Trek Farley 9.6 | In-Depth Review

Trek Farley 9.6 Hall Bicycle

It was a dark and dreary morning, very similar to those that are described via immense detail in horror literature. But, rather than nightmares that day, an almost 5 month long dream came true. After a very long, very anticipation filled wait, my personal pre ordered Farley 9.6 carbon Fat Bike arrived boxed and screaming to be built.

As the storms continued into the evening, I grabbed my chance like a bull by the horns and with the help of my numero uno assistant, Ziva the Trail Dog, I assembled her up that same night. After the assembly process was complete, I had to take a step back and stare. A thing of beauty.

Trek Farley 9.6 Fatbike
Trek Farley 9.6, Hall Bicycle Company

Ok, enough creative writing for one post. Down to the nitty-gritty.

The Farley 9.6 is a Fat Bike tricked out with a full carbon frame, carbon fork, 1×11 drivetrain, hydraulic brakes, and tubeless rims and comes in at a $3000 retail price point. For a complete run of every little detail, follow this little link -> HERE. One really unique (one of my favorite) feature of the 9.6 (& 9.8) Farleys’ are that they come stock with a 27.5″ x 4″ wheel/tire combo. This makes the outer diameter of the tire the same same as a 26″ x 5″ tire as well as a 29″ x 3″ tire. Effectively making a larger wheel to roll faster and clear obstacles with ease.


The Build

For being a relatively high end, somewhat specialized piece, the 9.6 is actually pretty straightforward to assemble. The biggest challenge is in fitting the wheels in a truing stand. An adapted Park Tool stand does the job, but the 190mm rear hub paired with 27.5″ rims pushes even that to its limits. I’ll hit some of the main highlights that stuck out to me below.

Drivetrain | The one thing I will admit about this bike was that I was slightly apprehensive of the new SRAM GX1 drivetrain that comes stock on the 9.6. Being their new “price point” 1×11 system I didn’t really know to expect. Luckily, I was and have been very pleasantly surprised. The setup was easy and without hassle and really seems to work great.

Brakes | The Avid DB3 hydraulic system is a pretty no nonsense brakeset. Set up is easy and they really provide a substantial amount of braking power. They are placed in a whole new solar system compared to some of SRAM’s less than desirable past brakesets (*cough* *cough* Elixers *Cough* *Cough*). In all seriousness though, I’ve been happy with the DB3s. Generally I’m a Shimano XT kinda guy, but given that I have no qualms with the Avids, I don’t find it necessary or worthwhile to switch them out.

TiresThe 27.5″ x 3.8″ 60 tpi Hodag is really a great all around tire. The tread pattern has enough substance to provide good traction in the loose stuff while still staying relatively quick rolling. The idea of 27.5″ x 3.8″ is a totally new concept for the industry, so, tire options are currently very limited. Like the hodag. That’s it for right now. The good news is that Trek, as well as a number of other companies are already in the process of making new molds for a wide selection of tread patterns in this new size. As I mentioned before, the Hodag is a really good all around tire, so no huge worries there. When I have the option next spring, I will probably go with a less aggressive, faster rolling tire. Just a personal preference due to the way I use the bike (I also have a Surly Moonlander setup with Surly Bud & Lou tires for when the conditions get really hot (freezing cold) and heavy).

Hardgoods | Trek puts a lot of effort into getting all the details of a bike just right. But, as a very stereotypical bike shop guy, I gotta customize. The only “fit”/”function” change that I’ve made so far is I threw a Brooks C17 Cambium seat on her to replace the stock Bontrager Evoke. That being said, the Evoke is my second favorite saddle behind Brooks. I currently have a carbon railed RXL Evoke on my carbon Superfly SS that I absolutely love. In addition to the saddle, I do also plan on swapping out the handlebars to some Bontrager RXL carbons, as well as the stem, and handlebars to either Thompsons or Bontrager Carbon (currently in the decision process on that one still). This change is almost strictly due to want, not need. The only thing I would be changing in the way of dimensions would be to go to a 15mm or 16mm setback post in exchange for the zero offset post that comes stock. I have pretty long arms and could use a hair more length, but don’t want to sacrifice the snappy handling provided by the 90mm stem. Other than that I tricked mine out with some matchy matchy accessories: high viz grips, RL bottle cages, seat bag, and TOGS. As I always say, “if you can’t ride fast, you gotta at least look fast!”

Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle

Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle


“How much does that there thing weigh?”

Being a carbon Fat Bike, this is a pretty commonly asked question about the Farley 9.6. A 21.5″ Farley 9.6 out of the box (with reflectors & spoke protector) weighs in at 29.21 pounds. Here’s the cool part. After setting mine up tubeless (a breeze with the new jackalope rims) and adding Crankbros eggbeater 3 pedals, and all the accessories listed in the “hardgoods” section (with a small multitool in the bag) she weighed in at 28.74 pounds. Pretty amazing for a setup, “jump on and hit some singletrack” trail ready fattie for just $3000.

For those wondering, and would like to know for other applications I crunched the numbers, did some experiments, clanked some beakers around, and after weighting the bike before and after with the absolute only change being a tubeless setup, came up with the weight differential…. *drumroll please* …. 1.35 pounds difference. Pretty darn substantial considering that is 1.35 pounds of pure rotating mass.

Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle     Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle


Dat Ride

Here’s where we start to get gnarly. Like really gnarly. My initial response after the first go at Beverly is “WOW”. The best way that I can describe the ride is that it’s like the love child of a hardtail 29er and a traditional Fat Bike. It’s really a best of both worlds situation. Hitting the dirt, the 9.6 has all the lightness, playfulness, and speed of a regular trailbike, but still manages to keep the amazing traction and confidence of a fattie.

After a number of rides both at Beverly and Sugar Bottom, as well as just cruising around town I’ve really fallen in love with this bike. What I was really amazed at was how the bike climbs. I was expecting good things on the traction front, but I didn’t expect how light and effortless it would feel grinding out steep inclines. Just because I was surprised by its climbing doesn’t mean its ability to rip through rough downs or into speedy burms was lacking though. Far from it. With the right conditions and tire pressure you can lean this bike over so far you’ll get yourself in trouble. Basically there is no physical way not to smile while bombing over routed or rocky sections of trail.

Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle

Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle Trek Farley 9.6 Fat Bike Hall Bicycle

In conclusion this bike is fun. REALLY fun. That being said, as awesome as the Farley 9.6 is it is still not a full suspension race bike and probably won’t be the number one go to for you CAT1 guys and gals on race day. The real beauty of this bike is that it melds all the fun and “go anywhere” ability of Fat Bike with some souped up, lighter weight, trail oriented features. It’s that do it all bike that can carry you through the snowy months with great float and traction, but still rip, roar, and easily keep up with the skinny tired bikes on singletrack come spring/summer/fall.

Please be sure to watch the video attachment below to see the Farley 9.6 out on the trails. Poetry in motion!


Author | Kyle M Kyle is the Manager as well as Market Director at Hall Bicycle Company.
Kyle & Trail Dog Ziva

About the Author | Kyle M

Kyle is the Manager and Marketing Director at Hall Bicycle Company. He can be contacted at blog@hallbicycle.com or kylem@hallbicycle.com.

Thank you for reading!



14 thoughts on “Trek Farley 9.6 | In-Depth Review

  1. Great review! Especially like that video review, since I tend to hear circus music when I see fat bikes. 😉 This is obviously no clown bike – I’m about to place my order for a 9.6. Is your Farley a 21.5? Any comments about sizing? Also, how is heel clearance? Thanks!!

