2016 45NRTH Wölvhammers have Lake MX101 Soles

When picking up the Blackborow I also grabbed a pair of 45NRTH‘s redesigned (for 2016) Wölvhammer boots. When installing cleats I noticed the cleat cap (the piece which is removed to access the cleat mounting area) is labeled “CLEAT-CAP 4 MX101 Lake Cap Trail V Part t-0603-01”. It didn’t take much digging to find that the entire sole is the same as that of the (apparently no longer made) Lake MX101.

Here is the bottom of the 2016 Wölvhammer: photo. Here is the bottom of the Lake MX101: photo.

Consider the Paper Towel Dispenser

One of my first jobs was working at a coffee shop (photo), and part of this involved filling the paper towel dispenser behind the counter. Wanting to be as efficient as possible and not have to refill it frequently I’d do my best to stuff it full. This would result in the first few towels being very difficult to pull out, sometimes tearing off and being a frustration for the person washing their hands. But hey, that’s the price of being sure it’s nice and full and efficient, right?

I’ve been encountering similar overstuffed paper towel dispensers at work, and now that I’ve got a bit more experience I’m seeing how this is a very clear illustration of the administrator/engineer vs. user struggle. On one hand you have the maintenance person (administrator/engineer) filling the paper towel dispenser, doing what they feel is best: making the system low maintenance even if there’s a couple irritations for the end user. On the other hand you have the end user who just wants to quickly dry their hands on a paper towel, frustrated that the dispenser is doesn’t work well.

It’s very easy for those of us who run IT systems to be in a bubble, focusing solely on what we feel is important, not seeing things the way they are actually used. We should all remember to stop, wash our hands, and decide if a torn sheet of paper towel is really what the user was going for.

Intertape Polymer Group (IPG) TPP350 as Fat Bike Tubeless Tape on DT Swiss BR 2250 Wheels

Thanks to a fortuitous meeting with a fellow cyclist and tape engineer a few weeks back I ended up with a quantity of Intertape Polymer Group‘s TPP350 (PDF Techncial Data Sheetphoto) tape in 96mm width (photo) for testing. This polypropylene strapping tape, with rubber adhesive, is exactly the product I’ve been trying to find for use in fat bike tubeless setups. I have very high hopes for this tape, as a narrower and similar tape — IPG competitor Scotch’s Strapping Tape 8898 —  has worked fairly well on my Mukluk for the past year. While similar, the narrower 8898 has been a problem for some setups because the width necessitates multiple passes which is hard to seal. For reliable tubeless setups I prefer that the air-holding part of the wheel have as few seams and gaps as possible, and using tape that’s too narrow requires overlapping passes which results in wrinkles and small gaps. These ends of the wrinkles and gaps will get filled with tubeless tire sealant (eg: Stan’s or Orange Seal), but with the side effect of exposing the adhesive to sealant. This in turn weakens the adhesive, resulting in larger gaps which eventually the sealant can’t plug. Thus a leak and a flat tire.

Fat bike rims effectively come in two styles: those with weight-reducing holes cut in them (eg: DT Swiss BR 710, Surly Holy Rolling Darryl, SUNringlé Mulefüt 80SL) and those without (eg: HED Big Deal, Nextie). Hole-less rims are relatively easy to set up tubeless, as only a thin strip of sealing tape is needed to cover the spoke holes inside the rim., but for a hole-y rim an air-tight seal needs to be built up between the tire beads. There are a few ways to accomplish this (eg: split tube, Fatty Stripper, oversized vinyl rim strip), but I prefer a simple, reliable solution that’ll both hold up to repeated tire swaps and allow the locking bead prefer something that’s as simple as possible: a rim strip and full-width tape.

In this case I’m using the stock DT Swiss TRSXXXXS68559S rim strip and 96mm wide TPP350; a very promising configuration. (The DT rim strips are 61g/ea and One wrap of TPP350 on 26″ rims is approximately 20g. Actual tape mass ended up lower, as the tape was trimmed back to the bead seat.)

One of the biggest benefits, but also the biggest downside to this setup, is the width of the tape. Ideally there would be tape that fits exactly within the rim, bead to bead while conforming to the inner shape of the rim, but except for a few cases there isn’t. While a few manufacturers make this available (eg: SUNringlé with a 78mm tape for their 80mm rims) most rims are currently without a solution. Thus, an oversized tape like 96mm TPP350 that can be trimmed to fit is a very good choice. A combination of the lack of stretchyness of the tape and width resulted in wrinkles along the inner rim surface, but as the ends of these wrinkles are outside of the formed air chamber sealant will not be able to leak in and thus are not a concern.

