Are bikepacking and gravel racing mutually exclusive or can the Fara F/All-Road combine the best of both worlds? And can an all-road bike even be used for gravel racing? We let the € 8,298 do-it-all bike from Norway go up against proven gravel race bikes to answer these questions.
This bike was reviewed as part of our 2023 gravel race bike shootout. You’ll find a comprehensive group test and test field overview here: Which is the best gravel race bike of 2023? 9 gravel race bikes in review
Not everyone will be familiar with the Scandinavian brand, but the Norwegian company are known for their Nordic take on drop bar bike design. Thanks to their direct-to-consumer sales model, Fara Cycling can customise each bike on request. Instead of trying to do it all, they have narrowed their focus to a limited range: in addition to the F/All-Road on test, they’ve got just three other models in their portfolio – one road bike and two gravel bikes. This includes the F/Gravel-R, a dedicated gravel race bike, which makes you wonder why the Norwegian brand sent us an all-road bike for this group test. The answer can be found when you look at the age of the F/Gravel-R model. Yeah, better keep all the cobwebs just where they are. Yet, the elephant in the room remains the question of whether an all-road bike can keep up with full-blown gravel race bikes? But maybe a do-it-all bike, which the F/All-Road is designed to be, is predestined for gravel races? Thanks to the tailor-made bikepacking bags, you also get a capable adventure bike. So, might it be the perfect race bike for multi-day events? With less tire clearance and semi-slick tires, it certainly looks less aggressive than any of the other bikes on test, though you’ll be surprised to feel how it rides.
Fara F/All-Road – Scandinavian design through and through?
In a scene dominated by brands such as Specialized and Trek, the Fara F/All-Road is a rare and exceptional bike that you’re unlikely to see two of at the starting line.
The paint job embodies a certain elegance and understatement. The typically Norwegian Fjord Green colour is complemented by minimalist lettering and white accents on the seat tube and fork. Unfortunately, the frame design itself doesn’t follow suit. The head tube and fork look clunky compared to the rest of the bike and don’t quite match with the tapered rear section. The top tube becomes extremely skinny towards the back where it meets the delicate-looking rear triangle. The classic round seat tube, and the thick and straight down tube add yet another element that doesn’t match with the rest.
Fortunately, the Scandinavian influence shines through on the cockpit. Fara’s in-house handlebar blends very neatly with the frame and can easily be replaced with other handlebars and stems thanks to the modular integration system à la FSA. Only the aero elements don’t gel with the otherwise minimal appearance, making the bike look front-heavy.
Fara Cycling F/All-Road
Seatpost FARA Cycling Seatpost w. IBS attachment
Brakes SRAM Red eTap AXS HRD 160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Red eTap AXS 2x12
Stem Fara Cycling Integrated Barstem 80 mm
Handlebar Fara Cycling Integrated Barstem 440 mm
Wheelset Fulcrum Aerbeat 400
Tires Panaracer Gravelking TLC 700 x 35c
Size 49 53 56 59
Weight 7,88 kg
clean look thanks to subtle branding
mounting points on the top tube
In direct comparison to the other bikes, the F/All-Road is somewhat of an outsider, not least due to the tire choice. The Panaracer GravelKing semi-slicks are designed for a mix of road and light gravel or hardpack, and they’re surprisingly grippy on fine gravel and damp ground. However, they quickly reach their limits on rough gravel. Visually, the tan walls suit the overall picture and create a harmonious look. The down tube protector, variety of mounting options for the Fara’s range of in-house bags, additional bottle cage bosses, and integrated cable routing for lights and a dynamo hub make this an ideal all-road bike for long distances and bikepacking. Fittingly, the F/All-Road comes specced with the top-end SRAM RED eTap AXS drivetrain, relying on a 2x setup. Here, too, the shifting performance of the SRAM RED eTap AXS groupset suffered from slow gear changes up front, though it fared better than the SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset on the Argon 18 Dark Matter.
The Fara F/All-Road – Gravel race bike or gravel newbie?
