Mi nombre esta es Gomez and I ‘m a frequent tire changer. The fat-bike dot com test kitchens are a revolving door of all sorts of fat-bike tires, so I get the opportunity to try out new sneakers all of the time. That’s my excuse for not having gone tubeless, before now….but that’s all about to change. For the next six weeks, I’ll be testing a set of Sarma 100mm Naran Carbon rims laced to buttery smooth Sarma hubs. They came from Sarma USA where the wheels were hand built and meticulously prepared to be Tubeless ready with two narrow strips of tape and precision manufatured tubeless valve assemblies. The wheels came with QR Skewers, but also can be configured for thru-axles. Initially, I’m going to run a Bulldozer and Snowshoe XL and see where that leads me. I don’t foresee running the same tire set-up for very long so I guess we’ll see how tire switch overs work with tubeless set-ups.
Once I knew that I was going to start this test, I emailed a hand full of industry folks that I feel know their way around tubeless fat-bike applications. I hoped to find a common denominator that all or most of them recommended. I asked them two Questions.
1) What kind of tape have you had the best results with for tubeless fat bike setups?
2) What’s your fave sealant?
Here are the results :
Adam Blake – Pro Wrench – Beard Farmer – Boo Bicycles GM – Gorilla Tape with Stans
Mike Curiak – Adventure Cyclist – Pro Wheelbuilder at LaceMine29.com – I’d ask the rim peeps what they recommend. My $.02 is that in order for *any* rim manufacturer to truly boast tubeless ready for their product, they need to supply proper tape with the rims. That said, my basic rules are to avoid gorilla and duct tape. I like 3M 8898–very similar to stans/yellow, but cheaper, available in more widths, and easy to work with. (Mike didn’t recommended a sealant)
Fixie Dave Nice – Pro Wrench – Playboy – Borealis Fat-Bikes – Wide Orange Tape and your favorite sealant.
Greg Matyas – Owns Fatback Bikes & Speedway Cycles in Anchorage – I still prefer both Stan’s tape and sealant. My tests showed it staying liquid longer than the others. I wish the Stan’s tape was a little more stretchy.
Jesse LaLonde – BkB/Twin6 Race Machine – 100% Tubeless 100% of the Time – I’ve always had luck with Stans sealant and Stans tape. Because the fat bike rims are much wider I use gorilla tape. I’ve also used packing tape with success. The stans sealant is the best and doesn’t freeze so I would go that route.
Well that did a little to clear things up……except for, what kind of tape to use…..but Stan’s seems to be in the lead on the sealant question. Sure enough, when we visited Sarma’s booth at Interbike, they had their own rim tape that they’re going to start selling for use with their rims. Their tape is so new that it’s not available in time for me to start the test, so I have two rows of a blue colored tape that came applied from Sarma USA. I checked with Scott (from Sarma) to make sure that the wheels were ready to mount tires and go tubeless and he confirmed all systems were go! I’m going to test both Orange sealant and Stans. Stans in the front tire and Orange for the rear.
The first thing that I usually do after I unpack and shoot pictures of new test gear, is put said item on one of our Park Tool digital scales. The front wheel weighed 1180g and the rear came in at 1310g. That does not include QR’s and the rims had tape and tubeless valve assemblies included in that weight. But lets just cut to the chase and give you the big picture as far as weight goes. The overall weight savings that came as a result of the Sarma Carbon Wheels and converting to tubeless was just a few ounces shy of 2 pounds. The Naran 100’s are wider than the Fatback Umma 90’s. The Snowshoe XL barely fits and rubs a little bit on the Narans, while they fit with no rub on the Umma’s.
Before I even got the tires dirty, I was forced to exchange the Snowshoe XL for a Snowshoe, due to the tire rubbing issue that I mentioned below. I’m pretty used to wrestling with big tires, but not used to doing it with sealant sloshing around the dance floor. On the bright side, I did manage to recover a cup and a half of the Orange sealant that I had applied to the SS/XL. The rest ended up on the shop floor and all over the rims, The orange seal had formed a really strong bond with the beads of the Sarma rims. They seemed almost glued into place which made getting the XL off of the rim an adventure. After that, I mounted the Snowshoe and blew it up with the shop compressor. Two louds pops later, we had our third successful tubeless set-up in only two days. I think I better order more sealant!
The first ride – Riders have claimed that going tubeless makes a big difference in how a fat-bike rides. Since this was my first time riding Otis tubeless, I hit up a trail very familiar to me so I could get a fair comparison to riding with tubes. Right out of the box, I could feel a significantly positive change to the way my bike felt. Otis seemed a little easier to pedal! Now that could be the almost 2 pounds of rotational mass that was removed by the combination of the beautiful Sarma Naran 100mm rims and brand spanking new Sarma Hubs – or it could be the tubeless set-up. It’s probably due to a combination of the two. I was very pleased with the initial results! One thing is certain, I was able to ride hills a gear or two harder than I had been able to ride with my old wheels with tubes. In the next six weeks, I’ll be experimenting with tire pressures and lots of different tires. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to get these wheels out on the beach and maybe even out on the snow! Stay tuned to fat-bike.com for future updates!