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trek farley 7

Trek’s Farley 7 Is an All-Season Fat Bike

A dropper post, suspension fork, and exceptional handling help this fat bike perform long after the snow melts.

The Takeaway: The Farley 7 is a fat bike built for all-season riding.

  • Dropper post provides more control on downhills
  • Suspension fork offers enhanced traction and control on hard surfaces
  • Adjustable dropouts let the rider fine-tune the Farley's handling

Price: $2,600 Weight: 34.8 lb. (M)

When you hear the words “fat bike,” you likely picture a bundled-up rider atop massive tires traversing snow. But those fat tires, primarily designed to improve flotation over soft surfaces, can offer sure-footed traction on other types of surfaces, as well, and plow over and through obstacles that bog down many mountain bikes. Fat bikes are the ultimate no-road touring bikes. And though they may not be the first choice for shredding summer singletrack, with the right build and handling, they can be more than just a snow bike. Trek’s Farley 7 is the fat bike you don’t put away for the summer.

2020 Farley 7

Farley 7

The Farley Lineup

Trek’s Farley line currently consists of four complete bikes priced from $1,800 to $5,150. The line is split evenly between aluminum framed models (Farley 5 and Farley 7) and carbon (Farley 9.6 and Farley 9.8). You can also purchase the Farley as a frame only in either material—$1,000 for aluminum, $2,200 for carbon—both of which include a carbon rigid fork. For anyone who wants suspension at both ends, Trek also offers the 120mm-travel, carbon Farley EX frame, with a Fox Performance Float EVOL shock (front suspension is up to you). Geometry is almost the same in both materials (there are tiny differences), and all come in sizes small through extra large.

All Farley models roll on 27.5 wheels wrapped in 4.5-inch wide tires. Just like its dirt-focused cousins, a fat bike with larger wheels is faster because the wheels roll over things more smoothly, but bigger wheels are also heavier. Fat bikes on 26-inch wheels will be lighter and livelier, but the bigger-wheeled fat bikes will roll more efficiently.

trek farley 7

The Farley 7 reviewed here is one of two models with a dropper post (the other is the $5,150 Farley 9.8) and the only model with a suspension fork—a Manitou Mastodon Comp with 80mm of travel, 34mm stanchions, and hydraulic lockout. Other specifications of note include tubeless-ready rims and tires, SRAM Eagle drivetrain with 11-50 cassette, and SRAM Level disc brakes.

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trek farley 7

Fast 'n Floaty

The 27.5 x 4.5-inch tires roll fast and offer great flotation.

trek farley 7

Suspension Fork

An 80mm-travel suspension fork provides more control on hard surfaces.

trek farley 7

Adjustable Dropouts

Sliding dropouts let you tune the handling, or run the Farley as a singlespeed.

trek farley 7

Double Ready

If the 1x12 drivetrain isn’t for you, you can add a front derailleur.

trek farley 7

Add studs to the Farley’s tires for better grip on slippery, icy surfaces.

Built for More Than Snow

The Farley comes built to ride all year long. On the front is a Manitou Mastodon suspension fork with 80mm of travel. This may seem like an unnecessary feature when the bike has 4.5-inch wide tires. But as cushy as the tires are, they don’t behave the same way as a good suspension fork. A suspension fork’s action is more damped than the basketball-like bounce of big tires. This damped and controlled action provides better traction and stability, particularly on harder surfaces and at higher speeds. If you’re using a fat bike only for riding slow(ish) on soft snow or sand, a suspension fork probably isn’t necessary. But if you like riding a fat bike on harder surfaces like dirt-covered and rocky trails, a suspension fork can be a huge benefit.

trek farley 7

The dropper post is another feature that gives the Farley 7 increased versatility. Like the suspension fork, if your fat bike adventures are limited to cruising groomed and packed snow-covered roads and trails, a dropper post won't make a major difference. It’s when riding becomes faster and more technical that getting the seat out of the way so you can lower your center of gravity makes the biggest difference.

