31. Frozen Beaver ’16

Frozen-Beaver-45NRTH-Ontario-fat-bike-race-seriesBrrr.  Nobody likes a frozen beaver–especially the beaver.

We’re a few days away from the Frozen Beaver, race #3 in the 45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Series, presented by Dan Marshall and Substance Projects, along with Cycle Solutions.  Are you registered?

I’m not.  BECAUSE I SOLD MY FATBIKE AND IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND AN XL FATBIKE IN ONTARIO RIGHT NOW!!!  Yeah, three exclamation points.  Three!!!

Well, I can find an XL fatbike, but I just bought a gravel bike (for Dan’s Stuporcross race series–check it out here:  STUPORCROSS!) and I promised my wife I’d sell a bike on order to buy a bike, and now I can’t find the bike I WANT (a 2017 Norco Bigfoot 6.1).  You see, my plan was to sell my old fatbike, that wasn’t a great fit, buy the gravel bike, and then talk my way into a new fatbike, because, well, fatbike!  But dang it.  I was foiled by savvy Ontario fatbike shoppers who bought all of this year’s stock.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have written a blog titled “Why YOU Need A Fatbike” until after I bought a replacement…   You can check out the post here, at Riding Feels Good, or on my blog My blog!.

Unless you’re looking for an XL 2017 Norco Bigfoot 6.1…  Don’t read it, and you DON’T need a fatbike.

So, unfortunately, unless I can find a bike to borrow or rent for this weekend–which I’m working on–I’ll have to settle for a fond look back to one year ago…

Cue time machine SFX and time travel music.

To get me into the mood, here’s a picture of my 2016 OCA licence. 2016-oca-license

It was the morning of January 9, 2016.  I woke up at 5:30AM, and I just knew the Frozen Beaver–the inaugural race in the Substance Projects/45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Race Series –would be the BEST inauguration (and probably the most widely attended inauguration) for the next 12 months…

Unfortunately, it was anything but frozen.

However, fortunately, it was race day!  Two 7.5k laps for the half marathon racers (hey, that’s me) and 4 laps for the marathon riders.  The race was at Dufferin County Forest, about an hour north of Toronto, on trails that were maintained by the cool people at Team Van Go (I love those folks).

However, unfortunately, the lack of freezing resulted in a course that can be summed up in an alternate title for this blog “The Slush, Slush, Slushie Beaver”.

However, fortunately, the race was a Dan Marshall/Substance Projects/Cycle Solutions/45NRTH collaboration, and that meant it was sure to be AWESOME to the power of WICKED.

I arrived and there were droves of riders.  Literal droves.  I knew it would be wicked. I changed into my gear in Dan’s Change Tent, and chatted with my people.  Then, I changed my tire pressure, changed my tire pressure again, changed my tire pressure once more, and lined up to race.  Boom, we were off.

And then it hit us.  Well, it slapped us with a half-frozen, half-unfrozen, sopping-wet, hand:  Slush, slush, and slush. That meant the race was two laps of the hardest riding/biking/hiking ever.  Okay, it wasn’t that hard, but it sure felt like it.  We weren’t just hiking our bikes through the heavy slush.  It was warm and we were sweating.  Yeah, sweating.

It may have been the middle of winter, but it was 7 degrees.  Apple trees blossomed.  Birds chirped.  Maple trees made syrup (you know, because boiling…)

Plus, I was a mess on my bike.  Actually, it was only my actual second time ever on an actual fat bike. For the record, my first time was the night before for a quick zip in my neighbourhood at about 10PM.  I knew I had two options:  Get on my bike and pedal, or get off my bike and walk. With the slush, riding was mostly impossible because there was no traction and it was almost impossible to stay on my line, and walking was just a tough slog.  Whatever. It was a Saturday morning, and I was at a race!  So, I spent a bunch of my time cursing “my damn line”, a bunch of it cursing “the damn slush in my boots”, and the rest of it flying over my handle bars (because I do my own stunts).

And every second of it was awesome.

Fatbiking is awesome.

Fatbike racing is awesome.

Cue time machine SFX and time travel music.

It’s 2017.

