// OVERVIEW

Now more than ever, cyclists are venturing off paved roads and exploring other riding styles, leading to a desire for more versatile bikes with more tire clearance. With the rapid development of new bikes and technology, the industry is becoming increasingly complex. To make things easier, we recently broke our product line into three categories: Road, All-Road, and Gravel. We are here to explain the differences in the categories, what they are designed for, and which one (or two, or three) might be right for you.

 

// ROAD

The road category is the most familiar of the three. If you are thinking about getting into a local cycling club or want to take a shot at racing, this is probably the category for you. Road bikes are designed to be efficient, light, responsive, and corner hard. Not all road bikes are created equal and the Atlas is a defining example.

When we designed the Atlas we incorporated years of cycling experience in Texas and Colorado to produce a road bike that will perform on every type of ride. Whether you are hammering corners on long mountain descents or grinding through that last crit lap, the Atlas has you covered. The Atlas was specifically designed to maneuver the city streets and cruise the country roads. The unique carbon layup and tube construction gives the Atlas unparalleled compliance while maintaining stiffness, so you can stay comfortable in the saddle and stay fast out of it. The Atlas offers 30mm tire clearance and is dual-routed to allow for internal eTap, Di2, or mechanical routing. If you’re main focus is sticking to dry paved roads, then the Atlas is for you.

SHOP ROAD

 

// ALL-ROAD

Born out of want for a road frame with more versatility, All-Road has recently evolved into a segment of its own. These bikes are perfect for the commuter and weekend warrior or the rider looking for a “quiver-killer”. If you like taking new routes and don’t mind some packed dirt then this is the bike for you.  We saw a need for a road bike that can take a punch, thus the Hyas was born.

Our Hyas features its own front and rear triangles with unique tube shapes to give you more compliance than the Atlas without sacrificing stiffness. We left room for 700c x 40mm tires, but kept a short wheelbase for tight cornering on paved roads. When road conditions change fast, you need a bike that will adapt. The All-Road line gives you unprecedented comfort without sacrificing control.

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// GRAVEL

If you’re unaware of the latest gravel trend in the cycling industry, you’re probably living under a rock (which would actually make a gravel bike a very practical option for you). So what does this mean? At a 10,000 foot view, huge tire clearance and enough bottle cage and rack bosses to trek the Sahara. Most companies are achieving this by throwing as many things as they can at the bike and dropping chainstays to accommodate tires larger than anybody would practically need for a gravel bike. However, all of these measures, as with a lot of things in the bike industry, are attempts at offering something visual that ends up sacrificing ride quality, a measure that is in our brand identity to NEVER sacrifice. Form follows function, not fashion. 

When we set out to offer an answer to this undeniable market segment, we wanted to take our time and be much more intentional in our design. We wanted to think critically about what was necessary for races as gritty and challenging as the Dirty Kanza without sacrificing the ride quality that Alchemy is known for. Our answer is our new Ronin line. On the carbon side, it comes in the form of a bike offering comfortable  700/45mm tire clearance, triple bottle cage mounts, fender mounts for the utilitarian riders out there, bento box bosses, and a custom ride-tuned carbon layup in a sub-17lb (58cm with Ultegra build), category leading superbike that, for kicks, is the ONLY fully-customizable geometry bike in the gravel category.

The geometry and tube profiles on these bikes are optimized to ride everything from rural b-roads to local singletrack. While it can comfortably handle a local group ride with 28mm tires, that’s not necessarily why we built it. This line is purpose-built to get dirty while gobbling up rough roads and trails. Looking for something to use as a “quiver-killer” to handle everything from road racing to commuting and your local gravel ride? We’ll point you towards our All-Road bikes. These bikes are intentionally designed to kick more ass on gravel than anything out there.

SHOP GRAVEL

// Why Short Travel?