The F/All-Road offers the most relaxed riding position of all the bikes on test. The upright posture is optimised for long distances and results in composed handling on the straights when the bike is loaded up with bags. As the riding position suggests, the ride feel is unobtrusive and relaxed. The handling is neither nervous nor agile. The calm steering provides plenty of straight-line stability and is ideal for long, straight sections. In technical terrain, the sluggish handling can occasionally be a hindrance, especially in slow and difficult terrain that demands a little more agility. It feels hesitant to pull away – surprisingly, it has the lightest wheel/tire combination in the test field. However, the pedalling efficiency is mainly determined by the relaxed riding position and the lack of stiffness around the bottom bracket.
All road through and through – the friend for bikepacking and light gravel.
The comfort is on par with a typical road bike, which isn’t suitable for rough terrain, unfortunately. The frame just doesn’t offer enough flex to compensate for potholes and the like. Ultimately, it offers sufficient compliance for the intended use as an all-road bike, but not for gravel and especially not for long distances off-road. Wider tires, a less stiff wheelset, and a flexible seat post could offer some relief, but the choice is limited due to the maximum tire clearance of just 35 mm. We weren’t impressed with the cable routing on the Fara F/All-Road either. When things get bumpy, the cables rattle against the inside of the frame, which is very annoying. Foam cable sleeves could help to quieten things down.
|Top tube||521 mm||547 mm||564 mm||581 mm|
|Head tube||115 mm||137 mm||166 mm||194 mm|
|Reach||369 mm||377 mm||386 mm||395 mm|
|Stack||530 mm||555 mm||583 mm||610 mm|
Who is the Fara F/All-Road for?
The Fara F/All-Road is ideal for travelling with a lot of luggage, while offering sufficient versatility with regards to the terrain. Together with Fara’s in-house bags, you get a capable long-distance bike. For improved comfort on long distances, we recommend fitting a different seat post with more flex. That said, the F/All-Road is too stiff for gravel, especially when racing, the pedalling efficiency is insufficient, and it hasn’t got enough tire clearance for muddy conditions. But that does not mean that the bike is limited to road riding, as it’s ideal for short off-road excursions.
Tuning tips: a more compliant seat post and an ergonomic cockpit for more comfort
Conclusion on the Fara F/All-Road
The Fara F/All-Road does surprisingly well as an underdog in the test field. It features an upright riding position and slick tires that are capable of more than you might think. Nevertheless, the all-road bike lacks the necessary comfort and agility to keep up with the better off-road bikes. In comparison to thoroughbred gravel race bikes like BMC Kaius 01 ONE, Ridley Kanzo Fast and Specialized S-Works Crux, the F/All-Road falls far behind in terms of handling and that race feeling.
- tires perform better than expected and are perfect for the intended use
- comfortable riding position for long distances
- stylish, high-quality paint job with a minimalist cockpit
- lack of compliance for the intended use and long-haul routes
- cables rattle inside the frame
You can find out more about at faracycling.com
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: Which is the best gravel race bike of 2023? 9 gravel race bikes in review
All bikes in test: Argon 18 Dark Matter | Berria Belador Allroad 8 | BMC Kaius 01 ONE | Canyon Grail CF SLX 9 eTap | Factor OSTRO Gravel | Fara Cycling F/All-Road | Ridley Kanzo Fast | Specialized S-Works Crux | Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap
No, it’s not about perfect race tracks, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along high-speed passages need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret “Smooth tarmac” bikes as follows: Hard efforts at high speeds with a maximum efficient bike on a consistently well-paved road. Effort-joy ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
… also known as bike riding. Broken-up roads in the hinterland, deadlocked gravel roads, loose surfaces – sometimes muddy, sometimes bone-dry. For this, it takes bikes with super all-round, handling and wearing qualities uphill and downhill. Effort-joy ratio: 50:50↩
If you want to use your bike almost every day, you usually do not need an extremely tuned racing machine. Solid components, which are able to cope with the rigours of continuous usage in any kind of weather, are part of the basic equipment. At the same time, the bike should have practicable details: integrated fenders/assembly options, luggage racks/attachment points and a light system or at least the option of installing bike lights. The position on the bike should be rather relaxed, the overall comfort high, so that the Afterwork Ride becomes a cure and not a curse. Effort-joy ratio: 30:70↩
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Words: Calvin Zajac Photos: Robin Schmitt, Jan Richter