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The Fara Cycling F/AR is an absolute cracker – it feels like a race bike on the road, but can transfer that performance to hardpacked tracks and trails through its ability to swallow 38mm tyres. The ride quality is awesome, as is the handling, and for a bike shod with rubber that big, and a fully electronic groupset, it is impressively light too.
The AR part of F/AR stands for All-Road, and it's one very capable machine. It doesn't quite make the full jump to gravel (Fara has a range of bikes for that), but it does give you the flexibility to explore some of those byways you've seen out the corner of your eye as you are riding along. And on the asphalt sections in between, it feels pure roadie.
With the inclusion of hydraulic disc brakes and/or fully wireless electronic groupsets, it's no secret that road bikes have got heavier over the years. Throw in the wide tyres fitted here compared with a more typical 25mm, and I was expecting the F/AR to tip the scales north of 9kg, rather than the rather svelte 8.11kg it registered on our scales.
This is one of the biggest defining things about how the Fara rides: it's light enough to be fun on the road, behaving just like a responsive race bike that thrives on being ridden hard.
Acceleration is brisk, not only because of the lack of weight, but also thanks to the stiffness from the full carbon fibre frame, with the large bottom bracket shell and compact rear triangle keeping things tight. It doesn't feel like the Fara is wasting any of the power you are putting through the pedals.
This helps on the climbs, and it's a quick bike on the flat too. The gear ratios of the SRAM groupset adds to the efficiency and the relatively deep wheels bring a little aero advantage.
The geometry is similar to that found on an endurance road bike, with a front end that is balanced between quick handling for fun in the bends and on descents, and enough stability and poise that it inspires confidence on rough roads or riding on loose surfaces.
I spent the majority of the test period riding the F/AR on the road, both main and country lanes, and it was an absolute joy. I like to have my tyres pumped up hard and even with the 35mm Panaracer GravelKings feeling firm rolling along the tarmac, the Fara gives a great ride feel.
Alongside the tautness of the frame there is just a bit of forgiveness coming from the carbon lay-up, enough to take the edge off the road surface without reducing feedback to your contact points or taking away the involvement between rider and bike.
The fork matches the quality of the frame too. It's tight enough to cope with heavy cornering and braking loads, with enough flex in the legs to remove the chatter from ground.
Away from the road, riding hardpacked byways or gentle gravel tracks, the F/AR behaves well. The handling still doesn't become a handful even on a surface with a bit of movement, and with the give in the frame combined with dropping a bit of pressure out of the tyres, the ride remains comfortable.
Adding some weight to the front end, either a bar bag or one fitted to the fork, doesn't really affect the handling that much. The F/AR still feels confident and easy to control.
Chucking a large saddlepack on the rear doesn't affect the way the Fara rides, either, which means you can carry a decent amount of kit for a trip away.
The F/AR is a very capable machine, a great road bike focusing on speed and performance but with the versatility and comfort to take on the route less travelled.
The F/AR's frame is full carbon fibre, although Fara doesn't divulge what grade or from which supplier, like some brands do. It looks and feels great, and I'm a big fan of this red paint job.
Weight-wise, you are looking at sub-1kg depending on size, and you get a five-year warranty too. Neat touches like the metal plate on the chainstay behind the crankset helps protect it from accidental damage, increasing longevity.
The fork comes in at around 410g, depending on the length of the steerer tube.
Designed for big miles, it is no surprise to find the frame adorned with mounting points. You get two bottle cage positions on the down tube and seat tube as usual, plus another set under the down tube for carrying a bottle or tool pack.
On the top tube you'll find mounts for a bento box, plus you get three mounting points on each fork leg, and the F/AR will take full mudguards too.
Fara also sells a range of bikepacking bags designed to suit the F/AR's geometry for a perfect fit. The fact that the F/AR has full internal routing through the frame and fork for any cables, wires or hoses means any bags or other mounted stuff won't impede shifting or braking. It makes it easier to attach everything, too.
