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Trek Farley 5 2018 Review

A fast-rolling fat bike that operates with loads of momentum
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Trek Farley 5 2018 Review
Credit: Ian Butler
Price:  $1,729 List
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Manufacturer:   Trek
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 26, 2018

Our Verdict

The Trek Farley 5 is a monster truck of a fat bike that is all business. The 27.5x4.5-inch wheels roll fast and keep your momentum. Pair this rolling speed with the supreme grip of fat bike tires and you have a formidable rig. The catch? The Farley prefers life on the ground. Playful and poppy riders will find this bike requires a fair bit of muscle to get it to respond quickly. At $1799 the Trek is a solid value and comes outfitted with excellent rubber and a Shimano Deore 1x10 drivetrain. The SRAM Level brakes are weak but serviceable.
Fast rolling
Excellent traction
Straight-line attitude
Not the most playful
Poor brake specification
The build kit on the 2018 Farley 5 is no longer available.

Our Analysis and Test Results

trek farley 5 2018 - the farley is our top pick for its fast-rolling attitude.
The Farley is our top pick for its fast-rolling attitude.
Credit: Ian Butler

Should I Buy This Bike?

The Farley performs well, has quality components, and is relatively wallet-friendly. This bike took home our editors choice award. There is a very real chance that this is the bike for you.

If you have some extra cash laying around and want a unique bike, the Carver O'Beast is a titanium trail crusher. The Carver offers impressive on-trail performance with high-end components. All of this doesn't come cheap. Our test bike carries a $4399 price tag.

Design Highlights

  • - Aluminum frame
  • - 27.5 x 4.5-inch tires
  • - Suspension corrected design
  • - Stranglehold adjustable dropouts
  • - Press Fit Bottom Bracket

trek farley 5 2018 - fat bikes allow for plenty of grip on greasy rocks and leaves.
Fat bikes allow for plenty of grip on greasy rocks and leaves.
Credit: Ian Butler

Downhill Performance

When aimed downhill, the Farley boasts incredible rolling speed thanks to its enormous 27.5-inch wheels with enormous rubber. As they say, “big wheels keep on turning” and this bike keeps building speed. The Farley has a preference for open trails and likes to keep the rubber down. A questionable brake specification can make it difficult to shut down you speed in a hurry.

Momentum is the name of the game on this fattie. This bike takes a moment to pick up momentum, but once it has a head of steam it can be tremendously difficult to disturb. Cruising over small bumps and chatter is smoother than the 26-inch offerings. The Farley stays out of bomb holes and blown out of sections of trail fairly effectively. This bike handles chop better than the vast majority of rigid fat bikes.

The Farley has the ability to successfully hold a line where other bikes can get kicked around. Charging down a moderately rough section of trail is confident and relatively easy to manage. Point it in the right direction and let it fly. It is important to remember that this is still a rigid bike and larger impacts can be brutal. The Farley prefers to live life on the ground. Few fat bikes can be described as playful or lively, but given the massive wheels on the Trek, it prefers to have the rubber on the ground.

The Bontrager Gnarwall 4.5-inch tires were very respectable. This bike had loads of traction and pulling it through corners was a bit of a project. Wider, faster turns were easy, just lean into the corner and rail. Tighter switchbacks were not a strong suit of the Farley. Sharper corners really exposed the weaknesses of these massive wheels. As a result, this bike is far more fun charging down open and fast trails.

trek farley 5 2018 - the 27.5x4.5-inch tires roll fast and carry momentum.
The 27.5x4.5-inch tires roll fast and carry momentum.
Credit: Ian Butler

Climbing Performance

The Trek Farley is a monster truck on the ascent. The large diameter wheels don't get easily hung up on square edge technical moves. Uphill handling is solid but the long wheelbase and big wheels make tight moves a bit tricky. Climbing positioning is comfortable with a respectable climbing position and roomy cockpit.

The long top tube creates a comfortable and spacious climbing position. This is beneficial when shuffling weight around to gain traction. The 73.0-degree seat tube angle puts riders slightly behind the cranks. The long wheelbase is apparent and the head angle felt moderate. Standing up to hammer the cranks was effective and the frame felt stiff and strong with no flex.

The Farley can get you up any climb. The key is carrying a healthy amount of momentum with those big, 27.5 x 4.5-inch tires. With a head of steam, these wheels smooth out bomb holes or roots littered on the trail. The challenge of these monster truck wheels is evident when you stall out or dump momentum. It can be a chore to get this big back up to speed given the heft and bulk of the wheels. It is best to keep on rolling.

Uphill handling is solid. Given the length of this bike and large wheels, tighter technical maneuvers can be tricky. Sharp switchbacks can present a problem. A solid game plan goes a long way in successfully negotiating tight corners.

trek farley 5 2018 - it is impossible not to have fun on the farley.
It is impossible not to have fun on the Farley.
Credit: Ian Butler


At $1729, the Farley is strong value. This bike is our editors choice for the high-end performance and comes with impressive components. The Trek performs better than some of the more expensive optons we tested.

Build Highlights/Lowlights

The Bontrager Gnarwahl tires were excellent. These tires do not come with studs stock, but they studs can be installed. Our test bike was studded and it had tremendous traction on snow, ice, and dirt. The Gnarwahls offered an impressive blend of rolling speed, traction and cornering abilities.

The SRAM Level brakes were mediocre at best. Make no mistake, they function well enough, but this hefty, fast rolling bike has the ability to overwhelm the brakes at times.


The Trek Farley is a fast-rolling bruiser that works best with a healthy dose of speed. 27.5x4.5-inch tires roll fast and keep you out of the bomb holes in the trail. The Farley likes to keep the rubber side down and works best on trails without super tight corners. The Farley 5 sells for $1799 and provides an excellent value with a solid build kit.

Pat Donahue