By – Dave Krueger (aka Barba Glacialis)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…).
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.
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).
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~