12 December, 2015
New for this year is the 27.5" Fat Bike Wheels from Trek. Trek has put the 27.5" wheels on the Farley 9, 9.6 and 9.8. For the 9.8 they even came out with a 27.5" carbon rim. This weekend I had the chance to demo a Large (19.5in) Farley 9.6. The 9.6 is a full carbon frame and fork, with Sram GX1 Drivetrain, 27.5" alloy Jackalope Rims with 3.8" Hodag tires. The complete bike with tubes weight in a 28.6 lbs.
I've been riding a stock medium Salsa Beargrease for the last few months, which I will compare to for sizing and feel (I also owned a Fyxation Blackhawk, '15 Trek Farley, and firs was a Surly Pugsley). Even though the two bikes almost share the same angles in the head tube and seat tube, with the only difference is the Beargrease has a .5 degree steeper head tube the bikes felt very familiar in size. Even through Trek labels this bike as a 19.5" the actual size of the bike is 18.5". The stand over was very similar as well since Trek keeps the top tube lower by extending the seat tube a bit higher with a slight curved bridge for support.
The main reason I wanted to try out this bike is because of the new 27.5" wheelset the Trek uses. I wanted to see if there was much of a difference and if it changed the ride experience. The 3.8" Hodag tires were much narrower than my Dillinger 4 Tires. Since the tires were narrower they didn't have as much height to them. Comparing the the wheels side by side there was only a 5/8" difference between the two. My Beagrease has Whiskey 70mm carbon rims with a 26x4" tire and the Trek has the Jackalope 80mm rims with 27.5x3.8" tires. The Dillinger tires measured 1/2" wider than the Hodag's. When riding the Trek I did notice that the Hodag's were narrower and even though the wheels weren't much different in size, the bigger wheels didn't feel as playful as 26" wheels. I didn't notice any difference in getting over obstacles or rolling speed. The big difference I felt was how the Hodag tires felt. The tires didn't hook up as well in the corners and at 9psi the side wall felt like it caved in a bit. The wheels also gave the bike a longer wheel base also affecting the cornering of this bike especially when doing tight switch backs in the Colorado Mountains.
Photo Credit - Hall Bicycle Company
Like all things Fat Bike, were not exactly sure where the industry is going for sizing standards. We'll have to see if the 27.5" rims will become more popular next winter. My personal opinion is the 26" rims are lighter, allow for a shorter wheelbase and allow for a more playful/responsive bike. I was glad I had the opportunity to try out this bike and the Farley was fun to ride and felt very similar to my Salsa.
Unfortunately I didn't have a camera on me with the ride, it was kind of last minute. I'll see if I can get to a Trek Dealer and get some comparison photos.