If you follow any Mountain biking magazines or latest industry trends we are pretty sure you have heard about the surge in Fat Bike usage on the trails.
We had the chance to demo our first fat bike this past weekend. We picked up a Trek Farley 5 from local shop, Ultimate Bicycle. They are a top notch Trek dealer and highly recommend using their shop. Mike Perry is the owner and one of the most helpful owners out there. At first glance, the Trek Farley is beefy. 27.5 in wheels. The new Farley is available in both aluminum and carbon fiber versions with sliding dropouts and rigid or suspension forks. The biggest news (not a pun) is the introduction of yet another wheelsize: 27.5×4. Trek says all the reasons that 27.5 wheels have an advantage over 26-inch for regular mountain bikes applies to fat bikes as well: larger contact patch, better angle of attack and shorter sidewalls for less bounce.
The Farley’s Alpha Platinum aluminum frame and fork have been hydroformed and butted to enhance torsional strength while keeping weight down. A press-fit PF121 bottom bracket anchors the crankset for flex-free power delivery during out-of-the-saddle charges. Out back, the Farley’s Stranglehold adjustable dropouts feature a thru-axle skewer, also reducing drivetrain flex.
We took the Farley out for a local spin on local singletrack trail. Since we are in North Carolina there are a decent amount of roots on the trails and we were curious on how the Farley would handle them. At first pass a few miles in, riding a fat bike has a completely different feel. It’s fun, cushy, and a little bit more bouncy feel. Also whether on hardpack or loose sand, the grip on the tires is very noticeable and feels much more stable. I can see why people like riding a fat bike in the snow.
We were running the tires around 9 psi. The Farley plows over roots and small rocks. In fact you barely feel them. However in tight turns and accelarations it’s not quite as snappy. And due to the tire size and rim size there is about 4-5 lbs of extra weight, which you definetly notice on any climbs.
However on our first small descent with a few small jumps the Farley really shined and it’s quite a fun ride downhill. (Almost like riding on a red dodgeball.). I wouldn’t say any part of the bike is faster. But it does make riding downhill and slower rooted sections more comfortable and easier to roll over without wheels getting “caught”.
Braking felt virtually the same as with Avid hydraulic brakes on the Farley.
While the Farley might not be my top-choice for riding in adverse conditions, it is certainly one of the most fun-to-ride fatbikes on the market when conditions are good, and is, so far, the only fatbike that I’d actually like to try once the snow melts and trails dry out.