to spend an hour or two on the paved roads to get out of the city before we reach the dirt roads.

Daniel
Daniel
6 years ago

I’m interested in that handlebar but there seems to be little info about it out on the web.

parkcyc
parkcyc
6 years ago

“the hand-built Parlee Altum frame”

Pretty sure that frame is made in Asia?!
If I remember correctly they only make 2 or 3 models in the USA now. The Z1, Z2/3 and the Z Zero. Everything else is produced in Asia.

Jimmy
Jimmy
6 years ago

“Pretty sure that frame is made in Asia?!”

It’s possible to hand-build something in Asia. I find it funny that they must describe these bikes as ‘gravel’ bikes. Marketing I guess. I mean, I only have one bike right now and it’s a cyclocross bike with discs, 28s and fenders on it. It’s what they used to call a ‘bike’. I ride it year round, in all weather. I’d buy a bike like this. It’s very similar to the GT Grade that I’d also buy. If you’re not racing and you just like to commute and go for rides and aren’t concerned about Strava segments, it’s perfect. Sure, maybe more clearance for tires would be cool, but there are options out there if you want to run wider than 28. If I bought this bike I’d probably swap the seat and take the white stickers off. And put fenders on.

parkcyc
parkcyc
6 years ago

Jimmy,

I agree, it can be hand built in Asia. But Parlee is usually known as a US Company making their frames in the US. And it was not specified one way or the other in the article.

As for the marketing thing, umm….Yeah! It’s ALL MARKETING!!
All of it from Aero Road to Gravel to saving 40 seconds off your 50000 mile TT time. It’s all bulls!t marketing.
Hell, a great example of marketing fail is Cavendish and the S brands bike they gave him for the Tour. He is quoted as saying the brakes sucked so badly there was no way he would use that bike on anything with hills! But they claimed the brakes hidden as such saved time on your road riding.

It’s all BS and has been for so freaking long. Around the time of the Lancification happening. Thank America for that!