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
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4 thoughts on “Review: Trek Farley

  1. Great review, I have the same bike but switched over to XT from Sram for savings long term. One problem I had was getting the tires on the rim. Super human strength is needed. Another issue, mine also came stock with the 720mm bar, at this price point IMO, there should be zero discrepancies from the parts spec in the catalogue. Also stock with a 100 stem, which i changed immediately to a 70mm and 800 bar. The bike is crazy fast and super light, only 0.25 pounds heavier with the XT 11 speed kit. I am having issues with the carbon railed saddle and post slipping and angling itself in a severely aggressive angle for some, others might like that sort of thing ;)… Ive clamped it down to a herculiac 15Nm or something and still slides in Agreement forest over some of the harsher rock sections. None the less, 23 pounds fat bike + …cant really go wrong.

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    1. Thanks man. I totally agree with what you said about discrepancies between the catalogue and the shelf (and I think the 720mm bars are just way too narrow). Good to know about the seat rails. Who knew, maybe there is such a thing as too much carbon. You KNOW the bike, I just RODE it.

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