Here are the high-level steps that I used to set up the DT Swiss BR 2250 wheels (based on the BR 710 rim) and Bontrager Barbegazi tires on my Salsa Blackborow. Even without sealant this configuration held air, a testament to the combination of rim, tire, tape, and valve stem. I intend to use this same process and configuration for other test setups, including Specialized Ground Control Fat tires on Stout XC 90 wheels:

  1. Fit rim strip.
  2. Apply tape around entire rim, smoothly along top edge of rim wall, overlapping by a few inches at the valve stem hole.
  3. Press tape down into center of rim. Do not attempt to smooth the tape by wiping along the rim as this will promote large wrinkles.
  4. Fit tire and tube, inflating until bead is seated. This will press the tape into the bead seat with excess tape overhanging the rim.
  5. Deflate tube, but before full deflation is reached, dislodge one bead to allow air in. (If this is not done, the collapsing tube and air-tight nature of the wheel assembly will pull the rim strip and tape away from the rim).
  6. Remove tire and tube.
  7. Using a sharp blade, trim the tape at the junction of the bead seat and sidewall. Be sure that tape remains in the bead seat.
  8. Press tape into place along bead seat to ensure it’s smoothly in place.
  9. Reinstall tire and tube, inflating until bead is seated.
  10. Deflate tube, again dislodging one side before deflation is complete.
  11. Remove tube.
  12. Install tubeless valve assembly.
  13. Re-seat loose tire bead and inflate until bead is seated.
  14. Add sealant (3oz) via valve stem and reinflate tire. Shake wheel to distribute sealant.

Due to the thin rim wall the cone-shaped gasket on the NoTubes Valves cannot be sufficiently tightened with just the provided locknut. This can lead to leaking, an issue which I experienced on my Mukluk with SUNringlé Mulefüt 80SL rims. This is easily fixed by adding a rubber washer inside the rim beneath the cone-shaped valve (photo) and a nylon spacer to the outside beneath the lock nut (photo). Specifically, I used a 1/4″ interior diameter rubber and nylon washers purchased from Lowe’s small parts bin, although any similar parts will work. Another style of tubeless valve, such as those from American Classic will not need the rubber washer inside the rim.

After a few hours of semi-hard riding at Potawatomi (fast, flowing, and occasionally rough Southeast Michigan trails) I’m confident in this setup and cannot think of a better existing product for making different kinds of fat bike wheels tubeless. It allowed for the usual tubeless benefits (reduced weight, increased tire compliance) on a solid, air-tight setup. I expect it to continue reliably as a solid tubeless setup throughout the winter; a time when I definitely don’t want to be stuck with a flat. I really hope it becomes widely available, as there are many fat bike riders who’d love access to tape like this.

Here are my pro/con thoughts on using IPG TPP350 tape for fat bike tubeless setups:


  • Tape made by a commercial manufacturer. (Although not yet available for order at this width in small quantities…)
  • Wide width should accommodate most rim sizes with a single pass, meaning minimal inner seams and lower weight. Wrinkles are a non-issue.
  • Tape film and adhesive types (polypropylene film and rubber-based adhesive) are well-tested within tubeless bicycle applications.
  • Adhesive firmly holds tape to both rim and rim strip, yet is removable.


  • Wide tape width is challenging to handle.
  • Tape width and elasticity prevents wrinkle-free application around rim. (Additional material adds weight, may be unattractive if wrinkles are visible through rim strip.)
  • Trimming excess tape is inconvenient and potentially error-prone.
  • Rim strip required to prevent tape from stretching through cutouts. (Adds weight.)

The result is that I’m quite happy with TPP350 and would recommend it to others for fat bike tubeless use. I’ll soon be trying this out on some other rims.

For Sale: Salsa Mukluk 2

UPDATE: Bike is now sold.

Now that my new fat bike, based around a Salsa Blackborow frame and fork, has been built it’s time to sell my Salsa Mukluk. This bike has served me very well and I’ve got some great memories with it… From deep, dark snowy exploring, leaf-covered autumn Michigan trails, countless new-to-me trail exploring, and fun times at races. It’s only for sale because it’s being replaced with something newer. Used, but with plenty of life left.