In terms of tyre clearance the F/AR range sits between road and gravel, with a decent amount of room to accommodate up to 38mm slicks.
If you want something with tread on for gravel tracks or byways, there are plenty of 35mm gravel or cyclocross tyres on the market which should fit easily enough.
Fara has gone for a BB386 press-fit bottom bracket, 12mm thru-axles and flat mounts for the brake callipers. Their position is set up for 160/140mm rotors.
The seat tube accepts a round seatpost of 27.2mm in diameter which is standard off the shelf stuff, meaning that upgrades are possible. That allows a switch to a suspension seatpost, for instance, if you wanted one for long treks. The post clamp is external, too, none of this hidden widget stuff.
The F/AR is available in four sizes, ranging from 49 to 59cm, with top tube lengths of 521mm through to 581mm.
As I mentioned earlier the geometry is similar to that found on most endurance style road bikes, which means our 56 has a stack and reach of 583mm and 386mm respectively. The head angle is 72 degrees, while the seat angle is a steeper 74 degrees.
The head tube length is 166mm and the top tube 564mm, with an overall wheelbase length of 1,013mm.
The F/AR is available as a frameset only option for £2,519 direct from Fara in Norway. Norway has a free trade agreement with the UK so that's inclusive of VAT, so no hidden charges when it arrives at our shores.
Other than that, the F/AR comes in a couple of 'ready to go' builds using SRAM's eTap AXS groupsets. A Rival AXS build costs £3,329, and the Force AXS is £4,589, or you can spec up a build for yourself from a range of Shimano groupsets as well as SRAM.
You can select wheelsets and various finishing kit, too. The prices on this part of the website at the moment are in euros so you'll just need to work out the exchange rate when you order. Fara is working on getting all of these prices into sterling.
Builds start at around £3,200 with Shimano Ultegra mechanical and an alloy wheelset.
Our build is based around the Force AXS eTap groupset (we tested the Wide version here), with a 46/33-tooth chainset and a 10-36 12-speed cassette.
I like the eTap groupsets, especially the efficiency achieved by the use of the smaller chainrings and wide-ranging cassette.
With the largest chainring being just 46T, for the majority of riding I barely needed to use the smaller one. Going down to 10T for the smallest sprocket on the cassette means you still have plenty of top-end gear to push for the downhills, and the middle part of the cassette is still reasonably close in ratio sizes, so cadence isn't affected.
Things get a bit 'gappier' at the higher end of the cassette, but as these gears are mostly used for climbing it isn't a big deal.
The gear shifts are crisp and quick, and with just one button on each shifter the chances of a mis-shift are remote.
Should you ever need to touch anything, setting up the gearshifts and mechs is simple thanks to it being a fully wireless system. SRAM's app is good at getting everything talking to each other and you can set up the shifter button to work how you want it to.
The brakes also deliver top-notch performance, with the combination of SRAM's hydraulic callipers and 160mm Paceline rotors offering all the power you'll need and plenty of modulation, with plenty of bite at the lever.
It's all the kind of kit you'd expect on a bike of this price and quality, although, as I said, you can spec it exactly how you want it.
This bike is fitted with a set of Fulcrum's Airbeat 400 wheels, an OEM wheelset only available to manufacturers, and there is a lot to like here: 40mm-deep carbon fibre rims that measure 28mm externally, 21mm internally.
Fulcrum claims a weight of 1,640g which is decent for wheels of this depth.
With 24 spokes front and rear paired to aluminium alloy hubs, the build is strong, and I found them to be durable on and off the road.
The majority of the test period was dry, so they didn't see a huge amount of wet weather, but the bearings are still running smoothly and quietly.
There is a weight limit of 120kg which includes you and your bike, which is worth thinking about if you are planning on loading the F/AR up with kit.
Wrapped around the Fulcrum wheels are a pair of Panaracer GravelKing Slicks in a 35mm width. They are tubeless compatible.
