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Trek Farley 5 Review

The Trek Farley 5 is relatively basic, but it is still a plenty capable and reasonably priced fat bike
trek farley 5 fat bike review
Despite relatively conservative geometry numbers, the Farley 5 is quite capable on most terrain and situations.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $2,000 List
Manufacturer:   Trek
By Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue  ⋅  Dec 23, 2022
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 8
  • Downhill Performance - 30% 7.0
  • Uphill Performance - 30% 7.0
  • Versatility - 25% 7.0
  • Build - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Trek Farley 5 is one of the least expensive models in this review and a great value for a capable fat bike. Price aside, this bike has a solid all-around performance that is as good or better than some of the other fat bikes in this review. The Farley is reasonably lightweight and is efficient on the climbs with comfortable geometry and a short turning radius. It handles descents just about as well any fully rigid fat bike we've tried, and it has outrageous traction while climbing or descending on both snow and dirt thanks to the massive and meaty 27.5" x 4.5" Bontrager Gnarwhal tires. The component specification isn't especially impressive, but it gets the job done, our biggest complaint was the saddle. If you're in the market for a capable ride to round out your bike stable or you're just looking for an affordable entry-level fat bike to get into the sport, we think the Farley 5 is a great option to consider.
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Reasonable weight
Super wide tires
Floatation and traction
REASONS TO AVOID
Basic
Uncomfortable saddle
Editor's note: This review was updated on December 23, 2022, with product update information, product comparisons, and alternate purchase recommendations.

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trek farley 5 fat bike review
This Product
Trek Farley 5
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $2,000 List$2,499 List$2,350 List$2,299 List$2,149 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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73
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Pros Affordable, reasonable weight, super wide tires, floatation and tractionReasonable price for carbon, tons of frame and fork mounts, highly versatileDropper post, nice build, great all-around performanceAffordable for carbon frame, well-rounded performance, reasonable weightReasonably priced, 12-speed drivetrain, comfortable geometry
Cons Basic, uncomfortable saddleSX shifter ergonomics, non-lock-on gripsModerately heavySRAM SX shifter ergonomics, limited frame and fork mountsHas a speed limit, not exciting
Bottom Line The Trek Farley 5 is relatively basic, but it is still a plenty capable and reasonably priced fat bikeA very well-rounded and highly versatile fat bike for snow and adventure riding at a reasonable priceNot only is it good looking but it's a capable and well-rounded fat bikeA reasonably priced carbon fiber fat bike that's lightweight and efficientA solid fat bike for winter and adventurous conditions riding
Rating Categories Trek Farley 5 Fezzari Kings Peak... Giant Yukon 1 Canyon Dude CF 7 Salsa Mukluk SX Eagle
Downhill Performance (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Uphill Performance (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Versatility (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Build (15%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Trek Farley 5 Fezzari Kings Peak... Giant Yukon 1 Canyon Dude CF 7 Salsa Mukluk SX Eagle
Wheelsize 27.5" 27.5" 27.5" 27.5" 26"
Weight w/o pedals 31 lbs 11 oz 31 lbs 32 lbs 13 oz 30 lbs 5 oz 32 lbs 7 oz
Frame Material Alpha Platinum Aluminum Carbon V3 ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum Canyon Dude CF (carbon fiber) 6066-T6 Aluminum
Frame Size Large Large Large Large Large
Available Sizes S-XL S-XL S-XL S-L XS-XL
Fork Bontrager Haru, OCLV carbon lowers Kings Peak Carbon V3 Rigid Composite with low-rider rack mounts Canyon Rude CF Bearpaw Carbon Fork
Wheelset SUNringle Mulefut SL 80 rims with Bontrager hubs SUNringle Mulefut SL 80 rims with Bear Pawls Alloy hubs Alloy rims, 90mm, with Giant hubs SUNringle Mulefut SL 80 SUNringle Mulefut SL 80 rims with SUNringle SRC hubs
Front Tire Bontrager Gnarwhal Team Issue 4.5" Terrene Cake Eater 4.5" Maxxis Colossus 4.5" Maxxis Minion FBF 3.8" 45NRTH Dillinger 4.6"
Rear Tire Bontrager Gnarwhal Team Issue 4.5" Terrene Cake Eater 4.5" Maxxis Colossus 4.5" Maxxis Minion FBR 3.8" 45NRTH Dillinger 4.6"
Shifters Shimano Deore 10-speed SRAM SX Eagle SRAM NX Eagle SRAM SX Eagle SRAM SX Eagle
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore 10-speed SRAM SX Eagle SRAM NX Eagle SRAM SX Eagle SRAM SX Eagle
Cranks Race Face Ride SRAM X1 1000 Eagle DUB SRAM NX Eagle DUB FAT 5 Truvativ Stylo 6K DUB SRAM X1 1000 Eagle DUB
Chainring 28T 30T 30T 30T 30T
Bottom Bracket Race Face 121mm, Pressfit SRAM DUB BSA 100 SRAM DUB Pressfit SRAM Pressfit DUB not specified
Cassette Shimano HG500 11-42T SRAM PG-1210 11-50T SRAM NX Eagle 11-50T SRAM PG-1210 11-50T SRAM PG-1210 11-50T
Saddle Bontrager Arvada 138mm Selle Italia Model X Superflow Giant Contact (neutral) Selle Italia X3 WTB Volt Sport
Seatpost Bontrager Alloy Fezzari Racing Design XrT Alloy Giant Contact Switch dropper Iridium Alloy Salsa Guide
Handlebar Bontrager Alloy Fezzari Racing Design Alloy Flat Bar, 780mm Giant Connect Trail, 780mm Iridium Flatbar Salsa Rustler, 800mm
Stem Bontrager Elite Fezzari Alloy Giant Contact Iridium Alloy Salsa Guide Trail
Brakes SRAM Level Clarks M2 Hydraulic Disc SRAM Level T Shimano MT410 SRAM Level
Head Tube Angle 69-degrees 67-degrees 68.5-degrees 69-degrees 69-degrees
Reach (size Large) 441mm 470mm 427mm 465mm 446mm
Wheelbase (size Large) 1158mm 1208mm 1171mm 1175mm 1150mm
Chainstay Length 455mm 450mm 445-460mm (adjustable) 439mm 440-457mm (adjustable)
Seat Tube Angle (effective) 73-degrees 75-degrees 73-degrees 73-degrees 73-degrees
Warranty Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime Six Years Three Years

