Attention to detail, fast-friendly geometry and some neat design ideas make this a good outside choice for your next do-it-all bike
Beautiful aesthetic with stunning paint finish
Fast rolling with stable handling
Mounts on the frame are almost invisible
It's a little heavy
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You'd be forgiven for not having heard of Fara Cycling. It's a Norwegian brand, founded in 2016 by Canada-born Norwegian, Jeff Webb, a former pro cyclist who now resides in Oslo. Like German megabrand Canyon, Fara sells direct to consumers, intentionally stripping retailers out of the supply chain in order to reduce costs, with the aim of passing those savings onto its customers.
The brand runs an experience centre at its headquarters in Oslo, where customers can come and see, test and configure a bike themselves. However, an online bike builder provides the same functionality, offering convenient shopping for those not within reach of the Norwegian capital.
Three models make up the Fara Cycling range: The F/Road, the F/All-Road, and the F/Gravel; no prizes for guessing which does what. This summer, I had the opportunity to ride the F/All-Road bike, complete with SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset and Fulcrum Airbeat 400 DB wheels.
According to Webb, this bike represents the brand's most important model. He says it was borne out of Oslo's topography and from the riding that he does most. In the expanses of countryside north of Oslo, Webb tells me there's a richness of forest tracks and gravel riding, but that to get there, you need to spend a good amount of time on the tarmac.
Not many of us are lucky enough to be able to head out of the door and avoid roads for an entire ride, so this is likely a familiar picture for many. It certainly is for myself and most people I speak to. Unsurprisingly then, this is the bike that Webb believes most people should own, thanks to its versatility.
Given that 'all-road' as a category is growing faster than any other, it's clear that Webb's not alone in this opinion. The F/All-Road is one of many new models in this interim between road and gravel. Competitors include the BMC Roadmachine X, the Cervelo Caledonia 5 and even the Trek Domane, so it faces stiff competition, but Fara has given the F/All-Road a few tricks to help it stand out from the crowd and potentially earn its spot among the best gravel bikes.
Design and specifications
Geometry-wise, the F/All-Road leans more toward that of a road bike. Its stack is shorter than both the Specialized Roubaix and the Trek Domane SLR, while the 72-degree head angle and 73-degree seat angle are identical to those found on the Domane SLR. Admittedly, both of those bikes have steered more towards the all-road space in recent years, but are still road bikes at their core.
The frame of the F/All-Road is constructed using oversized carbon fibre tubes that appear fairly simplistic in their shape. There's no dramatic aero truncating or compliance-boosting trickery, and this is a reminder of Webb's intentions to focus on simplicity, minimalism and functionality, as is often found in Nordic design.
The result is a seriously classy aesthetic, boosted by the stunning Fjord Green finish. However, with oversized tubes comes an increase in the stiffness of the ride, so at the rear, outward-curving seatstays help to offset the stiffness and ensure it doesn't translate to harsh ride quality.
Despite its road-like geometry, the F/All-Road's ability to handle 38mm tyres and the countless mounting points for bottles, bags and fenders give clues as to what it likes to get up to at the weekend. In total there are 27 mounting points comprising three bottle cage mounts on the seat tube and down tube, various mudguard mounts, as well as neatly hidden mounting points for Fara's own collection of proprietary bikepacking bags on the frame, fork and seatpost.
For these, Fara worked with luggage maker Roswheel and mounting hardware brand Fidlock to create a clever selection of mounts that connect your Roswheel bags to the frame without needing straps. Each of these points is incredibly well hidden and easily missed, and with the bags mounted, the whole thing looks sleek and refined. It should also mean less wear to the paintwork, which I'll say again, is stunning.
In fact, throughout the entire bike, Fara's attention to detail was really apparent. From the hidden mounts mentioned above to the lightweight integrated stem top cap, the branded bottle cage bolts or the minimalist saddle clamp, it's evident that a lot of care was taken in designing the F/All-Road. If you told me Webb was a weight weenie at heart, I wouldn't be surprised.
