Art on art…this custom painted Atlas is retro cool, featuring the original Alchemy logo custom painted on a new Atlas frame. Some nice ENVE/Chris King details as well.

When you think about mountain biking in Colorado, you’re probably visited with visions of remote, high-altitude trails crisscrossing the Continental Divide, sunny blue skies, and cool, thin air.

And you wouldn’t be wrong. Deep in the Rockies lies some of the world’s best riding.

But what most people don’t know is that within reach of the Denver metropolitan area are some of the best mountain bike trails in Colorado.

Since we’re located in the Denver metro area, we’ve tried out every known-trail in the area and done plenty of digging to sleuth out our lesser-known favorites. Below are our top 5 mountain bike trails in the

1. Dakota Ridge

One of the more easily accessed trails in Denver, Dakota Ridge will certainly test your technical skills.

The trail itself runs along the ridge between Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Thunder Valley MX track, and is both exposed and rocky for the majority of its length.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Dakota ridge kicked my ass

A post shared by Gregory Thacker (@gthacker123) on

The best part about Dakota Ridge is that traction is typically good regardless of the time of the year. It’s also usually is clear of snow earlier than most trails on the front range. There is plenty to challenge you as well.

The climbs are steep and punchy, and the descents have many lines that appeal to both pros and amateurs alike.

2. Section 16 Trail

If you’RE down South of Denver, you need to hit up Section 16 trail in Manitou Springs.
Section 16 is best ridden as a loop with Palmer Trail from High Drive, and is generally ridden as a clockwise loop.

The climb itself is relatively easy (as the incline in the clockwise direction is gentle), but once you turn the wheels down hill, there is plenty of technical terrain to challenge you.

Loose dirt gives way to exposed rock formations and it’s pretty flowy. Also, the views of the city are amazing.

Fair warning: On the weekends, it can be highly trafficked by hikers, and there is occasional ice on the trail in early spring and late fall.

3. Pikes Peak Plummet

If you have a little extra time to do some riding, there is no better undertaking than to hit up the Pike’s Peak Plummet. It is a shuttle-serviced ride that starts 3/4s of the way up Pikes Peak on the Elk Park Trailhead.

The total ride takes about 3.5 hours from start to finish, and it connects just about every quality trail in the area on the way down.

Beautiful, flowing single-track through endless meadows dominates the top section, while the bottom section gets more technical.

One of the best parts is The Chutes. The Chutes is one of the more fun trails on the front range, with high berms that keep the flow going.

4. Island in the Sky Trail

Island in the Sky Trail is a little far afield for Front Range trails, about an hour south of Colorado Springs. But this trail stands out to us for a number of reasons.

It stays reasonably dry during the winter months and was purpose built for mountain bikers. And all the trails have excellent flow, and the trail builders did a great job interspersing technical challenges into the trial network.

The highlight? The incredible views from Island in the Sky.

5. Floyd Hill

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Big bikes are still weird. New downhill trail from @flowrideconcepts is incredible.

A post shared by Boo Huff (@boohuff) on

Floyd Hill is a new trail system that opened in the summer of 2018. The trailhead itself starts at a pretty high elevation, nearly 8,000 feet, which makes it nice and cool when Denver summer temperatures are hitting triple digits.

The trails in Floyd Hill are not directional, but your best bet is to ride them clockwise from the lot on Lower Loop. This keeps you in the shade during the climbs and provides the most downhill once you reach the ridge.

The Front Range is a Mecca for mountain bike riding, with plenty of hidden gems still to be discovered. If you add in the more popular destinations, like White Ranch and Apex, there are hundreds of miles of singletrack within an hour of Alchemy’s Denver headquarters.

If you’re coming out our direction, make sure you stop in for a beer and a factory tour. We have a full showroom and a wide selection of demo bikes ready for your arrival.

But before you head off to tear up the trails, don’t forget these 5 essentials »

Custom-painted Shimano Ultegra-equipped Atlas purpose-built for Alchemy’s backyard – the mountains of the Colorado Rockies.

Shimano Ultegra-equipped Hyas all road bike custom painted with our 10 Year Anniversary colors.

Image courtesy of Mountain Bike Review

The new decade has brought some pretty interesting trends in the mountain bike world.

Riders (myself included), are in a constant quest to get in on the latest greatest equipment.

I’m not sure if it’s FOMO, or just the hope that new equipment is going to make us faster and the while riding experience better, but the pressure on bike and bike part manufacturers is real.

Companies are reacting by filling the pipeline with new mountain bike products, as it’s the only way to get riders like us to crack open our wallets. And I would say most of the new products I’ve ridden lately has been up to expectations…not amazing, but they function well, and help keep both wheels on the ground.

There is one glaring exception: Shimano’s new 12-Speed XT groupset.

The new XT has so exceeded my expectations, I find myself acting the part of an unpaid brand ambassador, telling anyone who will listen how enthralled I am with the group.

Below are 4 reasons why I believe Shimano’s new 12-Speed XT is the ultimate groupset for every rider.

