Alchemy Ark­tos 29

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WO R D S : R YA N W A L S C H IM­AGES: N I C K W AY G O O D

Alchemy Bi­cy­cles started man­u­fac­tur­ing be­spoke steel and ti­ta­nium frames for the dis­cern­ing cus­tomer back in 2008. Af­ter team­ing up with an en­gi­neer whom made car­bon frames on the side, the com­pany re­lo­cated the com­pany to Den­ver Colorado and con­tin­ued to de­velop their car­bon of­fer­ings. With the moun­tains call­ing, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore Alchemy fo­cussed their at­ten­tion to cre­at­ing a pre­mium do-ev­ery­thing thor­ough­bred trail bike.

Rather than the su­per raked out, low slung en­duro bikes that we see pop­ping up ev­ery­where the Ark­tos is a more re­fined and finely crafted all-rounder that doesn’t pi­geon hole it­self into any one cat­e­gory. Its fo­cus be­ing more on build and ride qual­ity than on push­ing ex­tremes and po­lar­is­ing opin­ion.

There are fewer highly ca­pa­ble mid travel 29ers than you might think, some of the stand­outs cur­rently would have to be the Tran­si­tion Sen­tinel, Spe­cial­ized Stumpjumper 29, Yeti SB130 or the Evil Of­fer­ing. All these bikes can still be pushed hard yet re­tain a cer­tain ride feel that can be lost on a long travel 29er.

INI­TIAL IM­PRES­SIONS

The build qual­ity of the Alchemy Ark­tos is stun­ning, over­built yet re­tain­ing a slen­der ap­pear­ance. From the beau­ti­fully ma­chined Sine Link through to the flaw­less paint job to match, the Alchemy Ark­tos is no “off the pro­duc­tion line” kind of bike. Each frame starts its life as five hun­dred in­di­vid­ual pre-preg pieces of car­bon metic­u­lously laid by hand in Den­ver, Colorado. At the heart of the Ark­tos is the Sine Link which lets Alchemy call the Artkos as one of the best ped­alling bikes in the world with un­ri­valled ca­pa­bil­ity on des­cents. The Sine Link is the lat­est brain child of Dave Earle, a man who has worked on or con­ceived many links used to­day: VPP, In­fin­ity Switch, Horst Links, faux bars - he has done it all.

There is no deny­ing at a glance it does work a sim­i­lar way to the In­fin­ity Switch found on Yeti’s range, how­ever the lower link is smaller, tucked away and not slid­ing on two shafts. Sine Link’s name de­rives from the sus­pen­sion curve when graphed, as it cre­ates a sine wave. Ini­tially there

is a re­gres­sive spring curve, with su­per sup­ple small bump sen­si­tiv­ity be­fore ramp­ing up into a pro­gres­sive rate re­sist­ing from blow­ing through its travel un­til a slight re­gres­sive curve again at bot­tom out which will work best with an air shock which tends to reach a halt at bot­tom out. Our Ark­tos is paired with a Fox DPX2 shock which is the per­fect match for this bike given its climb­ing pedi­gree.

Stiff­ness was high on the list for Alchemy and Earle, and the Su­per Boost rear hub spac­ing and a gi­gan­tic Sine Link are em­ployed to keep the back end track­ing straight on the 140mm travel 29er model. Setup is easy on the Ark­tos with a set­ting of 30% sag be­ing just right for go­ing both up and down.

We had a size large on test with a Fox Fac­tory 36 fork, Shi­mano XT 1x11 driv­e­train and Enve M730 build kit, the Ark­tos tipped the scales at a scant 14kgs ex­actly. It does feel big­ger than other size “large” 29ers we have had on test, mainly due to the height of the head tube and seat tube. Size large came with a Fox Fac­tory Trans­fer drop­per post in 125mm length, which I was a bit bummed about, but af­ter set­ting up the bike, I wouldn’t have been able to run a 150mm drop any­way due to the very long seat tube when com­pared to the reach or top tube length. How this re­lates on the trail, we will have to see.

ON THE TRAIL

It is im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent when rid­ing the Ark­tos that it ped­als in­cred­i­bly well for a bike this plush. It has a rel­a­tively steep 74.5 de­gree seat tube an­gle which puts your weight right over the cen­tre of the bike and feels com­fort­able when paired with the 452mm reach. The cock­pit is com­fort­able and clut­ter free with the RaceFace Aef­fect 35 bar and stem combo and a min­i­mal Fox Trans­fer un­der­bar lever. It is worth not­ing that our build was fit­ted with Er­gon’s GE1 En­duro grip high­light­ing the fact that Alchemy are very se­ri­ous about build­ing the ul­ti­mate bike and not cut­ting cor­ners.

As men­tioned pre­vi­ously, I found the Ark­tos taller than I am used too. The head tube and seat tube are on the tall side for a size large, and although the top tube is swept down­ward nicely, both knees have bruises in the same spots from get­ting squir­relly in the rough stuff. The seat tube mea­sures in at 483mm and head tube 125mm which will need to be con­sid­ered if look­ing for longer drop­per posts. As a ref­er­ence I am 178cm with an in­seam mea­sure­ment of 820mm and sad­dle height of 910mm (top of pedal to top of sad­dle).

