Sarma Naran Wheel Build and Initial Ride Impressions


Jim built up our test set of Sarma Naran carbon fat-bike rims with a great selection of parts including 135/170 Northpaw fat-bike hubs donated by Schlick Cycles and Sapim CX-Ray Spokes and bling-worthy red butted spokes donated to this project by the US Distributor of Sapim, KHS Bicycle Parts.

Jim reported that the wheels built up very easily and it was a breeze getting them built straight and true. We went with a symmetrical build but our test set of rims was drilled with 64 holes so that you’d have the option to do an offset build. The double-wall construction makes for a very stiff wheel!

The Northpaw hubs are 135mm front and 170mm rear to fit a wide variety of test bikes. The front hub uses the more versatile “rear disc” standard that allows the front wheel to work on a wide range of forks and the 170mm rear uses a 4 sealed bearings with a 36-tooth pawl system for quick engagement.

Sapim’s CX-Ray spokes are marvels of modern spoke technology and have been used to build most of the lightest wheelsets we’ve done. The bladed design makes them a bit aero but still work with standard J-bend hubs and are among the strongest spokes out there with European Downhill Racers regularly beating the heck out of them and winning. I have a couple of wheelsets with CX-Rays with thousands of miles on them and they still run straight an true!

Northpaw hubs and, if you look closely, you can see the flattened, bladed profile of the Sapim CX-Ray spokes.

Finished wheel weights are among the lightest we’ve recorded and bear in mind that these are 80mm rims!:

  • Front – 1032g
  • Rear – 1145g with Aluminum Freehub Body – 1225g Steel Freehub Body

After the build it was on to tire mounting. Jim being Jim these wheels were destined to be tubeless from the get-go and they set up very easily. After sealing the spoke holes with a band of Gorilla Tape Jim slathered on a helping of Uncle Dick’s Bead Slip on a set of last seasons 45NRTH Escalators, popped in a tube to set the bead, unseated one of the beads to pull out the tube and swap in the tubeless valve, added 4 scoops of Stan’s sealant, aired them back up and they were good to go. First time, easy set up, you should do it if you have these rims!

Here is our space red out tubeless valve stem. You might be wondering what those diamonds are?? Black, reflective 3M Vinyl covering the additional spoke holes in the rim to seal them and give some visibility for nighttime city riding!

Initially, we had a slight leak at the valve stem on one of the wheels. No big deal but you will notice that the only stems we had handy were not threaded all the way down and Jim made a spacer so they would lock on. Anyway, tightening the stem required unseating one of the beads and this is the point of this paragraph, the beads lock in like nobody’s business! SUPER good seal at the bead! So, valve tightened and the bead popped back in, no worries.

One more note about tubeless on these rims, because they set up so nicely, it would be cool if Sarma could include tubeless valves when you order them.

Tatanka test buffalo, errr, mule.

Fancy wheels aren’t much good without a bike to put them on so we traded these carbon hoops in for a set of prototype 70mm rims on our long-term test mule, Schlick Tatanka #2.

Weight savings on the Tatanka between the lighter, carbon rims and the previous set was immediately apparent. All in all we shaved about 400 grams, or close to a pound, and in a great place to save weight to boot!  For comparison to a more popular 80mm-class rim, these carbon Sarmas are about 230g lighter than an 82mm Rolling Darryl so just in rims you’s save over a pound of rolling weight.

Jim has been riding the Sarmas for both fun and for his urban commute. After several rides he reported that the the rims basically disappear and simply do their job. He’s been running between 10 and 15psi depending on where and how he is riding.

I took the Sarmas out for a couple of rides as well. One on the local snow-covered MTB trails where I thought the traction was great at about 10psi. The other ride was a mix of trails and a ride on the wide open but frozen Milwaukee River where several inches of fresh snow covered some old snowmobile tracks. Running about 7 or 8psi the ride was good if a bit slow going and the tubeless setup on the Sarma rims worked great!

We will have a longer term look at the Sarma carbon wheelset as we get more time on them but our initial impressions are very positive and we think they are definitely worth consideration for your lightweight fatbike build.

Thanks for this review set of carbon fatbike wheels go out to the following who provided us with the parts to complete and make whole this excellent wheelset:

  • Sarma – for the Naran Carbon Fatbike Rims
  • Schlick Cycles – for the Northpaw Hubset
  • KHS Bicycle parts – for the Sapim CX-Ray spokes and red nipples
  • Jim Huber – for his wheel building expertise
  • Approximate retail price as built $1320.00

You probably know how it works by now but we are compelled to reming you that, in this case, the parts for this review were supplied free of charge by the above mentioned parties and some of them help support by advertising with us. Regardless, we will give our honest impressions of the test gear throughout our review process.


About Greg Smith 1127 Articles
Greg Smith, known to many site visitors as Sven Hammer, founded in 2011 and the site quickly became the #1 online community for all things Fat. You can currently find Greg outfitting Everyday Cycles; a Milwaukee, WI retailer of gear for fatbikers, adventure cyclists and urban assault riders.