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Fara F/AR review

1 Aug 2022

An all-round bike that is as capable as it is good looking

Cyclist Rating: 
Versatile design, Good perceived build quality, Competitive price, High attention to detail
Not as comfortable as other designs in the category

The Fara F/AR is a modern all-road bike that offers a versatile feature set at a competitive price.

It is a road bike at heart, but features like its 38mm tyre clearance mean the bike has enough capability to make it suitable for gentle off-road riding too.

In all areas the F/AR seems well-executed and nicely thought out. It is beautifully finished and fundamentally it is based on simple, well-proven design.

Given its oversize tube dimensions the F/AR isn’t as inherently comfortable as other bikes in the genre like the Cannondale Synapse, but there is a lot of scope in the finishing components to introduce comfort.

Indeed, Fara offers a build configurator that lets the customer spec the bike to suit their individual needs. Builds tend to be achieved at a competitive price too, as Fara sells direct to consumer.

Fara the brand

Fara Cycling is a Norwegian brand that was founded in 2016 by Jeff Webb. In a previous life, the Canadian-born Oslo local was a pro rider, but after he called time on racing he went on to forge a career in the sporting goods industry.

‘During that time I was able to get familiar with how the bike industry works and got to spend a lot of time with Gerard Vroomen, who was running Cervélo with Phil White at the time,’ he says.

‘Their philosophy of form following function was something I appreciated. Having lived in Norway for 25 years it resonated with me on a cultural level too as Nordic design is innovative but simple in the same way. So it became my primary source of inspiration for how Fara should work and what it should do.’

Webb says Fara has already developed beyond what he imagined it would be but it is evident that those original principles still guide the brand. It offers a limited, high-end four-bike range, but users have the option of a build configurator to tune the bikes to suit their needs.

The business is also direct-to-consumer in a similar way to Canyon, so despite the premium look and feel of the bikes their retail prices are actually competitive.

Fara F/AR frameset

The F/AR is essentially the brand’s most important model due to its versatility.

‘The AR – meaning All Road – is inspired by the riding we do in and around Oslo,’ says Webb. ‘All rides we go on here mix tarmac with gravel and forest trails.

‘So the bike bridges the gap between our F/RD race bike to our F/GR gravel bike, and is what everyone should be riding if they aren’t a pro.’

That means it is designed to work with 32-35mm tyres, but can take up to 38mm. It has fairly relaxed handling characteristics and an easy ride position, but pairs that with a sturdy, sleek frameset, meaning that it should be able to handle fast group riding to light gravel bikepacking and anything in between.

Notably Fara has worked with luggage maker Roswheel and mounting hardware specialists Fidlock to develop custom bike bags that fit each frame size and attach via magnets that are hidden in the frame’s construction.

Fully laden the bike looks remarkably neat and that impression carries through in several other areas too.

You wouldn’t necessarily realise it, but luggage mounts aside the bike has four bottle cage mounts, hidden mounts for Fara’s custom mudguards and extra carrying capacity on the fork legs via a series of neat grub screws.

The attention to detail goes ever further. Every cage bolt is monogrammed, as is the chainstay protector, stem top cap, thru-axles and seatpost.

The paint finish looks luscious and flawless – apparently Fara’s painter in Taiwan lives around the corner from their paint supplier – and the bike ships with a matching set of cages and bottles too.

The customer even gets a tool roll with spares and useful assembly tools. The F/AR as a total package is excellently well-thought out.

‘In my previous career I was able to identify the problems that exist in the bike industry, from the brand business model right through to product design, so I started Fara to address them,’ says Webb.

Fara F/AR build

Given that Fara’s build configurator makes it so easy to tune each model to the individual, an assessment of this particular spec isn't as pertinent as it would be if it was a set choice.

Nonetheless, the configurator is limited to a few options for each component, so this F/AR setup is likely to be an option that is fairly commonly chosen, particularly considering how capable the combination of parts add up to be.

SRAM’s Force eTap AXS groupset is essentially ideal for a frameset of the F/AR’s remit. The drivetrain’s 46/33, 10-33 setup is road-oriented, in that it gives good top end range and closely-stepped gears, but achieving a 1:1 ratio at the bottom end means that I didn’t feel over-geared off-road.

The Orbit fluid damper in the Force rear derailleur provided excellent chain retention over rough ground too.

The versatility of the F/AR’s frameset design mean that wheels and tyres have the opportunity to have a disproportionately large effect on the characteristics of the bike as a whole.

The Fulcrum Airbeat 400 wheels were a good choice – they are OEM only, meaning they aren’t available aftermarket, and their feature set is well thought out enough to offer the rider different possibilities in tyre choice.

The wheels seem well built and wide enough to support larger-volume tyres (like the specced 35mm Panaracer GravelKings) well enough to ride off-road on.