Our Analysis and Test Results

Product Update Note - December 2022
The Farley 5 returns for the 2022 model year with a new paint job and a Tranz-X dropper seatpost. The price has also risen slightly to $1,999.99.

Trek Bikes is headquartered in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and their location in the upper mid-west means they probably know a thing or two about riding in cold and often snowy environments. They make a small line of fat bikes and the Farley 5 is their entry-level model that is offered at a very reasonable entry-level price. Aside from the asking price, the Farley 5 is relatively comparable in weight, geometry, and performance to the other fully rigid fat bike models in this review.

Performance Comparison


trek farley 5 fat bike review - testing the farley in some variable snow conditions above south lake...
Testing the Farley in some variable snow conditions above South Lake Tahoe, CA.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Downhill Performance


On the descents, the Farley 5 performs a lot like you might expect for a fully rigid bike. It is most at home on smooth snow or dirt trails where its lack of suspension feels efficient and is more of a benefit than a hindrance. Despite the bike's lack of suspension, the massive air volume of the 27.5" x 4.5" Bontrager Gnarwhal tires helps to absorb a significant amount of shock and smooths over small obstacles and trail chatter, especially when you run the tires at low pressure, we liked them around ten psi. The bike's short wheelbase and relatively short reach help to make it plenty maneuverable while the large contact patch and grippy tread of the tires offer seemingly endless grip when cornering. While this bike isn't as long as some of its competitors it still feels comfortable and planted at speed, mostly due to the girthy rubber. Testers rode this bike on both snow and dirt and were very impressed by its surprising lack of rolling resistance and solid cornering abilities.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - testing the limits of the farley on some steep slabs and loose sand.
Testing the limits of the Farley on some steep slabs and loose sand.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

