Just a little over a year ago (December 9th to be exact) I decided to pull the trigger on the Trek Farley 6. Like most people I had been eyeballing Fat Bikes for a few years but I wasn't really sure if these crazy looking bikes would catch on or if they were going to decrease in number and go back to being only sought out by those who lived in areas of the country/world that are buried in snow more often and for longer periods of time than we are here in the Midwest.
I think the Farley was only the third Fat Bike I had ever thrown my leg over, the other two being the Mukluk and the Pugsley; while both those bikes have their place in the world they just didn't seem quick and nimble like the Farley did and because of that they both were less appealing at the time. Much like this December has been so far, last December was snow free for the first actual ride... I was riding a snow bike without any snow and on gravel, oh the horra!
Amazingly both the snow bike and I survived the ride despite the lack of frozen rain and it was abundantly clear from just that one ride as well that I had found my gravel bike. Unlike a cross or gravel specific "road" bike with narrower tires, the Farley floated on top of even the thickest gravel I could find that day and it went where you wanted it to go instead of the white knuckled hold on and pray feeling you get sometimes on a narrower tire bicycle when encountering deep gravel. Since I could already tell that Farley and I were going to be fast friends, the upgrades/changes began almost immediately... slowly at first with just a simple rim strip color swap.
While it might have been a simple and inexpensive change, it really made a dramatic over all appearance change on the bike. Those massive wheels stood out even more, like they needed the help.
Eventually it did snow that December, not much but it was snow so it seemed a ride was in order. Of course with just the little bit we got there was no way to say that Farley was going to be good in the snow yet but it handled sloppy snow and wet gravel fine.
I did discover Farley's kryptonite, it does not like muddy minimum maintenance roads, doesn't like them at all. Between the Hodag tread's desire to hold on to all the muds and the poor mud clearance between the tire and the seat and chain stays, Farley packed on mud like a fat kid does weight during the holidays. It wasn't long before the 30-ish lbs Farley became a 50+ lbs unridable boat anchor.
Farley's first bath followed shortly after... before you get your panties all in a twist, yes I know you aren't "supposed to" pressure wash a bicycle but it was the middle of winter, the bike was caked in mud and I would have been killed if I brought it home in it's previous condition. Besides if you don't pull the trigger on the pressure washer at the car wash the water will still come out, just not at a paint peeling velocity... true story.
Since bikes are more fun with friends and nobody else was doing a regular fat bike as far as I knew, the Saturday Morning No Drop Fat Bike Ride was born less than a month later.
As is usually the case the snow did eventually find us and Farley really came into it's own. I know that you can ride a normal mountain bike or even a cross/road/gravel bike in the snow and it will do just fine. I can tell you though that there is a big difference between just getting by and scooting along at a decent pace and this is one area where the fat bike excelled. I would garner to bet that I probably did more riding last winter with Farley than I did the two previous winters combined, so as advertised I had found my snow bike as well as my gravel bike in Farley.
Farley and I took our show on the road as well and made a trip up to the famed Minnesota river bottoms in Minneapolis with some great friends in the area, also a ride you could have done with a regular bike but made much more enjoyable by Farley's pudgy nature.
Farley also coaxed me into my first ever century, 115 miles from Omaha to Lincoln and back, not bad for a slow, heavy, lumbering snow bike.
Sometime along that stretch Farley also got some new shifty bit bling, they have been well worth the money.
As it does every year the snows melted and the temperatures got warmer, funny thing was the Farley wasn't being replaced as the go to "mountain bike" by one with svelter tires; Farley just kept rolling on and I found my single track bike... and oddly enough it was the same bike as my new found snow and gravel bike. Score one, er three, for Farley.
Farley turned out to be such a fun and, dare I say, versatile bike that it got the nod for the trip back to the homelands of Montana. Even though I knew I was going to do a road ride up the Going to the Sun Road with 4,200 feet of climbing in addition to the other rides I had planned, I knew that the Farley wouldn't let me down. Sure it was probably slower than a true road bike would have been but with single track also on the menu a road bike wouldn't have handled both duties, plus the way Farley stuck like Velcro around the curves going down hill was very smile inducing and well worth the uphill price of admission. Did I also find a road bike in Farley? Well... no, while Farley is fully capable of being pedaled down a paved road, Farley doesn't do it anywhere near as efficient as a skinny tired bicycle, about the only thing I had found Farley didn't do almost as well if not better than another bike I currently owned.
Farley also saw me through Odin's Revenge and performed with flying colors on 60 miles loose, deep, litter box like gravel of western Nebraska.
While Gravel Worlds didn't end the way I would have liked, it had nothing to do with Farley; he was more than ready, willing and capable even when I was not and we managed 90-ish miles of eastern Nebraskan gravel together before I let Farley down.
The next adventure for Farley & Me was the 126 miles of Omaha Jackrabbit gravel, this time with much better results... I knew if I could hold up my end of the bargain Farley would not let me down as we had become fast friends.
In addition to being a top notch two wheeled snow, gravel, single track, road and adventure machine; Farley also makes an excellent beer holder, even when you forget to color coordinate your beer with your bike... best part, Farley never asks for "just a sip" of your favorite frosty beverage so you get to have it all to yourself.
Late summer Farley also got a little more bling in the form of new XT brakes, best hydros I have ever had the pleasure of using.
Farley also helped me celebrate my first ever Global Fat Bike Day, won''t be out last.
Yep, Farley and I sure have had some fine adventures and fun times over the last year. While I am not all fat all the time currently, I could see that being a possibility in the future except for the cross bike that serves as my road bike, while the Farley can tackle most things I throw at it actual road riding is about the only thing it doesn't do well.
As a matter of fact Farley and I got along so swimmingly over the last year that I got him a playmate, just don't tell Farley just yet. I haven't quite fully introduced them just yet and have kept them separated to prevent any fights before I can sit down and explain to Farley that he an Pugsley are very different bikes who will have very different purposes. Underneath that rough and tumble, corpulent outer appearance; once you get to know you discover that Farley is just a sensitive guy struggling to live down the reputation his portly siblings before him have left with those unwilling to accept him with an open mind.