Trek Farley 7 2021 Review
Cons: Moderately expensive, heavy, a bit clumsy in tight spaces
Manufacturer: Giant Bicycles
Compare to Similar Products
Trek Farley 7 2021
|Price||$2,600 List||$2,100 List||$2,299 List||$2,950 List||$1,999 List|
|Pros||Suspension fork, dropper post, well-rounded performance||Dropper post, nice build, great all-around performance||Inexpensive for carbon, lightweight, lively||Front suspension, nice build, lighter weight, lower Q-factor||Reasonably priced, 12-speed drivetrain, comfortable geometry|
|Cons||Moderately expensive, heavy, a bit clumsy in tight spaces||Moderately heavy||Budget component spec, excessive handlebar backsweep||Expensive, wide seat stays--calf rub, tall front end||Has a speed limit, not exciting|
|Bottom Line||A well-rounded fat bike that blends a nice build kit with a solid all-around performance||Capable and well-rounded, the Yukon 1 is one of the best fat bikes in the test||The carbon-framed fat bike is lightweight and a solid all-around performer||A comfortable and quality fat bike with an interesting geometry||A mid-pack performer that doesn't stand out from the crowd but is still a solid fat bike|
|Rating Categories||Trek Farley 7||Giant Yukon 1||Salsa Beargrease Carbon Deore||Borealis Telluride GX Eagle||Salsa Mukluk SX Eagle|
|Downhill Performance (30%)|
|Uphill Performance (30%)|
|Specs||Trek Farley 7||Giant Yukon 1||Salsa Beargrease...||Borealis Telluride...||Salsa Mukluk SX...|
|Weight w/o pedals||36 lbs 11 oz||32 lbs 13 oz||29 lbs 11 oz||31 lbs 12 oz||32 lbs 7 oz|
|Frame Material||Alpha Platinum Aluminum||ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum||High-Modulus carbon||6066 Aluminum||6066-T6 Aluminum|
|Fork||Manitou Mastodon 34 Comp||Rigid Composite with low-rider rack mounts||Bearpaw Carbon Fork||Manitou Mastadon EXT Pro||Bearpaw Carbon Fork|
|Wheelset||SUNRingle Mulefut SL 80 rims with Bontrager hubs||Alloy rims, 90mm, with Giant hubs||SUNringle Mulefut 80 rims with SUNringle SRC hubs||SUNringle Mulefut 80mm rims with Borealis hubs||SUNringle Mulefut SL 80 rims with SUNringle SRC hubs|
|Front Tire||Bontrager Gnarwhal Team Issue 4.5"||Maxxis Colossus 4.5"||Maxxis Minion FBF 3.8"||Terrene Cake Eater 4.0"||45NRTH Dillinger 4.6"|
|Rear Tire||Bontrager Gnarwhal Team Issue 4.5"||Maxxis Colossus 4.5"||Maxxis Minion FBR 3.8"||Terrene Cake Eater 4.0"||45NRTH Dillinger 4.6"|
|Shifters||SRAM SX Eagle||SRAM NX Eagle||Shimano Deore 10-speed||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM SX Eagle|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM NX Eagle||SRAM NX Eagle||Shimano Deore 10-speed||SRAM GX Eagle||SRAM SX Eagle|
|Cranks||SRAM X1 1000 Eagle DUB||SRAM NX Eagle DUB FAT 5||Race Face Ride||Race Face Next R Carbon||SRAM X1 1000 Eagle DUB|
|Bottom Bracket||SRAM DUB Pressfit||SRAM DUB Pressfit||not specified||BSA threaded||not specified|
|Cassette||SRAM PG-1210 11-50T||SRAM NX Eagle 11-50T||Shimano Deore 11-42T||SRAM XG-1275 GX Eagle 11-50T||SRAM PG-1210 11-50T|
|Saddle||Bontrager Arvada 138mm||Giant Contact (neutral)||WTB Volt Comp||Borealis||WTB Volt Sport|
|Seatpost||Tranz-X JD-YSP18, 130mm||Giant Contact Switch dropper||Salsa Guide||Borealis Carbon||Salsa Guide|
|Handlebar||Bontrager Alloy, 750mm||Giant Connect Trail, 780mm||Salsa Rustler||Borealis Carbon, 740mm||Salsa Rustler, 800mm|
|Stem||Bontrager Elite, 80mm||Giant Contact||Salsa Guide||Borealis||Salsa Guide Trail|
|Brakes||RSAM Level T||SRAM Level T||SRAM Level||SRAM Guide RS||SRAM Level|
|Warranty||Lifetime||Lifetime||Five Years||Five Years||Three Years|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Trek bills the Farley 7 as "the ideal ride for hotshot shredders who wanna get rad in every season." With a suspension fork and dropper post, it's clear that they spec'd this bike for mountain bikers who want to add a little spice to their winter riding routine. In our testing, the Farley posted impressive scores in most performance metrics. No, it isn't the lightest or most agile fat bike in the review, but it works well in any situation. This portly bicycle takes care of business in a somewhat understated manner. Testers agreed that this bike shreds downhill exceptionally well, is competent on the climbs, has an impressive build, and is a solid value.