1. The Brakes

I don’t know a single mountain biker who isn’t looking to ride faster. It’s just in our DNA.

But the reality is, one of the best ways to ride faster downhill is having the ability to slow yourself down easier.

Shimano made a huge number of improvements on the new XT brake, but the most noticeable is in the lever design. They basically eliminated all the lever flex by moving the clamping position further inward, and adding a support near the grip.

This gives the lever two contact points on the bar, which—in a riding situation—eliminates lever flex (which would previously make the brakes feel spongy).

The second thing Shimano did was tighten up the tolerances at the caliper. But let me back up one step before diving into this next point.

There are two caliper options on the new Shimano XT brake: 2 piston, and 4 piston. Don’t even waste your time with the 2 pots. The 4-piston brake provides more power and smoother braking with less heat fade, and very little weight gain. Make your life easier by starting off on the right foot with the 4 pistons.

Now back to the caliper discussion. The previous model year’s Shimano brakes had a problem with both the brake pads rocking in the caliper (they felt like a loose pivot bearing when the brakes were applied,) and the finned pads rattling.

The new XT brakes have all but eliminated both issues.

Note: I am still stretching the pad spring to give it more tension, but this is not necessary with the new brakes.

2. The Shifting

From my past experiences, when Shimano has added another gear (such as the jump from 11 to 12 speed), there have been niggling issues with the first production parts. This isn’t the case with the new 12-speed.

I’m not sure if Shimano spent more time during the development phase, but the shift quality is extremely precise. With the 11-speed, you would have to feel around for the gear with the shifter. On the 12-speed, you just hit the shift and keep pedaling.

Note: Shimano does admit to putting a huge effort into perfecting the ramps of the chain and cassette cogs, and they hold the majority of the intellectual property on these interfaces. So I don’t think it’s just my perception that the shifts are getting cleaner.

3. The Durability


New stuff usually has some initial kinks that need to be worked out, mountain bike parts included. And it always seems that the issues relate to durability (maybe because it’s hard to quantify durability parameters in testing).

Again, the Shimano 12-speed XT durability is crazy good. I live in Santa Cruz, and I put some pretty serious mileage in both wet and dry conditions. I’m shocked at how well the chain, chain ring, and cassette are holding up.

I usually change everything out every 6 months because of wear, and I’m still using my first set up 9 months later.

4. The Price

All of us want to ride carbon Arktos 29s with XTR (or XX1) components and ENVE carbon wheels and cockpit. But the reality is, once the wheels touch dirt, the condition of your bike and its value deteriorates immediately.

As a result, the key is to try to get the best parts you can, spend the big bucks where it makes the most sense, and then achieving best possible value.

On this point, the new XT is nearly impossible to beat.

I’ve mentioned how well the components perform, but the list price for the XT complete kit including 4-piston brakes is just under $1150. The drivetrain on its own is just a little over $600.

For comparison, XTR is almost double that price.

SRAM X01? $1275 without brakes!

Of course, there is a downside. The XT stuff is heavier than X01 — about 250 grams with comparable parts. I’d like to think putting a little less sealant in the tires and keeping the bike nice and clean can take off at least half of that difference.

5. Maintaining

It’s easy to get excited about something new, drop a bunch of cash on it, and then find out later that performance/weight/bling factor is great, but maintaining the product is painful.

From availability to durability, the ease of maintaining the new 12-Speed Shimano XT is hard to overlook.

For starters, Shimano XT parts are near ubiquitous. When you decide to take that dream trip to Europe and blast through a set of pads on the first day, it’s almost guaranteed that the first shop you walk into will have spares.

Shimano is everywhere, and XT is one of the most specced mountain bike group. It seems like no matter when you are in the world, there’s a way to get yourself back in the dirt.

Shimano XT is the workhorse mountain bike group, and the volume they sell is immense. As a result, they’ve made the bike super easy to service because they know there will be a high demand for service at some point.

The brakes reservoir is just one example — not only does the system force out air automatically when you remove the lever bleed screw, but the cup-based bleed system (for all Shimano brakes) takes all of the guessing out of a bleed.

It’s hard to find fault with the new Shimano 12-Speed XT components. XT 12 speed is inexpensive and durable, and offers next-level performance. Pinkbike described it as the “Smart Man’s XTR” and I couldn’t agree more.

Check out more mountain bike reviews, features, and news »

Shimano Dura Ace equipped Hyas all road bike with ENVE G-Series wheels and ENVE complete cockpit. The Hyas is designed to be your do-everything quiver-killer bike. It gives the rider a stiff yet cushioned ride with the ability to run up to 38c tires.

Custom-painted Arktos 29 with Cane Creek eewings titanium cranks, X01 drivetrain⁠, custom Fox matchy-match fork and shock decals⁠, roost carbon wheels and handlebar, custom painted ENVE stem⁠ and One Up EDC tool system⁠.

