We reached out to our amigos at Sarma and asked if I could come and ride their new Shaman Carbon Fat-Bike. I got a reply from the co-founder of Sarma’s US division, Steve Chaffee, with a big ole’ red carpet attached. Steve asked me where, I’d like to ride and I said that I’ve always loved the trails at Fort Custer Recreation Area, so that’s where we met on an absolutely perfect spring morning in early June. Steve and the other founder of their new venture, Scott Sikkema met me at the Mountain Bike Trail-Head and handed me the final prototype of their brand new, all carbon, Shaman fat-bike, with Sarma 80mm carbon rims. There was also a Sarma HoBoy Carbon Fork and an XXI drivetrain (Schwing!). The bike as tested, and photographed, weighed 22.8 lbs and the MSRP is $5,900 usd.
We couldn’t have chosen a better day. The trails were nice and tacky. The sky was clear and azure blue. It was about 72 degrees with a stiff enough breeze to keep the mosquitos at bay, when we geared up and headed out on the Red Loop with me riding the Shaman. The first section of the red loop is called ‘the trenches’. It’s a section of trail that utilizes old trenches that were used for training, back when all of Fort Custer was an Army Base. It’s a section of trail that I dream about. I’ve ridden it literally, fiddy or sixty times over the last few decades. The first thing that I noticed was the Shaman’s slacker head tube and the really light front end. Not too far past the trenches, there’s a flowy feature that’s in a nice, open, sunny, meadow, so we stopped and I handed the bike off to Steve so I could get some shots of him riding the new whip.
I jumped back on the Shaman and we zoomed up and down the swoopy singletrack to a section that’s called Granny’s Garden. The drops and rollers in this section had me hooting and hollering as the Shaman lived up to its name, with magical handling and a rock solid feel all wrapped in that featherweight carbon package. There’s a hand full of log overs on the red loop. There’s one big one that has been there for a really long time. When we hit the big one, the Shaman manualed up the face with just the slightest amount of effort that would normally just unweight the front tire of a fat-bike. The Shaman has a light feel that makes it very quick to accelerate. We stopped and grabbed some glamour shots of the bike at the bottom of the downhill that takes you to a road crossing on the way to the lake. The Shaman is a very sharp looking machine. From the rims to the frame and fork, the graphics accentuate the jet fighter lines of this beautifully designed fat-bike. But bikes are meant to be ridden, so we mounted up again and hit another old familiar section of the red trail that took us along the shore of a lake. There were several rooty twisting switchbacks, both down and uphill, where the Shaman’s spot-on handling made me giggle like a kid! I found the Shaman to be nimble and very predictable in the technical sections. This was near the half way point in the ride and I was starting to click with the Shaman.
Near the end of the loop, there’s another section of trenches, that are every bit as fun as the first section that I talked about, at the beginning of the article. Now, that I had some time to get acquainted with the Shaman, I did my best to tear it around the sculpted berms, whoops and roller coaster trail features and , in return, the Shaman provided me with an ear to ear, fat-bike grin. I was able to get Scott to take the Shaman down a long skinny log ride and felt good about getting shots of both Steve and Scott riding their new baby!
The Shaman is Bluto compatible and is set up with a 170mm rear end. The largest tire that the shaman will accept is 4.3 inches. Complete specs are available at – www.sarmabikes.com
After meeting Scott and Steve and getting to ride the Shaman on a real singletrack shake-down, I can, safely say, that Sarma is going to be a major player in the new Fat-Carbon ~ Quiver-Killer category.