First Impressions

2018 Trek Farley EX 8

Photos Dave Smith

If you have been paying attention you may recall that in my Xmas list I went big and hoped to get my hands on a dual suspension fat bikes. At that point I was hopeful we'd get a tester but in the end we decided two was better - because who wants to fatbike alone? And a reference point, considering the Salsa was the first fully suspended I'd ridden. 

To begin with I had little interest in fat, although I assumed they made sense for sand or snow. We'd see the full rigid monstrosities tractoring around at Interbike and they just looked silly. Kind of fun, but silly as well. And they sure as hell didn't look fast. But then Rock Shox made the Bluto, a 100mm fatbike fork that looks like a widened Pike, and the world of fat changed. These bikes always had suspension, thanks to the massive low pressure rubber, but now it was damped. This also allowed riders to run a little higher pressure up front and avoid the auto steer that can come with pressures below 10psi. This was a turning point; now you could get genuinely rowdy on tougher terrain. This also encouraged the close-minded among us (me for instance) to consider fatbikes for the wonders of dirt. 


We aren't bored of breweries by a long shot, but Dave figured we should change it up and shoot at the Cowboy Coffee Roastery here in North Vancouver. The Cowboys make all the coffee for Bean Around The World and supply to other shops as well. And the dudes who work there all ride mountain bikes. Jeff Boeda kept on roasting while Dave was shooting. 

The Farley is quite long looking and relatively low and somehow the 27.5 x 3.8 tires look well proportioned. Up close it's obvious the huge rims are clad with monstrous rubber, but to my eyes the shape looks very nicely balanced. I never thought I'd say a fatbike looks good. 


I've gotten used to the syrupy lines and integrated shapes of carbon frames, but I have to say the finish of this bike is just as appealing to me as a laid up model. The paint, which leaves an impression of durability, is a big part of that. 


Clearance for the 27.5 x 3.8 Bontrager Hodag TLR tires is ample. Compared to the beefy 45NTH Van Helgas on the Salsa Bucksaw, the Hodags have a much less round and lower profile shape. 

Classic Trek lines. Full Floater seems to be disappearing (It was omitted on the Slash) but it's in full force here along with the ABP pivot that spins concentric to the rear axle. The Farley EX even has the RE:aktiv rear shock developed by Trek, Fox and Penske racing controlling the 100mm of rear travel. 

Gone for a Ride. Back @ 5 - The Cowboys

Cowboy Coffee may smell like South American beans but it's spiced with old grease, chromoly and aging rubber. 


Jeff Boeda, who runs the show, has been riding the Shore since ladder bridges were a new thing. He even appears in Digger's North Shore Extreme movie series. 


Old frames, tools, a Sterling Lorence poster and a note; Gone for a Ride. Back @ 5 - The Cowboys

The riding position of the Farley feels quite modern. The 625 mm top tube is only a centimetre shy of the long and low Slash. The overwhelming feeling I get riding this bike either up a fire road or on a sedate section of trail is that I'm riding a mountain bike. That all changes when things get hairy however and it becomes something more. 

Farley spec

Geo numbers in centimetres unless noted. 


I can't remember the last time I rode a bike with a 69º head angle on purpose, but it hasn't been an issue at all thus far. The 19.5" frame fits me very well, from reach to seat tube angle - I don't even mind the wide Q-factor produced by the fat bike BB spindle.


The Rockshox Bluto has a Solo Air Spring you might find on a 2017 Pike but not the Charger Damper. Apparently some riders are upgrading to the Charger. The Bluto has 32mm stanchions, a 150mm x 15 axle and it weighs 1796g or right around 4 lbs. 


I have yet to do any tuning to the Bluto but it could use a token or two at the very least. I was under the impression that the Farley bounced on 100mm front and rear but it turns out it's 120mm all around. 

The Farley EX hasn't yet seen snow but, while there may be some on the way, that's just fine. This thing loves dirt and rocks and loam and I've been riding it like a regular trail bike. 


Adding rear suspension to a fat bike is like lifting your 4x4; it seems excessive but it feels so right. 


The spec actually says the bike should come with a Bontrager post. I'm not sure about the KS dropper just yet.


So far the KS has been slow to rise. There is no external air adjustment and I don't have it over-clamped. 

Aside from the dropper I've had nothing to complain about spec-wise. The 1x11 drivetrain works just fine, with the 28t chainring helping me spin the big tires up hill. The SRAM Level T brakes don't have much work to do thanks to the massive grip the tires provide, but function has been more than adequate. 


At 1244g the Hodags are billed as light weight fat bike tires. Grip is great and they corner really well even at lower pressures. 


I have set up the tires tubeless now and shed a little over a pound total in rotating mass. I also slashed the sidewall on my last ride out (and scraped the rim - it was legit) and learned you can use a regular tube in a fatbike tire in a pinch. 


No issues with the Level T brakes thus far, and with the help of the burly rubber, braking force is off the charts. 


Q-factor hasn't bothered me at all. 


I wondered if Eagle hade made me too soft for an 11-42 but it's been fine, even on singletrack climbs. And SRAM GX works great, Eagle or not. 


I love breweries but Cowboy Coffee smells vastly more pleasant. 


Must. Not. Jump! How nice would it be to dive into these warm, freshly roasted beans?


So. Good. 

I haven't weighed the Farley since I did the tubeless conversion but it was 35lbs before that, without pedals. It doesn't feel heavy at all on the trail - at least not going down. I ramp the pressure some for climbing which keeps things rolling a little faster. 


I am constantly amazed by what a great looking machine this is. Regular tires are beginning to look spindly to me. This bike, like the Salsa Bucksaw, is ridiculously fun on virtually any trail. 