As our test bike was specced with the lat­est of­fer­ing from ENVE, the M730, and light­weight Maxxis EXO cas­ing tyres the Ark­tos was ob­vi­ously go­ing to climb well. It was only fair to switch these out for the equally as lust-wor­thy Crank Brothers Syn­the­sis wheels which we have fit­ted with dual ply DH cas­ing tyres and an in­sert in the back adding over 1200grams of ro­tat­ing weight. Even with this ridicu­lously heavy trail setup, the Sine Link is re­ally very good. There was no need to use the climb mode on the Fox DPX2 shock stick­ing with de­scend and trail only. The re­gres­sive curve off the top gave am­ple trac­tion on tech­ni­cal climbs while not get­ting bogged down like most longer travel bikes do.

I thought that the climb­ing prow­ess of the Alchemy would be its most re­deem­ing qual­ity, but point­ing it down­hill it does feel like more bike than your av­er­age 140mm travel bike. The sus­pen­sion ramps up so smoothly to­wards the point of bot­tom­ing out with no harsh­ness at all. This lets you charge rocks and jumps alike while re­main­ing in con­trol and not bounc­ing or skip­ping off line.

With such an over­built and stiff chas­sis, the Ark­tos does cor­ner ex­tremely well but again the added height and 125mm drop­per was putting me fur­ther above the bike than I am used too. This may not be an is­sue for taller riders, but

“POINT­ING IT DOWN­HILL IT DOES FEEL LIKE MORE YOUR A VERAGE 140MM TRAVEL BIKE. THE SUS­PEN­SION RAMPS UP SO SMOOTHL Y TO­WARDS THE POINT OF BOT­TOM­ING OUT WITH NO HARSH­NESS A T ALL. THIS LETS YOU CHARGE ROCKS AND JUMPS ALIKE WHILE RE­MAIN­ING IN CON­TROL AND NOT

some­thing to re­mem­ber if you are on the lower side of the siz­ing scale. An­other is­sue that arose for us cor­ner­ing was the huge stays and how they didn’t of­fer much clear­ance for either the rear tyre or the heel of shoes when hoof­ing turns.

With the turns churn­ing our test bike started to feel a lit­tle vague and tyre buzzing could be heard from the back of the bike. We found that the up­per pivot bolt was mi­grat­ing loose and de­spite out best ef­forts, it kept com­ing loose each ride. A quick phone call to the im­porter Su­per Sports and we had a new bolt sent via FedEx from Alchemy in only a few days and we were back out and flex free.

As ex­pected the Ark­tos 29 feels most at home go­ing fast through the rough stuff and it is su­per play­ful when just out for a trun­dle in the hills, it’s a bike that you can feel in­stantly com­fort­able on and is very easy to ride.

Alchemy have worked hard to build a true all-rounder that both ped­als and de­scends while be­ing uber plush and sup­port­ive at the same time.

O U R TA K E

The Alchemy Artkos 29 pairs a su­per-stiff frame with an in­cred­i­bly plush sus­pen­sion sys­tem. It means this hard-hit­ting 140mm travel trail bike ped­als ca­pa­bly and bombs des­cents with pre­ci­sion and sure-foot­ed­ness. It feels as if the there is more than 140mm travel on the downs and less on the ups. The Ark­tos 29 does have a tall seat tube and head tube, so riders may not be able to run a 150mm+ drop­per post, it re­ally de­pends on your fit on a spe­cific bike size. Bear in mind that the Sine Link de­signed to work best with air shocks, and does not use the more re­cent met­ric shock stan­dard. That said, the Sine Link is a neat and well-sealed unit that will out­last more com­pli­cated sys­tems with more mov­ing parts.

The Alchemy Ark­tos 29 will suit riders look­ing for a bou­tique trail/en­duro/all rounder that has be­spoke build op­tions, a stun­ning fin­ish and del­i­cate han­dling. But if you’re look­ing for a long and raked out bike for plow­ing steep rock gar­dens and gnarly chutes – then you’d be best served look­ing else­where.

We would love to see the seat tube dropped a bit in height for any frame up­dates in the fu­ture. It would mean you could run a longer drop­per post, and add a lit­tle more stan­dover height too. But as it is, the Alchemy Ark­tos 29 brings a ca­pa­ble and durable sus­pen­sion and frame pack­age to the trail mar­ket that de­mands climb­ing abil­ity to match de­scend­ing prow­ess. The frame has a high-end build qual­ity and should last for many sea­sons to come.

TESTED RYAN WALSCH RID­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Half a life­time of slap­ping turns, loft­ing jumps and re­pair­ing bro­ken bikes. GEN­ER­ALLY RIDES: Spe­cial­ized Stumpjumper 29 HEIGHT: 178cm WEIGHT: 71kg BIKE TEST TRACK: Mt Stromlo, Tug­ger­a­nong Pines

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