With the introduction of the new Arktos 29ST (for short travel), Alchemy now offers two different 29er options to the market. Both bikes feature Alchemy’s patented Sine Suspension, a system which maximizes pedaling efficiency without detracting from downhill performance. So why choose one over the other? Well, the answer really depends on the type of riding you are doing. Here is a breakdown on short travel versus long travel and what makes the Arktos 29ST the next greatest trail weapon.

// Sine Performance

The heart of the Arktos 29ST is the Sine suspension system. The beauty of the Arktos is how it pedals and descends and that’s because of Sine. Sine is regressive through the first part of the travel to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction, progression in the middle of the stroke to avoid wallowing on big hits or in hard, fast corners, and then slight regression again at end stroke to enable full use of your travel.

// Arktos 29ST

The Arktos 29ST is trail bike at heart, with 120mm rear travel and 140mm fork travel. It fits in the category with the Yeti SB130, Transition Smuggler and the Santa Cruz Hightower. We spec a Fox 36 fork, which gives you an indication of the terrain we expect the bike to be used in: rough and technical. The Arktos 29ST has modern trail bike geometry with a 66.1 head angle with 75.5 degree seat tube angle. While the Arktos 29 was designed to crush fast, open, super techy EWS tracks, the Arktos 29ST is capable of hitting the same bone-tingling descents, but adds a little fun in the mix. It turns quicker and changes directions faster on those tight switchbacks and still has that slack geometry to keep it stable at speeds. 

//Conclusion

So, in the end the main difference to choose the Arktos 29ST over the standard Arktos 29 is really in the terrain you plan on riding, and how you plan on riding it. Is the terrain tighter and technical, with the focus on going fast AND having fun? Well, the more flickable Arktos 29ST is the bike for you. Are you hitting faster, most open terrain and wanting to be the first of your buddies to the bottom? In this case, the Arktos 29 is the bike of the day for you.

The 29ST is quicker in turns and more reactive to transitions where the Arktos 29 is more stable at high speeds. It makes sense, right? The ST has a steeper head angle and a shorter wheelbase, which are the important factors when getting a bike wedged around tight turns. Both bikes, by the way, feature 44mm offset forks and steep enough seat angles to put you in the perfect position over the bike for climbing. Now that you know the difference, the choice is yours.

SHOP ARKTOS 29ST

SHOP ARKTOS 29

// Designed for Perfection

If you’ve read about Alchemy’s mountain lineup, you likely know that the key to an Arktos is the Sine suspension system. Sine is interesting because it allows for a varied ratio of compression force from the rear wheel to the rear shock as the suspension moves through its travel. Technically, we talk about it in these terms: regression at the start of the travel in order to allow the Arktos to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction, progression in middle of the shock stroke to get the bike into the meat of the travel, and regression again at the end to allow the bike to hit its full travel. 

But, let’s break that down into layman’s terms and then relate it to how an air rear shock functions to better understand the benefits. For starters, the main result of the Sine link is that it allows the rear wheel to move more easily through its travel at the start, harder in the middle, and again easily at the end of the travel. Well, you might be asking yourself, “Why would I want that?”

The answer is actually pretty simple, at least once you understand the fundamentals of an air shock design. Air shocks use air as the main spring component to support the rider on the bike. Because air is a small molecule and air shocks reach high pressures at bottom out (at least 5 times the starting static pressure) shock manufacturers have to utilize tight tolerance air seals or the air would leak out of the shock. That’s a good thing for sure, as no one wants to be stuck out on the trail with a leaking, bottomed rear shock. The downside of all of the sealing is friction. Air shocks, by nature, have more friction than coil shocks because of the seals required to keep the air in. And the most noticeable place that the friction is felt is the start of the travel. One way to overcome that friction is a design (like Sine) which increases the rear wheel to rear shock ratio at the start of the travel. With such a design, the rear wheel can move through small chatter without you feeling it and the wheel keeps locked to the ground so you aren’t getting tire spin.