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    1. Thanks! And yup, I ride a 21.5″ which is the largest frame size offered. Generally speaking these run small/have a very large amount of standover clearance. For a listed 21.5″ framed farley the actual standover is basically that of a 20.5″ bike. So a lot of the sizing comes down to how prefer the length/reach of the bike. As for heel clearance around the chainstay, I haven’t had any issues. I put a chainstay protector on both sides to prevent scuffs from any occasional heel rub but they have not been needed so far. Overall a fantastic bike, enjoy!

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  2. Omg!..I waited..studied…knowing the fat bike industry was about to break free and chips in for a better..faster..lighter option..thankfully Trek did..purchased the Farley 9.6..with minimal upgrades..and like a kid that couldn’t wait for Saturday morn I was on the trail…can’t tell you how happy I am with this bike…giddy up!..

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  3. Nice review,I purchased a trek stache 7 ,6 mths ago I love it but I did promise myself a fat bike for winter riding ,being that the 9.6 has a solid fork what’s the front end like on rocky terrain is there much buzz or do the tyres do a good job of soaking it up this is my main concern on the 9.6

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    1. Hi Steve, I describe the ride as much much better than a rigid 29er, but not as plush as a 100mm travel suspension fork. The wide tires at a lower psi paired with the carbon fork basically nullifies any road/trail “buzz”. That being said, larger bumps/drops are definitely still felt as the tires only give so much.

      I have actually sold off all but one other of my mountain bikes (a full rigid carbon singlespeed 29er) so I might look at a Bluto to run on my 9.6 for this coming season, as this is my only geared MTB left. If I end up getting another full squish/hardtail, I will stick with the rigid fork for the 9.6. A suspension fork is not a necessity imo, especially if you have a Stache for more dedicated trail riding.

      So in conclusion: It depends on how you want to ride it. For winter riding I’m a strong proponent of rigid forks (snow/ice/cold/salt can take a very hard toll on suspension) and fat tires are pretty darn plush. BUT, if you do want to do a heavy amount of singletrack/trail riding, a suspension fork is something to think about.

      Thanks!

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  4. Hi mate,
    Nice review, but if possible I need more about the tires, wheels, chain stay length. Your bike sounds like it has different tires to the Australia model, which comes with 27.5″ rims and 4.5″ tires.

    I have a Fat Caad 2 (fat bike with trail geometry, 26″ rims and 4.7″ tires) and a Stache 5 (with rigid fork, 29er plus). I love both bikes, but find the Fat Caad a bit long in the back end and would love to get a fatty that handles a bit more like the Stache. The Farley 9.6 looks like it has shorter chain stays and the 4.5″ tires on 27.5″rims are the same diameter as the 29er 3″ on my Stache.
    Are you able to discribe the handling / ride difference the 27.5″ wheels make compare to your old 26″ fatty on dirt and rocks?
    Thanks mate

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    1. Hi,

      You are correct that I have the 27.5″ x 3.8″ hodags on my farley/for this review which were stock for this model when I got it last year (2016 model year). The new 2017 Farley 9.6 does come stock with the larger 27.5″ x 4.5″ barbegazi tires.

      I would say that the ride characteristics of the 9.6 is very much similar to a 29+ stache (especially if you’re comparing rigid to rigid models). The larger wheel size, paired with short chainstays and overall “more aggressive” geometry of the farley line lends for a ride that is much more similar (in my opinion) to a regular 29er mountain bike rather than a “traditional” fat bike. Fast, but still very grippy in and on loose terrain.

      My 9.6 is my go-to mountain bike anymore. As for off-road bikes I have this, a rigid 29er singlespeed, and a handful of cross bikes so my farley see quite a bit of singletrack. Don’t have any complaints yet!

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  5. Cool review and awesome video! I just picked one up today. I was actually looking to buy a gravel bike when I saw this at the lbs. I rode it around the parking lot and fell in love. Hoping to get out and take her for a road ride tomorrow. Then if all is well head to my local trailhead.

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