The Alchemy Arktos is one all-mountain trail bike you won’t find in most bike shops – a truly unique all-mountain performer that doesn’t look or ride like its more mainstay big brand competitors. As a dealer of Alchemy Bicycles, we received one of the first Alchemy Arktos frames built by Colorado builder Alchemy Cycles in the spring of 2016. But for a host of reasons, not the least of which was awaiting the arrival of SRAM’s new Eagle components, we didn’t build it up until the fall. The trails close in the winter, but we want to share some pictures of the eye-catching bike, as well as provide some details on the build, now as spring is coming.
The Alchemy Arktos is an all mountain trail frameset designed to bridge the gap between XC climbing ability and DH descending acumen. The Alchemy Arktos does this with 150mm/6″ of travel in the rear and by using Sine Suspension (licensed from suspension design guru David Earle). How does Sine Suspension work? We’ll let Alchemy explain it. “It’s regressive through the first part of the travel to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction; progressive in the middle of the stroke to avoid wallowing on big hits or in hard, fast corners; then slightly regressive again in the last 15 percent of the stroke to enable the bike to use all 6 inches of its rear-wheel travel. Sine is also designed to minimize chainstay growth when the bike is moving, which is intended to help with pedaling efficiency and keep the suspension active under braking.” Basically, it is softer at the start and finish of the stroke and progressively stiffer through the middle of the stroke to allow the bike to be active and forgiving on the small stuff and to maintain climbing traction while being stiff enough in the middle to handle bigger and higher speed descents. The Arktos uses pretty typical trail bike geometry with a slack 66 degree headtube angle. High speed stability is supposed to be the Arktos’s forte and it would certainly surprise us if it wasn’t based on the geometry and the design.
When it comes to cable routing and details, the Alchemy Arktos puts everything that can be inside the frame inside. The integrated alloy cable guides on the frame are well executed and functional. The result of the internal cables is a little extra effort at assembly, but a really clean looking build out.
Alchemy Arktos Custom – Made in U.S.A. and Custom Finish:
The custom version of the Alchemy Arktos features a carbon fiber main frame fabricated in Alchemy’s Colorado factory with your choice of a myriad of two tone finish options. While the rear triangle of the Arktos is made in Asia, the bike is one of a select number that can actually claim to primarily be made in the U.S.
In addition to the Arktos Custom, Alchemy offers an Arktos that is made solely in Asia called the Arktos Stock. The Arktos stock is available with a couple stock finishes and is $800 less than the U.S. built frames, so you can choose what works for you.
Alchemy Arktos Weight & Awards:
As built, the Alchemy Arktos weighs a very respectable 27.5 lbs including Plus size tires (see below). For a 150mm travel Sine Suspension equipped bike that has a 36mm fork and dropper post, there is nothing to complain about in terms of weight with this Arktos. In fact, just hanging around the shop people lift it and frequently say it is much lighter than they expected based upon how it looks.
Not many bicycles can boast a “People’s Choice” award at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and “Best Mountain Bike”, but the Alchemy Arktos can. With its internal cable routing, smooth lines and unique look, it is hard not to stare. Whether you are considering a $1K bike or a $10K+ bike, at Fit Werx, we like companies and products who focus on striving to be best in class. The Arktos exemplifies this.
Alchemy Arktos Wheels & Tires:
The Alchemy Arktos frame is designed around standard 27.5″ mountain wheels with tires up to 2.4″. However, the extra traction benefits of Plus tires is intriguing on the technical trails found in the Valley surrounding Fit Werx Vermont. So, in the shop, we laced up a pair of Derby carbon fiber 26″ Plus wheels on Industry Nine hubs to see how a wider tire would work on it while keeping the diameter very close to the 27.5″ the frame was designed around. While there might just barely be room for a 26×3″ tire to fit on the Arktos, we installed a pair of WTB Ranger tires in 2.8″ on the bike to provide some clearance for safety and function with the stays. We look forward to trying this combination out and seeing how 26″ Plus rolls on a 27.5″ frame. On paper, it sounds like a great combination on this frameset and in our area in central Vermont where the advanced trails can be technical and rooty.
9Point8 Dropper Post:
We’ve worked with a fair amount of dropper posts with the Rock Shox Reverb, KS and RaceFace being the most regular options on the bikes from the factory that we sell. However, the Arktos is deserving of something different and we graced it with a dropper post from British Columbia’s 9Point8. The well-reviewed 9Point8 post is a nice alternative from mainstream dropper post options. Assembly and installation of the 9Point8 dropper post is pretty straight-forward and cable actuation is quick and smooth. The 9Point8 post has a nice air valve rebound adjuster that controls how quickly the post extends. The 9Point8 post is just another item on this bike that we look forward to trying outside when the trails open.
Alchemy Arktos Drivetrain and Brakes:
In ’16, it was hard not to get excited about SRAM’s release of their Eagle components. Eagle resolves the, “I want lower gears on my 1x.” concern and offers some technology progression to boot. Most riders experienced with SRAM Eagle’s 10×50 12 speed cassette agree that a 2x drivetrain is no longer needed. The continued progression of SRAM’s braking from Guide to Level, shows that SRAM no longer has to play second fiddle to Shimano in the world of MTB braking either. We built up the Arktos with SRAM’s light XX1 Eagle drivetrain with Level Ultimate brakes. The feel of the set-up is inspiring when it comes to shift performance and brake lever actuation and we really look forward to putting in time outdoors on this group.
Enve Stem and Bars:
With the matte black of the frame, it was hard not to use a complimentary matte black Enve bar and stem. There was no reason to get creative in this area of the build, so we didn’t… We did find a matching set of ODI Ruffian Grips in neon green for the build though as the difference between a good bike and a great bike is in the details.
Alchemy Arktos Suspension Components:
With high and low speed compression damping in the back and paired that with a Fox Factory 36 fork in the front, a Fox Float X rear shock quarterbacks the Sine Suspension system on the Arktos Custom. Based on how the suspension design works, with a regressive stroke at the start and finish, we set initial sag on the Arktos a bit softer than we would on many frames; we want the system to be nice and active initially. We’ll use these suspension sag settings as baseline. We’ll fine tune the suspension as we get used to the bike and figure out how the Plus size 26″ tires factor. The way this Arktos is set-up and spec’d will result in a very plush ride, yet Alchemy (and other reviewers) say that it is not sloppy and climbs really well. Is the Alchemy Arktos the Holy Grail of descending and ascending? We don’t know yet, but we’re confident that it will do quite respectably in both categories based simply in the quality of the design, the set-up and the parts spec.
Alchemy Arktos Pricing & Availability:
Available in stock and custom versions starting a little over $6000 ready to ride and around $3K for a frame. Contact Fit Werx to learn more about the Arktos, for sizing and fit information, to schedule a demo ride (VT location) or to order.