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Alchemy Arktos: The Golden Formula

By Bruce Lin
Photos By Chris Motta

Check out our Alchemy Bicycles collection.

Alchemy Arktos Mountain Bike

In the before times, alchemy was science, and people believed they could transform matter into gold. It was governed by the rules of equivalent exchange. To produce a pound of gold, required a pound of lead. But no matter how men tried, no gold ever came of it. This, to me, sounds very much like the dark history of long travel bikes. Builders searched for the elusive formula, to produce a trail bike that could combine two states of matter for mountain bikes: climbing and descending. Unfortunately, the results were often comparable to a brick of lead. Heavy, couch-like tanks that could go downhill, but produced nothing but self-loathing and pain on the way up. Now, however, with bikes like the 150mm travel Arktos available to us, brands like Alchemy are edging ever closer to the golden formula for the perfect long travel trail bike.   

Alchemy is a small outfit based in Denver, Colorado who has made its name building high-end custom road bikes from carbon and steel. They are one of the few able to produce carbon frames right here in the US (stock Arktos is still made overseas - custom frames are built domestically), and have their own high-end paint studio, Ethic Paint Works for producing beautiful custom paint.

The Arktos is their second attempt at building a mountain bike, and their first foray into the complex world of full suspension. They’ve fully committed to making the Arktos a competitive, world-class bike, even starting their own Enduro World Series race team with two big signings: Cody Kelley, who is generally regarded as one of the most stylish riders aboard a mountain bike, and Anneke Beerten, two-time Four-Cross (4X) world champion, and one of the most competitive women in enduro today.

Alchemy Arktos Mountain Bike

Obviously, I was excited to ride the Arktos. It’s a bike that you’ll rarely see out on in the wild. You might see plenty of fairly high-end carbon bikes out on the trail, but few can touch the level of exclusivity that the Alchemy exudes. The Arktos I rode was decked out in ENVE bits, including their benchmark M-Series carbon wheels, Fox Factory suspension, and a SRAM X01 Eagle group.

Alchemy Arktos Mountain Bike

The first thing I immediately noticed was how well the bike climbed. It doesn't just climb well for a 150mm travel bike, it’s actually one of the best climbing bikes I’ve ridden all year.

 Alchemy Arktos Mountain Bike

The weight is what you expect for a big travel bike, but I hardly felt it going uphill. A lot of this comes down to Alchemy’s Sine Suspension, named for the sine wave shape the suspension curve produces. This suspension was penned by David Earle, the same designer behind Yeti’s exemplary Switch system. I found myself able to ignore rocks on climbs thanks to great initial small bump compliance, which then gave way to a perfect balance between anti-squat and supportive suspension platform when I went to put down the power. It was simply sublime.

Alchemy Arktos Mountain Bike

Turn the bike downhill and it descends just as well as any other long travel trail bike on the market. Alchemy chose not to jump onto any wild geometry trends, and instead have crafted the Arktos on the more conservative side. The head angle is a fairly slack 66 degrees, and the reach is a modest 431mm in size large.

Alchemy Arktos Mountain Bike

The Arktos is snappy and flickable, able to quickly navigate tight downhill switchbacks while still feeling stable when fully sat back going down steep and fast descents. The beefy Fox 36 fork does a lot to make the front end feel capable of smashing any rock in its way. If there’s one word to describe the Arktos, it’s balanced. It’s not excessive in any respect, but just enough to be neutral and fast feeling through almost any trail you’ll encounter.

Overall it’s a bike that’s aiming to be the complete package, and it comes pretty darn close. If you’re a rider that wants one bike that will make you a better climber, descend fast, and most of all, stand out among a sea of Yeti’s and Santa Cruz’s, this is the one.

Check out our Alchemy Bicycles collection.