I imagined riding these fully suspended behemoths would be fun, but I sold them short. They make any day on dirt a powder day. I pedal into rocky ugly sections with abandon, carve steeps and find myself in the air where I normally wouldn't. All with a big grin on my face. Stay tuned for our full review of both the Trek Farley EX 8 and the Salsa Bucksaw Carbon

The Farley EX 8 will set you back 3499 USD. More details here...

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+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

Dig the article. Cowboy Coffee rules! I contacted them about buying some of their coffee here in the US, but they don't have distribution here. They mailed me a pound for free! Best coffee I have ever had.

Also dig the old school Foes Inferno hanging in their shop!


+2 Cam McRae firevsh2o

I'll be sure to stay tuned to hear how much difference there is in the ride of a 26x4.0 vs. 27.5x3.8 fully suspended fatbike. I've been having fun for 2 years now on my RM Blizzard and have given up explaining to everyone why I exclusively ride this bike over anything with 'normal' tires.



I really appreciate your feature about the Bucksaw and the Farley here and I really like Fatbikes for trail- and snowriding in winter and sometimes even in dry summer conditions! I have ridden a Bucksaw over one season and I am on a Canyon  Dude now. Especialy rergarding the Farley I have some thoughts:

The Farley EX seems to be a nice bike on first glance. It looks good, it is available in middle Europe (Salsa not so much) and it is relatively cheap. But: while regarding to your article it may look long, in fact it is very short! A wheelbase of 1156mm on an XL is ridiculous! 

I really hope Trek stretches that geometry by at least 50mm (better 70-80) and slackens the headangle into the 67-68 degree region. A Fatbike is not a Race Enduro but a mouthfull of the long, low, slack cool aid would not hurt them either. 

Every Fatbike I know (except the Pole Taiga and Kona Wozo) have that old school geometry. This bike category looses a big part of its potential this way!


+2 dtimms Bogey

> But then Rock Shox made the Bluto, a 100mm fork based on Pike internals

I think you mean Reba internals. The rl damper unit used in the Bluto is nowhere near the charge damper used in the Pike in performance.


-1 Bogey

Damper side certainly. Referring to the structure, aesthetics and air spring would have been more accurate.



The Bluto is a wide Reba in all ways. It has 32mm stanchions and looks just like a Reba.



Interesting. Have you ridden a fatbike that is that long? Salsa in particular made an effort to keep the stays short for handling purposes. You might be right but considering how well these ride as they are, stretching and slackening them might have unintended consequences. The other issue is that these bikes are used for all sorts of different terrain so making a fat enduro bike might not work well for many riders. Thus far the handling has been great on all sorts of terrain, but maybe I'll come around to your perspective after some more rides. Who knows?



No, no. I do not want a Enduro bike with fat wheels!

The Farley is really short. It is 50mm shorter than the Bucksaw and that is not a long bike at all. The seat tubes are to tall at both of them. 

If I could dream up a Fatbike full suspension trailbike it would be along that lines. 

  • for Size XL 

  • Head angle 67

  • Seat angle 74-75

  • Seat tube max. 500mm

  • Reach 470-480 - Stack 640

  • Wheelbase around 1200-1220mm

  • 83mm BB, 177mm hub, 4" tires in the rear 27,5", rim width max. 70mm,  (option for 26"x4,5" Dunderbeists on 80mm rims)

  • Travel 100 - max. 120mm

These numbers are not too extreme. In fact they are like a Santa Cruz Hightower with a steeper seat angle.



Longtime fat biker and plus biker here. I really wanted to like my fatbike when I moved from YYC to Victoria, but the lack of soft conditions took away its main mission. I did use it as trail bike occasionally, but never thought those fat tires did anything for me I needed my normal 2.4" tires didn't. That includes snow riding for a 1-2 weeks a year our trails see the white stuff. My fatty was a rigid bike, but if I felt like those big tires were compelling enough I would have bought a hardtail or FS fatty. I just never saw the point despite being fat friendly. So I sold that bike.

I got a plus bike, which has proven a lot more versatile and useful on the coast than the fatty, but even for that bike I use it for bikepacking mostly when riding poorly maintained roads and trails make me appreciate the wider tires the most. I've used this bike for local trail riding a bunch and never come home not wishing I had taken my normal 2.4" tire bike out. I keep the plus setup for touring.

I just ordered a new 29er FS bike and picking through the choices I didn't go with a few 27+ compatible options and ended up with a 29er specific bike. Even though I've got a spare 275er wheelset here. 

If you love plus/fat tires for trail riding in coastal BC that's great. I'm not trying to convince you otherwise, but if you are just fat/plus curious my advice is to get a demo to make sure you really love the wider tires for your regular trail riding missions. Despite being a fat/plus owner/fan for specific bike missions I don't dig 'em for that general purpose type of riding and I am inclined to like odd ball gear/setups!



cartoonhd its look amazing and i must say that it has great pick during racing.






Just wondering if there’s an ETA on full review of Farley you mentioned here? I’m a BC native transplanted to YEG, and I’m toying with selling my hard tail Farley for the FS version. Maybe this can do it all? Curious to hear your thoughts.



My apologies Ken. I bent the crank and broke a pedal (no fault of the bike - I just hit it really hard on a rock) and it took a good long time to get a replacement. It's here now but it arrived in the middle of heavy travel season and I'm away again shortly. That said this is a very fun bike. I like the geo, it's hilarious and capable to ride in virtually all conditions and the componentry is dialled. I wouldn't steer you away from it - that's for sure. The stock tires may be on the light side for some riders and conditions - and we did flat one - but that's about the only complaint I have. Setting it up tubeless was also a big plus so I'd put that on the list to do right away. Give 'er!




Appreciate the quick response! Value your (and the rest of the team's) opinion. I think I have a path forward.

Thanks again.



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