Despite that, their claimed 1,640g overall weight is reasonable and their 40mm rim depth is deep enough to offer a promise of aerodynamic efficiency should the user opt to set the F/AR up in a more exclusive road guise with 28mm tyres.

The cockpit was an eclectic mix of a 100mm 3T Apto stem and Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem aero bars.

The reversed bolts attaching the Apto’s faceplate make for a sleek looking stem but the ergonomics of the design leave a bit to be desired – they are tricky to access with a conventional Allen key and even more of a pain to torque correctly with most common torque wrenches.

The ergonomics of Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem bars however was a different story – the drops are compact and the flattened tops easy and comfortable to hold despite not being taped.

Fara F/AR geometry and sizing

The F/AR’s geometry is a good example of contemporary all-road design.

Stack and reach are kept within the realms of traditional endurance bike territory, creating an easy to maintain ride position.

Rear centre has been lengthened a touch over a pure road bike to create extra tyre clearance but hasn’t been pushed too far back.

The head tube angle has been slackened a touch too. That has been balanced though with extra fork offset to ensure trail doesn’t get too long, which would put the handling in danger of becoming too sloppy.

All in all, the F/AR’s geometry seems pretty spot-on for a bike that’ll spend a lot of time on the road, but occasionally venture off it too.

Fara offers just four sizes in the F/AR, but its build configurator should allow component choices to be made that let those four sizes offer something suitable for the vast majority of riders.

Riding the Fara F/AR

The F/AR has been very nicely executed in a practical sense and backs that up in performance terms too.

Its design engenders a real sense of freedom out on a ride. Given that in a loose sense it is a road bike first and foremost, I found I could happily spend all my time aboard it on tarmac, yet should the opportunity present itself take on a stretch of bridleway mid-way through a route, the F/AR could handle it with equal proficiency.

I haven’t come across too many bikes that generate that type of feeling yet it’s something bike designers should strive to achieve, for as a rider it is liberating.

One such bike that provokes a similar sense is the latest Cannondale Synapse, and just like that bike the Fara F/AR is a good example of how the former endurance bike genre is developing to hold ground against advancing other disciplines.

The F/AR has more of a race bike feel of rigidity than other bikes in its genre, but that isn’t surprising really given the dimensions of the frameset. Its clean Nordic design and classic proportions obscure the fact that nearly every tube and junction is oversized.

Still, such efficiency isn’t often a bad thing, and Fara has tempered it properly in its finishing component choices, such as the slim 27.2mm seat post and 35mm Panaracer GravelKing slick tyres.

Fara F/AR verdict

I’m left with the impression that Fara’s F/AR is an ideal example of exactly what should be on the market right now, in both a practical and performance sense. The brand gives the customer everything they need, while the bike gives the rider everything they want.

Fara Cycling might be lesser known name in the UK right now, but with an offering like this, I can’t see it staying under the radar for long.

Pick of the Kit

Assos Mille GTC C2 jersey

Assos says it has blended features from its Trail XC mountain bike collection together with some from its road gear to form the GTC range, befitting gravel’s mongrel characteristics as a riding discipline.

The GTC jersey is Assos’ take on the technical t-shirt concept prevalent in gravel. I like its cut, which is loose without being baggy and the body fabric feels light and airy.

That said it seems robust and well-made too because it has consistently shrugged off the worst the overgrown bridleways of my local rides could throw at it. I wish my scraped and itchy forearms and calves could cope even half as well in the same conditions.

Fara F/AR alternatives

Fara F/RD

Having been a bike racer, Fara founder Jeff Webb knows a thing or two about what a fast bike needs.

The F/RD starts at £3,700 depending on spec and features kamm-tail tube profiles, fully integrated cables but 32mm tyre clearance, because not every day is race day.

Fara F/GR

Thanks to features like 50mm x 700c tyre clearance, the F/GR is designed to tackle terrain that the F/AR would be out of its depth on.

Starting at £3,100, the F/GR relies on a similarly simple but ingenious frame design to the F/AR to keep it competitively light for such a capable bike.

Fara F/AR Spec

Price from E3,200
Brand Fara
Frame F/AR
Fork F/AR
Weight 8.1kg (Large)
Sizes available S, M, L, XL
Headset Token S-Box
Levers SRAM Force eTap AXS
Brakes SRAM Force AXS
Front derailleur SRAM Force eTap AXS
Rear derailleur SRAM Force eTap AXS
Crankset SRAM Force AXS, 46/33t
Bottom bracket SRAM DUB BB386 EVO
Cassette  SRAM Force AXS, 10-36t
Chain SRAM Force AXS
Wheels  Fulcrum Airbeat 400 DB
Tyres Panaracer GravelKing 35mm
Bars Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem, 42cm
Stem 3t Apto, 100mm
Seatpost Fara carbon, 27.2mm
Saddle Fizik Tempo Argo R3

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Photos: Lizzie Crabb