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Farley – Trek’s Fa(s)t Bike

 Written and photographed by Aaron Hautala

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Winter fat biking came to Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota during the fall of 2011. The first year, a wide cross-country, groomed fat bike trail, 6 miles in length was introduced within the Sagamore Unit. Due to the success of that first year, in the fall of 2012, Cuyuna was able to open an entire unit of purpose-built single-track trails for winter fat biking. The Yawkey Unit, home to a downhill flow trail named Bob Sled. A perfect trail for winter fat bike ripping-and-rolling. Needless to say, experiencing nearly 10-miles of the Yawkey Unit’s snowshoe-groomed single-track fat bike trails was a game changer for me personally. Back in fall of 2011, I entered the world of fat biking aboard a Surly Moonlander. At the time, the thought of having the largest tires in the galaxy was all I needed. Moonie rocked, Moonie rolled. I loved that bike. However, after riding the snowshoe-groomed single-track, I was decided to look for a fat bike that was built to take full advantage of groomed single-track versus back-country slugfests.

Fast forward to July of 2013.

There it was.
Trek’s new fat bike, the Farley. Only low-resolution photos of the bike were available online, but the frame design and the fork, which looked like it was designed for the frame, (what a concept!) thrilled me.

Fa(s)t Frame.

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In conversation with Trek’s mountain bike product manager David Knauf, the Farley’s frame geometry was intentional, and for a desired purpose. “Trek has racing roots,” said Knauf in our recent conversation, “and when considering the Farley, we wanted to build a fat bike that offered fully-equipped race geometry with the ability to be versatile.” I also learned that Trek modeled the Farley after the 2014 Superfly, Trek’s well-known cross-country race mountain bike. Not bad, I thought, that sounds fa(s)t.

Why 4.0?

While seemingly overnight the fat bike industry evolved to 4.8-inch tires, Trek did not. And Knauf from Trek explained the purpose behind this decision. “As the Farley was engineered to provide a race-like experience, Trek designed the bike to harness the width of the 3.8-inch or 4.0-inch fat-bike tire. This was for increased speed, and to minimize rolling resistance on groomed fat bike trails.”

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It all sounded good to me, and I began wondering if my best friends Bud and Lou were too wide and too knobby for Cuyuna’s snow groomed single track.

Chainstay, headtube, and fork-offset, Oh My!

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The Farley chainstay length is short, 440mm to be exact. What does this provide? Nimble, float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee handling. In regard to the headtube, I was excited to learn that the bottom of the headtube matched the fork. Far too many fat bikes have forks that look like they have nothing to do with the design of the headtube. By far, the fork was the heaviest part of the Farley. There certainly could be, and eventually should be weight-reduction modifications here. However, weight-reduction equals price-increase, and Trek did their best to keep the Farley priced reasonable to the industry and the built kit. In talking about the suspension-corrected fork, Trek did say the future is vibrant. More importantly though, Knauf mentioned if someone were to purchase an after-market rigid fork and install it on the Farley, the bike’s geometry would be thrown off-kilter. Meaning, a different fork could reduce Farley’s hot-knife-in-butter handling.

Arc de Triomphe.

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It was also nice to hear from Trek that the fork’s secondary arch was designed for stiffness. When considering rock-and-roll fat biking on snow-groomed gravity trails, the added strength is a nice perk. At some point in Cuyuna I hope we feature a fat bike half pipe, and a moguls-and-jumps course. The added strength of the secondary arch would be conducive if that day eventually comes.

World of Wheels.

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When it came to Farley’s wheels, it was a no-brainer. Call Pete Hamer at Freewheel Bike in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I mentioned to Pete what I was looking for handling in this bike (Rock-and-Roll – Grip-it-and-Rip-it) and immediately the build list was created. We chose Hadley–Made in the USA-Fatback hubs, as Pete has received good long-term reviews on them. At the same time, Pete has witnessed a good number of other hubs on the market under producing in comparative levels of excellence. We also chose Rolling Darryl wheels to allow a wider tire footprint combined with DT Swiss Competition spokes, for once again, the added strength they provide.

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Toothy Monster.