Well, the Frozen Beaver sure was the best inauguration ever…

So, here I am, stranded in Toronto, without a fatbike to warm my heart, longing for the day I took my fatbike for a 7.5k walk/bike/hike/slip–twice–at Dufferin County Forest, in the 2016 Frozen Beaver.

Not because the conditions were crap.

Not because it was uncomfortably warm, but still chilly, and really really sweaty.

Because it was a fatbike race, and fatbike races are awesome (to the power of wicked), and Dan Marshall and his crew did everything to make it amazing.

Sigh.

You can register here: Frozen Beaver Registration.  It’s cheaper until midnight tonight, and they’ll even have a skinnybike category.  Maybe the stars will align and I’ll find a bike by then.  Hopefully.  Another sigh.  The weather looks awesome, and it’ll be below zero, probably with a lick of snow as well.  Can’t beat that.

Ride.

UPDATE:

I posted this blog at 8:45.  At 9:30, Jamie Davies, from Evolution Cycles! said I could borrow his bike (An Ithaqua.  Drool).  Awe.  Some.  Team Colin at the Frozen Beaver!  Boom.

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30. Milton Velodrome

20170116_223259I’m still giddy.  Like, seriously, ear to ear, mud eating grin, giddy.

Team Colin hit the Milton Velodrome last night.  Man, what an experience.

What an awesome, terrifying, scary, big, boss, biking bucket list, experience.

I’d wanted to try the track since it’s construction was announced over 4 years ago, and finally decided to pull the trigger about a week and a half ago.  Five days later, I was in my car with two friends for the drive across the city, across the city west of my city, and through a few other smaller cities, to the Milton Velodrome for the Track Certification A course.

The course started at 8:30 PM, and I spent the work day, and supper with my kids, on the edge of my seat, watching the clock.  By the time we were in the car at 7:00 PM, I was literally buzzing.  We were on our way to ride an actual velodrome–I was going to ride an actual velodrome.

My Facebook status that morning:

I am so so so super stoked about tonight. I’m going to the Mattamy Cycling Centre for my first dip into the world of track riding…for me, it’s the culmination of years of practice in order to get the confidence to be able to do it–and even the confidence to TRY to do it. I. Am. Stoked…

Are you kidding me?  Team Colin, a 44 year old husband, and father of two; MTB racer; giant Clydesdale; guy who writes a blog that is regularly seen by at least a dozen people, is going to strap on a sweet fixed gear bike, and ride the track at a world class cycling facility?  The same place where world class cyclists ride?

Yup, I was going to ride the 42degree, two story tall WALL that is the Mattamy Cycling Centre, also know as the Milton Velodrome.  Wait, 42 what, now?  Two stories of holy…

What did I get myself into?

It took an hour to get to there, but as soon as we entered the building to register and pay, the buzzing inside me quickened.

 

We walked past the tunnel that led up and onto the track.

I.  Was.  BUZZING.  I think I may have created an electrical current, because I swear the lights flickered.

Getting my bike sized and fitted, the buzzing doubled.

Rory, the rental guy was awesome, but my friends were changing and I had to wait a minute–aw dang it!  I forgot my helmet.  I was prepared to the degree that I was wearing shorts and dressed long before leaving the house, but I forgot my helmet.

Okay, so the buzzing subsided a wee bit, because you know, the ick factor of a rental helmet was playing big in my mind…

But then I remembered where we were, and the helmet didn’t smell that bad, so the buzzing resumed as soon as I had my bike.

The velodrome uses Argon 18 fixed gear track  bikes.  They are a thing if beauty (and they’re from Montreal!) but it takes a minute to get used to them.  Without a freewheel, and no brakes, you first have to wrap your head around starting, which requires a bit of balance and finesse, and stopping, which requires a bit of thigh muscle and finesse.

With our bikes fitted, and my new lid protector on my head, we walked up the tunnel to get to the track.  The track is beautiful…and should we join the group over there, or that group up there…and were we going to sit together…and where do I put my bag…and holy crap, that bank is steeper than I thought it’d be…and wow, look at those riders booking it..and ugh, I’m wearing a rental helmet (a RENTAL helmet!)…and is that a running track up there…and okay, I can do this…and boy, that’s really steep…and I’m so glad I’m with my buddy Jonathan…and really, does it have to be that steep…and what the, it’s not an oval, and…

You get the picture.

