Disclaimer: I need to preface this post by saying that these are my initial impressions of this bike. It’s my first fat bike, so I’m learning of the new and different ride qualities that a fat bike provides. That said; I’m already looking forward to comparing these initial thoughts to those which will come later, a month or two down the road.
Yesterday I picked up my new fat bike, a Trek Farley, which I ordered from Race Pace Bicycles. I took it from the shop, directly to the trail head at Hashawha, my local trail network. Weather conditions were absolutely perfect for a nice spring ride. When I pulled into the parking lot, it was a beautiful 65°F and the sun was beaming (as was the grin on my face). I wasted no time stripping the reflectors from the frame and spokes and socked my Crank Brothers pedals on. After deflating the tires to down around 12 psi, I hopped on and set off down the singletrack.
Having never ridden a fat bike off-road before, the first thing I noticed was how soft the ride was. The tires produced a large hollow sound and the feeling was like that of a dialed in soft tail. It felt like I was floating down the trail. My tires gobbled up roots, rocks and divots as if they weren't even there. I attribute this to the large volume of air and also the wheel's angle of attack. Though it's a 26" wheel, the huge tires make this bike, effectively, a 29er. Though the ride was soft and "floaty", the bike handled like any other nice hard tail. I noticed absolutely no difference in acceleration efforts. I could stomp the pedals and shoot right forward. Getting air felt "normal", as if I were on any other 26" bike. (And I did loft this bike more than a few times!)
The trail conditions were almost perfect. I say almost, because some sections were a little too soft. I felt a little guilty for trudging through the muck, but felt that my fat tires weren't doing as much damage as would regular width tires on most other bikes. And speaking of mud, that is one area where I noticed this bike had no real advantage. Even with all this surface area, I had a hard time getting traction in slimy mud. On the other hand, I noticed that I did not loose traction in any other instance! I climbed some really steep hills, on loose dirt and my rear wheel didn't spin out once. I didn't have to focus on keeping the front wheel down as much either. It was awesome.
The trails in Hashawha were were well kept. A lot of work had been done since the damaging ice storm Westminster experienced a few weeks ago. Several downed trees and limbs had been cleared from the main trails, yet when I reached the more remote trails around the perimeter, it was another story. I had to stop every 100 yards or so, to fight my way through the trail. If I had a small trail saw, I would have enjoyed clearing some of the trails. This made for some hard going.
Unfortunately, my ride ended with a mechanical issue. About a mile from the trail head, I noticed some chain suck. At first, I didn't pay it any mind because my chain and chainrings were caked in mud, and that's usually a key ingredient for chain suck. But when it happened the second and third time, I stopped to look at the teeth on my chainrings. I thought, maybe I had bent one and it was pulling the chain up the backside of the chainring. This wasn't the case. Instead, my rear derailleur had "locked itself". The Sram X9 Type II rear derailleur features a locking feature that locks the cage, removing all spring tension so that you can easily remove your rear wheel. I never had issues removing wheels in the past. I think anyone that rides knows to shift down to the smallest cog before you remove your rear wheel. A little forward pressure on the cage clears it out of the way of the wheel you're removing but hey, what do I know? At any rate, I could not figure out how to "unlock" the cage and so I had to coast and push my way to back to the truck. Oh well, lesson learned!
I am loving this fat bike and cannot wait to get back out on the trails!