Selecting Farley’s tires was difficult. Surly Nate or 45NRTH Dillinger, studded? Nate works wonders in Cuyuna. Over the past two years, Nate has been the tire of choice for the majority of our local riders. Its aggressive tread allows it to climb our steeper hills in the winter. However, my gut told me this year, with the introduction of increased mechanical grooming, and increased ridership, ice could be a larger concern than in the past. I ran these questions by 45NRTH brand manager, David Gabrys. Gabrys assured me that the middle paddle on the 45NRTH Dillinger tire would provide needed climbing ability, while the wide spacing between tread pattern allows the tire to shed snow. This keeps the tread in constant contact with the trail for additional grip. The studs were my insurance policy. Less expensive than AFLAC? Who knows. Will it work? We’ll find out.

Crank.

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The decision was made to bring in the RaceFace Next SL crank. To be candid, this product wasn’t selected exclusively for its lightweight features. Mostly I enjoyed this crank set’s stable of front chain rings. 26 teeth. 28 teeth. 30. And up. This allows for quick change-out via the Cinch and Spiderless direct-mount system. For me, the added flexibility drove home added value when considering riding Farley year round.

Stop. Go . . .

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Shimano XTR delivers the brakes and rear shifter, plus 10-ring cassette/rear derailleur (11-36T). We installed this line of brake components on my first fat bike, the Moonlander, and after doing so, it’s hard for me to go any other way. A good number of folks have questioned if mineral oil in these brakes is the right move in winter. To date, I haven’t had any issues. I know our friends at Freewheel Bike recommend Pentosin CH7.1 cold weather cycling, I just haven’t had a chance, or need, to swap it out. Then again, when it’s colder than -20 F, I’m generally not riding, either.

What’s with the color?

Powder blue? It was fun to hear the online blog-o-sphere reaction to the powder blue frame set when it was first introduced. To be honest, it took me a while to warm up to it as well. However, when I envisioned the bike in a natural surrounding of white, that sealed the deal. The powder blue combined with white and red, mimics my favorite winter scene of red ice houses out on Lake Mille Lacs during the winter. Blue sky, red ice houses, white snow. That’s Minnesota magic.

In closing.

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“My, that’s a lot of carbon on that bike, why didn’t you just buy a carbon bike frame too?” So folks have commented.
My answer: I hope to. An OCLV Mountain Carbon Fat Bike frame. Perhaps in 2015? I asked Knauf of Trek, and here’s his reply: “Fat bikes are a valid segment of the cycling industry, and at Trek we’re exploring options. Expect great things as we look forward to bringing Trek’s standards to the industry, to the tires, to the wheels. At Trek, the future is wide open.”

I’m not sure he answered my question. But, to be honest, that’s okay. Are the groomers done yet? It’s time to ride!

Author Bio

Aaron W. Hautala is our latest addition to the Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilot program and the President of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, the trail stewards of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails. The Crew hosts the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, a weekend-long winter fat bike race and celebration scheduled for February 28th – March 1st, 2014.

PS) For the record, with pedals installed, this Farley weighed 26.5 pounds on the United States post office scale in Brainerd, Minnesota.

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For more information about the Trek Farley visit – http://www.trekbikes.com

 

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23 Responses to Farley – Trek’s Fa(s)t Bike

  1. Mark Peterson December 16, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Great review, Thanks

  2. Jon Laterveer December 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Why not just support a innovatative company and get a Pugsley! Take a look at the geometry, it’s quick and fast in all four seasons and WAY more versatile! Worry about weight on aFatbike is simply wrong 🙂

    • Ditch December 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      I’m not sure what to say about this but I do know your an idiot!! Sweet ride man!!

      • Jon Laterveer December 17, 2013 at 6:49 am #

        I was as bored and maybe jealous because I am not getting a new bike this year – all in fun everyone

  3. Jon Laterveer December 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Why not just support a innovatative company and get a Pugsley! Take a look at the geometry, it’s quick and fast in all four seasons and WAY more versatile! Worrying about weight on a Fatbike is nor right 🙂

    • Jon Laterveer December 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      My spelling g is wrong to…

  4. Bob Dunahee December 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Can’t believe there are haters, very nice ride!! Insult someones ride…..not cool!