We sat down for a half hour introductory talk.

Then, we strapped into out bikes and learned how to ride the track.

And two hours later, it was over, and we were driving home.

It was as easy as that.  End of blog.

I’m kidding.  It really was simple, but there was a bit more to it.

Okay, it was really simple–and terrifying at times–but there was a bit more to it.

Here’s what happened:

Course Report:  Track Certification A (Milton Velodrome)

The instructors, Chantal and Scott, and Rory, the bike rental guy/mechanic were absolutely spot on.  These folks know their stuff, and even better than that, they’re funny and engaging, but most important, they know how to TEACH their stuff.  Seriously, I’ve been a teacher for 20 years and I always hate the thought of sitting in a class with a bad presenter at the helm, but these three gave us everything we needed, at exactly the right pace, in precisely the best way.  It started with Rory, in bike rentals (I had questions, and he had answers) and carried through every part of the course with Chantal and Scott.

After the introductory talk, that cornered safety tips, track etiquette, and how to get on the bike,  we were up on the track.

The session on the track lasted two hours.  They broke us into two groups, with one group riding, while the other was being taught.  They’d introduce a small piece of the track riding puzzle, and then let us explore it.  We’d stop, the other group would ride, and they’d talk to us about the next piece.  Great teaching pedagogy (that’s a teacher term for breaking a lesson into manageable, and logical, chunks).  I’ve broken it down into three laps.

The First Lap:  The Track, Starting, and Stopping

They talked about the various parts of the track:  the Safety Zone, the Cote D’Azur, the Sprint Lane, and the Passing Lane.  Good stuff to know.  And then we were on to the most crucial part of the training:  how to start, and more important, how to STOP.  It was easier than I thought, and honestly, it was probably the most challenging part of the course.  We did a few laps, stopping and starting every half lap, and once we got past that part, it was pretty much a smooth zip.

The Second Lap:  Entering, Exiting, and Changing Lanes

There’s no doubt about it, I’m delicate,and I was worried about a lot of things.  Managing a bike without a freewheel was tough enough, but riding with other people on the track scared the hell out of me.  Scott and Chantal showed us how to make proper, precise shoulder checks, so that we’d be better equipped when we rode the track with other riders.  What’s the answer to every question?  Shoulder Check!  They also took us through when and how to ride in each of the various lanes.  It all went to hell when we actually started riding, but between telling us, and then letting us practice while they watched and gave hints, in no time we were riding like…um, people learning.  They made us ride on the top part of the wall, um corner.  I’m an MTBer.  We ride down walls like that, and up walls like that, not across the face, a few feet behind someone else as terrified as we are.  Thankfully, it was only really horrifyingly scary the first time, and every subsequent time after, and it got easy never.

I’m kidding.  Actually, it was always daunting, but never truly terrifying.  I rode in my mind more than I should have, but when I let go, and listened to their advice, all was well.

However, at some point in the evening, they talked about holding the bars lightly.  I failed that part miserably.  We were supposed to make a “d’ and a “b” with the thumb and forefinger of each hand, and lightly “caress” the bars.  That was a whole bunch of NOPE from me.  I tried, but between the terror of falling, the adrenaline of riding, and the fear of hitting someone, I held onto those grips like a Donald holds a grievance.  Loose arms?  Relaxed shoulders?  Maybe next time.

The Third Lap:  Banking, Cadence, and Pace Line Exchanges

The next big chunk of the course dealt with riding in a pace line: how to follow (and where to follow) as well as transferring from the front of the pack to the back.  I have to be honest, it was pretty terrifying at times.  You can’t escape it, the turns are really steep.  Worse, there are other riders on the track, and that makes it all pretty intense.  I was either following too close, or too far, and my cadence was all over the map, and it felt like I had to sprint at the corners and brake on the straightaways before springing to catch up again, and I always felt like my cadence was at a consistent pace of EVERYTHING.

