Trek’s got a new version of the Farley fat bike and it’s not only fun to ride, it’s fun to look at. And let’s be honest, isn’t that half of the reason we buy or don’t buy a particular bike? An “industry bro” recently surprised me by saying—in relative earnest—“Well, what about the color? If you don’t love looking at it, what’s the point?” Oh Hallelujah, I thought it was just me.
From the Singletracks tech editor: The just-released 2023 Trek Farley aluminum fat bike Maureen tested features updated geometry, additional mount points for bags and bottles, and a new carbon fork. Geometry highlights include a steeper seat tube angle, slacker head tube angle, and shortened chainstays. The shorter stays, along with a shorter fork offset, promise improved handling. The alloy Farley frame no longer includes a horizontal rear sliding dropout. More details about the bike are available on the Trek website.
The Trek Farley 9 Winter Edition is tubeless ready, but it came tubed and that’s how I tested it. The included bolt-on frame bag was easy to install, stayed put, and was sleek and roomy. Minor but important detail: the zippers on the bag were actually big enough to grasp with my double-gloved hand, a thing that far too many makers of Winter Things With Zippers fail to account for. Trying to grab a diminutive zipper tab the size and shape of a pendant while wearing the requisite winter glove makes you feel like a mummy trying to make lace. So thanks Trek, you win the Form-matching-function prize here.
On the snow with the Trek Farley fat bike
My first ride on this chubby bunny was on our local trail system that had just the right amount of snow at just the right temperature to make fat biking really fun. Still, I am a bit of a fat-biking skeptic, so I drove up to the upper parking spot thinking I’d probably not be out for very long. That was silly. “Regular” riding here in the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado completely shuts down around November, meaning that I hadn’t turned a crank in months. As is often the case, the first revolution brought that old feeling, an inside-and-out smile that’s been happening for the past 30 years of a life behind bars.
Now, the Farley is a hefty fellow. It’s a fat bike. But at 40 ish pounds (with tubed tires, sans frame bags), I was surprised that I didn’t want to put him on a starvation diet and tell him to hit the gym. While fully recognizing that it is oxymoronic to say a fat heavy thing is “nimble” (and “nimble” has got to be the most overused bike description term ever), I was truly surprised at how well it climbed. SRAM GX Eagle shifters on a 12-speed cassette moved up and down the dial like an intricate Swiss watch, and the SRAM Level TL hydraulic disc brakes were great if you’re into that kind of thing—I mean, brakes only slow you down, right? Ha.
And speaking of slowing down, I got to the top of the loop after three changes of mind regarding how far I’d go, and started down. Monte Carlo trail has some tight trees and snaky turns at the top and I wondered how my ponderous mount would track. After letting a few more pounds out of the tires (it’s bonkers how low you can go), I got rolling. Tentative at first, then ever braver as the bike kept reassuring me we weren’t gonna slide out/crash/sink/auger nose first into a snowbank, soon I was chortling to myself, whipping around corners and hucking three centimeter gap jumps.
As I neared the car I was having so much fun I decided to head for the lower loop. “Oh look” I said to myself, “the creek must’ve overflowed here to create this shiny sheet of…Weeeeeeeeeeaaaaa%#@!^%ICE!!” Laughing as I hit the ground, sliding in a comical arc across the miniature, pop-up skating rink, the bike and I came to rest downstream, befuddled but unharmed. Getting up was another small comedy, my body making funny shapes as it struggled for purchase on the ice floe.
I didn’t have the opportunity to bikepack/snowcamp with this fatty, but it seems to be well up for the task with the front carrier, frame bags, rear carrier, and saddle bags. I did use the rear saddle bags for the six zillion extra layers one needs for riding in sub-freezing weather, plus the hot homemade soup and chocolate chip cookies that I cart around so people will invite me back on the next ride, just in case my effervescent personality doesn’t *quite* get the job done. Plus, who are we kidding. “Camping” and “snow” go together like fat and nimble in this writer’s estimation. It just ain’t gonna happen. But hey, if that’s your jam (weirdo), this bike’s definitely got you covered.
The Trek Farley 9 Winter Edition retails for $3,999. I’ve ridden three other fat bikes over two Colorado winters, and one of the others was also a Trek Farley. It feels a bit harder to pick apart a fat bike, to find the subtle nuances between brands and builds and whatnot—so much depends on the conditions. I rode this bike on the aforementioned hero snow, but also on slushifying snowmobile track, too deep pow, and oh-crap-it-just-started-raining snow and let me tell you, there ain’t no fat bike nowhere you’re not gonna call really creative bad names in those conditions.
- Price: $3,999 as tested. $1,499 frameset.
- Buy from trekbikes.com and Trek dealers.
- You wanna ride this bike. It’s a hottie. The paint scheme on my test bike is dark metallic grey with orange front and rear carriers, and there’s a cool design detail in black on the downtube.
- Nimble. You know how I feel about this word. Alas, true.
- Fully set up for bikepacking. Some weirdos even bikepack with fat bikes in not-snow. If you weren’t worried about weight—which obviously you aren’t if you bikepack with a fat bike—this rig would do you right. You might want to get someone like Lael Wilcox to ride it for you, but it will definitely haul all of your stuff.
- I love me a dropper post on a fat bike
- It’s fun to ride. What else is there?
- I dunno, it’s heavy. But, like, duh.
- It was hard to get in my car
- A bit pricey for an aluminum frame
I have an earlier version, trek 1120, and I love it! My wife and I each have one, and biking all winter on snow keeps us in shape for summer bike packing! We bike pack to high mountain lakes for fly fishing, and it easily handles ALL our gear for multi-day trips!
Good to see, Trek is still in the fat game.
Maureen, that ice knows no mercy…
Nice! I purchased a Trek Farley 9.6 last summer and oh boy the Color scheme is awesome! Carbon fiber is amazingly light. Added a little extra weight by upgrading my front fork to the Manitou, well worth the extra $1,000. Also have Cake Eater studded 4.6 tires. All i can say is, WOW!
That Farley is an awesome bike but I agree that’s a steeper price tag w/ an alloy frame. I just picked up a Fezzari Kings Peak for way less & it’s carbon, plus the geometry is modern & climbs like a goat.