    • Jon Laterveer December 17, 2013 at 6:52 am #

      Not hating, just not sure how I feel about all the big bike companies jumping on the “gravy train”. It seems just about numbers and money and I like Fatbikes being niche market I guess.

  5. zero December 16, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Those XTR brakes holding up in the cold? My experience with mineral oil and winter has been 110% negative.

    Hilarious to see the people saying to support the innovative company but recommending the company that stole the ideas from someone else!

    • Aaron December 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      Good question on the XTR brakes with mineral oil. To date I have two Minnesota winters in the history books riding XTR and mineral oil. No problems to date. A good point to make though is I ride when it’s -20F or warmer. As I mentioned in the story, Pentosin CH7.1 is an alternative, but to date I haven’t run into the need for a change.

    • Jon Laterveer December 17, 2013 at 6:58 am #

      Never said they started it, just brought them to us who live in the cold middle part of North America 🙂

      • S J January 15, 2014 at 5:35 am #

        And now Trek is bringing them even closer to more people… not to mention bringing them to a wider spectrum of rider with their sizes… I think they are due some credit for paying attention to that. Some of us get excluded otherwise, or talking into putting up with, not to mention paying up for, a bike that doesn’t even fit properly.

  6. SirFatty December 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Well, my Fatback kicks ass and I would put it up against the Farley anyday. Having said that, that is a pretty sweet ride for sure and the powder blue paint IMHO is pretty sweet. I would ride the hell out of it!

  7. JYB December 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I love my Fatback, but that’s a nice ride. Anybody who says you shouldn’t worry about weight on a fat bike clearly hasn’t ridden a lighter fat bike. Reducing rotational mass of the wheels is a game changer. 26.5lb is pretty darn impressive, considering you could easily go lighter on that rig. Like I said, nice ride!

  8. Klunker December 16, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    I think its pretty awesome that Trek, one of the biggest players in the industry, decided the fat bike thing was a “thing”. Early adopters and individualists explored and pioneered, but now Trek refines and brings it to the table for all. I don’t see that as a bad thing. More people at the party!

    Thanks, Aaron and thanks, Fat-Bike.com

  9. Pedro December 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Jon the irony in you comment makes me wonder if you’re joking. Trek did for 29ers what surly did for fat bikes. Trek can’t be the ones to bring every new idea to market. But just like Trek doesn’t own 29ers, Surly doesn’t own fat bikes.

    • Jon Laterveer December 18, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      I may be wrong….

      I am just a guy who likes his Pugsley and Karate Monkey….it’s like having 8 or 10 bikes. I wish I could but I can’t afford to buy or take care of that many.

      The beauty is they let us tinker, personalize and create a unique ride for every situation..the new 26 X 2.75 Knard just opened up another door!

  10. Pete Hamer December 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Trek not innovative!? Do I even need to bring up 29″ MTB wheels? They’ve done their part and taken their risks. You can’t expect them to be the first to bring every new idea to market and then when they aren’t they can’t be expected to sit on the side lines. Surly, Salsa, Fatback, 907, etc. get credit for getting on the game early but didn’t invent and don’t own fat bikes. The reason the big players are getting into is because fat bikes have real benefits and aren’t going away, same reason everyone started making 29ers.

    • Jon Laterveer December 18, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Good points….

      I wonder where the Karate Monkey came out in the 29 er game?

  11. Hans May 29, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    TREK Farley, nicest, best and fastest fatbike ever, period.

  12. Adrian August 17, 2014 at 6:16 am #

    I bought a Trek farley, Trek Australia would not import them in Australia, so I imported my own and built how i wanted it. I didn’t buy it because it was a Trek, i bought it for its singletrack handling and its centralized wheelset position, just not a fan of offset. But compared to my Mukluk, the Farley handles awesomely on dirt singletrack, oodles of fun to ride and offers another fatbike to the public, another option to ride a well built fatbike frame.

  13. Marc Stahli August 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    Adrian where in the US did your purchase the frame- bike
    Thanks

  14. Co-opski March 24, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

    long term review of the Race Face sl and crank boots and 45nrth pedals please. All of my pedals are binding with the crank boots.