But guess what.  It was okay even though I got yelled at–and boy, they really gave it to me–because I was doing it wrong.  I mean, sure they could have said it a bit nicer to me, but that’s okay.  I’m not that sensitive, and it didn’t really hurt my feelings, and I didn’t tear up a bit, that was just dust in my eyes…

I’m kidding.  They were right, they weren’t mean at all, and if you want to learn something the correct way, you have leave your ego at the door.  They were honest with our mistakes, earnest in their desire for us to get it right, and sincere in their quest to keep us safe.  I’m a character person, and I really dig the staff at the velodrome.  They made an awesome experience even more awesome and thoroughly enjoyable.  Thanks Rory, Chantal, and Scott.

Plus, I learned about cadence.  Slow, incremental changes.

End of Course Report.

Like everything else for me in cycling,  I was excited and worried before setting out, but all was okay in the end.  When I came close to a rider, I just had to pedal a bit slower.  When I felt a demon pulling me down the track while at the top of a corner, I just bailed from the pace line and went back to the sprint line.  It all worked.  Everything they said worked.  At times, it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t that much less terrifying every time I cornered, but it was fun, I learned a bunch, and I’ll definitely be back for Part B.  In fact, it’s already booked for Friday night.  Boom.

Before you go, here are a few tips from Team Colin:

  • They only offer Track Cert. A on Monday nights from 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM (cost:  about 45 bucks), and Track Cert. B on Friday nights from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM (same cost).  Late nights, but what can you do.
  • It really is an hour drive from the centre of Scarborough, but at those times, traffic is pretty good.
  • Unless you have a track bike, you have to rent their bike for 12 bucks.
  • Yes, it’s worth a late night, a long drive, and 12 extra bucks.
  • The change rooms and showers are impeccably clean and well outfitted. The rental shop is a mecca of bike gorgeousness,and the facility is world class from top to bottom.

When you go, a few notes on what to bring:

  • Shoes.  Running shoes (with which you’ll use pedal cages, or clipless shoes (Shimano Road–not MTB, or Look shoes.  You can’t bring your own pedals, so it’s either of those three options.  If you have all of them, flip a coin.
  • A helmet (or you can rent one for 5 bucks, and no, you won’t get lice, but yes, it is kind of icky wearing someone else’s head sweat).
  • Gloves and glasses.  Your hands will get sweaty, and your eyes will thank me. It’s dry in there.
  • Water bottle.
  • Clothes. You can wear whatever you want.  Some of us were in a full kit.  I wore a padded bib under fitted shorts, and a technical shirt (because Team Colin likes it low-key).
  • It’s inside, and you’ll get hot.  A helmet liner or beanie might also help.

That’s it.  Go with an open mind and wide eyes.

But it doesn’t end there.  After the two-part certification, you are qualified to ride the track during drop-in sessions, but if you’re like me, you might not want to just jump in with the big league riders.  There are other courses to take:  Track Cycling Skills Development, Skills Development, Structured Madison Training, Sprint Training, Pace Training, Cycle Fit, Learn to Race, and more.  Pretty cool.

So that’s really it.

Wait, what do they call this place?  Milton Velodrome, or Mattamy Cycling Centre. I’m calling it the Milton Velodrome at the Mattamy Cycling Centre (or just Milton Velodrome). I’m not a fan of corporate sponsorship, but Mattamy homes coughed up about $8 million to help build a mecca of track cycling, and we should give them homage.  That said, we can be aware of their help, but we don’t have to marry it.  It’s a velodrome in Milton.  Just a thought.

Team Colin at the Milton Velodrome.  I went, I learned, I rode, I nearly pooped in my bib when I thought I was going to kiss the track.  Worth every second of it.

Ride.

 

PS

When Chantal was talking about the various weights of riders, and their relative mass to speed ratio, she used me as the cautionary tale, I mean example, of the heaviest rider.  She called the little dude a Prius, and me a dump truck (or something like that–she may have said “tractor trailer”).  Not cool.  Funny, but not cool.  He asked to be called a Ferrari, so I want to be called either a monster truck, or Mac truck.  Kay, thanks.