The Farley 7 is a capable and confident descender. Whether you are recklessly bombing a snowy fire road or shredding down a singletrack, this bike can stand up to high speeds and a healthy dose of chop. The fact that it is equipped with a dropper post and a suspension fork is invaluable in terms of the fun factor and capability of this bike on the descents.
Fat bike geometry has significantly less variance when compared to traditional mountain bikes. The group of fat bikes we've tested have head tube angles that only vary by about 2-degrees. The Farley 7 has a 69-degree head tube angle which is firmly on the conservative side of the spectrum, although we never found it to feel too steep. Even at higher speeds or in steeper terrain, the bike felt stable, planted, and inspired confidence. The steeper head tube angle also helps the Farley retain respectable handling and responsiveness at lower speeds.
The wheelbase on our large test bike is relatively short at 1158mm. The rear end is equipped with Trek's Stranglehold Dropouts which allow you to further shorten the wheelbase for a slightly more agile and nimble ride. We ran this bike primarily in its longest setting as we enjoyed the enhanced downhill comfort and stability it provided. Taking a few millimeters off the chainstay length doesn't make this bike noticeably more nimble. It is still a fat bike with 4.5-inch wide tires; it will never be a trail ninja.
For a fat bike, the Farley 7 really felt at home when blasting down the trail. It cruised over chopped-up snow, deep footprints, rock, or whatever you put in its way. One of the most important attributes of the 4.5-inch tires is the ability to run an ultra-low pressure. We settled on 7 PSI in the front and 8-9 PSI in the rear. These low pressures enhance traction and add some damping to the ride. The 80mm Manitou Mastodon fork made for a confident and comfortable front end. This was one of the most comfortable fat bikes we have ridden when it comes to tackling protruding rocks or roots.
The Farley delivers solid cornering abilities given its mass. The huge contact patch and aggressive tread pattern of the Bontrager Gnarwhal tires hook up very well in most conditions except for the dreaded polished icy corners. It should be noted that these tires are stud-able. Riders who experience icy conditions regularly would enjoy velcro-like grip by putting some studs in these tires. We found the wheelbase felt quite manageable when working through corners. It reacts well to the dip of a shoulder and dives into turns fairly easily. Given the gigantic wheel/tire combination, this isn't the most nimble fat bike in our review. If your trails feature lots of awkward, ultra-tight, turns, this bike might feel a bit cumbersome, though that is true of most fat bikes.
The Farley 7 delivers a respectable climbing performance, though its heavier weight holds it back somewhat. We found it was particularly impressive working up gradual to moderately pitched climbs in snowy and mixed conditions. It isn't going to win any races up the hill, but it offers superb traction and a relatively comfortable climbing position.
The 73.0-degree seat tube angle puts you in a relatively comfortable seated pedaling position. When perched in the saddle, you are not directly on top of the cranks but a little bit set back. On typical fat bike terrain, this position feels reasonably efficient for cruising along flatter terrain or gradually pitched climbs. We found that when we got out of normal fat bike terrain and tried to climb anything steep, our weight felt a little off the back over the rear tire/axle, and the front end tended to wander a bit. To combat this, we dropped the stem/handlebars into the lowest position by adjusting some spacers, and we found the lower front end height conducive to faster/more efficient climbing. This wasn't a crippling issue by any means and it requires a truly steep climb, which you are not likely to regularly encounter on a fat bike.
According to the numbers, the Farley 7 is heavy, no two ways about it. When we hung our size Large test bike on our scale, we were surprised to see that it weighed 36 pounds 11 ounces with tubes installed. It certainly doesn't feel like a featherweight, but it doesn't have a particularly heavy feel on the trail. Sure, you won't be setting any uphill speed records on it, but we didn't find its weight to seem excessive while riding. We don't consider a fat bike's weight to be as important as with other types of bikes, but those concerned with weight may be turned off by that number.
The 4.5" Bontrager Gnarwahl tires deliver excellent climbing traction. Whether standing up and grunting up a steep snowy pitch or spinning it out over dirt, they hook up extremely well. The low tire pressures really allow the rubber to conform into the trail, and they have an enormous contact patch. The SRAM NX/SX Eagle drivetrain works well enough, and the 30-50t climbing gear is plenty breezy for most riders and locations.
