by Wil Barrett
September 27, 2016
Chances are, you mostly associate the Alchemy Bicycle name with exotic US made road bikes crafted in titanium, steel, alloy and carbon fibre. The Colorado based manufacturer has been alive and kicking since 2008, and the company has been steadily growing year-on-year thanks to its uncanny ability to build highly desirable (and highly beautiful) bike designs that are custom made to order.
Last year at Interbike however, Alchemy threw us a curveball. They debuted a US-made carbon fibre full suspension enduro bike called the Arktos. With 6in of travel, a full carbon frame and extraordinarily clean lines, the Alchemy Artkos promptly became the bike of Interbike. For this year’s show, Alchemy returned with a secondary version of the Arktos. With the same shape, the same travel and the same geometry, this alternative version of the Artkos looks identical, but is Taiwanese made. Not only is the Taiwanese Artkos cheaper, it’s likely going to be able to address the enormous demand that Alchemy has received for their new enduro bike. And when Alchemy is only capable of producing two Artkos frames per day out of their Denver factory, you can see how the demand might outstrip supple.
For fans of US manufacturer, have no fear, as Alchemy will still produce the premium US-made version. During our trip down to Bristol to visit the folks at Saddleback (the UK importer for Alchemy), we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with this stunning blacked-out machine. But we must warn you now, you are going to get both weak at the knees, and leave a lot of drool in your wake – this thing is stunning!
The Alchemy Artkos is equipped with 150mm of rear suspension travel, and is capable of fitting a 150-160mm travel fork on the front. It’s a long travel All Mountain bike that’s equipped with all the mod cons for those who like their trails steep, technical and fast.
The Arktos features a full carbon frame, with an hourglass tapered headtube and clean internal cable routing through the front triangle.
The swingarm is a one-piece affair, which is also crafted from carbon fibre. It features Boost 148x12mm spacing out back, and the Arktos gets a 438mm rear centre length.
The bottom bracket drops 10mm below the hub axle line on the Artkos, helping to keep a low centre of gravity. The Arktos is built around 27.5in diameter wheels specifically. Matt from Alchemy was on hand to talk us through his new pride and joy, and he mentioned that Alchemy may or may not be working on a shorter travel version of the Arktos, and potentially something with different sized wheels too…
The Arktos runs suitably low-slung with a 160mm travel fork on the front. In its current guise here, the head angle sits at 66-degrees. The frame also features a compact main triangle that maximises standover clearance courtesy of a sloping top tube.
Controlling the 155mm of rear travel is the Sine suspension design. This platform was co-developed with Dave Earl of the Sotto Group, who is also responsible for Yeti’s Switch suspension design. Aesthetically, the Arktos certainly bears a resemblance to the previous Yeti SB66 frame, but has some important differences.
The main difference with the Sine suspension design is the lower pivot. Rather than a big eccentric pivot like Yeti used to use on their Switch suspension design, the Sine platform swaps in a mini-link in its place. Not only is this mini link stiffer, it’s also lighter, simpler and purportedly more durable too. You can’t make it out in the above photo as the swingarm is hiding it, but the lower link is absolutely tiny in its length.
The upper link is made from forged and CNC machined alloy, and it connects the upper seat stay to the main frame, while also driving the rear shock too. Between the lower link and the upper rocker link, the two control both the rear axle path of the Artkos, and its shock rate too.
And it’s in the Arktos’ suspension curve as to where the ‘Sine’ name from the suspension design comes from. There’s a bit going on behind the theory, so we’ll let the brains behind the design explain it;
“The name Sine derives from the way the shock rate, when graphed, resembles a sine wave: 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 chain stay growth when the bike is moving, which is intended to help with pedalling efficiency and keep the suspension active under braking.” – Alchemy Bicycles
The Artkos is a modern frame, but Alchemy has clearly listened to the market by equipping the frame with a conventional BSA threaded bottom bracket. No press-fit or BB30 rubbish here!
Do you like the gloss and matte finish on this particular Artkos? Well if not, you can pretty much have any colour you like. Alchemy offer a custom paint program with the Arktos, just as they do with all their custom frames. The number of available options once you factor in the two-tone palette? Over 200 – so good luck narrowing down your choices!
That stealthy black finish does look damn good though, and especially with the Factory Kashima coated suspension from Fox Racing Shox. Oooh yes!
While we had a chance to chat to Matt from Alchemy Bikes, we decided to plonk him in front of the camera to show us through some of the intricate details going on with the Arktos. Enjoy!