The frame is from a 2012 Salsa Mukluk 2, but most parts of this bike have been changed out from original spec; tweaked and chosen specifically for performance and all-weather durability. With the On-One Fatty carbon fiber fork and tubeless wheels this bike weights in at a trim 28.5 pounds; quite light for such solid fat bike. The SRAM X9 1×10 drivetrain was specifically chosen for reliability and to allow for maximum rear tire clearance. The deep, beautiful, anodized finish on the aluminum frame helps keep weight down while avoiding scratching. Full length housings on brake and shift cables keep things running smoothly in even the worst conditions. The tubeless setup has been working great, and coupled with 120 TPI tires makes for a soft, supple, grippy ride with decreased rolling resistance.

This bike is used and shows some minor signs of wear, but there are no notable scratches or marks outside of a small chainsuck mark that’s been colored in and protected with UHMW polyethylene tape. I have ridden it all over Michigan; from Marquette to sandy beaches, Island Lake to Highland, Stony Creek to Bruno’s Run. It’s perfectly suited for almost everything our state has to offer.

This bike is pictured with the On-One Carbon Fatty fork and also comes with the original steel Salsa Enabler. The Enabler fork features triple-boss mounts for stuff-carrying, is very well suited for bikepacking/touring purposes, and can be swapped on in a few minuets.

The bike includes three spare Wheels Manufacturing replacement derailleur hangers (DROPOUT-25), a ~$60 value. I have a 90mm Salsa stem that can be fit in place of the 100mm currently on the bike to help with fit, if needed. The bike is pictured with red-accented Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 pedals which are not included, but a price for these can be negotiated.

Asking price is US$1400. Sold!

Please email steve@nuxx.net if interested.


Frame: 2012 Salsa Mukluk 2 (Medium / geometry)
Fork: On-One Carbon Fatty (also includes original Salsa Enabler)
Headset: Cane Creek 40
Seatpost: Thomson 27.2mm x 410mm
Seatpost Clamp: Salsa Lip-Lock
Saddle: Specialized Phenom (143mm, Red Accents)
Stem: Cannondale C4 100mm
Bars: Salsa Bend 2 (23 degree)
Grips: Ergon GP1-L
Brakes: Avid BB7 / Avid Speed Dial 7
Crank: Race Face Turbine (Fat Bike version, 175mm arms)
Drivetrain: SRAM X9 1×10 w/ Type 2.1 Clutch Derailleur, X9 Shifter, 30t Race Face Narrow-Wide Ring, 11-36 Shimano XT Cassette
Wheels: SunRingle Mülefüt 80 SL, Hope Fatsno Hubs, DT Swiss super comp Spokes, Salsa Skewers (Wheels built by Mike Curiak / lacemine29.com.)
Tires: 45NRTH Hüsker Dü (120 TPI, Tubeless)

Weight as Pictured: 28.58 pounds



New Fat Bike: 2016 Salsa Blackborow

Four years ago my fried Erick dropped off a very large box at my house. My first fat bike, a brand new Salsa Mukluk 2, had arrived. This was one of the first large-scale production fatbikes, and one of the first to be light weight out of the box, and I’ve had some very good times with it in all seasons. This year, with huge thanks to QBP, Tree Fort Bikes, Jeff Buerman, and Mike Wirth, I’ve acquired and built a custom 2016 Salsa Blackborow; my next fat bike. This is an aluminum framed, carbon fiber forked fatbike, using Salsa’s great geometry, ready to accept 5″ class tires.

I had originally planned to set this bike up tubeless, but after some issues with the original tubeless setup I build it up with Superlight tubes. I hope to replace this with a tubeless setup sometime in the near future, but I’m still evaluating potential rim sealing options. These may be the FattyStripper latex rim strips or possibly some wide tensilized polypropylene strapping tape (similar to Stan’s Rim Tape).

With tubes the complete bike, including bottle cages, bell, rear light, and Garmin Edge 510, is 29.46 pounds. With the tubes coming in at ~240g/ea I expect to save just under a pound by switching to tubeless. I’m quite happy with this weight, which is quite decent for a burly bike with 4.7″ tires.

My first shakedown ride on the Blackborow at River Bends (my usual bike shakedown location) went really well. There were the usual stops to adjust the grips and brakes, but otherwise I was very happy with the ride. The GX 1×11 drivetrain worked wonderfully, the high engagement rear hub felt spot-on, and I’m convinced that Salsa has gotten the geometry perfect. The only downside was the heavier-feeling wheels, but the forthcoming tubeless conversion should alleviate much of this.

I can’t wait to ride it more.