When the going gets rough is when you begin to notice the shortcomings of the Farley 5, and all of the other fully rigid models for that matter, on the descents. You can feel the feedback from larger rocks, roots, or chunky snow come straight up through the rigid fork, into the handlebar, and ultimately your hands. It's no worse than any of the other models with rigid forks, but its a far cry from the supple front end of the Farley 7. The 69-degree head tube angle is on the steeper side of the bikes in this test, but it feels fine on the terrain that this bike is intended for. The cockpit is relatively well equipped, although our testers generally prefer a shorter and stiffer stem and a handlebar a little wider than 750mm. That said, it worked well and provided precise enough handling. Testers would have enjoyed a quick release seat post clamp on this bike to prevent them from pulling out the multi-tool every time they wanted to lower the saddle for an extended section of downhill riding.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the front end of the farley can feel a bit steep at times, but it...
The front end of the Farley can feel a bit steep at times, but it handles the descents better than expected.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Uphill Performance


Much like the downhill performance of the Farley, its uphill performance is strikingly similar to the other rigid models in this review. It weighs 31 lbs and 11 oz and isn't especially heavy, although the differences in weight between the five models in this test aren't all that dramatic and we feel it's very respectable for an alloy-framed bike with 4.5" tires. While climbing or seated pedaling on flat terrain it feels very efficient, and the only wasted energy is that lost through the super wide and soft tires, although those tires do provide excellent traction. Testers were pleasantly surprised that there wasn't more rolling resistance while riding the Gnarwhal tires on dirt or snow, but they do feel incredibly sluggish and awkward on pavement.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the farley is a capable climber with a comfortable seated pedaling...
The Farley is a capable climber with a comfortable seated pedaling position and tons of traction.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The rider's position while climbing is quite comfortable with a moderate 446mm reach and a slightly taller front end than some of the competition. The 74.4-degree seat tube angle puts the rider right up on top of the bottom bracket and keeps weight distributed relatively well for climbing traction. The shorter length wheelbase and 69-degree head angle also give this bike a pretty short turning radius which helps with tight uphill switchbacks or in case you encounter some tighter more technical climbing. When the climbs get a little steeper, the Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain did leave us wanting for another lower gear but generally speaking it was fine whenever riding on dirt, and you can't really climb snow that's very steep anyway. All in all, the Farley climbs pretty darn well.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - it feels efficient and responsive on the climbs, surprising...
It feels efficient and responsive on the climbs, surprising considering the massive rubber on this bike.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Versatility


The Farley 5 in its factory build is best suited to snow or very soft surface riding. The massive 4.5" wide Gnarwhal tires are super girthy and provide tons of floatation for use on soft surfaces like snow or sand. Those huge tires also have a meaty tread pattern and grip as well or better than the Maxxis Minion tires found on many of our other test models. Despite this bike's huge tires, it proved not to be a one-trick pony, and we were surprised by its mixed-condition performance and capabilities on dirt and normal trail conditions as well. With limited accessory mounts on the frame and fork, the Farley 5 isn't as well equipped for bike packing or adventure riding as some other models.

Build


The Farley 5 is the least expensive model in this review, yet it has a component specification that is pretty comparable to its more expensive competition. The bike's skeleton is Trek's Alpha Platinum aluminum frame with a Bontrager Haru rigid fork with carbon lowers that has been 100mm suspension corrected. This suspension correction may seem insignificant, but it does help to raise the front end of this bike a little bit, and the geometry won't change significantly if you were to purchase an aftermarket suspension fork. The frame has two water bottle mounts in the front triangle and has mounting options for a rack or other accessories on the seat stays of the rear triangle. The frame is also designed to accommodate an internally routed dropper seat post.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the farley's frame is nice and lightweight for the price with loads...
The Farley's frame is nice and lightweight for the price with loads of clearance for massive tires.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Trek's choice of a 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain is a little bit of a letdown as we prefer 11 and 12-speed drivetrains these days, but it works well and offers a pretty good range. This drivetrain setup includes a Shimano Deore derailleur and shifter, 11-42 tooth cassette, and Race Face Ride cranks with a 28-tooth chainring. Similar to the competition, Trek equipped the Farley 5 with SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes and 160mm rotors front and rear. The basic Level brakes don't have much bling factor, but testers found them to work well for the lower speeds associated with riding on the Farley 5.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the 10-speed drivetrain was a low point of this build, but the...
The 10-speed drivetrain was a low point of this build, but the Shimano Deore works reliably.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