Okay, so that all sound logical, right? Well, it is, but the problem with air shocks is that they are very linear through the middle of travel. That means, once you are past the point of initial friction, the shock quickly wants to keep that force moving to the very end of its travel, where all of those small molecules are highly compressed and can finally resist the forces coming from the rear wheel. Well, that’s where the varied nature of Sine comes into play. The Sine link physically changes direction after initial wheel movement, and the ratio of wheel to shock travel is reduced, increasing the force required to compress the shock. This IS what makes Sine so great, as it actually counteracts the air shocks linear nature and allows the suspension to stay high in its travel. Simply put, when you hit a bump, there is still some shock travel left to allow the bump to be absorbed.

So, we are through the first two parts of the travel, where we have the wheel moving easily at the start of it’s travel and the middle is effectively absorbing bumps. Now you are probably wondering what happens when you hit a big drop or bump, the kind that immediately sends the suspension to the end of the travel. As mentioned before, air shocks become very firm at the bottom of the travel, as the shock becomes fully compressed and the air no longer has space to displace. If you’ve ever experienced getting to bottom abruptly, you know it’s hard on both your bike and your body. Again, this is where Sine comes to your aid. As the Sine link physically moves back in the opposite direction, the leverage ratio on the shock actually reduces, requiring less force from the rear wheel to make the shock activate. The Sine link is counteracting the progressive nature of the shock (by making the suspension easier to get into the last part of the travel). It’s a yin and yang thing, but the result is that you get all of your suspension travel with an almost bottomless feel.

 

Okay, so you’ve just heard what sounds like more marketing-speak: “You are getting the best of both worlds”. The difference is that once you understand the basic design of Sine AND how it works in combination with an air shock, you can see that it’s POSSIBLE to achieve the best of both worlds. And as a result, you begin to understand how an Arktos can pedal well, absorb small bumps, provide excellent suspension throughout its travel.

SHOP ARKTOS

// Slalom and DH

The annual Sea Otter Classic took place this last weekend in Central California and it was the first 2019 racing on US soil for Alchemy Factory Racing rider Cody Kelley. Kelley competed on board a modified Arktos 29ST in both the downhill and dual slalom and saw great results in both events.

He finished on the podium in DH with a fifth place. Although he was knocked out in the quarterfinal round in slalom, it was by eventual event winner Mitch Ropelato, and Kelly won one of the two head to heads.

“Overall, I felt really good this weekend,” said Kelley. “Thanks to Bikeco Joe, my set up was on point and it really helped my confidence. I was able to push hard all weekend and get the results I was looking for. It was a little disappointing to get beat by my buddy Mitch, but as we found at the end, he was definitely the fastest guy of the day.”

Kelley’s Arktos was something special at Sea Otter, equipped with a ST shock, link, and fork to make it more competitive on the mild terrain of the Otter.

“The bike Cody rode was built just for Sea Otter,” said Joe Binatena, Alchemy Factory Racing’s mechanic.  “We used a new Arktos 29ST link, with a custom tuned DPX2 shock, and a Bikeco-tuned 130mm travel Fox 34 fork. We focused on making it quick handling because the tracks at Sea Otter aren’t all that rough.”

Kelley is fresh off back-to-back EWS events and is arguably having the best season of his young career. He finished top American in the New Zealand EWS and is currently top American in overall EWS standings. Not sure if you saw the hair as well, but it’s pretty dialed if you ask us.

// ROUND 2 – ENDURO WORLD SERIES 2019

The second round of the 2019 Enduro World Series headed back to Derby, Tasmania for one of the rowdiest races to date. The event proved again to be both a rider and photographer’s favorite, with both rough and scenic trails providing a superb background for a tight weekend of racing. And while Stage 1 saw a brief rainstorm mid-stage, it was mostly sunny skies and clear weather for the entire event.
Alchemy rider Cody Kelley followed his solid performance at the New Zealand round with another strong performance in Tasmania. While not retaining his top American status, he finished closely behind American challenger Marco Osbourne, and is currently in 26th place in the overall rankings.
“I was a little too cautious in Stage 1 because there was some rain just before my start time,” says Kelley. “Because it was such a long stage, that really put me behind the eight ball and I spent the rest of the event trying to play catch up.” Kelley’s best finish of the event was a 16th place earned on Stage 4.
“Cody is really starting to come into his own,” commented race team mechanic Joe Binatena. “This season is really about honing his race craft and you can see that he’s finding a nice balance between fast and risky. The season goal is a top 20 finish overall and some top 10 stage finishes.”
The series now takes a small break before heading to Madeira for round 3 of the series. Also one of the most inspiring riding locales in the world, the event promises to provide some of the best photos and riding of the EWS season.
Photos Courtesy Sven Martin and Dave Trumpore

