Long Term Review of Trek Farley 8


By – Dave Krueger (aka Barba Glacialis)

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I took my Farley 8 home in October of 2014. Since then, the bike has seen more than 1700 miles go by. It’s seen all four seasons and temps from -13F to 95F. I’ve ridden trails. I’ve cruised the beach. I’ve commuted on it. I’ve raced it (snow and dirt). I’ve pulled my son in a trailer all around northern Illinois. I’ve taken it to Ray’s MTB (and had a blast). And, of course, I’ve bar-hopped with it.

You get the idea, I’ve ridden it a lot. And hard.

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My Farley is domesticated. Is yours?

I love my Farley. To be honest, it is my first fat bike, so it might be puppy love. However, I’ve ridden a lot of bikes over the past 30 years (fat and otherwise) and I think Trek has built a solid bike that I’ve really enjoyed (read: “ride with complete disregard for my or the bike’s safety”).

Straight out of the shop, the Farley 8 excels at hitting the local trails, beach, and snowbanks. The handling is responsive, the Hodag tires are grippy in almost all conditions, and the component build beyond reliable. The Hodag/Jackalope combo is easy to set up tubeless and noticeably improves handling when those pesky tubes are removed. Sram’s X1 drivetrain is fantastic as well. With 1700+ miles on the bike I have dropped the chain only twice: both due to extreme circumstances. The first time was due to a small tree getting wrapped up in the drivetrain. The second was due to about 50 feet of string thinking it was my chain.

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That kid and his kite should have gotten out of my way.

When you start really pushing the bike, the Farley shines. With the Bluto dialed in and the Hodags set up tubeless, the bike rips across almost all terrain. The sipeing on the Hodag works surprising well in snowy and moderately slick conditions. I confidently rode it through much gnarlier conditions that I initially thought the tires were capable of taking on.

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Fatty can fly.

Only glare ice (no surprise) and very hard packed dirt show that the Hodags do not excel in every condition out there. The Hodags get squirrelly on hard pack only when you are really pushing the bike to the edge of its handling envelop. And to be fair, the Bontrager packaging indicates hard pack is a weakness for the tire.

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Truth in advertising!

That being said, the Hodag/Jackalope combo is robust. I was riding in a blizzard (why not, right?) and playing with tire pressure when I let a little too much air out. The rear tire went completely flat. I was able to ride the flat tire two miles uphill and to safety without the bead breaking nor any damage to the tire or rim. I was, and still am, very impressed.

Is the Farley 8 a perfect bike? No. Could some aspects be better? Sure. But then again, some aspects of myself could be better too, but let’s not get into that here… The only minor issue I’ve had with my Farley is in regards to the Jackalope wheels; or the rims to be more precise. As a consequence of my constant hooning, I’ve managed to deform the drive-side of the rear rim in several spots (recall the rims are asymmetrical in their design, thus the drive-side rear is subject to more stress than the non-drive-side). Admittedly, I probably ride the bike beyond it’s intended purpose, but all the same I’d rather not see deformation in my rims after a hard session of riding (Note: the bead stays seated, the tubeless setup still works fine, and I don’t notice it whilst riding. But it still annoys me…).

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Cold Lake Michigan morning.

Less related to the fundamental design of the Farley 8, and more related to my own bike idiosyncrasies, I have replaced/added a few features to my Farley. Nothing failed, I just wanted tweak the performance to my liking. I made three changes to better fit my riding style. First, I’ve added a dropper post for those times I want to ride the bike on the ragged edge. Second, I have shortened the stem to a 60mm (from 90mm) thereby making the handling of the Farley super responsive – it now feels much more like my very snappy road bike. Finally, to aide in charging up those long steep hills the W.O.R.S. folks like to punish me with, I’ve added a remote lockout to quickly make the Farley a rigid hill-climber. Like I said, all of these changes are not necessary, but they turn the Farley 8 from an already very capable bike into a ripping fast bike.

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Green is faster, right?

A nit-pick that I don’t have, but I’m sure some of you do is that the Farley 8 can only accept a 4” tire. I rode the bike all winter on 4’s and had no problem at all. However, I am all of 150lbs and do not require the floatation a 5” tire offers. For those of you with a more powerful lunch muscle than myself there is an answer: the 2016 Farley 9 (basically the same spec and price as the 2015 Farley 8 but with space for 5” tires).

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Farley stopping to admire its silhouette.

Long story short, the Farley 8 is a killer bike. In it’s stock form is great; with a few tweaks, it will do just about anything you ask it to. I found that during the last year of riding, that it can handle, so much more, than I thought it could.

Edotor’s Note :  This is Dave’s first article for us and we’d like to welcome him aboard the SS BikeBlackRibbon as an official test pilot! I get to ride with Dave now and then and the guy is freak’n fast! He also has great taste in craft beer. That’s a pretty killer combination! We’ll be testing the new Trek Farley 9.8 very soon, so stay tuned to the number one source for fat-bike fun and frolic – (that’s like us and stuff) ~gomez~

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7 Responses to Long Term Review of Trek Farley 8

  1. Bill September 10, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Nice review. I was soooo close to pulling the trigger on a 2015 Farley last year but decided to wait in hopes Trek would update with the ability to run 5″ tires, and they did. Win for me.

    Just picked up a Farley 5 a couple weeks ago and am loving it. It’s my first “mountain bike” that I intend to use for pretty much everything: Winter commuting, 4 season exploring and 4 season single track riding. So far so good. Can’t wait for Winter (can’t believe I just wrote that).

    – Bill (MPLS)

  2. Matt September 11, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Nice write up. I have the 8 as well, like it so much I sold my 29’er. I am okay with 4″ tires, more snappy for spring/summer/fall….definitely wish I could run bigger in snow though.

    I like everything about the bike, balance, handling, etc.

    My one gripe was I hated the stock Avid’s. I replaced with XT, and it immediately made it a perfect bike for New England.

  3. Scott September 17, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

    I have a 2014 Farley, and it handles a 5″ front tire no problem. Bud in front, Vanhelga in back and the thing eats up loose snow on flats and hills. Switch to 4″ Knards for summer and it’s a great mtn bike. I too sold my 29er. Just put on HED Big Deals and it’s super responsive (not to mention 4lbs lighter).

    I would expect the 8 could handle 5″ on the front too.

  4. Jo Poindexter September 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    Just a question. Did you have to modify the baby puller for it to work. We have dogs we want to pull them

    • Dave Krueger September 11, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

      The Burley is stock, including the hitch mount. I did, however, have to replace my stock rear thru-axel with a Robert Axel Project yoke mount axel.

  5. Greg November 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

    Great review.

    How did you add the orange to the bike? It looks sharp.

    I’m looking at picking up the 2017 Farley 7 for commuting and year round fun. It’s all black, which I like, but I’m also tossing around the idea of spicing it up by adding decals or something.

    • Dave Krueger January 19, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

      The orange on the frame, fork, and rims is vinyl. It certainly took a few hours, a steady hand, and a beer or two to complete.

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