In typical Trek bikes fashion, the Farley 5 is clad in quite a few Bontrager, Trek's house brand, parts. This includes virtually all of the cockpit components like the 750mm wide alloy handlebar, 80mm stem, and the XR Trail Comp lock-on grips. Our testers tend to prefer shorter stems and slightly wider handlebars, but 750mm isn't too far off the mark and will be wide enough for most riders. Trek also mounted a Bontrager Arvada saddle atop a basic alloy seat post that is held in place by a non-quick-release seat post clamp. The saddle works just fine but isn't quite as comfortable as the WTB saddles found on some of the other models. We also prefer quick-release seatpost clamps on bikes with rigid seat posts to speed up changes in saddle height.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the cockpit setup is relatively comfortable although the saddle was...
The cockpit setup is relatively comfortable although the saddle was one of the least favorite of the bikes in the test.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

As with most fat bikes, the Farley 5 has SUNringle Mulefut rims. In this case, they are 80mm wide in a 27.5" size and are laced to a set of Bontrager hubs with 12 x 197mm rear and 15 x 150mm front axle spacing. We've read complaints online about the durability of these hubs, but ours worked well throughout our testing. The Farley is mounted up with massive 4.5" Bontrager Gnarwhal tires. These tires provide excellent floatation and impressive traction on both snow and dirt. Due to the girth of these tires, testers expected the Farley to roll slower and generally feel more sluggish side to side, but that was not the case. The 15.5" and 17.5" frame sizes of this bike come with a 4.5" Bontrager Barbegazi rear tire.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the 4.5" bontrager gnarwhal tires have an aggressive open tread...
The 4.5" Bontrager Gnarwhal tires have an aggressive open tread pattern with tall studdable lugs that provide some of the best traction and floatation in the test.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Geometry


The Farley 5 shares relatively similar geometry numbers with the other fully rigid bikes in this review. When compared to modern geometry numbers for trail mountain bikes they seem relatively conservative, but they are pretty standard for fat bikes. The head tube angle of 69 degrees certainly sounds a little steep, but it works well for this style of bike. The fork on the Farley has been 100mm suspension-corrected which helps make the front end of this bike a little taller and more comfortable than some. The seat tube angle of 74.4 degrees feels good and works well while spinning away on flat terrain and gradual climbs. The shorter reach measurement of 446mm feels good on this bike and helps keep you in a comfortable seated pedaling position. The wheelbase is also on the shorter side at 1143mm. The chainstay length of 446mm is moderate in length but very reasonable considering the clearance needed for the 27.5" x 4.5" rubber on this bike. The rear dropout is adjustable and allows for 15mm of adjustment to accommodate different-sized tires or in case you wanted to set this bike up as a single speed. We also measured the Q-factor, the distance between the cranks, on the Farley at 180mm which is certainly on the wider side but we feel is quite respectable considering the rear tire clearance this bike has.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - despite relatively conservative geometry numbers, the farley 5 is...
Despite relatively conservative geometry numbers, the Farley 5 is quite capable on most terrain and situations.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Should You Buy The Trek Farley 5?


If you're looking for a less expensive fat bike to add to your quiver or a relatively affordable entry-level model, we think the Farley 5 is very worthy of consideration. Despite its low price, it offers performance that is better than or equal to several of the more expensive bikes in this review. It's lightweight for the price, has a comfortable geometry, climbs and pedals efficiently, and it looks pretty good too. There's nothing mind-blowing about its performance, but it gets the job done and costs less than most of the competition.

What Other Fat Bikes Should You Consider?


If its value you seek, but you're more interested in a carbon frame, the Canyon Dude CF 7 is an obvious choice. It costs just a bit more but gets you a sleek carbon frame that weighs 1.5 pounds less overall. If you're planning to tackle rougher terrain and conditions, the Trek Farley 7 shares the same frame and geometry, but comes with a suspension fork, dropper seatpost, and other component upgrades. It costs a bit more but provides a much more comfortable and composed ride.

trek farley 5 fat bike review - the farley is a blast to ride, this is a solid fat bike and a good...
The Farley is a blast to ride, this is a solid fat bike and a good value.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue
 
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