As the fat bike market matures it is inevitably diversifying into specific product categories. Just as mountain bikes now have categories for downhill, cross country or trail riding, fat bike riders are realizing one size does not fit all.
The Farley model has been hugely popular for Trek, but it was being pulled in two different directions: super fat tires for floatation on soft surfaces and more performance when paired with a suspension fork and lighter components. For 2016 the Farley model gets a full redesign based on all the new ways people are using fat bikes.
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. Combined with the redesigned Stache model with 29×3 wheels and tires, Trek now has one of the widest “fat” product lineups in the business.
The new bikes are actually designed to fit multiple wheel sizes, as some models are equipped with the fattest of the fat tires and others are spec’d for better performance on trails or groomed snow. The new bike has moved to a 197 mm rear thru-axle while maintaining the same Q-factor as the previous model that could only fit a 26×4 tire.
One of the keys to its versatility is the new Stranglehold sliding dropout design, also found on the Stache, with a full 15 mm of adjustment. By incorporating the axle and the caliper mount it makes wheel swaps a breeze while allowing the user to adjust the chainstay length for different uses and wheel sizes. It can be found on both the new carbon fiber frame (a claimed 1,325 grams) and the new Alpha aluminum frame (a claimed 1,935 grams). Trek says that its lightest model, the Farley 9.8 with a rigid carbon fork, weighs just 23 pounds.
A carbon frame isn’t worth much if your wheels are super heavy, so Bontrager has stepped up with the new carbon Wampa wheels that measure 27.5 with an 83 mm width and weigh just 2,500 grams for the set. Their hookless, tubeless-ready bead should make setting them up with the corresponding Hodag tires a breeze.
Now, while riding a fat bike can make you feel like a kid, actual kids love riding them too. The new Farley 24 has 24-inch wheels with 3.5 tires on an aluminum frame for some pint-sized shredding. Trek says it should fit riders from 50 to 63 inches tall.
Farley 5: 26×4.7 tires, aluminum frame and fork, 2×10 Shimano drivetrain, $1,820.
Farley 7: 26×4.7 tires, aluminum frame, carbon fiber fork, SRAM GX 1×11 drivetrain, $2,420.
Farley 9.6: 27.5×4 tires, carbon fiber frame and fork, SRAM GX 1×11 drivetrain, $3,150.
Farley 9: 27.5×4 tires, aluminum frame, RockShox Bluto fork, SRAM X1 1×11 drivetrain, $3,360.
Farley 9.8: 27.5×4 tires, carbon fiber frame and fork, carbon rims, SRAM X01 drivetrail with RaceFace Next carbon crankset, $5,040.
Farley 24: 24×3.5 tires, aluminum frame and fork, single chainring drivetrain, $1,210.