Versatility proved to be a little bit of a double-edged sword with the Farley. On one hand, the suspension fork and dropper post made this bike more capable on rougher and rowdier trails. On the other hand, a slightly more slimmed down bike might be a better choice for buyers seeking snow and trail bike capabilities. A fat bike with narrower tires would have a bit more of a natural feel on trail rides in the warmer months.
When considering the versatility of a fat bike, there is more to consider than snow vs. singletrack. Fat bikes can also make great bikepacking or adventure riding rigs as the high-volume tires add an element of comfort and damping. It lacks a wealth of frame and fork braze-ons for bags and accessories, but it does have mounts on the rear triangle to accommodate a rear rack. The Farley could easily be made into a bikepacking weapon with saddle and handlebar-mounted bags, and frame bags that fit within the front triangle.
The Farley 7 is built around an Alpha Platinum Aluminum frame. It features internal routing for the derailleur and dropper post cables and mounts for two water bottles within the front triangle. The Manitou Mastodon fork offers 80mm of travel. It works well enough and features compression damping and rebound adjustments. While 80mm may not sound like much travel, rest assured that it is much more comfortable and confidence-inspiring than none at all. We feel this fork is critical to the Farley's capability on the trail. Along with the front suspension, the 130mm Tranz-X dropper post gets the saddle down and out of the way, further enhancing its downhill comfort and capability.
The SRAM NX/SX Eagle drivetrain is a dutiful performer. It isn't flashy, lightweight, or the most crisp, but it offers a massive gear range and it gets the job done. This bike is powered by an NX derailleur but has an SX shifter and cassette. If the SX shifter fails, which seems like a foregone conclusion, we would recommend replacing it with a higher-quality GX shifter.
The Farley 7 rolls on a set of SunRingle Mulefoot 80 SL rims laced to Bontrager hubs. The rear hub features the Bontrager RapidDrive 108 freehub which has 108 points of contact that results in quick engagement. Fast engagement is a nice feature on any bike and an impressive spec on a bike in this price range. The Bontrager Gnarwahl 27.5 x 4.5-inch tires are fantastic. They offer velcro-like traction on snow and dirt. It should be noted that the small and medium sizes of the Farley come with 3.8-inch tires. The 120 TPI construction feels supple and conforms easily to the trail. These tires are stud-able and if you live in a particularly icy environment like New England or the Midwest, which is a nice option to have if you need it. Bontrager sells a pack of 225 studs for $50. Installing them is a simple, albeit time consuming, process. We would also recommend setting these tires up tubeless to save some weight. It is best to have a bike shop do this for you as it requires a compressor and patience to seat a fat bike tire.
Some of the less stellar specifications include the SRAM Level T brakes. Sure, they work fine but the levers have a cheap feel and aren't as ergonomic as nicer brakes. We found the bar/stem combination to also feel a bit funky. This bike comes with a narrow-ish 750mm handlebar. On top of that, it is paired with an 80mm stem with a 7-degree rise. With that stem rise, we felt the need to drop the stem as a low as possible on the steerer tube to achieve a good front-end height. Wider 780mm bars would give this bike a much more modern feel.
Trek has given the Farley relatively conservative geometry numbers that are in line with most of the other fat bikes we've tested. Our large test bike has a 69-degree head tube angle paired with a 631mm effective top tube and 455mm chainstays. Those numbers create a moderate length 1158mm wheelbase. The chainstays and wheelbase can be shortened slightly by adjusting Trek's Stranglehold Dropouts. The effective seat tube angle is 73-degrees and the reach measurement is 455mm. Our 6-foot tall testers fell within the recommended height range for the size large and found the sizing to feel perfect.
Our large test bike hit the scales and came in at a whomping 36-pounds 11-ounces with tubes but without pedals.
At its retail price, we feel the Farley 7 represents a pretty good value. It is one of the most expensive bikes in our review. That said, we feel its well-rounded performance and solid component specifications can justify the price tag. Yes, you can get a decent fat bike for less, but we feel the Farley 7 is the best in our test class. We think it is well worth the extra money.
The Trek Farley 7 is one of the best fat bikes we've ever tested. This bike offers tremendous on-snow performance and can also stand up to some rough stuff and high speeds thanks to the dropper post and suspension fork. It's a bit heavy, yet its climbing abilities were respectable on all but the steepest of pitches. It also comes with a quality build, and we feel this well-rounded performer is a solid value.
The Farley is available in two additional build kits.
The Farley 9.6 features a carbon fiber frame and a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain. This version comes with a rigid carbon fiber fork, not a suspension fork. The 9.6 sells for $3,299.The Farley 5 is the budget-oriented base model. This bicycle has an aluminum frame and a Shimano 10-speed drivetrain. It comes with a rigid aluminum fork, not a suspension fork.
— Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue