A few years ago, a book about chopping, stacking, and drying wood became a global bestseller. It was written by Norwegian Lars Mytting. Titled Norwegian Wood, it explored his country’s attachment to all things arboreal. Inspiring a legion of armchair choppers, it did so not because each suddenly acquired a log burner, but because human beings have a primordial attachment to fire. It’s also in our genes to build a log pile that’s bigger and better than the one our neighbour has, apparently.
Timber aside, it follows that Norwegians might also have a thing or two to teach us about bike touring as well. Theirs is a country of fewer than six million people but spread over an area 15 times the size of Wales. That’s a lot of forest, fjord, moss, trolls, back-country trails and fishing villages to explore. Being near both the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, it’s a lot of inclement weather to go with it, too.
And so to Oslo bike company Fara and their new F/AR - Fara All Road. They called their 18-month development work on the F/AR the “Oslo Project” because this is a bike designed to get you out into the city’s lanes or the surrounding Nordmarka forest with speed and keep you there in comfort.
“It’s the ultimate weapon for Norway,” says Fara’s Paul Ogier. “We have a lot of slick, well-kept gravel roads and the cycling spirit here in Norway is that you ride a couple of kilometres on tarmac and you’re lost in the forest.”
In essence, the F/AR is a fast-rolling machine that can happily handle some rough stuff. It’s also eye-catching in that it arrives with fully compatible bike bags. Clearly designed for bikepacking, adventure racing, lightweight touring and even commuting, the folk at Fara collaborated with bike bag company Roswheel to come up with specific luggage that attaches to the bike without the need for messy straps and fiddly Velcro.
Three bags – frame, bar and saddle – give 30 litres of storage and they all clip into place with integrated Fidlock magnetic mounts rather than conventional straps.
Anyone who has used a bike bag in anger will know that half the battle is getting the bloody things on and off the bike to reach that small but essential item that has ensconced itself in your spare socks. It’s a wonder nobody had thought of this before, but apparently, they hadn’t.
Fancy a baggage-free road ride? The bag mounts are easily removed to keep the F/AR looking right at home on the tarmac too. Stripped down and ready to rumble, this is one handsome beast.
Related: Best Endurance Bikes
That fuss-free aesthetic continues with internal cable routing through the headset and informs the design of the rest of the bike. The seatpost and bottom bracket (27.2mm and BB386 respectively, if you must know) were chosen to be as compatible as possible with various options. Fara designed their own mudguards that will fit 35mm slicks, saving the future user hours of fiddling around with mysterious rubbing noises.
Fara says the F/AR is “the ideal bike for mixed surface adventures”, which, from a British perspective, describes most rides on shoddy country lanes. In fact, it describes most rides, whether you head off-road or not. The stated space for 32mm studded tyres reminds us that in the depths of a dark Scandinavian winter, the same rules apply. However, it’s the Norwegian summer that really inspires the F/AR; its pale pastel skies and long evenings with ample light for the members of this five-year-old bike company to spend “countless hours outside camping in a tent, brainstorming.”
Shop all new Fara F/AR
British asphalt and Norwegian snow aside, the F/AR is designed primarily to run on gravel. However, it sits on the roady side of the gravel bike spectrum, working best with 32mm or 35mm tyres on 700c rims, though you can go up to 38mm on slicks. The key, Fara say, is their curved seat stay shape that increases tolerance for wide tyres and vertical compliance without sacrificing lateral stiffness. In other words, it handles like your road bike and you can ride it off-road. The endurance side of things is accounted for with mounts for four bottle cages and a lightweight rack – although, with it being a carbon frame, don’t go loading it up with too many neatly cut spruce logs.
“We have a strong outdoor community. During those long summer nights, everybody goes out walking in the woods, swimming in the lakes, eating together outside, from the kids in the nursery to the folk in the retirement homes,” says Ogier. “Our camping heritage is really strong too; people will even go out and sleep in a hammock just a few hundred metres away from their house.”
The F/AR is a tool for such micro-adventures. And macro adventures. Fara definitely seems of the opinion that the best bike for any kind of occasion is the one that doesn’t stop you adventuring. It gives you time to explore. To stop and make camp. To brew up a cup of coffee. Or just to dash in and out during your lunch break without hassle because we don’t all live like an Instagram influencer. In making the F/AR, Fara – whose name is derived from the old Norse ‘at fara’, meaning to venture – appear to have captured that other essential human characteristic. We are all curious wanderers, born to roam. Just like they did with the wood chopping, the Norwegians will make adventurers of us all.
The Fara F/AR is available to pre-order here