And hey, did I get this right?  If you want to contact me about this post, or any other, and join the conversation about bikes, please feel free to comment directly on this blog, or send me an email at:  teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

Review: Trek Farley

Team Colin Reviews the 2017 Trek Farley 9.9

2017 screamed “Hello Team Colin!” with a New Year’s gift: a sweet bike loaning.  Matt Morrish from Cycle Solutions offered his Trek Farley 9.9 fatbike for a Team Colin rip/demo/review.  Yeah, a Trek Farley 9.9. Awesome.  Look at it.

trek-farley

When your bike shop manager offers a bike like this, you jump (and skip and say wheeee, all the way to the bike shop) because the Trek Farley 9.9 isn’t just a fatbike.  It is A FATBIKE.  Seriously, this bike is a marvel of awesomeness.

In techie terms, the Farley is a carbon XX1 Eagle that soars like a beast.

In rider terms, this bike is just a bunch of fun.

In racing terms, it’s an absolute weapon.

In lay person’s terms, “You paid that much for this bike” (yeah, it ain’t cheap).

In the most plain and simple language, it is one sweet bike that’s tough to beat in every aspect.

Wait, did I get to ride a bike with XX1 Eagle? You bet I did.  People notice when you ride a bike with XX1. They notice and drool when it’s XX1 Eagle.  In fact, when I talked to my friend, Noah Summers, at The Boiler Room  (Joyride 150’s BMX shop), his jaw actually dropped.  Noah is a diehard Trek fan, an epic rider, and knows pretty much everything about bikes–especially fatbikes.  He rides bikes, fixes bikes, manages a bike shop, and belongs to the family that owns Joyride 150, so yeah, the dude knows his stuff, and yeah, his jaw actually hit the floor.  Call and ask him about his Farley 9.8. Seriously, call him and ask him about Trek stuff.  While you’re at it, buy something from the Boiler Room.  I love him and his family, and the riding apparel at the Boiler Room is awesome–not riding kits–cool rider clothes like hoodies, pants, shoes, socks, and stuff.

I wrote my first official bike review of Norco’s top of the line racing fatbike, the Ithaqua 6.1, for Riding Feels Good.  You can check it out here (Norco Ithaqua Review).  RFG is pretty awesome  (Riding Feels Good).  For that review, I used their format of rating a bike on BUILD, PERFORMANCE, FIT, VALUE, and RELIABILITY, but for my blog, I use a much less scientific (and sure, unproven) evaluation method, and give a PSA rating. Pure and Simple Awesomeness.  A PSA of 10 is perfect. A PSA of 1 is far from perfect (think every kid’s full suspension bike sold at Canadian Tire). My PSA rating for the Trek Farley 9.9 is as follows: about a billion.  The Trek Farley 9.9 has more Pure and Simple Awesomeness packed into 23 pounds than you could shake a spoke at.  See what I did there.

Dang, I’m such a horrible bike reviewer.  I just love bikes so much.  If I’m riding a bike, I’m in the best mood ever, doing the best thing ever, having the most fun ever.  Plus, my natural love of bikes means that I’m always wearing loggles when I ride.  LOGGLES— you know, Love gOGGLES–Google it, it’s a real thing.  Usually loggles are worn by people who are in love with other people, but I also wear them when I’m looking at, or riding, a bike too.

And there you have it.  In a few simple paragraphs, and 29 prior blogs as proof, I have outed myself as a Not Great Reviewer.  And I’m okay with that.  In fact, I’m pretty much okay with being the worst bike reviewer ever.  Worst.  Bike Reviewer.  Ever.

Say it fast: worstbikereviewerever.

Say it with an Aussie accent:  Worst bike reviewer ever.  Be honest, you just said ‘boike” in your head.

If I’m being honest, I’m not just a bad reviewer because I love all bikes, I’m also an especially horrible reviewer of fatbikes because I’m a particularly bad fatbike rider. In fact, I don’t even consider myself a fatbike rider.  I have a fatbike (or at least, I DID have a fatbike until two weeks ago—but that’s another blog post), and I ride a fat bike whenever I get the chance, but like I’ve said in the past, I’m just not as proficient and comfortable as I’d like to be.  Falling hurts (even in the snow, and really on the ice), hitting trees hurts more, and I’m allergic to pain and suffering. So I never really let the fur fly on a fatbike.

