Northpaw Fat-Bike Wheels


Russell Jobs has been around the bike community for many years. From bike shop service areas, to the Hayes Group building custom wheels, to his current position as Manager of the DreamBikes store in Milwaukee, Russell is a font of knowledge on all things bike related as well as the defeacto king of the Local MoFos, a loose knit group of bike riders in the Milwaukee area. He sent us this report on his new Northpaw wheelset that he used when building his Trek Farley. Take it away, Russell!

I recently picked up a 2014 Trek Farley frameset and needed to build up some new wheels. A call to Greg Smith at Schlick Cycles to arrange a purchase of Northpaw-S rims was in order. Since no hoop (except hula-hoops) is good without a hub I was stoked to find out the Schlick also had some spanking new Northpaw hubs! The hubs looked pretty good – nothing really fancy but from my days working in the wheel department at SUNringle’ I could tell they were going to be dependable units due to their use of larger bearings than many lightweight models use. Smaller bearings may be lighter, but their lifespan can be pretty craptastic. Greg let me know that they had a 36-tooth ratchet ring which works out to a fairly decent yet still strong 10degrees of engagement.

I decided to keep the build with a Milwaukee favor and grabbed some cold-forged Wheelsmith DB-14 spokes. The wheels built up with very minimal fuss. The rims easily took the standard 110kgf of tension I find to be perfect for strength and long-life. I used some Surly 28mm rim strips – the strips fit just about perfect. Tires were a set of 120tpi Husker Du’s. The front mounted up fine, but the rear was a bit stubborns so I used some of Uncle Dick’s Bead Slip (yet another Milwaukee company). One note is that the front hub uses rear disc spacing and I needed to space my front brake accordingly. Not really an issue, but something to think about in the world of Fat-Bikes where there are quite a few “standards”.

Two rides later and everything is still great. My first ride was at the 9th Annual Beechwood Blaster where the short punchy climbs let the lightweight Northpaw-S rims shine. So much lighter than the original Large Marge’s on my Pugsley. Plenty of rockgardens and logs on the course as well didn’t deter me in the least. The narrow rim does provide a rounder tire profile than my previous set-up but I felt this really gives the tire a better feel in the corners. A 2nd ride on the twisty Tosa Trails backed this up.

I’m extremely happy on this wheel build – I’m not sure on how the narrow rims will affect tire float in soft snow or sand, but most of my local riding is not on the super soft stuff. I’ll let you know more down the trail!

Editor’s Note: While Russell is a wheel building pro and built this set his-own-damn-self, the Northpaw wheelsets are available complete, built right here in the good ol’ USof A in Milwaukee, WI by some of the best wheel builders out there for an introductory price of $599! Shoot Greg at Schlick Cycles a note,, for more info. We will have more detailed info on in just a bit.


  1. I ran the Northpaw hoops laced to Hope Fatsno hubs for the WORS race season. Solid and lightweight rims. Makes a great tire size for rocky, rooty, and tight single track. Love dem wheels!

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