 

// ROUND 1 – ENDURO WORLD SERIES 2019

The first round of the 2019 Enduro World Series went off with a bang last weekend, with round one taking place in Rotorua, New Zealand. Alchemy racer Cody Kelley had a great event, finishing in 25th overall and taking honors as the top American finisher at the event.

“I had a strong, injury-free offseason and was really excited to get back to racing,” said Kelley. “Maybe I started off a little too cautious in the first stages at Roto, but by the end of the day, my flow was working and I managed to get some really solid times.”

 

Kelley’s best results came in the longest stages, which meant his two top 20s meant a lot in terms of gaining time.

“It was so important to go fast enough to keep in the mix,” said Kelley. “But the stages we  long, it was important to maintain consistency from start to finish. I could have pushed a little hard to improve my results, but overall I am happy where things ended up.”

Kelley is contesting the series on the new Arktos 29, which features 140mm rear travel, but for EWS racing Kelley has boosted the fork from the normal 160mm to a 170mm travel Fox 36. Kelley’s Arktos also uses suspension that has been race-tuned by factory mechanic Joe Binatena, the owner of Bikeco bike shop located in Orange County, California.

 

From Rotorua, the series continues its Southern journey, as the EWS heads to Derby, Tasmania for Round 2. Derby features some of the rider’s favorite course, with hand-cut trails winding way through the rainforest singletrack.

Photos Courtesy Andy Vathis and Dave Trumpore

// OVERVIEW

Whether you are a top World Cup downhiller, EWS racer, or just a weekend warrior, one of the most important aspects to having your mountain bike perform at the highest level is understanding how to set up your suspension properly. With a basic understanding on how Sine Suspension functions and the set up recommendations below, you can easily have your Arktos working in tip-top shape in no time.

 

// DESIGN

Both the Arktos 27.5 and Arktos 29 mountain bikes feature our proprietary Sine Suspension system, which was developed by renowned suspension designer David Earle. The Sine Suspension system is a one-of-a-kind dual short-link system. Sine was derived from superior design elements of David Earle’s previous coveted suspension systems. What makes Sine Suspension so unique and superior is that it didn’t start with engineering, but rather with a focus on suspension kinematics. By shifting focus from engineering to the bike’s movement and design, it allowed David to create the ideal mountain bike suspension system that performs exceptionally on all types of terrain, while also optimizing the bike design itself.

 

// KINEMATICS

So, let’s start with how Sine works. As the bike moves through the travel, the rear wheel path resembles a mathematical Sine curve. At the beginning of stroke, you see suspension regression in order to allow the Arktos to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction. As you move into the middle of stroke the suspension moves into a progressive shock rate. This prevents  wallowing on big hits or in hard and fast corners.

When you really push it and open the end of the stroke, the suspension becomes regressive again to enable full use of the rear wheel travel. This pattern is specifically designed to minimize chainstay growth, improve pedaling efficiency and keep the suspension active under braking.  All these factors make for an incredibly lively and efficient ride.

 

// HOW TO PERFECT YOUR OWN SINE SUSPENSION

The Sine Suspension system is optimized for use at 30% overall sag. However, personal preference and riding conditions can influence the amount of sag desired. We encourage you to mix it up and experiment to find what works best for you.  The “sag” is the amount of travel the shock uses under normal rider weight. An ideal suspension sag will optimize the three areas of travel: negative, mid-range, and deep travel. You’ll know you’ve perfected the sag when you experience a plush, small bump feeling in your negative travel, a firm and lively feeling in your mid-range travel, and a ramping and bottomless feeling in you end travel.

