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.
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.
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.
Tires | The 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!”
“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.
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.
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!
About the Author | Kyle M
Thank you for reading!