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.
“170mm rear end. The largest tire that the shaman will accept is 4.3 inches” I’m out.
Looks like an awesome bike though and I am sure it’s fast, would love to ride it for a day…But for this kind of money we have choices now, and said choices let me run the biggest bad-est fat tire combo there is.
With as much as these things are starting to cost now, not everyone can afford 2 of them, so companies (in my humble opinion) need to make sure their offering can handle the largest wheel/tire combo.
Of course if you don’t live in snow country, then not a deal breaker and like I said, sharp looking bike and I’m sure it’s a blast to ride.
You also need to consider the 29er plus platform…you just know there will be 3.3-3.5 29er tires coming out soon, and people will want them. If you can’t fit that combo on the bike, then I’m really out….I assume this will take the “standard” 29er plus with the 3.0 knard, but if it can’t handle 100 rims with 4.8 tires, it would stand to reason it can’t handle anything larger than a 3.0 29er tire.
Gawd I hate saying all that, because this thing looks awesome. I just don’t understand why manufacturer’s are still doing the 4.3 max wide tire thingy.
Um No! look at the facts on the website. 4.7 tire on 80mm rims. all but bud and lou. most tires are floating around the 4.5 mark now. it comes as a 29+ too. good luck
Sarma’s new Aluminum Fat-bike has a 190 rear end and is made to fit the largest tires.
Bruce, “All but Bud & Lou” are exactly the big tires I am talking about. Article itself says it won’t fit them. So I’m not sure what facts I got wrong. Also, Bud and Lou are all I run anymore, year round, so like I said, I’m out.
If this bike works for you that’s great. Won’t work for me, and I am not sure why anyone would buy a fatbike they can’t put fattest tires on. But also like I said, this looks like an awesome machine, and if your budget allows for a second or third fat bike and you don’t care about Bud’s and Lou’s then this would be a great choice. I do care, I don’t even own any 4” tires anymore. Gimme me fat, or give me death! (Is that how that goes?)
Regarding tire clearance:
When you say:’room for 4.3″ tires’ does that mean there is room for a tire rim combo that measures 110mm at the widest point and still have some clearance?
That’s a Nate or even a BFL on a 100mm rim.
Jeff, although I personally agree with wanting to run the biggest tires, I DO understand why they might not offer it.
It is impossible to make a bike that excels in every aspect and offers every possibility.
This bike has 445 mm chainstays, explaining the part about the easy manuals.
I’m not sure it’s possble to make a bike with such short chainstays and still have clearance for 5″ tires without compromising somewhere else, like drive train options, or a kinked seattube reducing saddle drop, or super wide stance width, or….
The point being, you can make a bike compatible with all kinds of options(wide tires, triple chainrings, full length seat tube, but then you will have to compromise somewhere else.
For me personally, I want to ride in the winter, in as many places as possible, so wide tires are a must. I really want short stays too, to be able to lift the front up onto obstacles.
I am willing to go with a 1x drivetrain with a small ring though, and run a dropper post so don’t need much seatpost insertion. Everyone has different requirements.
Oops misread Surly’s chart. BFL on 100 mm is 114 mm wide.
Cool looking bike…but fiddy?