// HOW TO CHECK SAG

  1. Gear up head to toe so you start with an accurate rider weight.
  2. With someone holding the bike, stand on the pedals and get in your normal riding position on the bike.
  3. Bounce up and down on the bike, compressing the rear end of the bike and the rear shock; when you are steady again, have someone push the travel ring up the shock against the wiper seal.
  4. Dismount the bike gently (as not to move the travel ring).
  5. Check your shock. The amount of stanchion shown between the wiper and travel ring is your sag. (30% sag would show 21mm of exposed stanchion between the wiper and travel ring.)
  6. If there is less than 30% sag, remove the valve cap and let out some air with a shock pump. If there is more than 30% sag, add more air. A good starting point is to pump your rear shock PSI to your rider weight and work from there: 180 lbs=180 PSI.
  7. Repeat steps 2-5 each time you add or remove air from the shock or fork. 
  8. Once you have the PSI set on the rear shock, use the tuning guide below to adjust your rebound and really dial in your suspension. 
  9. After the shock is set, do the steps for your fork.
  10. Now you are ready to go ride some trails.

 

FOX DPX2

FOX 36 FORK

 

Still not sure if you’ve got your Sine Suspension up properly? – Contact us at alchemy@alchemybicycles.com or visit our Denver factory and we can help you find your perfect settings.

 

SHOP ARKTOS

SINE WITH DAVID EARLE

A conversation between Alchemy and Jed Peters…

 

// Q: How did you hear about Alchemy Jed?

A: Research, research, research! I wanted a cool, unique bike brand and I knew it looked like a quality product.

 

// Q: What made you ultimately decide to choose The Arktos 29 over other options?

A: Options were initially between the new Specialized Stumpjumper 29 and the Transition Sentinel 29. I chose the Arktos because it appeared to be the “best of both worlds” offering superior pedaling performance, with David Earle designed suspension, the 140 travel in rear and 160 up front, and the “all mountain” geometry.

 

// Q: What was your first impression when you saw your bike?

A: Gorgeous. Simply Gorgeous. Highest praise possible, actually.

 

// Q: What was your first impression riding your bike Jed?

A: Hmmm…this is a tough one, but WOW. The Arktos is a “jack of all trades” really. I’ve ridden it mostly as a straight big travel XC bike, but it’s actually performed in full on DH mode shuttling as well. In essence…it’s a do-it-all type machine, and more suited to big mountain, all day riding.

// Q: How does it stack up against other progressive trail 29ers you have ridden?

A: Honestly it pedals as good as the Switch series bikes from Yeti, but is more progressive and “fun”. Not as playful/poppy as a DW-link or DELTA bike, BUT much more plush and planted. The Arktos 29 pedals INFINITELY better than the VPP and FSR style bikes…not to mention the horst-link bikes that are just harsh and linear.

 

// Q: Okay Jed, what is your FAVORITE thing about The Arktos 29?

A: The pedaling!!! I know that sounds weird–but this thing gobbles technical single track. It likes to be “ridden hard and fast”. I’ve actually put people on it, and they’ve been markedly faster on this than their old bikes. Pretty cool to see.

 

// Q: Would you recommend Alchemy and the Arktos 29 to friends and family?

A: Heck yeah, I want another Alchemy myself! And to friends? Of course. Alchemy kept me appraised at every turn, and they were on the ball with any questions I had. The Arktos is a very special bike. I can ride pretty much anything I want–and I’m happy riding the Arktos 29. Every time I ride the bike (or look at it even) it makes me happy! I haven’t found a situation that I’ve wanted something “more”… yes, I’ve wanted “less” bike (like a hardtail or a single speed), but the bike has never left me wanting for more. And having rode the old and the new Yeti SB’s, Santa Cruz’s, Ibis’, YT’s, etc.. that’s saying something!

 

Thanks Jed, Happy Trails out there!

 

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