Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Trek Farley 8 fat bike review

Posted by Muddy John | June 8, 2015 | 6 comments so far

Trek Farley 8 fat bike
This year’s muddy winter convinced me that I needed a new lightweight 29 single speeder to replace my ageing On One Inbred, perhaps something carbon. Then Big Al suggested that I have a ride on his Singular Puffin singlespeed and I saw the light – fat and single is the way to go.

After a bit of dithering between a Singular Puffin, an On One Fatty and a Trek Farley 8, I went for the Trek. One reason was the fact that I could buy the Trek ready to go, whereas the Fatty and the Puffin would need a bit of my time to work on them, which I currently don’t have.

I was looking for a Farley 8 in 19.5” but there were very few left in the UK, with no prospect of more imports before the summer. So after lot of phoning around and a bit of help from Trek, I managed to secure one at Leisure Lakes Bikes in Daventry – and after a sunny afternoon making the 200 mile round trip from Surrey, it was sitting in my shed glowing brightly green though the winter gloom.

A clean Trek Farley 8

The key components on the bike include a RockShox Bluto 100mm fork, SRAM X1 1×11 drivetrain, Avid DB3 brakes and Bontrager Jackalope wheels with 3.8” Hodag tyres – which I immediately converted to tubeless.

At this point you are probably wondering why I have a 1×11 bike when my original objective was a new singlespeed. And I’ve asked myself that, although I tend not to dwell on it as I enjoy unimagined levels of grip honing down The Surrey Hills’ finest descents.

So what is it like to ride? Uphill, it’s much faster than I expected. Although the weight from the shop was only about 30lb, when you also consider the rolling resistance of those chunky fat tyres it should be hard work on the ascents.

First ride on Trek Farley 8

I am normally reasonably nippy up hill and was pleased to find that although I probably won’t be setting any uphill PRs on it, the main difference seems to be that I work a bit harder to keep the speed up and feel a bit more tired at the end of a long ride.

In some situations it’s better uphill than a regular bike, such as when the rear tyre resists slipping on steep greasy climbs, or the rolling momentum of those big wheels carries you up over obstacles on technical climbs.

Downhill, it’s just a blast. I am always a careful rider on descents and will never threaten anybody’s downhill Strava KOMs, but I found a lot of extra confidence from the overall stability, the grippy tyres firmly holding on across off camber slimy roots, and the big wheels smoothing over features like log rolls and drops. I’ve been setting PRs on almost every downhill I’ve ridden on it and am finding I can sometimes almost keep up with the more proficient riders in the group.

Overall it suits my riding style very well, I am happy to trade a little extra effort uphill for a lot more speed and enjoyment downhill.

Trek Farley 8 on Tankslapper

There are some other fat bike quirks that I notice, in particular it takes more of a firm hand to get it to turn. Perhaps it’s the gyroscopic effect of the weight around the rims and tyres, or the Stan’s sloshing around inside, but I notice I have to be much more purposeful in leaning it over otherwise it sometimes seems to fight back.

Once it’s started turning the short (for a fatbike) chain stays make it nicely nippy on the delightful Surrey singletrack. When it hits deep mud, the big tyres tend to float on top of the mud rather than cutting through it, which surprisingly can make it a bit more of a handful to keep on course in that situation.

Overall it’s a fantastic bike and installing a Gravity Dropper completes the package. The only real niggle is the SRAM Bottom Bracket was loose after only 425 miles of Surrey Hills mud, so I replaced it with a proper BB – from Hope. It’s a shame Trek don’t fit decent bearings to a bike of this price. I am looking forward to swapping out the 1×11 for a singlespeed setup, now that the “energy sapping bastard glue mud” has finally being chased away from the Surrey Hills by the start of Spring.

Filed under Bikes, Reviews in June 2015

Muddy John

About the author

John has been biking in the Surrey Hills since the late 1990s but only started riding with the MuddyMoles in 2008. In the couple of years since then he has learned more about mountain biking from the Moles than he learned in the previous ten.

Having remained loyal to his vintage pale blue and orange Stumpjumper hardtail since the last century, he has recently explored the limits of his storage space and his wife’s patience by adding an On-One Inbred Singlespeed and an Orange Five.

John is usually wearing or riding something blue and does not eat any raw fruit beginning with the letter T.

There are 6 comments on ‘Trek Farley 8 fat bike review’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. Elliot says:

    I did notice the beast didn’t seem to have much effect on your ‘engage the second pair of lungs’ climbing ease, yet you’d gotten a bit quicker on the downward gradients 😉

    Looks like you’ve been picking it out of the bike quiver more often than your others since getting it so it must be fun!

  2. Dandy says:

    I don’t know what the “more proficient riders in the group” think, but you’ve been trickier to shake off my tail since you’ve been riding the Farley ! I’m still thinking a single-speed, Chinese carbon frame & rims and a Bluto fork would make a great and fun bike to ride; I just need to find the time to sort it out !,

  3. Big Al says:

    Nice one John , everyone should own a Fatty . There such great Fun . Not for the narrow tyre minded or weight weenie moles though 🙂

  4. tony says:

    “the sun’s surface is quite warm”
    “D’Andy likes colourful clothing combinations”
    “Big Al like’s to swap bikes occasionally”

    Please add to the list of British understatements
    From JR “I am normally reasonably nippy up hill”

  5. Matt says:

    I’m quite keen to give this a go at some point, having only tried the Salsa Mukluk in the past and found it to be enormous fun. You can’t argue with the fact that Al on his Puffin manages to put in some amazing downhill performances and that John on the Farley has definitely improved.

    As for uphill, in John’s hands it’s as quick as anything, so it seems there’s little downside to dragging fat tyres around and plenty of upside. Plus, I bet John is the only one hoping for a bit of snow this winter!

  6. ColBeano says:

    John was kind enough to let me ride his Farley and it was good fun, perhaps not the quantum leap of grip I expected though. It is incredibly light and it takes you a while to get used to something so large out front being so light and flickable. More time on it would surely reap more rewards.

    I’ve also ridden the Specialized Fatboy in rigid form and (for me, personal pref) I totally got it. It was like a BMX on steroids, Eees and acid. My viewpoint (as someone who likes hardtails and cross bikes) is that I get the fatbikes concept when rigid, putting forks on loses a little something.

    For JR tho, it clearly ticks his boxes – transforming his downhill riding and barely an impact on his billy goat-like abilities !! Great bike!

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.