My test model was equipped with Fulcrum Airbeat 400 DB wheels, SRAM Force eTap AXS, Fizik Tempo Argo addle, and a 3T alloy bar and stem. The Force groupset is currently not available on the brand's configurator, but in this guise, the price is around €5,300, which is around £4,600 or $5,300 based on today's exchange rates. The starting price for this frame comes with Ultegra mechanical and Fulcrum Rapid Red wheels, at €4,198 (£3,600 / $4200).
One of the benefits of the Fara model is that you would spec your own bike to be built how you like it. For example, the 3T cockpit fitted to this test bike routed the cables externally past the stem and into the head tube via the top of the headset. I prefer this as it makes adjustment and maintenance much easier, but if you wanted the cleaner look of integrated cables, you can spec the bike with a one-piece cockpit from Black Inc.
The geometry and road handlebars were fairly quick to confirm that the F/All-Road is 'all road' rather than 'off road' in its nature, but that doesn't mean it was a clattering ride whenever I veered off the tarmac.
The fitted 35mm tyres are far from the widest out there, but the available clearance of 38mm is on par with many of the all-road bikes on the market today, and plenty wide enough to handle light gravel, if not a little bit more.
Whilst it wasn't necessarily in its element, the F/All-Road never threw a tantrum when it was being manhandled over rocks and roots on my local trails which are certainly more than 'light' gravel. Of course, if the sort of terrain you wish to play on is more gnar than tar, then the F/Gravel is probably the bike you'll look to for the extra tyre clearance (50mm) and slacker angles, but given the wider 'all road' category is aiming to be a one-bike solution, it's nice to know that it can hold its own when the going does get rough.
With that in mind, I believe that one of the requirements of an all-road bike is its ability to transform between the various disciplines and continue to shine, rather than simply being able to survive them all. I will accept that to achieve this, it may need a change in tyres and perhaps even gear ratios, so I will regularly test bikes of this nature in various different guises, with different sets of pedals, different tyres, and even different wheels.
To this end, I swapped out the Panaracer GravelKing tyres for a pair of S-Works Turbo RapidAir tubeless road tyres and set out for a few days of riding on smoother surfaces. My immediate feeling was that the F/All-Road was a seriously comfortable mile-munching endurance bike. It felt fast and certainly felt at home.
It doesn't boast the aerodynamic shapes or snappy handling of a pure race bike, but that's not the point. For a long day in the saddle, its comfortable geometry, longer wheelbase and more relaxed angles make it stable, secure, comfortable and easy to get along with. If you want to turn the long day into multiple days, then those bikepacking bags will be waiting for their time to shine.
The one thing I did notice was that, despite the few weight-weenie concessions in the build, it still wasn't particularly light, weighing in at a little more than 8.5kg. I attributed this mostly to the Force eTap groupset, the Fulcrum wheels and the 35c tyres, but thankfully the power transfer was sufficient enough such that it didn't feel sluggish on acceleration, and once there it held its speed well.
The bike's handling provided nothing but positive experiences too. On straight roads, the endurance-road geometry led to a stable ride that felt unwavering even in the wind. However, a couple of descents of the twisting lower slopes of Cheddar Gorge proved that the F/All-Road could still carve tight bends when asked, leaving me feeling just as confident on the more recently released - and considerably more expensive - Trek Domane SLR.
The Fara F/All-Road is an excellent bike that offers a ride quality to match how good it looks. On the road, its performance is indistinguishable from road-only bikes much higher in price, and while it does have its limits off-road, it can handle the rough stuff with enough confidence to add freedom to your route planning and allow spontaneous detours when you're feeling adventurous.
You can configure your own at Fara Cycling.
|Design and aesthetics
|Some impressive design considerations and a beautiful finish leave me with no complaints
|SRAM Force eTap is great, if a little weighty - a problem that also befalls the Fulcrum Airbeat 400 wheels. The backwards bolts on the 3T stem are also annoying, but on the whole, everything works together well without any glaring errors.
|Great ride quality, if a little harsher than the damped Roubaix and Domane. It can handle road and off-road well though, and that's what it's designed to do.
|On paper, at over 8.5kg, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's portly, but that really doesn't translate to a sluggish ride
|£4,600 is still a significant sum, but compared to the Domane SL 7 at £6,600 and the Canyon Endurace CF SL 8 at £4,799 (both with Force eTap), it represents good value. Though the Canyon does come with a power meter.
|Row 5 - Cell 1
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