They scored highly in Hollis's review, as they offer good rolling resistance, plenty of grip and also give a good ride feel.
Their width means they are able to cope with light gravel work too, and for such a lightweight tyre they are pretty robust.
The build we have works out at €5353, which at the time of writing equates to around £4,644.
A similar bike to the F/AR is the Merida Scultura Endurance. I tested the Endurance 7000-e a couple of years back and was really impressed.
The geometry is similar, and it can take full mudguards and has decent tyre clearance at 35mm. It's available in a SRAM Rival eTap build for £3,400 with alloy Fulcrum wheels, which is comparable to the build in Fara's line-up at £3,329.
Canyon updated its Endurace framesets to be able to accept 35mm tyres at the beginning of the year, to bring a bit more versatility. It actually sells an All-Road version of the Endurace CF 7, which comes with a Rival eTap groupset and DT Swiss wheels, for £2,999. It lacks the mounts of the Fara, though, and the tyre clearance is a little tighter. Virtually all sizes are out of stock too.
Cannondale's latest Synapse Carbon range allows for bigger tyres than its predecessor, also up to 35mm for a bit of all-road capability. Most models come with 30mm tyres fitted as standard, but they also get the new SmartSense electronics including lights, app connectivity, and the option of Garmin's rear-facing radar.
When I rode the Synapse 2 RL model I thought its ride quality was brilliant. The SmartSense stuff isn't necessary, though, just adding weight and cost. The 3 L model costs £3,200 and comes with mechanical Shimano 105.
The F/AR gives a stunning ride, both in terms of comfort and the way it behaves thanks to the lay-up of the carbon fibre and the geometry. I enjoyed getting on it every single time I rode it, and having the versatility to explore a byway instead of just riding past is a big bonus to the fun factor.
The F/AR isn't the only all-road bike out there, but it does have more tyre clearance than most, and even with wide boots on it still delivers performance on the road that others struggle to match.
High-speed road bike that can tackle some rough stuff, with an awesome ride quality wherever you take it
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fara Cycling F/AR
Size tested: 56
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Bottom Bracket: BB386 Standard, Token Ninja Light Threaded Cartridge BB, 29mm Bearing ID, DUB
Headset: Token Stainless Steel Bearings, IS52/28.6 I IS 52/40, 25mm adjustable stack spacers provided
Axles: Fara Cycling 12mm Lightweight Switch-Lever through-axles, 12mmx122mm Front, 12mmx162mm Rear, P1.5
Seatpost: Fara Cycling Carbon Fiber 27.2mm Round Seatpost, zero offset, 400mm length
Seatpost Clamp: Fara Cycling SL External 31.8mm Clamp, Stainless M5 Bolt.
Mounts: 2x Bottle cage, 3x Fork Mounts, Fender Mounts F&R, Top-Tube "Bento" Mounts
Wheelset: Fulcrum Rapid Red 900 DB, 700c, 2-Way Fit ready, 1950g
Tyres: Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC 700x35c
Tubes: Schwalbe SV17 28/47 40mm
Shifters/Brakes: SRAM Rival eTap AXS HRD shift-brake system, flat mount
Brake Rotors: SRAM Paceline rotor 160mm centerlock
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Rival eTap AXS Rear Derailleur Max 36t
Front Derailleur: SRAM Rival eTap AXS Front Derailleur
Crankset: SRAM Rival AXS, 46/33t, DUB, 170mm (sizes: 49), 172,5mm (sizes: 53, 56, 59)
Cassette: SRAM Rival XG-1250 12s Cassette, 10-36t, CS-XG-1250
Chain: SRAM Rival 12s Chain, CN-XG-1250
Handlebar: 3T SuperErgo PRO, R2 Reach 89mm, D1 Drop 131,5mm, F1 Drop flare (deg.) 6.0, Width (CC) - 40cm (sizes: 49), 42cm (sizes: 53, 56), 44cm (sizes: 59)
Stem: 3T Apto Stealth, +-6 deg, Length - 80mm (sizes: 49), 100mm (sizes: 53, 56), 110mm (sizes: 59)
Bar Tape: Fara Cycling Silicone handlebar tape, Black
Saddle: Fizik Tempo Argo R5, L 260mm, W150mm, 7x7mm S-Alloy rail
Tools included: Fara Cycling portable Torque Assembly Tool with bits
Hardware: Extra Hardware, Grommets, Grub Screws and Removable Stealth Fender Bridge
1x Plate: For FD removal when using 1x, Paint Matched, Included.