However, since I said “Team Colin Reviews the Trek Farley 9.9” at the beginning of this post, I guess the fanboy stuff should end so I can get to the reviewey stuff.  But be warned, because, you know, loggles.

Before I start, I have to say the Farley 9.9 is Trek’s top fatbike.  At a price tag just under 10 grand, to find something even slightly wrong with it would be splitting hairs.

I’ve rated the bike based on the things I think are important in a bike.  I call them “The Team Colin Cix Cs of Awesomeness”. The factory specs and such are at the end of this post.

The Team Colin Cix Cs of Awesomeness: The Trek Farley 9.9

Carbon

Once upon a time, I thought about buying a titanium mountain bike. The ride of a steel bike would have been awesome, but when you’re packing 250 pounds (hey, that’s me) carbon is almost a necessity. Don’t get me wrong, I love my $700 aluminium single speed, and I love a lot of sub $2,000 hardtails, but nothing beats carbon. The Trek Farley 9.9 literally oozes carbon.  Carbon frame and fork, carbon wheels, carbon bars, carbon seat post, carbon seat rails, carbon stem, carbon bars, carbon crank…  Dang.  Seriously, I think even the grips are carbon.  I’m kidding, but the carbon of this bike provides the lightest feel I’ve ever experienced.  The weightlessness of this bike really stands out.  In the snow, it is agile, nimble, responsive, and spectacular.  On the pavement, frozen grass, and ice, in my driveway after my ride, I had a chance to experience the other performance and handling benefits of carbon.  The snow mounds on my street were like a giant frozen dessert of obstacles to climb, hop, rip, and play on.  This bike was an absolute extension of my body and did exactly as I told it.  I felt like a mountain goat.  Steep drops, bullet-like starting, and wall-climbing ascents: the bike performs the way you see yourself riding when you dream about riding. I don’t know what OCLV Carbon is, but it’s ridiculously light.

Cranking

Again, on the snow, I never feel like I can truly let it rip, but on dry pavement, this bike whipped itself into a frenzy in a nanosecond.  The 1x 12 drivetrain clawed at the ground.  The top end gave a nice cushion of power, and the low end was just as good.  A few words about climbing.  The rear cassette is 10-50 teeth.  Yeah, 50 teeth. The granny gear is the size of a large pizza.  A pizza, I tell you.  I don’t even know how a ring like this climbs, because I didn’t come close to needing it.  50 teeth.  You could climb a frozen waterfall. “Nuff said.

Components

It’s all carbon.  It’s all awesome.  I can’t afford most of it, but I sure do love it.  On a bike of this quality and price tag, it’s no surprise that everything is as good as it gets.  The Bontrager Pro stem, and Bontrager XXX bars give the bike an awesome level of control. The bike comes stock with 750mm, zero rise bars, but Matt’s bike had 720mm, which I felt were a bit short. The Bontrager Montrose Pro seat (carbon rails!) and Bontrager XXX seatpost round out a pretty sweet list of components.  The frame has internal dropper post routing too! Trek knows how to load top end stuff on a bike, and there is no better than XX1 Eagle. Trek really poured it on the 9.9

Even the Bontrager Elite stem is cool. It’s Blendr compatible (which is a cool, simple, and uncluttered way to mount a light and computer to the stem)

Steve S, from RideCycleSpin is a fatiking legend.  Read his comment about this bike in the comment section, and get in touch with him of you really want to explore the world of Farley.  He knows his stuff.  We both did the 109k distance of last year’s Eager Beaver gravel race. I did it on a borrowed Santa Cruz Stigmata (the pinnacle of gravel bike technology) with Enve carbon wheels, and HE DID IT ON A FATBIKE.

C’braking

Wow.  Responsive and strong.  That’s it.  The SRAM Guide Ultimate carbon hydraulic disc brakes (I told you everything was carbon) do EXACTLY what they should, exactly WHEN they need to, and they HOLD like glue.  The levers are precise and easy to hammer on for a quick stop, or feather because you ride like a scaredy cat (read: me) .  I think the Farley’s braking quality stands out, second only to the everywhere-you-look carbon.