Alchemy Bicycles has earned a reputation for hand-crafting carbon and titanium dream bikes in Colorado, but few know that Alchemy offers more than just road bike manufacturing expertise.

At our Denver headquarters, Alchemy is capable of providing a full spectrum of custom bike services. This includes a professional on-site bike fitting, made-to-order paint designs, and the ability to select preferred components.

When you visit Alchemy for a custom bike fitting, firs you’ll be greeted with a taste of our pro-level coffee making (we have a La Marzocco Simonelli espresso machine). But then the real treat: you get to work one-on-one with company founder Ryan Cannizzaro, who has been a Retul fitter since the company was founded over ten years ago.

And no matter where you’re coming from, we’ve got you covered. We not only provide the fit for free, a $250 value, but we will credit another $250 back on your bike purchase to help cover travel costs.

At Alchemy, we go above and beyond for our customers. We have created a streamlined, one-stop process to designing your dream road bike. Now’s the time to take advantage of it.

Keep reading to get the full run-down on our in-depth road bike fitting and design process.

It Starts With The Fit

Any dream bike starts with a custom fit, and Alchemy is proud to provide custom geometry on both titanium and carbon frames.

Each Alchemy carbon frame utilizes a tube-to-tube construction followed by a unique overlaying design. This allows for a proper fit for everyone, regardless of height.

The same can be said for our hand-welded US-made titanium frames. We can design around your custom needs.

The process begins in our fit studio, where we take precise measurements needed to design a bike around your unique physique.

“We take a very hands-on approach to each custom bike,” says Cannizzaro. “Not only do we design the tooling, determine the layup schedules, and then construct all of the tubes for each frame, but we use the fit information to perfectly tailor the frame to your needs.”

Measurements from the fitting process are entered into computer-aided design (CAD) software that lets the designer and client create full plans for a finished bike.

Choose Your Paint

While Alchemy continues to receive accolades for crafting carbon bikes in the US, our painting capabilities make us one of the most unique and sought-after bike designers in the world.

If you’ve been following our Bike of the Week posts on social media, you know Alchemy is highly skilled in creating exceptional paint designs, specifically tailored to our customer’s vision.

To start the process of paint selection we encourage customers to check out our showroom bikes and take a tour of the paint facility. There are hundreds of different designs and color samples to help start the creative process.

After that, you’ll sit down with our design team and turn your ideas to reality. Our designers will provide real-time design concepts and provide multiple versions for you to compare.

Custom Components

Alchemy prides itself on providing the highest-value spec on our complete bikes. As an example, our ENVE equipped bikes are thousands of dollars less than the competition, all with an American-made frame. We also offer flexibility on your build.

With our stock component builds, you have the ability to determine handlebar width, stem length, seat post offset, crank length and gearing at no additional charge. But that’s just the beginning.

There are limitless possibilities on your bike component build.

On the full custom build, you can specify each part to meet your needs. Want ceramic hub bearings? No problem. The latest wireless components from SRAM? Can do. We encourage you to dream big.

Lastly, all custom bikes are shipped in our Alchemy travel bag free of charge. The fully reinforced bag has internal padding to protect both your frame and components, and it takes only minutes to assembly the bike and get to riding.

Join Us at Alchemy

We’re proud to welcome our customers to visit our facility and see in person what makes an Alchemy bike, an Alchemy. It’s with pleasure that we make each and every Alchemy customer feel at home.

From custom fit to custom paint to custom components our concierge service enables you to create that perfect dream road bike and become part of the Alchemy family.

Contact us today for your custom bike fitting »

Custom built from the ground up for @oneday1changeindustry. Based on a Ronin carbon, the geometry has been modified for us with a flat bar and almost every part has been custom specced and/or painted at Alchemy’s Denver headquarters.⁠

Custom built from the ground up for @oneday1changeindustry. Based on a Ronin Ti, the geometry has been modified for us with a flat bar and almost every part has been custom specced and/or painted at Alchemy’s Denver headquarters.⁠

@romanshotthis custom painted Atlas equipped with @sramroad ETap AXS Red 12 speed components, @zippspeed 303 carbon wheel set and cockpit. The paint is our red tint cherry bomb which we first unveiled on our 10 Year Anniversary Hyas. ⁠

Ryder Cooke’s race-ready XTR/ENVE equipped nine7five. Check out the matching orange fork to logo highlights.

Custom painted, race-only Arktos 29 with matching Fox lowers and Enve wheels.

Candy apple red Arktos 27.5 with hand-painted Fox fork lowers and ENVE wheels, bar and stem.

Ronin ti in our stock green colorway with Ultegra disc kit.

Gold and silver painted Chiron ready with fender to get that workday commute done.

Chiron ti painted in blue ready for CX season.

Nightwatch and citronette colored Arktos 27.5 with ENVE wheels.

Custom painted Ronin carbon ready to get out in nature.

Fully custom Atlas with SRAM AXS ETAP and some of our favorite colors.

Arktos 29 with color match fork, shock and ENVE wheel decals.