Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trek Farley 5 Review

So, it is clear to see that having the Remedy is keeping me outdoors. I have had it for two seasons now, and have only blogged once. I can tell you a few things about it as an update. I have ridden it for well over 3,000 miles in the past two seasons. It has continued to perform well. I have done a few upgrades to it such as stem, bars and a dropper post. Those really brought out some more fun characteristics in the bike. In the last year, though I have blown all of the suspension bearings on the pivots, blown through five rear hubs, and cracked one rear swing arm. On the negative side, those are inconveniences. On the plus side, Trek has been very supportive and their customer service has been excellent. NOTE: Most of this is attributed to being a very plus size rider. My recommendation is to get solid wheels and hubs. For the rest, I just have to figure out how to actually lose weight...

Enough with the update on the Remedy. I want to tell you a little about a bike that matches my body type. I know I am late to the fat bike game. I know I didn't want to get one. I know I originally thought they were a bit of a fad (I might have been right to a degree on that, but they are still here and taking new forms...). I know I have become soft in my old age, no pun intended as I am speaking more about how I have disliked the cold after selling my snowmobile... That being said, I broke down and got a fat bike.

After a little searching, and a little thought, I chose to get another Trek. My reasons were two-fold. The first reason is the service I mentioned above. I know I am hard on bikes, and ask them to hold up to a really big guy doing things much smaller guys do. I know this breaks parts. As I mentioned before, Trek has been outstanding in the service department for me. The other reason is that it had the biggest tires and most solid components in the class at the price point I wanted to spend. Since I was taking a gamble on this type of bike, and I knew I was planning to use it mostly for inclement weather, I wanted to have a reliable big tired bike.

The components are similar to my Remedy. Shifting is handled by a Shimano Deore 2x10 drive train. I won't bore you with how they work. They are reliable and do what they are supposed to do when you hit the buttons. The brakes are Sram Level according to the website. Mine say Avid on them, but I know they are all part of the same family (I am playing a little dumb here). They stop the bike. I got a 19.5" frame. It's a little bigger than my Remedy. In all honesty, now that I have this, I think the next Remedy will be a 19.5" frame as well. 

I can tell you that after the first ride, I replaced the handlebars, stem, and grips. My reasons for this are simple. The bike came with a 100mm stem. I felt this was a little long and tried to make the bike feel like an XC racer. Since I had replaced the stem and bars on the Remedy, the originals found a new home on the Farley. The stem is now a 70mm. If I had some extra money, I might get the same Race Face combo I have on the Remedy, but for now, this is a big improvement. The handlebars were replaced simply because the ones on the Remedy were wider, and the grips were just because I had won a set of clamp on grips. I have wide shoulders, and I like the feel of wider bars better.

So, I have three rides in on the Farley. My impression at this point is that fat bikes are fun! They don't ride like anything else. They have a learning curve, but it doesn't appear that it is a steep one.They are unique. When you feel like you are going fast, you're not. When you feel like you aren't going fast, you are actually going faster than you think. It's a weird feeling. I will try to explain...

Tires. They are big. The tires are 4.7" to be exact. They don't lend themselves to being fast on straightaways. I know, that was an obvious statement. One of the things I learned about being on straights, though, is that you need to be up one gear from what you think. I am not sure if this is scientifically proven. I just know the feel. You seem to go faster by pedaling smoother, not by pedaling more. What I mean is that if you get to pedaling too fast on a fat bike, you will bounce yourself right off the trail. My disclaimer here is that I have ridden flat pedals for quite some time, and it may be different if I was still clipped in, though I don't think so.

What else did I learn about big tires. You don't need to break into the same bermed corners you would on any other bike.  For one reason, you might not be going as fast. The other reason you don't need as much brakes is that the big tires do hold you to your line.  If there is a bank to rail, do it with confidence. I will add this statement, when you do need to brake, why do they only have 160mm rotors? I'd like to see bigger rotors on fat bikes. Maybe this is because I am a fat guy. I'd just like a little more power when I do need to use the brakes.

Big tires also climb way better than you think they would. You might think big tires would climb well for traction, and you'd be right. I think that most people with more petite body types, though, have told me that they have a harder time climbing on a fat bike due to rolling weight. I could see how this could be a problem for some. I think climbing may come a little easier for me because I am used to climbing slow. As a big guy I tend to be a seated climber, so as long as I can push the pedals, this bike is going up.

More on pedaling. I think the best comparison I can think of for riding a fat bike would be a single speed. You have to think a little more on a single speed, and you have to think a little more at first on a fat bike. Once you get used to either, riding them becomes second nature. Fat bikes are similar to single speeds in the way that you have to use your momentum. You focus on the spin. You use the trail to your advantage. 

Fat bikes are a bit bouncy. The sensation is nothing like my Remedy. It isn't a "full suspension" feel. This is where I got into trouble on my first two rides. I like to play. There are some log crossings that I nose bonk. I am still learning how to do this on the Farley because my first couple of attempts threw me off the bike in a hilarious fashion. One of my dismounts ended in a perfect over the bars Superhero landing! After a few minutes of laughing, I tried again. This time I focused on getting the front tire over the obstacle. It was a much safer bet until I get used to the bike. The more used to the bike I am getting, however, I am learning how to play on this bike. The bouncing can be quite fun!

Another thing I see about riding a fat bike is that steering is a bit different than other bikes. For one thing, you don't have to be as picky about lane choices. Let the bike go straight regardless of what's under you. This is the same going up as it is going down. You don't have to do those little correction turns on climbs to make sure you get to the place with the best traction. You just let it rip! This felt better to me especially after I changed the stem. To me, a shorter stem seems right on the big tires. It keeps you from twitching the bike around too much. That being said, when you are going down a hill, you don't steer the bike as much as you let it lean where it wants to go. This is similar to riding a trail bike, but a little more exaggerated. 

So, when I said, when you think you are going fast, you're not, but when you think you aren't, you actually are is true. I noticed the Strava times I had were all over the place on all three trails I've ridden this thing on. On the sections that I started to get the hang of letting the bike roll and I felt like I was going faster, I was nowhere near my times on the Remedy. I did beat times in areas I would never have expected. I beat times climbing. I set a number of Strava Personal Best's on this bike. Another thing to note on Strava times was that my overall times were quite comparable, and actually competitive to my fastest laps on other bikes. I set an overall fastest lap time on one of the trails.

I know this was more of a review of riding a fat bike than an actual review of my Farley, but that is why I tried to include some of my decisions into buying a Farley over other bikes. The bike is very solid. The frame and fork are excellent, and the company stands behind their work. Those are great reasons to buy a Trek if you are looking for a fat bike. There are also points to mount racks, etc if you plan to distance ride a fat bike. I may get to that point in life, but for now, I just want to extend my riding season through the year.


Unknown said...

Here is a link to fat bike fenders.

Izzy said...

Fantastic review of the Farley and fatbike riding in general!
Thanks for posting!

Unknown said...

Thanks Im a big dude also looking to get back into riding (trying to lose the lbs) and your teview helped alot!!!