No, wait, after the everywhere-you-look carbon, the stupid awesome drivetrain is the second best thing I like about the bike, but the brakes are next. Wohoo.  Third place.

C’wheelset

27.5” HED carbon wheels. HED carbon rims, HED Brickhouse carbon hubs, and Bontrager Barbegazi 27.5×4.50 tires. I think these wheels actually have a negative weight. Like, honestly, they weigh minus 500 grams. I don’t know what else to say about carbon wheels. They belong in The Louvre.

C’geometry

The only slight teeny tiny smidge of a criticism I can find with this bike is a total matter of preference.  Prior to the Farley, I tested a Norco Ithaqua.  The Ithaqua didn’t have carbon wheels, so it really is an apples to oranges thing, but the base price and components on both bikes are fairly similar. I have to say the fit of the Norco was better FOR ME–and I have to say that it’s only by a portion of a fraction of a hair. Also, I wasn’t racing it, I’m not a proficient fatbike racer, and I’m, well, me. Have you seen a picture of me in spandex? Well, there you go.

Who is this bike for?  Every creature on planet earth.  Dogs, llamas, pumas, roosters, people…anyone or anything with at least two legs.  Yes, it’s that good.  I’d even extend it to monopeds and snakes.  Actually, this bike is for every creature on earth–except probably you (and me).  It has an MSRP of almost ten grand.  That’s some serious coin.  If you have that kind of money to spend, that’s awesome.  If you don’t there are plenty of bikes out there that will do just fine, in any price range.  My fatbike cost me less than 2 grand, and I love it.  It’s not a Farley 9.9, but it’s a pretty sweet ride nonetheless.

matt-cycle-solutionsWhen I picked-up the Farley from Cycle Solutions,Matt told me “This bike should be banned from racing, it’s that fast”.  He’s right, it is that fast, but it shouldn’t be banned from racing, every racer should have one.  Hey look, it’s Matt in a Team Colin hat.  Boom.  Maybe he’s smiling because he owns a Farley 9.9, or maybe it’s because he has a Team Colin hat…

To sum up the Farley 9.9 in one sentence, try the Aussie accent again, and say “This boike’s a rippah” (you said that like Steve Irwin, am I right?). It really is.  The Trek Farley is a true and honest rippah.  But at it’s heart, regardless of carbon whatsit, 4.5 whoozit, and high tech yadda yadda, it’s a bike that just rips.  So much fun.  Bring a bucket of money to your bike shop, bring a second bucket of money, bring another bucket of money to your bike shop, and buy one.

The Trek Farley is one awesome bike.

Ride

Trek Farley 9.9 Specs

Frameset

  • Frame
  • OCLV Mountain Carbon
  • E2 tapered head tube
  • internal derailleur &dropper post routing,
  • 197mm Stranglehold adjustable thru axle droputs

Fork

  • Bontrager Haru Pro
  • OCLV Carbon lowers
  • Carbon E2 tapered steerer
  • 100mmsuspension corrected 15x150mm

Wheelset

  • HED Big Half Deal 85mm carbon rims
  • HED Brickhouse carbon hubs (150×15 front, 197×12 rear)
  • Bontrager Barbegazi 27.5×4.50 tires

Drivetrain

  • SRAM XX1 Eagle 12 speed shifters
  • SRAM XX1 Eagle rear derailleur (roller bearing clutch)
  • SRAM XX1 Eagle 30 tooth X-sync crank
  • SRAM XG, 12 speed cassette (10-50 tooth)
  • SRAM XX1 Eagle chain

Components

  • Seat: Bontrager Montrose Pro (carbon rails)
  • Seatpost: Bontrager XXX OCLV Carbon (31.6mm, 5mm offset)
  • Handlebar: Bontrager XXX, OCLV Carbon (31.8mm, zero rise, 750mm wide)
  • Stem: Bontrager Pro (31.8mm, 7 degree. Blender compatible)
  • SRAM Guide Ultimate carbon hydraulic disc