More photos of the bike can be found here: 2016 Salsa Blackborow

Here’s the details initial build for this bike:

Frame / Fork: 2016 Salsa Blackborow Frame (Medium) / Bearpaw Carbon/Aluminum Fork
Wheelset: DT Swiss BR 2250 Classic
Freehub Ratchets: Bontrager HUB51312614R (54-point for DT Swiss)
Summer Tires: Bontrager Barbegazi (26″ x 4.7″)
Winter Tires: 45NRTH Flowbeist / Dunderbeist
Rim Strip: DT Swiss TRSXXXXS68559S (68×559)
Tubes: Q-Tubes Superlight 26″ x 2.4-2.75″
Brakes: TRP Spyke (180mm front, 160mm rear)
Front Brake Spacer: Shimano SM-MA90-F180P/P2
Brake Levers: Avid FR-5 (Black)
Brake Lever Insulation: 18mm 3:1 Heat Shrink (Generic)
Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2 (23 Degree)
Grips: Ergon GP1 (Large)
Headset: Cane Creek 40 Tapered ZS44|ZS56/40
Stem: Thomson X4 (SM-E133 BLACK, 0x100)
Spacers: Aluminum (Generic)
Stem Cap: Niner YAWYD
Seatpost: Thomson Elite (SP-E116 BLACK, 31.6 x 410)
Seatpost Clamp: Salsa Lip Lock
Saddle: Specialized Phenom Expert (143mm)
Crankset: Race Face Turbine Cinch (175mm x 190mm), ICT Spacer Kit, Alloy Crank Boots
Bottom Bracket: Race Face BB92 (124mm x 41mm)
Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 (Black/Green)
Chainring: Race Face Direct Mount Narrow-Wide (30t)
Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 FULL PIN Cassette
Derailleur: SRAM GX 1×11 X-HORIZON Rear Derailleur
Shifter: SRAM GX 11-speed X-ACTUATION Trigger Shifter
Chain: SRAM PC-X1
Cables/Housing: Jagwire
Chainslap Protection: Scotch 2228 Rubber Mastic Tape
Bottle Cages: King Cage Stainless Steel Cage
Rear Light: Planet Bike Superflash Stealth
Bell: Mirrycle Original Incredibell
Sensors: Garmin Bike Speed Sensor (Hub Mount)

Failed Disc Brake Pad

On Wednesday evening when out riding at River Bends my rear brake became a bit stiff then suddenly failed. It seems the pads had rusted to the point where the pad material separated from the backing plate. Thankfully this failure was pretty simple and non-catastrophic, as I was able to finish the ride… just a bit slower.

Cut Hockey Pucks as Pinch Weld Protectors

After lifting a car via pinch weld, hearing a pop, and seeing it bend slightly I became nervous about setting a jack stands using them without any additional support. Thanks to the magic of the internet I got this idea from a car forum: cheap hockey pucks ($1.99/ea at DICK’s) with slots cut in them. The pinch weld is placed in the slot and the jack stand supports the heavy rubber puck which braces the frame rail.

These were cut by laying a 1cm strip of masking tape on the top of each puck, making a vertical cut with a hacksaw, then an angled cut to meet the vertical. The wedge of rubber was then encouraged out of the slot with a flat blade screwdriver and cleaned up as needed. Fairly simple and only about 20 minutes of work after acquiring the pucks.

Tyvek Tape for Fat Bike Tubeless

On recommendation from my friend Roger, who is also building up a new fat bike, I decided to try some using some seam sealing tape designed for Tyvek installations as rim tape (MSDS). This is commonly known as “Tyvek Tape”, even though it isn’t actually made of Tyvek. It is actually a somewhat stretchy polypropylene tape with acrylic adhesive. At $11.98/roll it’s not exactly cheap, but with 50m of tape in a single roll there’s enough to do numerous wheelsets.

I’d intended to use Scotch 8898 tape for tubeless, but after looking at the Tyvek Tape I decided to give it a try and thus far I’m glad I did. On the DT Swiss BR 2250 wheels I first installed the DT Swiss Rim Strip, centering it between the locking bead seats (photo). I then laid one strip of tape with the edge in the bead seat, butted up against the vertical side of the rim. This was smoothed against the Rim Strip and a second piece was applied to the other side. After most of the wrinkles were smoothed I laid a third strip of tape down the center to cover any center wrinkles, pulling it taught as one normally does when installing any rim tape. This was smoothed into place with a rag and taping was considered complete (photo).