As a final nod to multi-season use, the Farley has adjustable dropouts which provide 15mm of chainstay length adjustment. They can be used to fine-tune the bike’s handling—longer, more stability; shorter, snappier feel—or to tension the chain if you want to run the Farley as a singlespeed.

How it Rides

True to the Farley 7’s multi-season build, testers rode it on dirt, sand, mud, and snow. Early on, one tester got rowdy on a rocky trail and dented the rim. We were able to pound out much of the dent, and the tubeless seal held for the remainder of the test period.

trek farley 7

One of the first things that jumped out at testers was the riding position. With a few exceptions, the fat-bike category has yet to embrace the longer/slacker trend, and that's certainly the case with the Farley. A size medium’s reach is just 410mm—that’s several centimeters shorter than a modern trail bike in the same size. I’m on record as saying that longer and slacker isn’t always better, and I still believe that.

However, if you’re used to a modern mountain bike, the Farley will feel short when you first get on it. But that feeling fades the longer you spend time on the Farley, and some riders did comment that the shorter position helped offset some of a fat bike’s inherent sluggishness.

trek farley 7

Still, at almost 35 pounds (set up tubeless), the Farley 7 is heavy, even for a fat bike—something all testers noticed. “Switching directions quickly, through switchbacks for example, is seriously tough. After long descents, I found my upper body and arms were on fire from having to muscle the bike around,” read one tester’s notes.

But if you’re able to get over the weight, the Farley 7 is a nice-riding, all-season fat bike. Though heavy, it’s geared low enough that it climbs reasonably well. And it corners very well on many surfaces as well. In higher-traction situations, the Farley’s bar wants to keep turning once a turn is initiated. All fat bikes do this to some degree, but on the Farley it was less pronounced than most and it required less-aggressive counter steering. This made the Farley’s handling more stable and predictable, which in turn made it easier to ride. Contributing to the good-handling vibes were the Farley’s Bontrager Gnarwhal tires, which got praise from testers for their superb cornering and braking traction in all conditions. Testers also called them out for excellent flotation in soft snow.

Though testers were pretty “meh” on the benefit of a suspension fork for soft snow, they all agreed that it became a huge bonus when riding on firmer ground. The Manitou Mastodon performed well too, and proved reliable and consistent across a wide range of temperatures.

trek farley 7

The TranzX dropper post worked well throughout testing also. Most testers found it more beneficial when riding on firmer ground and faster trails. However, some testers did note its benefits for riding in deep snow: “If you come off in those conditions, it’s very difficult to get back on, as your feet sink into the unpacked powder off the sides of the trail. This positions your feet lower than the tires and the packed singletrack, so it’s really hard to get your butt back on the saddle. [If] you have a dropper, problem solved.”

Overall, testers found the Farley 7 was a good fat bike for snow riding. But in these conditions, the bike didn’t stand apart from many other good fat bikes. It is the Farley’s performance away from the snow, as well as its overall versatility, that testers really appreciated. The Farley 7 is better in more conditions, handles better at more speeds, and is more capable than the typical fat bike. It’s a fat bike you’ll continue to ride long after the snow melts.

Headshot of Matt Phillips

A gear editor for his entire career, Matt’s journey to becoming a leading cycling tech journalist started in 1995, and he’s been at it ever since; likely riding more cycling equipment than anyone on the planet along the way. Previous to his time with Bicycling , Matt worked in bike shops as a service manager, mechanic, and sales person. Based in Durango, Colorado, he enjoys riding and testing any and all kinds of bikes, so you’re just as likely to see him on a road bike dressed in Lycra at a Tuesday night worlds ride as you are to find him dressed in a full face helmet and pads riding a bike park on an enduro bike. He doesn’t race often, but he’s game for anything; having entered road races, criteriums, trials competitions, dual slalom, downhill races, enduros, stage races, short track, time trials, and gran fondos. Next up on his to-do list: a multi day bikepacking trip, and an e-bike race. 

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Farley 7

$2849.99 MSRP

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