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Fara says, "Take your adventures to a new level with the F/All-Road Force AXS. Featuring the unparalleled versatility of SRAM's wireless AXS technology giving you a plethora of gearing options to tackle any terrain. This bike will quite simply go anywhere you want it to, and you will have a blast getting there! Generous tyre clearance means you can run anything from fast road slicks up to gravel-ready all-rounders to allow for off-road exploration whilst maintaining a quick and responsive ride."
The F/AR has all the performance of a high-quality road bike with big enough tyre clearances to allow you to tackle hardpacked trails and gravel tracks.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
In Fara's online shop it sells two 'ride ready' models, with this SRAM Force eTap model sitting above the Rival eTap offering. Fara also offers you the chance to configure your own build with a range of wheels, groupsets and so on.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
This is a high-end frameset both in terms of build and the ride quality.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: Fara Cycling F/All-Road Carbon Fiber Frame, 960g, Flat Mount 160/140mm disc brake mounts, Full internal cable routing, max 700x38c slick tire clearance.
Fork: Fara Cycling F/All-Road Carbon Fiber Disc Brake Fork, 410g
Mounts: 2x Bottle cage, 3x Fork Mounts, Fender Mounts F&R, Top-Tube "Bento" Mounts
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is pretty much the same as most endurance road bikes, which alongside the wide tyres allows it to work on the road and away from it.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach measurements are also similar to an endurance bike, with a head tube tall enough to give a position that enables you to sit a little more upright while still allowing you to get aero if you want to.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, very comfortable. Not just because of the large volume tyres either, as the frame and fork are forgiving in the places they need to be.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are great where they need to be. There is no flex around the lower half of the frame and bottom bracket shell.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is impressive through the frame, and its relatively low weight helps it feel responsive when accelerating or climbing.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? On the quick side of neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
There is nothing twitchy about the steering on the F/AR. It's quick enough to have some fun in the bends, even on high-speed descents, but still gives plenty of confidence and easy control. It works on all hardpacked surfaces too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Fizik Tempo Argo saddle is a comfortable shape and one I enjoyed using.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Fulcrum wheels and the carbon cranks of the Force chainset offer loads of stiffness when pushing the Fara hard.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I find the ratios used on SRAM's eTap groupsets very efficient, providing a large spread of gears at both ends of the spectrum.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Force eTap groupset offers great shifting and very powerful braking. The ratios selected for this build suit the style of the bike very well.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
An OEM set of wheels that offer a bit of an aero advantage to the F/AR but are also tough enough to withstand a bit of gravel action.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
A quality set of tyres that suit the Fara's efficiency and performance ride qualities.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A selection of kit well suited to the F/AR's performance, although on Fara's website you can choose how you spec your F/AR.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Fara compares well on price against similar bikes. It's around the same sort of cost as a similarly specced Merida Scultura, and only a bit more expensive than Canyon's new Endurace offering.
The Cannondale Synapse will take 35mm tyres, and while it rides well, the SmartSense kit adds weight and makes it expensive with no real benefits.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Fara F/AR has a stunning ride quality and the performance of a high-end road bike, without sacrificing its ability on broken tarmac or hardpacked gravel. It's a clever balance of speed machine and the kind of bike that'll still work on an epic adventure. It also looks great and has a high build quality. It's excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!