To ensure the tape was well bonded I then fitted a tire and tube, inflated to 20 PSI, and set the whole assembly in the sun to warm up and soften the adhesive. After 30 minutes or so I took the wheel out of the sun and set it in the basement to cool back down. Once cool I deflated the tube, unseated the tire from one side of the rim, and removed the tube. A Stan’s valve was then fitted into the rim, a plastic washer placed on the outside below the locknut, and everything tightened up. The valve core was removed and an air compressor and custom chuck was used to seat the tire. Four ounces of Stan’s Sealant was injected into the wheel via a syringe, the wheel closed up and reinflated, and the sealant shaken around the wheel.

The tape provided a nice, smooth surface for the tire bead to slide across, and after a few days the wheels (fitted with Panaracer Fat B Nimble 26 x 4.0 tires) are nicely holding air. This tape seems like a great, light-weight product for using on fat bike wheels. I’m glad I gave it a go, as the thinner, stretchy tape seems much easier to apply than the Scotch 8898. It seems to make a great seal and hold well, and was pretty easy to install.

I inadvertently ended up with a couple small puckers along the rim tape on the rear wheel, but I think this was due to either sticking the Tyvek tape to the rim tape with too much force, or possibly deflating the tubed wheel while still warm. I don’t believe I can correct it without completely removing the rim tape, so I’ll have to live with it.

UPDATE on 2015-Sep-22: Over the past few days the rear wheel — the one with the small puckers — lost all pressure. The root of the problem turned out to be adhesive used on the Tyvek tape. The acrylic adhesive is a bit gummy and softens with a bit of heat. My process of installing a tube, deflating the tube, then unseating half of the tire dislodges the tape leading to the puckering — which was a symptom of dislodged tape — and thus leaking. Using some tweezers I can unfold and put the tape back in the bead seat which allows a tubeless setup to hold, but this setup feels fragile. I think the combination of thin tape, soft adhesive, and very wide rim strip (resulting in not much adhesive being on the rim) allow this to happen.

While the wheels are currently holding 20 PSI reliably, I’m concerned about what may happen to the tape in hot weather or as regular tire maintenance needs to occur. I suspect that I may have to switch to a different tape some time down the line, maybe the rubber adhesive Scotch 8898. Doing this will be a pain, because of how solidly the acrylic adhesive sticks to the rim and rim strip… At this point I may have to get some new rim strips.

UPDATE on 2015-Sep-29: I’ve decided to move away from the Tyvek tape. The rear wheel deflated over the next few days in the same failure mode, and both of my friend Rodger’s wheels went flat when taken out in the sun. When disassembling and cleaning the wheel set I found the front beginning to suffer from the same issue, so it was only a matter of time before the tape became dislodged there and failed.

Because of the tenacity of the Tyvek adhesive I purchased another set of rim strips from eBay and cut the current ones. The rims were cleaned up with mineral spirits and set to dry. In a few days I’ll be trying them again with new strips and Scotch 8898. If that fails I’ll be trying FattyStripper Tubeless Solutions trim-to-fit latex rim strips.

stjohnprovidence.com vs. stjohnprovidence.org

Attempting to pay a medical bill online and accidentally typing stjohnprovidence.com/billpay (link intentionally omitted) instead of stjohnprovidence.org/billpay resulted in this wonderful false AV warning within my browser. I’d think that a big hospital would work to fix this sort of thing…

Fat Bike Capacity: 1 + 1

Lately I’ve had a need to carry two fat bikes on my well-loved 1Up USA Quick Rack, so I ordered a second Fat Tire Spacer Kit. Price has gone up from $29 to $34 and the style has changed, but it still seems like the best external rack available for carrying a fat bike. The original, which adds Delrin spacers can be seen on the left, and the new style which uses wider angled bits for the tire is on the right.

At 122mm (4.8″) the new spacer kit is slightly wider than the previous’ 114.5mm (4.5″). I’m planning to build a new fat bike with 5″-class tires, but with the knobs of the 45NRTH Flowbeist and Dunderbeist — the winter tires intended for the new bike — measuring 110mm on an 82mm rim I should be good. Hopefully the 4.8″ Schwalbe Jumbo Jim also fits, as I’m likely using those for summer… If the 122mm-width arms are needed for the new bike I’ll likely move the spacer kit or trays around, but hopefully that won’t be needed.

When installing these I also took my friend Rodney’s recommendation and fitted some cut-down bicycle grips to the spacers on both trays. The original design leaves narrow silicone bands in place, but these don’t span the full width of the Fat Tire spacers and the rack can end up making a slight rattling sound. The original foam grips from the Mukluk 2 were a perfect fit for this.